The Nerds of the Roundtable are back with a list of comics they turned away at first before taking another look!
In Outhouse Roundtable, Royal Nonesuch gathers the writing staff of The Outhouse to get to know where they stand in the landscape of comic book fandom. The formula is simple: one questions, a joyous multitude of answers.
Week 3: What comics, creators, etc. did you not think much of when you first encountered them, but eventually turned around on them and now you love them? Also, what do you plan to give a second chance to?
I think I can appreciate Chris Bachalo's artwork more now than I used to. There are still moments when I look at one of his pages and not have a clue what I'm looking at, but I do like his style, or at least I like the fact that he does have a style all his own. I couldn't stand his art when I first saw it in the pages of GENERATION X, but there were these little flourishes, like the way he treated the gutters between panels, that were interesting even back then. When I saw his pages in the early days of Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN, I noticed that he was competent, but not particularly distinctive. I don't know if I'd call myself a fan, but I do appreciate anyone who tries to carve out some individualism in the comics industry.
Someday, I think I will give Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's PLANETARY another shot. I read the first trade, and was decidedly underwhelmed. The "archaeologists of pop culture" conceit sounded interesting enough, but that trade just did not land for me. I realize how praised the series is, but it feels like every single time I've expressed my feelings on that trade, I find myself getting insulted and my intelligence questioned. That's another reason I've avoided continuing the series: it seems to have the odd effect of turning otherwise reasonable comic book fans into total jerks. Why would I want to risk undergoing such a transformation? Still, if the book does get a lot better later in the series, it might be worth a second look.
Stuart Immonen. When I first saw his work in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, I just wasn't impressed. I know he was already an industry favorite even back then but I looked at his work and was severely disinterested. I just looked blah to me. There are few comics I keep out of his from that era but I go through the first volume of ESSENTIAL AVENGERS a lot and the front cover is his. It's an eyesore. Of course, his later work impresses the hell out of me. I couldn't tell you just when I started thinking his work was the bee's knees but I'd bet it was around the time he started working on NEXTWAVE. Everything since that has been must read comics. Seriously, it's like that comic just opened up something in his art that makes me want to buy his books. NEW AVENGERS has been awesome with him on it and I can't wait for the Fear Itself event so I can get even more of his art. So, yeah. That's pretty much the only artist I can think of that I've done a 180 on.
Barry Windsor-Smith. For years, I associated him with the early CONAN comics. His illustrations for that book were competent, but I dismissed them as crappy Kirby knock-offs. Compared to John Buscema's powerful art in CONAN, Windsor-Smith’s stuff just looked flat. But I changed my mind about Windsor Smith's work in 1991 when WEAPON X came out. Quite simply, he blew my mind with his retelling of Wolverine’s origin. His lines were wild. His figures were creepy and demented looking. And he played around with the text in ways that made the narrative boxes part of the art. He was suddenly a different artist. WEAPON X encouraged me to reexamine Windsor-Smith's earlier work. And I decided that this work, while nowhere near the caliber of WEAPON X, was rather interesting. There was something bizarre and dynamic about his character designs. They weren't as wild as his 90s art, but they were still very original. Today, I love most of his stuff.
For me its been the SUPERMAN and BATMAN books. I don't like reading them in single form, but when i read them in trade I love them. As far as creators I've given second Jeph Loeb a few chances I loved his X-FORCE, wasn't totally loving BATMAN, (though it did get me to buy the series), I really disliked the HULK book he wrote and the Ultimate books he's written though. But lately I have been going back and reading the stuff he's done with Sale and loved it.
As far as something I want to give a second chance, that would be TEEN TITANS.
I used to have a massive problem with Jeph Loeb. This was around the time he was still at DC, the era of BATMAN: HUSH and SUPERMAN/BATMAN. Those comics were just bleeding terrible, just packed to the gills with fan-service rubbish, but because they had nice art, people seemed to love them. The Supergirl arc of SUPERMAN/BATMAN may be one of the worst comics ever written, and the Carlos Pacheco-illustrated arc which followed was just as bad.
