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See You Next Wednesday

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Folks looking to get the most bang for their entertainment dollar can stop searching: the pop culture high of the summer isn’t a movie, isn’t a video game, isn’t Lady GaGa. It is, instead, a ballsy literary experiment from D.C. called Wednesday Comics.

So what the hell is it? Wednesday Comics looks like the color Sunday Funnies, circa 1957, and is being published as a weekly. It comes on big folded news-sheets, and has a different continuing story on each page, 15 stories in all.

D.C. has rounded up the best in the industry to go old school, and they, in turn, have produced a battalion of big, bright, brassy, two-fisted tales, irresistible to anyone with a functioning imagination. You’ve got Neil Gaiman writing Metamorpho: The Element Man (pictured above) as a Steve Canyon-Milton Caniff thing. There’s Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook doing Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth in the muscular, highly detailed style of Prince Valiant. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso supply a bone-chilling Batman story that feels both completely modern and as retro and transgressive as one of the Spicy Adventure pulps (it also has the best cliff-hanger of the bunch). Hell, Wednesday Comics is worth your $4 just to get Lee Beremjo’s Superman, a giant page of art so rich and stunning, you might as well buy a frame and hang it on the wall.

My attitude is that it’s no one’s job to support a literary gamble just to support a literary gamble. Readers should spend their money on what’s good, what turns ‘em on. But in this case, when you’ve got a big press giving their talent a chance to go buck wild on a one-of-a-kind project, and the damn thing works, then yeah, I can’t help hoping people will get behind it in a big way, so it doesn’t wither on the vine. Next time you’re near a comic shop and you’ve got $4 in your pocket, spend it on Wednesday Comics instead of a candy bar. It’s better for your teeth, and the sugar high will last you right through the end of the summer.

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35 Responses to See You Next Wednesday

  1. Kai charles says:

    I agree with you Joe, the price is putting a lot of people off but it’s great that DC is trying something different I commited to getting the whole series

  2. Warren Money says:

    Wish we had it over here in Buttnut, Australia. Let me know how it goes with the stories. A scary Batman story? Right on

  3. As much as I like the concept of Wednesday Comics I just don’t think it’s going to fly with the general comics fanbase until it is collected and released as a hardcover or TPB.

    Serialized comics are pricing themselves out of existence. Continuing to release comics for 3.99+ isn’t the answer. :(

  4. Peter Men says:

    I never heard about Wednesday Comics until I saw Joe’s tweets. Now I plan to go pick it up today at the local shop. And as much as I’d prefer to wait for a collected TPB, this seems too unique to pass up.

    Four bucks is a lot for each issue but…I’ll take it one step at a time and see where it takes me.

  5. Jay says:

    I know it seems like, and is, a hefty tag to pay every week for a newspaper print comic, but you have to sit down and try it to actually realize the true value of the thing. It’s a great comic experience, and you’re getting A list creators to boot. This isn’t a cheap experiment filled with scrub talent.

  6. Joe Hill says:

    On the subject of the cost of the thing, I feel like Jay kind of said it. There’s no way a hardcover reprint can capture the flavor of the thing – it really has to be experienced weekly. Reading it on the big newsprint is a visual and tactile pleasure worth paying for.

    Furthermore, while we’re talking about the price, I was actually looking at it as a high value-low cost item. A movie ticket is twice the cost of Wednesday Comics, a (legal) CD download is a little over twice cover price. A decent full-featured app for your mobile phone is probably about four bucks. If you can get a six-pack for $4, I don’t want to drink it. And my feeling is that for a small amount of scratch, you’re getting a big heap of entertainment. There’s the fun of reading it, but there’s also the fun of getting swept up in it, thinking about what’s coming next Wednesday.

    ‘Course some folks will only be happy with free ala bit torrent. I ain’t going to argue about that one, I’ll just say again, I think the old school format is part of the enjoyment, and is worth seeking out.

  7. Mark&Mary-mostly Mark says:

    Ill give it a chance.

  8. Eagle says:

    Four dollars? That’s just DC’s usual ham-handed approach to any effort at freshening their archaic business model.

  9. Eagle says:

    Yes, I agree with most of what you’re saying about the enjoyment of it, Joe, and I’m not saying it should be free. It just seems to me that DC has a poor approach to these things. “Will it sell? Is it cheap to make? Make it expensive! Those silly nerds will gobble it up! Slap Superman and some vague other guys on it! We’ll be rich!”

