Oct 6, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 224: Alien Worlds #7, April 1984

A slight error in yesterday's post: this issue, number seven, is the last one under Pacific Comics. Numbers eight and nine are from Eclipse.

Thus far, Bruce Jones has unequivocally been the guiding creative force behind Alien Worlds. As of this issue, though, noted science fiction author William F. Nolan (Logan's Run) is brought on board. Considering the fact that the title passes over to Eclipse in the next issue, following Pacific Comics' dissolution, perhaps the move to get Nolan in was one geared toward making the title seem desirable to whomever was going to take over publication. Though that's the pessimistic view. Comics have a long history of attracting writers from other media, and this could simply be a case of a fan wanting to branch out into comics.

Though this does bring up something that's always bothered me. The cover of this comic prominently features Nolan's name, though none of the previous comics have featured Jones's. When Kevin Smith was secured by Marvel to write Daredevil, it was giant news. China Mieville getting a "New 52" title - also big news. Neil Gaiman's triumphant return to comics with 1602, huge. I'm trying to imagine a moment where the same thing would happen in reverse. Grant Morrison's done video game and film treatments, but these were not hailed as huge coups for either industry. Fans have been crying out for Steven Moffat to get Morrison or Moore to do a Doctor Who episode, but it hasn't happened yet. Comics like to advertise when people from outside the industry decide to write or draw a comic. In some ways it's a way of celebrating the attraction of the medium, but I sometimes think it's also a way of saying "Hey! Look at us! We're a valid medium after all, because these people have deigned to write for us." In this particular issue, Jones's story "Ride the Blue Bus" is head and shoulders above Nolan's story, which reads like a golden age M. Night Shyamalan film. It's good, but not nearly as moving as the tragic little tale Jones and George Perez weave to finish off this issue.

I know this comic came out in the eighties, and comics weren't nearly as well-thought of as they are now, but it still irks me when publishers feel the need to trumpet the fact that someone outside of the comics world has come to write or draw something. Comics creators account for some of my favourite writers and artists of all time, and I think that some of these creators deserve the same sorts of accolades that any creator in any other industry receives, critically and popularly. How is it that Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell is not considered a postmodern literary masterwork?

Well, because it's a comic book.

Had not meant to rant this morning. Probably a reaction to the ridiculous amount of work I have to get done today, so I'd better get on with it. Not sure what's on for tomorrow. I have one more issue of Alien Worlds, but I reviewed it almost 200 days ago. It's here if you'd like to check it out. I've also got a prestige-format special of the series, but I might save that for the much-delayed Weekly Graphic Novel (fell by the wayside due to school pressures, I'm afraid). So it'll be something new. See you tomorrow!

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