Not for their single issues which are criminally over-priced (especially for a comic book company whose motto not too long ago, before hiring Bendis, was “we hold the line at $2.99”) but entirely for their collected editions, primarily their ABSOLUTE line, is why DC makes my list of favorite publisher’s for 2022.
Their Absolute line is one of the best hardcover formats not just in all of comics, but all of Book Publishing, and feature for feature, one of the best bangs for your buck.
2022 We received the last of a collection that for a long time I thought we would never see; namely the utterly brilliant and seminal Alan Moore Complete Swamp Thing run,
DC produced this long awaited book, in one of the best archival formats in comic books or books in general, their Absolute format. And not only did they put out Alan Moore’s pivotal run in a stunning collection, they finally collected it in a quality format and found a way to put his name on it.
( I’m looking at you Marvel, with your disappointing MIRACLEMAN omnibus. Can Alan Moore, be petty and difficult? Seemingly… yes. So you as publisher, you be less petty, and find a way to get Alan Moore’s name, on Alan Moore’s Book. That’s why I prefer the out of print ECLIPSE trade-paperbacks to the new Marvel MIRACLEMAN omnibus. The trades have an introduction by Alan Moore, and sports his name on the book.
Shame on you Marvel. You should have found a way to make it happen, instead of releasing the Alan Smithee version of a hardcover.)
Thankfully DC, that have made great missteps on their periodical front, when it comes to their ABSOLUTE division, they really are putting out, for the last two decades, the single most impressive archival format in comics. And ABSOLUTE SWAMP THING BY ALAN MOORE is the pinnacle of that line, and for the last two years these releases have been among my favorite releases of their respective years.
And yes I know these releases have generated some controversy over the updated coloring, (Imagine that, controversy in the age of twitterers and the overly entitled. 🙂 ). However, I actually like the new coloring , and this comes from someone who grew up on the original coloring, who bought the issues off the newsstand, and enjoyed the original coloring. Tatjana Wood doing wonders with a problematic printing medium, newsprint, doesn’t change the fact that newsprint was a horrible paperstock but a necessary one due to cost, and is not a look that should be emulated. From the beginning of comic books creators and even publishers, disliked the limitations of newsprint. But it was an economic reality and limitation of the times. Just like pops and scratches on records played more than a couple of times, or snow on broadcast tv due to weather or distance, or pan and scan movies on broadcast tv, or deteriorating VHS quality, these were economic limitations of the time.
And no one is racing to glorify the limitations, as some artistic purity to adhere to… except people who confuse nostlagia with quality. Who delude themselves.
I dislike two types of people, the fadish young who deify nostalgia, and the blinded old… who deify nostalgia.
Those who confuse something being niche or vintage with it being good, or confuse something reminding them of their youth with it being good. Neither is true. While something from your youth can be good, and something niche can be good, it is not so because of its nicheness or its ties to your youth.
But too many people , Old Nostalgia Fogies and Young Posers conflate the noise with the signal.
Newsprint, and again I say this a someone who grew up on newsprint when that was the only game in town, and still has boxes of newsprint comics in my collection, newsprint looked godawful , and colors on it looked just okay. Muted at best, Godawful at worst.
Even as a kid, reading the DEFENDERS or MASTER OF KUNG FU or AVENGERS I made do with the interiors, but I always thought it would be great if the interiors could be on nicer, glossier paper like the covers.
So when Baxter paper came out, it was like going from crappy VHS to DVD. And we have only done better in the years since, we now have those glossy pages and full rich colors that I dreamed of as a kid, and I for one do not want to go back.
Only a generation that did not grow up with newsprint being the only game in town, or a generation that did and seeks art to be only a stagnant reminder of their youth, rather than a real,breathing, growing expression of quality; would mistake newsprint (or the newsprint look) to be some badge of quality to be cherished and emulated.
I am not a fan of matte paper in my Absolutes, or muted coloring. I sold the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS Absolute in favor of the Deluxe Edition, Because the deluxe had beautiful, vibrant, glossy page, and the Absolute’s Matte pages just looked dead, and bland and lifeless. They robbed the story, Perez’s visuals…. of agency.
Now everything is subjective, as consumers we disagree over what art or art style or paper stock appeals, and even creators are at odds about these same topics. There is no one right answer for everyone, the right answer for me is more often than not vibrant colors on glossy paper, the story allowing. Like what you like, but don’t try and justify Newsprint as artistic purity or historical accuracy, while you watch remastered tv shows and movies, in high def formats. It’s posing, and mendacity.
In the case of the SWAMP THING Absolutes they decide to give you the remastered UHD version of this series, now you may not like the color grading choices, but don’t dislike it on bs grounds of lacking fealty to the artistic purity of newsprint. From the beginning newsprint was a compromised medium, and is analogous to the argument of decrying remastered Blu-ray or UHD movies because they are not true to how you remember watching it on a a crappy vhs or a pan and scan tv broadcast.
I personally love the choices made with SWAMP THING BY ALAN MOORE, Now Tatjana Wood is a great colorist, and made some beautiful and bold choice to make the crippled medium of newsprint sing as well as it could. Now if the Absolute had been made with those colors, but taken advantage of the glossy paper, and printing options, I would be interested in seeing that as well. But as it stands I am very happy with the recoloring by Steve Oliff, his choices are different from Wood’s and in places I prefer Wood’s and in places Oliff’s but as a whole, they are differing visions, but both ultimately satisfying visions.
I’m a fan of ALTERNA comics, that produce comics on newsprint at a great cost savings, but contrary to their assertion, no one is looking at newsprint as a visually better medium than glossy, unless they are delusional. Akin to people who swear vhs or 8 trac or cassette or LPs are a better medium.
That’s posing and nostalgia replacing sense.
And I will have none of it. Ok massive rant over… onto the books.