- Posted by Johanna on December 27, 2008 at 10:17 am
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by Gail Simone
- PUBLISHER: About Comics; $11.99 US
From 1999-2001, Gail Simone wrote an online humor column called You’ll All Be Sorry. It was the published work that brought her to most people’s attention, before she wrote comics like The Simpsons, Deadpool, Birds of Prey, Secret Six, or Wonder Woman.
Now, About Comics is collecting many of these columns in print. The book was originally due in August, but it’s been rescheduled to January. I like the idea, but there are several problems with the execution:
The timeliness. As Gail indicates in her introduction, the comic industry was a very different place 10 years ago. The more you already know about what she’s referring to, the funnier the pieces are. Stand-alone classic humor for the ages this is not, but if you were part of the net around the year 2000, you’ll get a giggle out of the recognition and memories as she makes fun of fanfic wannabe writers, Alan Moore, Wizard magazine, Dave Sim, and the Batman and Robin movie.
The presentation. The columns are thrown in, one after another, with no indication of when they were originally published. Even better would have been notes by Gail putting the pieces in context and giving more insight into what motivated particular choices.
The format. It looks like a fanzine. It’s hard to tell where pieces start and end. When announcing the book’s delay, publisher Nat Gertler said
if you’ve seen other books of columns, you’ve seen that they tend to look like, well, flat piles of text, not necessarily the most appealing thing to the comics reader. To counter this, we gave each piece it’s own layout. We didn’t try to go hyper-slick, but the scripts look like scripts, the web pages look like web pages.
I would have rather have had the flat piles of text, especially if they had sufficient page margins. Many pages here run right off the page on the outside margin. The same thing happens internally, with text running into decorative page elements and text blocks crooked on the page. The idea of different layouts is good, but the execution is unprofessional. And all the various fonts and shaded boxes don’t make up for a near-complete lack of illustrations of any kind.
The best part of the book for me was the “Condensed Comic Classics”, many of which are new. Gail got her friends to write amusing summaries of the comics they work on. They’re funniest if you already know the titles, so you get the in-jokes.
In a case where most of the material is freely available online, a published edition should, in my opinion, add bonuses to entice the reader’s purchase. That might be an upscale, handsome binding (as when The Perry Bible Fellowship went to print); explanatory author notes (as Jen Sorensen did to freshen up her editorial cartoons); or new material you can’t get anywhere else. In this case, the book only aims for the latter, when the former two would have been much more appreciated by me. I can’t recommend the newsprint edition with sloppy layout we got.