    No, A-list talent doesn’t come cheap, but fifteen pages of newsprint is a hell of a lot cheaper to make than the heavy, glossy stuff they give away by the ton on Free Comic Book Day.

    They’re trying to appear avant-garde by trying something new, but it’s like they’re also fighting themselves over the advancement. The price is a contradiction to what it seems they’re trying to do with this thing.

  10. Vicki says:

    I’m from a big city, and I used to live in NYC. Four dollars doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me. It’s 4.50 for a soda in New York-a small soda.

  11. Buzz-Kill Chris says:

    I ‘unno– I’m still getting used to the fact that Dick Grayson is the new Batman. If anything else gets shoved in my brain, then it will explode… metaphorically… not for real… for the record… k… this is me ending the sentence… period.

  12. NewEnglandGothic says:

    They didn’t exactly fly off the shelves at my LCS either.

  13. NewEnglandGothic says:

    A rumor about the trade on this title is, it will be like a coffee table book and as big as a coffee table! Storing the giant Rasl trades are a big enough pain in the butt.

  14. Betsy Boo says:

    Ha…ha Buzz-Kill Chris. We get it. :)

    I’m a bit confused. Honestly, why is $4 such a big deal for something like this…something with great artists and writers? Ok…I know when I was 12 I only paid a quarter for my comics, but that was a million years ago. I also only paid 15 cents for a candy bar and $1.50 to see a movie. Heck, I only paid $6.50 to see Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue when I was 16. The last concert I went to was Springsteen and I paid $90!! Let’s keep this in perspective folks! Tell me any other kind of decent entertainment you can get these days for $4.

  15. NewEnglandGothic says:

    Decent entertainment for $4? How about 4 good movies at Redbox? Allot of non-franchise videoplaces in NH still charge $3 to $5.

  16. Crazy Bitch says:

    I love it when you’re pissed at me. It kinda turns me on.
    You set my heart on fire.
    XOXOXO

  17. Derek Garrison says:

    I guess 4 bucks is a matter of perspective.

    I’m trying to figure out who exactly this is suppose to appeal to in one of the worst financial times facing comics. If anything I would think DC would be trying to appeal to comic fans with smaller entertainment budgets (ie. college students) to not give up on the idea of comics.

    Just to answer the question “why is $4 such a big deal for something like this… something with great artists and writers? Tell me any other kind of decent entertainment you can get these days for $4.”

    If I have my numbers straight this is what you’re looking at:
    – 12 weekly “issues” with 15 over-sized pages each at 3.99 a pop.
    – 180 over-sized newsprint pages with a total retail amount of 47.88. That’s about 27 cents a page.

    An average monthly comic for comparison:
    – 12 monthly issues with 22 pages of story at 2.99 each.
    – 264 regular sized newsprint pages with a total retail amount of 47.88.
    That’s about 18 cents a page.

    A random, modern TPB collection (Fables, Vol. 10 published by DC Comics) for comparison:
    – 1 TPB, 238 pages of story and cover art reproductions (sans cover text even!), 17.99 on regular sized newsprint.
    – That’s 7 and a half cents a page!

    Keep in mind I’m not even taking into consideration the massive amounts of dead-in-the-water back issues that have plenty of decent stories available for pennies on the dollar.

    So, limiting yourself to just what would be in an average comicbook store, *anything* other than a Wednesday Comics release would be a better deal for your 4 bucks.

  18. Mark&Mary-mostly Mark says:

    OH shit, crazybitch is mad(J/K…im smelling something fishy).lol.

  19. Jeff says:

    For me, it was the best $ 4.00 I spent last week.
    Outstanding talent in a FUN format.
    Thanks for plugging it, Joe.

  20. grasking says:

    I loved it. The only let down was “The Teen Titans”.

  21. Mark&Mary-mostly Mark says:

    Damn, well, ill have to wait till i get back to cali. to get it.

  22. NewEnglandGothic says:

    I know if I don’t get this title, there will be a key DC moment in one of them that I will need for a DC 2012 comic event that will send me scrambling to locate one and the price will be $50 each then.

  23. rob4drok says:

    I LOVED Kamandi when I was young: bought up our local used book place’s stock of them; still have almost the whole series (in horrible, read it until it falls apart shape) — I’m going to get over to the local comics store tomorrow and see if I can find a copy of the Wed Comics. Can’t wait!

  24. Francesca says:

    I love Neil Gaiman’s work. It helped me to get through the loss of my father from cardiac illness, my stepfather’s death from Parkinson’s disease and my fiance’s motorcycle crash. I like the languages he uses. He has class. He’s very gifted. His books are an escape.

