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The post I don’t want to make!

Brian Hibbs

While I won’t go so far as to claim that I’m the biggest Matt Wagner fan of all time (that would probably go to someone who has inked their body, is my guess), I strongly suspect I am in the top 2% — I’ve got something like 20 Wagner originals hanging in the store, our bathroom door is a Grendel Mask, writ large… hell, the store’s “Back in 5 minutes” sign is a Matt Wagner original.

So I’m quite sad to say that I was horribly disappointed with GRENDEL: BEHOLD THE DEVIL #1.

The worst of it, really, is it isn’t really the work itself — Matt remains, as always, a consummate storyteller, creative visionary, and experimenter with the form of comics — but rather with the packaging and presentation and pricing, and the sense that maybe I *am* on the wrong side of history these days and this whole “periodical comic” thing is just a lousy idea.

(Well, no, I’ll repudiate that immediately, just by thinking, with a smile on my face of BRAVE&BOLD, my last review, but it looks good in print as a point, so there you are…)

Let me back up about a half-step and remind you that I own a comic book store. This means I pay WHOLESALE for my comics. Hell, I suspect (though I’ve never tried it) that I could probably even write THAT off my taxes, if I wanted to. So for me, of all people, to be frustrated by cost/content ratios means they’ve got to be pretty bad.

G:BtD is 20 pages long. For $3.50. That, in and of itself, maybe wouldn’t be so bad, except that 2 of those pages are “Journal” pages, with just spot illos, the next six of them are double-page spreads (with 4 of those pretty much just being blood spatters), and there’s a page of character-looking-through-newspaper-archives where all of the newspaper clippings are simply Lorem Ipsums. Add in that final pin-up page, and half of the book isn’t exactly “comics”, really. Plus, it is B&W, with some minor single spot-color red thrown in.

And then, sort of insult-to-injury, the letters page, such that it is (I remember when “Grendel’s Lair” used to be one of the densest letters pages in the business) mentions that the “MySpace” preview of the issue has two pages that don’t appear in the printed version — you can’t win for losing, can ya’?

(And, aside to Di: next time use TinyURL, instead of that three lines of typing, sheesh!)

Look, I dig Matt, and I dig Grendel, and I love Matt’s storytelling and panache and design, but there’s absolutely no way I’m going to purchase this serialization. I can’t even consider it. Eight issues @ $3.50 a throw (plus the 50 cent “#0”) is $28.50. Even when this comes in HC, I can’t see it being priced at over $24.95. Even if it was $29.95, hell the extra buck and a half will be worth it for what will likely be a new cover, and title page and some nice designy stuff. And the permanent format.

Craft-wise, G:BtD is, at the very least, GOOD work; it’s probably even VERY GOOD — but as a commercial package, as a unit of entertainment, whoo boy, is this AWFUL.

What did YOU think?


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