Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top 5 Out Of Print Comics? I Can Give You One!

An interesting section of a blog can be found here - it details what's claimed to be the top 5 out of print comics, except some of them aren't, as such, out of print, as trade paperbacks can be found. For the record the 5 top comics, according to the site, are:
Give Me Liberty by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons
The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell
Starman volumes 3, A Wicked Inclination and 4, Times Past by James Robinson
Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea
Miracleman by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mark Buckingham, Garry Leach, Alan Davis and a host of others who's names I've just missed.

Of that list all are reprint possibilities with the one exception - Miracleman. Sadly that comic, as great as it is (and it is great) just isn't going to be seeing the light of day until someone with the patience of Job is able to sort out the copyright issues (or mess really) surrounding the character. Sad really as it's some stunning work and not easily found in the marketplace.

I would add one run of comic books to that illustrious list of titles, and it's a run that I doubt we'll see reprinted in any form for quite a long while now: Detective Comics and Batman by Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Steve Mitchell. This run was one of the best that's been seen on the Batman title in years and went a long way to establishing the feel of the current character. Indeed a lot of what Grant and Breyfogle did back in the early 1990s has been cribbed since (Clayface posing as Robin II - Grant and Breyfogle did it over a decade before Loeb and Lee decided to pull it out for shock vale) along with being cited asa major influence on many creators who've touched the title since.

So why won't DC reprint it? Why isn't it collected or being given Absolute status? Why is it that there's no 'Breyfogle Batman Black & White' statue out there? Ask DC and you'll get a few different answers, none of which will make any sense at all. Ask Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle or Steve Mitchell and you'll get a few answers that don't really match up with the official DC line. Way back when I spoke to Alan and Norm I asked the direct question, why no more Batman. "They haven’t approached me except for individual one-shots here and there and they weren’t with Alan," said Norm at the time, "The last Batman that I did was with Alan. It was the Dreamland story which was a sequel to Batman: The Abduction. DC hasn’t approached me hardly ever about anything since my Batman years. Instead, I’ve approached them a few times. I don’t know why it is but I’ve gotten the cold shoulder mostly."

"I’ve put in several Batman proposals over the years," said Alan, "Not off my own back because I’ve wanted to do it, but because Batman editors or senior editors have phoned me up and asked me to do it. And every proposal that I have put in has been nixed for one reason or another. I was beginning to wonder if I had might have pissed off somebody up at DC and this is their way of exacting revenge on me. One of the ideas (I’m not going to go into the idea) that I put in is far and away the strongest idea I have ever put into DC in twenty years of working for them in any feature for any character. It’s the strongest idea I’ve ever had. They nixed it and not only did they nix it, but they were quite rude about it. I don’t understand it because you might not like someone and you might not like someone’s work but you know when something comes up that’s decent. Without going into it you’ll just have to take my word for it, it’s the best idea I’ve ever had in twenty years of working for them. DC has turned down every proposal that I’ve put in since I was fired off Shadow Of The Bat." If you read the rest of that interview you'll find some definite clues as to why there's no Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell Batmans in print, other than a few scattered issues, and why you'll easily find large, oversized collected editions of comics that are still for sale, new, on the shelves.

So when it comes to runs of comic books that scream for reprinting, this stellar run of books should be right up there. There's no issue with copyright, no problems with the creators - all involved would love to see the work reprinted. The issue lies squarely at the door of DC, so don't be asking Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle or Steve Mitchell why their Batman isn't in print anymore, go and ask DC.


Scott Koblish said...

DC's got a very weird reprint schedule. Almost everything that Metamorpho's been in can be found, but whole decades of DC's output on major characters is MIA. I think they're just getting around to reprinting some of George Perez's JLA run in August of this year - first time it's being reprinted in 28 years...

Danny said...

Scott - it's nuts. I've never understood their reprint schedule. You could work on Batman now and it'll be scheduled for a reprint before your run is finished, yet classic material from the likes of Grant/Breyfogle. Gene Colan, Don Newton, Jim Aparo and more just aren't there.

And where is the Aparo Visionaries book? Mind you where's the much talked about TwoMorrows biography on Aparo? I wonder if they shelved it for the same reasons why they passed on the Andru book way back when and have passed on a few others about artists no longer here.