But then he moved back to Marvel, and he took over THE HULK, a book that was much maligned, but in my opinion, was exactly what a Hulk book should be; smash after smash after smash. Yes, it was still packed with silly moments (like Red Hulk punching out the Watcher) but it was all done with such a sense of gleeful abandon and fun that you just had to love it. Loeb told a story using all the traditional elements of the Hulk, such as the conflict between Bruce and General Ross, but took it to the next level. Plus it was wonderfully drawn.
Loeb even managed the same turnaround when after the craptacular ULTIMATES 3 and Ultimatum, he managed to actually spin some good stories out of there, with the decent NEW ULTIMATES and actually really good but really delayed ULTIMATE X. He's still capable of some terrible terrible comics, but Loeb for me, is more in the plus column these days.
Grant Morrison is similar. FINAL CRISIS, SUPERMAN: BEYOND and BATMAN: RIP were all so, so bad that I was ready to just write Grant off, and stop reading any of his books, no matter that he was the guy who wrote ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. But then BATMAN AND ROBIN and JOE THE BARBARIAN were really good, the polar opposite of the confusing shit of that unholy trinity. The Return Of Bruce Wayne may have been a slight return to rubbish, but BATMAN INC. is good so far.
Honourable mentions go to; Scott Kolins, Greg Rucka, Gerard Way (this is in relation to his music, and how his involvement with My Chemical Romance stopped me from trying out the excellent UMBRELLA ACADEMY) and Howard Chaykin (you have to read his old stuff).
I don't really have any plans to give anyone else a second chance, I suppose BATWOMAN counts. I will be reading 'Elegy' sometime soon, so maybe it'll actually be good, but I doubt it.
Oh, there's been quite a few. I can definitely say Bachalo is one my list. Previously, I hated his work. I couldn't understand anything I was looking at and I hated when he'd be the fill in for a comic I would normally enjoy. When Carey was announced he'd be writing X-MEN, I got excited. Then Bachalo was announced as the artist, so there went my excitement. The run started and I found it hard to get into due to the art but it wasn't until Clay Henry drew a fill-in issue that I felt didn't have the energy to match what Carey was producing. I couldn't believe I was praying to see Bachalo back. I looked for all my comics that had Bachalo art to make up for Bachalo missing that X-MEN issue. Now, Bachalo is a top of my favorite comic artists and so how everything I initially couldn't understand in his art, it's clear as day now. Definitely top 5. He's one of the few artists that I'd buy a book just because he's on art rather than coming in for just the writer or a combo of writer/artist I enjoy.
Writing-wise, an example I can say is Reginald Hudlin. The guy gets a lot of hate, especially when his work gets compared to Priest's BLACK PANTHER run (RELEASE THE REST OF THE SERIES IN TRADE, MARVEL!!!!!). When I was given some Hudlin trades/issues to read, I couldn't get into them at all. Years later, I've read later works of his and I'd find that he improved very well. Then I'd go back and find it fun to see him growing as a writer of BLACK PANTHER even if I didn't always agree with certain things but I could definitely see what he was going for. He's announced that he has a creator-owned book he's working on, so I definitely await that, especially how incredibly fun and fantastic his CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER mini was and his last arc on BLACK PANTHER (Deadliest of the Species).
Morrison is also on my list. A lot of his works, upon first read I find them to be a waste of my time and I get pissed that I invested time and money on it. Only for a few months later, maybe even a year, I'd read that same piece again only to think it's one of the greatest things I've read. Prime examples: ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH (which I now consider my favorite Batman book) and NEW X-MEN.
Danijel Zezelj did absolutely nothing for me when he filled in on LOVELESS, but having seen his art again in NORTHLANDERS and the wonderful LUNA PARK graphic novel gave me a whole new chunk of appreciation for it. His work is neither clear nor descript but it's moody and atmospheric with a style that you rarely see in US comics. He's not the kind of artist you'd ever see on X-MEN or JLA but he's someone who's work I hope to see on a great many Vertigo books to come.
John Romita Jr. I had a few issues of his run on X-MEN in the 90's and I just thought he was the worst. Then I read about Heroes Return and the relaunch of AVENGERS and the super hero solo books. And along with the article I saw a sketch of Thor by JRJR. I was blown away and started saving my pennies because I would have that comic. So with that comic I became a fan of both JRJR and THE MIGHTY THOR.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch
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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch
As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well. You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.
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