Friday, July 29, 2011

What Lurks in the Longbox? #8

The X-Files/30 Days of Night #1-6

Wildstorm and IDW teamed up in 2010 for this interesting mini-series combining two popular licensed properties.  Written by Steve Niles and Adam Jones, FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully travel to Wainwright, Alaska to investigate the bizarre murders of truck drivers on an isolated road.  The victims’ bodies are discovered in a manner that defies rational explanation, which prompts Mulder and Scully’s investigation. 

Unlike the 2008 mini-series, Steve Niles wisely avoids using the complex mythology that plagued the television show during its later seasons and drove viewers away.  Instead, he focuses on the element that made The X-Files popular to begin with: "spooky" storytelling. 

Mulder and Scully’s stiff dialogue with each other suggests the story takes place early in their relationship, possibly during the first couple seasons.  This issue even resembles the first fifteen minutes of a typical episode: the opening teaser, initial investigation by the agents, and a cliffhanger scene that reveals more about the murders.  Tom Mandrake’s previous work on titles like The Spectre makes him the perfect choice to illustrate this story.  This series gets extra praise for being “new-reader friendly.”  No previous knowledge of either licensed property is needed to enjoy the story.  I haven't seen the back issues around at conventions, so your best bet is to pick up the trade paperback collection at your local comic shop.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Lurks in the Longbox? #7

Walt Disney’s Comics Penny Pincher #1 (May 1997) 

In 1997 Gladstone tried an experiment that Uncle Scrooge himself would have been proud of.  The publisher of Disney Comics released the first issue of a 99 cent comic that was “…dedicated to bringing you the most number of comic book pages possible for under a dollar!”  The publisher’s promise was for each issue to include 17-19 pages of material with a one page gag or story on the inside back cover. 

With one classic Carl Barks story and another more modern tale by the Egmont Group and Daniel Branca, the first issue was dedicated to the ongoing feud between Donald Duck and his neighbor Mr. Jones.  The first story focuses on the escalating battle that gets started because of a 10 cent can of putty.  The second tale teaches a lesson on “keeping up with the Joneses” as Donald decides to take drastic action when Mr. Jones refuses to let him borrow his lawn mower. 
According to the letters page, there were plans for several future issues.  Unfortunately, the experiment only lasted four issues, as the comic was cancelled with no warning or specific explanation.  The inside cover of the last issue discussed the lead story for the never-released Issue #5, as well as a preview of the first page. 
Perhaps sales didn’t warrant additional issues, or maybe the profit margins were just too small for Gladstone to continue publishing the comic in this format.  However, almost 15 years later in this current period of economic hardship, one has to wonder if this might be the right time to bring back comics for kids with cheaper paper stock and a lower price point.