Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Year Called Comics, part 8: "A Comic A Day, Year 2: Prologue"

A Year Called Comics, part 8: A Comic A Day, Year 2: Prologue
(The final installment of my eight-part year-end analysis of the A Comic A Day challenge, and the prologue to its sequel, A Comic A Day, Year Two!)

The waning end of this holiday season means two things for me: (1.) the hope that those dreaded Spider-man 3 action figures will finally sling off of Target and Wal-Mart toy shelves, and (2.) the coming of my next 365-part A Comic A Day project. I approach this sophomore effort with mixed emotions; while I'm very proud of what I accomplished between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007, my attempt at a conclusive eight-part analysis became inconsistent to the point of nonexistent, inadvertently tainting the sanctity of my year-long daily commitment. Leave it to me to justify this apparent laziness with another year's worth of day-by-day commentary, if only to claim that I was "recharging my batteries" for the new challenge!

Alas, above all, my intended emphasis with A Comic A Day isn't its consistency so much as its content. As I implied in my very first post on June 2, 2006, anyone can read and even review one comic book every day for a year (and if I start a trend, more power to the people!), but my intent is to offer meaningful insight into "the comic book" as a conduit for literature and art, separately and as a cooperative unit. (I guess anyone can do that, too, but, really, who has the time?) Even an issue like that old, beloved, coveted-for-commercialism's sake Venom cameo in Darkhawk must contribute something to the medium, hence its (then) success; therefore, every comic book deserves such analysis, if only to explain why it left the editor's desk in the first place.

Also, please remember that I believe every comic book to be somebody's first comic book, or at least should be partially created and analysed as such. Even an issue from a book like DC's current continuity-mired Countdown should offer some sense of exclusivity for the new reader that just liked the iconic cover image of Superman, or something. I can't imagine that Marvel wants to deter anyone with fond childhood memories of Captain America from ol' Winghead's title just because the character's dead. Of course, my inner fanboy can't resist commenting on the trappings of comic book culture, but occasionally donning the "newbie goggles" may assign value to an issue I'd otherwise prejudge and disregard. The comic book is an art, but it's also a business that always needs new customers.

Yes, on a personal level, the A Comic A Day project has inspired that inner fanboy of mine to new heights, exposing me to authors, artists, and genres of comics I've never experienced before. Several creators have been kind enough to comment on their respective reviews, and one of my favorite colorists Adrienne Roy dropped me a line after that June 2, 2006 introduction. These connections, some of which have resulted in complimentary comics for yours truly (Jealous?), have enabled me to keep my fingers on the pulse of comic book culture, and in my own completely infinitesimal way, keep the blood flowing.

Of course, A Comic A Day: Year Two will boast some characteristics all its own. While the fundamental rules haven't changed, I've modified them to broaden the project's horizons. Here is a list of the amended guidelines, pasted from that first (and seemingly my favorite) post, with said amendments in blue text for distinction:

Beginning January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008, I will read one complete comic book every day. Further, I will chronicle this exercise by posting a daily review of the comic book I've read, including a brief synopsis of its story to assure that I didn't just "look at the pretty pictures." Incidentally, one day constitutes the time between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., at least on my watch, so the issue must be read by then. Further:

1. I can only read one issue from any given series throughout the ACAD year. Therefore, if I read Action Comics #1, I cannot attribute any other issue of Action Comics to the challenge. (However, in this instance, other titles featuring Superman would still be in play, if only for one issue each.) Titles that have "rebooted" into different volumes with distinct number ones (i.e. The Brave and the Bold) count as two separate series; also, titles that were read for A Comic A Day: Year One can (and in some cases will deliberately) be revisited in Year Two.

2. I cannot attribute any comic books or graphic novels from my current collection to the challenge; my daily dose of graphic goodness must come from a comic book that I have never read before. I can attribute future issues of titles I currently collect to the challenge, but only under restriction of the rest of the rules on this list.

3. A maximum of four out of my seven weekly reads can come from one of the "big two" publishers, DC and Marvel Comics. This limit guarantees exposure to several other, potentially independent publishers at least three times a week. Further, A Comic A Day: Year Two will feature "WWWednesdays," a weekly look at a different webcomic.

4. As long as the selection contains a complete original issue's worth of material, my daily dose can come from a graphic novel or serial collection, possibly read at a bookstore or a library. This stipulation offers potential exposure to a variety of comic book eras, styles, and creators despite any given issue's limited availability -- not to mention my financial, ah, restrictions. Exposure to the respective weekly webcomic will focus on a single storyline's worth of material.

5. I must post a daily review of the comic book or strip I've read, unless something dramatic occurs to my computer or Internet access, in which case I will post all unpublished reviews as soon as technologically possible.

6. I reserve the right to add to or edit the contents of these restrictions, as long as these additions maintain the integrity of the A Comic A Day challenge.

The last time I posted these rules, I gave myself a little less than a month to prepare for the challenge. This time, I have a little less than a week! See you next year . . .

No comments: