Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boom! Primps its Paradigm

This week's issue of PREVIEWS magazine, soliciting comics orders for January 2011, may reflect at least a portion of Boom!'s promised "2.0" upgrade. The ballyhooed "great leap forward" may, in fact, end up being a pivot back to the past. The blurbs for WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #715 (why am I getting peckish for an Oh! Henry bar right about now?) and MICKEY MOUSE #304 (you read it right -- no ...AND FRIENDS) proclaim "Classics are back at BOOM!" The real news, of course, is that these classics are appearing in slick-paper format, rather than hardback collections. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of WDC&S' first appearance, WDC&S #715 will feature works by Carl Barks, Don Rosa, Gil Turner, and Daan Jippes, while MM #304 will feature "the first complete reprint" of Floyd Gottfredson and Bill Walsh's "The Pirate Ghost Ship" (aka "The Isle of Death") since 1944. Evidently, the reprints in WDC&S #78-80 (1947) and GLADSTONE COMIC ALBUM #17 (1989) didn't reproduce every jot and tittle of the original story. UNCLE $CROOGE #400, scheduled for release in February, will follow up on these issues with a double-sized special release.

Obviously, I'm pleased that Boom! is going in a more Gemstone-like direction, at least for the time being. but some things could be improved. The key to bringing back some of the "old sourdoughs" who may have abandoned the field in disgust will be to print material of the "classic" vein that Americans haven't seen before. Don't get me wrong, it'll be great to see "The Pirate Ghost Ship" again, but I'd rather see hitherto-unprinted William Van Horn stories and the like. I'm also bothered by the fact that Boom! can't seem to completely rid itself of the "multiple covers" obsession. WDC&S #715 will have two cover variations, one a parody of the cover to WDC&S #1 by Van Horn, the other a "character mash" by Jippes. That gambit went over like a "foil-embossed" balloon when MM&F #300 was released, and I'd really hate to limit myself to only one of these two fine pieces of art, but how else to send a message to Boom! that this collector-driven drivel must stop?

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The October Boom! issues appear to be edging a bit closer to that Harvey Comics-style marketing approach that I suggested in an earlier post. We now have an "Upcoming from Boom! Kids" section on the letters page with small reproductions of the covers of the month's Disney and Pixar releases, plus a "spotlight" item (in this case, the collected DOUBLE DUCK Volume 3). Disney Comics did much the same thing in its heyday but accompanied its full-page spread of covers with a one- or two-column summary of what was actually in each issue. There are still a couple of pages of ad space to work with, so why not put them to even better use?

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