As we head towards alternative genres taking over much of contemporary comics, as well as with trades as being a primary form of readership, we are noticing that series are not lasting as long as they used to. In the Bronze Age and before, DC and Marvel books could easily head into the multiple hundreds, with Action Comics and Detective Comics breaking #1000 before The New 52. Today, it is much more common to see series only hitting a few dozen issues, and really a lot less than that. Part of this is a good sign in that we are seeing series that are really more like a long story serialized rather than an episodic storytelling mode, which can really increase quality and ingenuity. This pattern really follows that in premium television drama, where people watch entire seasons at once and do not skip episodes. The down side of this, of course, is that we are going to say goodbye to many series before we are ready. Series run shorter, and with non-superhero books we often don’t see them coming back.
2015 will be ending several books that we have grown to love, and now we are going to mourn prefiguratively. Grab us some tissues, here’s what is pulling the tears!
Alex + Ada
This has been a sleeper hit from Image in that we didn’t see how this topic could be done in a very interesting way through the comics format, especially with the quiet calm it utilizes. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it takes the well-trodden story motifs of the robot that becomes sentient and the illegal romance to wonderful heights. In a near future world where androids have the capacity for sentience, a man receives one from his grandmother as a gift. While she may be open for sexual and chore favors, she is not yet sentient. That is until he intervenes illegally, and the story escalates from there. Running only fifteen issues in total(three trades), next month will see the story come to an end. And just when we were getting to fall in love!
Ok, ok, this one has had quite a run. Coming up on 150 issue, a couple graphic novels, three spin-off series, several miniseries, a novel, a videogame, and probably enough fan fiction to fill up stray harddrives, Fables has been a Vertigo favorite for years as it stands as the longest running Vertigo comic available right now. This fractured fairy-tale brought in a whole generation of alt-comic fans that never would have set foot in your local comic shop, and it has maintained readership for years on end. The last issue, #150, will be the size of a full trade paperback, and hopefully we can coax Bill Willingham back to The Farm sometime in the future.
I know this was only ever planned to be a five issue miniseries, but this ironic period-piece from Dark Horse has been fun all the way through with sly little commentaries on gender roles and beautiful art all the way through. From the sharp colors to the styalized design, it does the difficult job of balancing a reference to dated advertising art styles while also drawing on some of the most cutting edge image drawing. And it does it well. Though text-light, it tells the great story of a housewife who doubles as a hitperson, now being confronted with both the end of her career and end of her life. Since it is almost over, waiting for the trade might be a good idea, especially considering the price most of the issues are going for.
Though it is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, the post-apocalypse high-fantasy book from Vertigo Hinterkind was a hidden gem that really drew on the creative storytelling that has always branded Vertigo. The story follows the earth where a virus has shrunk human populations to small tribal bands, and the “hidden people” of myth and lore have reclaimed their place on the earth. Drawing out fun youthful characters that interact with creative manifestations of folklore, it had a lot of potential. Apparently the comics reading community did not agree. Issue #14 will be its last, so I would tell you to make sure to get it right when it is released, but its not like many people will be fighting for it.
Dead Boy Detectives
This one really was a surprise, even though it had the same low sales as Hinterkind. It was unique in that it is one of the few titles on Vertigo that continued many of the characters from the Vertigo-universe into contemporary times, as well as the fact that it was one of Vertigo’s first Teen books(only sharing that honor with Astro City). The book itself was written by Fables’ Mark Buckingham, who crafted a really fun youth-oriented detective story that was actually incredibly complex and rich. Issue #12 was the last one published, and it came and went with very little trumpet sounding.
Matt Kindt should really be celebrated for what he was able to accomplish with Mind MGMT. One of the most complicated stories in modern comics, drawing on espionage and sci-fi traditions it tells the story of the fragments of a former superpower oriented government agency. Dealing mainly with powers of a psychic nature, the control that the characters have both drives and controls the perspective of the storytelling, while the physical design and layout itself tells its own story and sets the stage in ways that you have never seen before. It has been coming towards a finite end date with issue #36, but this has been a ride that many of us are going to have to go back to again and again.
So what did we miss? What modern classics are coming up against an end date?