Drafted #1

People send me PDFs for review. Here’s my thoughts on one. Bear in mind that I use a laptop, so my screen space is minimal, and by the time I blow up the pages to be able to read the dialogue, I’m looking at individual panels, not full pages. It’s not the most ideal format, but it’s effectively free for both of us.

Drafted #1 made me wonder how fair it is to consider the publisher when evaluating a comic. The premise is intriguing — massive earthquakes around the world have killed hundreds of thousands, and as people struggle to cope with the aftermath and the uncertainty of the cause, aliens appear and instruct everyone to work together to go to war.

The Americans rally everyone together to resist, hoo hah!, and a convenience store clerk and some kind of office worker/intern are also introduced, presumably to play roles in later issues. The art is adequate, barely so at times, and the dialogue-heavy scenes are often visually unexciting. The quakes are staged in key political areas, including Jerusalem, which allows the writer to comment on current hot topics. I found myself wondering if the writer had speculated what the next chapter of Watchmen would be like and going on from there, but it’s only the most casual of resemblences.

I’d be a lot more excited about the next issue if the publisher hadn’t been built on schlocky licensed titles, horror, and Buffy-wannabe goth girl art. (Edit: Thanks to readers for pointing out I forgot to say that this is from Devil’s Due.) I just don’t have any faith that a serious exploration of sociocultural development and aftereffects of tragedy can come out from them. Instead of giving the artists credit for a good try, I find myself thinking that it’s a shallow attempt at relevance, because of who they’ve chosen to release and brand their story.

On the other hand, it kept my attention enough to finish the issue, rare for this publisher. Find out more at The World Needs You Now, a promotional worklog.


11 Responses to “Drafted #1”

  1. Tim O'Shea Says:

    “made me wonder how fair it is to consider the publisher when evaluating a comic”

    Not very fair, in my estimation. But clearly we were always different critics. :)

    BTW, the Savage Critics navigation drives me bonkers. I click on your name on the sidebar to get more of your content and get a 404 message.
    This happened the first time I visited, and I assumed it was just “working the bugs out” beta phase problem. But that was awhile ago…

    One last query–do you prefer we comment here or there?

    Am I the only one annoyed that I have to disengage the “notify me of additional comments via email” feature, rather than the default being the opposite?

    Yes, I’m being grumpy. :)

  2. crowley Says:

    I’m biased, but I don’t think the assessment is fair.

    Judging a title based on the fact that DDP is small press and you don’t like some of the other titles?

    I think that’s the equivalent to reviewing DMZ based on unfavorable DCU titles.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Tim: Some lines have stronger brand identity than others, true, but I think a good publisher wants their label to create certain connotations in the reader’s mind, in the hopes of convincing them to buy more. My connotations are more negative than they intend, true.

    I don’t know why you’d get a 404 on my name link on that site — it works for me. Although if you want to see everything I’ve written there, click where it says Labels: Johanna at the end of the post.

    Comment wherever you please. I have more control here, which may be a plus or a minus, depending. :)

    Crowley: I prefer small press to the “big” comic publishers, actually, so that wasn’t part of my evaluation. Their other titles and general business practices were. And if someone wanted to talk about how well DMZ fit or didn’t fit into audience expectations of the Vertigo label, I’d be interested in reading that.

  4. crowley Says:

    Johanna,

    Sorry I wasn’t clear… The other titles are a reflection of DDP being small press. Dark Horse 15 years ago was Star Wars and Aliens, if you’re not the big two you need licensed properties for sales (See: IDW, Moonstone, Dynamite, ETC…)

    If you haven’t read it… you should give Hack/Slash a chance… it’s a really good, fun book.

    The DMZ comparison I was trying to make is this: would you base a review on DMZ based on what’s happening in the DCU (Identity Crisis, Black Canary Wedding Special, Countdown) or other factors happening within DC Corporate?

    Again, regardless of my disagreeing with the review, thank you for it.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Crowley, I don’t think small publishers have to do licenses to succeed (and I wouldn’t necessarily hold Dark Horse up as someone to emulate).

    Something you said over at the Savage Critics made me think you work for Devil’s Due, which is something I’d think relevant to this discussion – do you?

    And my point isn’t as much corporate ownership as brand identity, which is why I’d look at DMZ in the context of Vertigo, not DCU. With smaller companies, it’s true that they’re one and the same.

  6. crowley Says:

    I do work for Devil’s Due… which is why I stated in my first post reply that I’m biased. I personally feel that Drafted is one of the best things we’ve done, and that Mark Powers and Chris Lie put alot of heart into that book.

    “And my point isn’t as much corporate ownership as brand identity”

    You said “other title and business practices”… Now most small press companies don’t have imprints, so if we’re going to talk brand identity… I’ll move the comparison to IDW who have their own homegrown horror titles (30 Days) licenses (Dr. Who, Tranformers, Angel etc.)

    I don’t really see why you’re not fond of DDP branching out it’s titles?

  7. Johanna Says:

    You did say you were biased, but you didn’t say why, and I think working for them is a pretty crucial piece of information to leave out. :)

    My point isn’t anti-branching out, but that I’d consider this book more thoughtful if had come from a publisher that did more thoughtful, less action-oriented books.

  8. Don MacPherson Says:

    I completely see Johanna’s point about being influenced by who publishes a comic book, or, as Johanna points out, the brand with which it is associated.

    I reviewed Drafted #1 as well, and while I appreciated the ambitious nature of the plot and had my reservations as well, the fact that it’s a Devil’s Due publication, written by a former X-Men editor, had an impact.

    I’m open to the series strengthening as it progresses, but I wonder if a more action-oriented approach — in keeping with Devil’s Due output overall — might overwhelm the more thought-provoking elements introduced in the first issue.

    I’m reminded of debate about CrossGen Comics shortly after it debuted as being something of a T&A publisher. That was a generalization, and not every one of its titles had a T&A factor incorporated into the artwork. But many did, at least in the publisher’s first few months of business.

    Here’s another example: would Jeff Smith’s Bone have found its audience if it had been published by Avatar Press? I don’t mean to pick on Avatar, but let’s be honest, it’s not known as an all-ages publisher.

  9. crowley Says:

    Both are fair points Johanna. I hope you continue reading the series.

  10. Tommy Says:

    While I can understand a lot of the negative points made I can see some real potential in this book. I picked up the preview and first issue and I like the way the story is being laid out. It feels like a lot of time and energy was put into making this book and I can appreciate the epic scope of the piece. I’m actually looking forward to the next issue in the hopes that while the story unfolds the creators grow as artists. Which really, is what small press books are all about aren’t they? Taking a vision that doesn’t fit the mainstream and giving it a place to be nurtured and grow.

    As far as DDP goes as a company, I can’t say I’ve ever read anything they’ve put out other than Drafted so I have no bias as far as that is concerned. I do know some people who read the GI Joe and D&D related books. I personally have an aversion to any book that features a bikini clad woman on the cover with a jungle motif but that’s just me. As of now they don’t really have a lot of stuff I’m interested in except for Drafted.

    As for the Dark Horse comparison, I’m curious as to why a small print publisher shouldn’t hold Dark Horse up as someone to emulate at least creatively. The licensed books certainly made Dark Horse a name but they’ve managed to bring some of my favorite comics of the last decade to comic shops.

  11. Johanna Says:

    I don’t think Dark Horse is a great company to emulate because of their stocking problems. Even when they have a success, some retailers find it like pulling teeth to get reorders from them, and they have issues keeping the right levels of product available.

    Tommy, I appreciate your optimism. Thank you for reminding us of that viewpoint.

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