Someone at DC deserves a raise (probably Mark Chiarello) because the limited 12 issue run Wednesday Comics is the best idea (and the best execution of said idea) I’ve seen in a very long time. These beautiful, full color newsprint broadsheet style comics, each telling 16 individual full page on-going weekly stories by some of the most talented writers and artists working in comics today are quite frankly…awesome.
The real genius of the project comes from DC Art Director Mark Chiarello approaching some of the absolute best writers and artists in the industry and simply asking them what character and story they would most like to tell given the opportunity. That freedom to tell any story, to take on any character, without having to worry (so much) about all the other stuff – like heavy editorial interference (etc.) had absolutely breathtaking results. The authors and illustrators love for the characters and story is not only palpable, but contagious.
EXCERPT FROM MARK CHIARELLO’S INTERVIEW WITH NEWSARAMA:
MC: I think that’s an astute observation. In comics, creators are often asked what they would want to do with a certain character within certain boundaries, but this is “what do you want to do?” from the very start.
That’s what I did when I did Solo, I picked the artists, like Tim Sale, for example, and just let him go. As an artist myself, I can tell you that you’re very rarely asked to do what you really want to do – historically, I think every comic book company could take a bit of a lesson from that. I don’t think someone called Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and said, “We’ve got this idea called Watchmen that we’d like you to take a go at.” That sprung from them.
Emphasis mine. And what a great lesson that is. I hope that Chiarello quote gets posted on the walls of corporations everywhere.
I didn’t read all of the stories, mostly because some characters just interest me more than others – for example despite Dave Gibbons being an utter genius I’ve just never been that interested in Kamandi. There are a few cases where the format does not work to the authors’ advantage such as in the Wonder Woman strip. Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman has perhaps some of my favorite illustration work in the entire series, but the layout for the story is overly complicated, too small, and confusing, making it nearly impossible to read. At some point (issue #2?) I gave up on reading Wonder Woman…but that’s the great thing about Wednesday Comics…where one story fails one person or another, there is still so much left to choose from and to still get incredible enjoyment (not to mention your money’s worth) out of a single issue.
Above: Caldwell’s Wonder Woman – beautiful!
The art across the board is fantastic, although Amanda Conner, Eduardo Risso, Joe Quinones, Brenden Fletcher, Rob Leigh, Kyle Baker, and Lee Bermejo stand out as particularly exceptional.
My personal favorites are Batman (natch), Superman, Green Lantern (shocking! I’ve never thought of myself as a Hal Jordan fan), Flash, Deadman, Metamorpho, and The Demon and The Cat Woman. I’m not usually a fan of the silliness of super pets but Palmiotti’s Supergirl is a nice breath of fresh air in the usually so serious superhero world and Conner’s cartooning for Supergirl really cannot be beat.
Above: Amanda Conner’s Supergirl
I think one of the things that Wednesday Comics also nails, without perhaps even trying to, is their success in capturing the nostalgia of a simpler time. I’m not that old (okay, I’m sorta old) but I never really had the true youth experience of reading superhero comics in the newspaper like many others, but I can still appreciate the format and it somehow still reminds me of my childhood, which given all the screw ups in comics these days is really one of the reasons I always come back to them. Better memories of simpler times in my life…and my perceived belief that that meant a simpler time in the world at large.
Above: Eduardo Risso’s Batman
Today (9/23/09) marks the last issue of the twelve week, twelve issue run. The finale in a great experiment that I hope DC will make a habit of – perhaps every summer for the rest of my life? Or better yet, perhaps they can find a way to translate what made these stories so refreshing and wonderful to their regular books…now wouldn’t that be a sight?
You can pick up Wednesday Comics #1 – 12 at your local comic book store – or if you’re having trouble tracking some of the issues down, you can find them on Amazon (some are already above cover price – so don’t delay). Also, below the jump you can see the writer and artist for each of the strips.
Batman: Brian Azzarello, writer and Eduardo Risso, artist.
Superman: John Arcudi, writer and Lee Bermejo, artist.
Wonder Woman: Ben Caldwell writer and artist.
Deadman: Dave Bullock, writer and Vinton Heuck, artist.
Green Lantern: Kurt Busiek, writer and Joe Quinones, artist.
Metamorpho: Neil Gaiman, writer and Mike Allred, artist.
Teen Titans: Eddie Bergaza, writer and Sean Galloway, artist.
Strange Adventures: Story and art by Paul Pope and Jose Villarrubia.
Supergirl: Jimmy Palmiotti, writer and Amanda Conner, artist.
Metal Men: Dan Didio writer and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Keven Nowlan, artists.
Kamandi: Dave Gibbons, writer and Ryan Sook, artist.
Hawkman: Kyle Baker writer and artist.
Sgt. Rock: Adam Kubert, writer and Joe Kubert, artist.
Flash: Karl Kerschel, Brenden Fletcher, Dave McCraig, and Rob Leigh.
The Demon and The Cat Woman: Walter Simonson, writer and Brian Stelfreeze, artist.