  25. Eagle says:

    Thank you for putting it so clearly, Derek.

  26. Buzz-Kill Chris says:

    I was recently in Ireland and had a chance to talk with Neil Jordan’s wife. Although the whole time I was chatting with her I was thinking of the director Neil Mashall in my head. So I praised her about her “husband’s” work on “Dog Soldiers” & “The Descent”.

    She told me he was currently in Hollywood in post production for an upcoming Neil Gaiman adaption. When I got back to my hostel and realized that I mixed my Neil’s I was pretty pissed at myself, because I could’ve had a chance to discuss “Heart-Shaped Box”.

    Pwned.

  27. Joe Hill says:

    Derek,

    I respect your argument, but I think there are a couple holes in your math fu.

    First: The oversize pages in Wednesday Comics aren’t just ordinary comic pages blown-up for a larger format. Take a look – each page is really the equivalent of at least 2 pages in an ordinary comic (I’m sure the contributing artists were paid a rate equal to at least two pages of work). So the 180 total newsprint pages really works out to more like 360 pages of story… which is quite a bit more than what you’d get with a 22-page monthly in the course of a year. If I’m doing the math right, 360 pages of story would come to 7 and a half cents a page – equal to the value of a cheap TPB. Like I said, you’re getting a lot of value for your money.

    Second: most monthly comics are not $2.99; the “average” monthly certainly is not $2.99. Those titles that can swing a $2.99 cover usually are reaching an audience of 70,000+ and so can make some solid coin with advertising money. And I don’t think most of the $2.99 monthlies are prepared with the same level of care and imagination that went into Wednesday Comics. I say again, this is a real one-of-a-kind project.

    Third: Oh, yeah, ads? So far there aren’t any in Wednesday Comics. Not that I care about ads, I’m just sayin’.

    Fourth: No reason to assume this will ever be reprinted as a TPB. Owing to the unusual format, I think it would be very unsatisfying, shrunk down to the size of a standard trade paperback. My understanding is the collected Wednesday Comics will eventually be printed as a coffee table book, which sounds pricey.

    Finally, though, all the numbers flying around – in your comment, and in mine – are kind of looking past the point. This is a great read, from some of the best creators out there. Why argue over pennies? Go enjoy, you’ll be glad you did. And that’s my two cents.

  28. I agree completely, and even gave my details on my blog, click my name to see (plug, plug!)
    This book is about one main thing in my mind, the experience. Holding that massive paper in your hand and laying back to enjoy it, or spreading it all over your table. Hell, Jonathan Hickman even tore it up and put the pages up on his wall in his office. It’s something that can only be appreciated week in and out, and in the big size. The coffee table book sounds very pricey, and stupid in my opinion. It won’t have the same feel or the same weekly pacing. Sometimes people need to read something one step at a time, instead of ‘having’ to gobble it up straight away. I, for one, hope DC does absolutely no reprint with this at all. That would make me smile so hard I’d break a tooth.

    Oh, and Joe, fucking perfect title, I wish I had used that, Landis rules!!!!!

  29. Joe Hill says:

    Er, almost no ads. I spotted one just now for Robot Chicken. But, y’know, still…

  30. Steve says:

    Wow Joe you kicked a hornets nest on this one. Makes for a fun read

  31. Buzz-Kill Chris says:

    Sorry, Joe. Can’t really show much sympathy, because although you’re one of my favorite authors– Robot Chicken is one of my favorite shows. The thought of the two of them together makes me want to scream louder than a teenage, Asian girl.

  32. Jay says:

    This weeks issue of Wed. Comics is just as fun as the first. The Batman story has me hooked.

  33. Mark&Mary-mostly Mark says:

    hmmmm

  34. Francesca says:

    I missed that edition. I don’t know how to get it. They don’t seem to sell it in the stores around here. But I got a real cool email from Judy Blume. It made up for the crappy week I was having. Judy & Paul Zindel were my favorite authors when I was growing up. Sadly, Mr. Zindel is no longer with us.
    “I’m touched by how well you remember my books. Readers like you have made my career, and I can never thank you enough. If you have a chance check out my blog and let me know what you think. I’m trying to add a new post every week. Love, Judy”

  35. Pip says:

    Just picked up the thirs issue. I think it is excellent value for money, great writers and artists, and where else do you find comic art reproduced so big! There is only one story in it that I am not overly keen on. Favourites have to be Hawkman and The Flash.

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