Just Like They Used To Be – JP Waxes Nostalgic Over DC’s Wednesday Comics # 1

Do you remember those early Saturday mornings as a child when you would hurriedly thrown open the front door of the house, grab the just-delivered-newspaper and quickly rummage through the various sections just so you could pull out the comics?

I miss those days – the excitement, the cold glass of milk that accompanied my reading and the black ink on my fingertips.

Well, this summer DC Comics is bringing my childhood (and yours) back. Not on Saturdays, mind you – on Wednesdays.

 

 

 

Wednesday Comics, a 12-part weekly series, is the brainchild of DC Editor Mark Chiarello. He was able to convince the comic book publishing company to simply take a leap and create something entirely different in the industry – a series that would showcase a plethora of characters, both popular and obscure, all the while evoking the comics we read in newspapers as children. Assembling a top notch team of talent around him, writers and artists known for pushing the boundaries of the medium, Wednesday Comics, named after the day of the week that all new comic books arrive in stores, is one of the most talked about and eagerly anticipated series of the year – let alone the summer.

Yesterday, Wednesday, July 8, the first issue arrived in comic book shops everywhere and the series does everything it can to make you reminisce your childhood love of the genre.

The first thing you’ll notice is the tangible quality of the paper it’s printed on: newsprint! Beautiful! When the series was first announced earlier this year and teasing images of artwork began popping up on the internet, I know that I started to get a sense of this being a slick-looking project. Not so much. Although the coloring of the artwork on some of the titles does suffer on the cheaper newsprint, the images still pop off the page thanks to the inherent talent of the artists involved. Newsprint was the way to go. The conceit of the project was to bring back that old nostalgia and that’s exactly what newsprint does. I know a smile came across my face when I saw the first issue on the shelf.

The comic, folded in half while sitting on the comic book store shelf, opens up gatefold-like to reveal its true size – that of a real newspaper! Yes – everything is larger here, both words and images, just like those comics I read as a kid. It really is beautiful to behold and I’m instantly taken back in time. Each of the 15 different titles within Wednesday Comics gets its own full page spread in order to tell a story that will continue in subsequent issues.

In regards to those titles, there’s a lot to glow over.

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso work the idea of impending doom perfectly in their Batman feature while Strange Adventures by underground auteur, Paul Pope, has a great sci-fi pulp sensibility to it. Kyle Baker’s artwork on Hawkman is incredible to behold while Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook make Kamandi feel like something from the 1930’s. It’s beautiful.

Even acclaimed comics creator and award winning novelist Neil Gaiman is in on the game, writing Metamopho the Element Man as if it’s still the late sixties: damsels are in distress, weird treasure is to be sought and the names and head shots of the various characters line the bottom of the page so that all readers know the cast.

There are some missteps as well. Even with the larger format, Wonder Woman by Ben Caldwell seems too dense to read but, strangely, this adds to the allure of the project. Even as a child, there were always characters I’d skip over, strips I’d read first or save until last.

This is no different. This is fun reading.

Initially, I didn’t think I’d be interested in a Demon and Catwoman crossover – but boy! I can’t wait until next week! And to once again see Jose Luis Garcia Lopez’s artwork (on The Metal Men) is a treat.

There’s something for everyone in Wednesday Comics, whether it’s action, mystery, science fiction or pulp weirdness. My childhood enthusiasm over newspaper-serialized comics is here again! All that’s missing is that cold glass of milk – easily within arms reach- and that ink on my fingertips.

Done and done.

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