Last year, DC comics launched an ambitious project called “Wednesday Comics.” For 12 consecutive weeks, readers were treated to new stories done in a facsimile of the classic Sunday comics sections style of old. This year, DC has collected the entire series in Wednesday Comics, an oversized (17.4-by-11.2-inch) hardcover. This out-of-the-box concept attracted some of the world‘s best comic creators, like veteran artist Joe Kubert and novelist Neil Gaiman.
The fun these creators have with the large format shows in every word, line, and color. You can join in as you turn each page wondering what will come next: a powerful Superman zooms right at you, a shadowy Batman crouches on top of a towering skyscraper, a majestic Hawkman soars the sky with flocks of birds, Kamandi (the last boy on earth) explores postapocolyptic landscapes, and there’s even one page designed like a Snakes & Ladders board game.
While it’s no surprise superheroes are the main genre (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Teen Titans, to name a few), there is also some science fiction (Green Lantern, Adam Strange, Kamandi), war (Sgt. Rock), villainy (Catwoman), horror (Deadman), and even laugh-out-loud humor (Metamorpho, Supergirl). In total there are 15 twelve-page stories and 2 one-pagers. An added bonus in this book is seeing the work behind the finished art. Included are sketches, layout roughs, and even logo designs.
If I had to list my favorites, these would be at the top:
- “Deadman” by Dave Bullock and Vinton Hueck is a suspenseful, spooky tale. Bullock‘s art grabs your eye immediately with its dynamic layouts (his background is in animation) and use of color and blacks.
- “Supergirl” by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner is a hysterical, slapstick adventure in which the Girl of Steel tries to corral Krypto the Superdog and Streaky the Supercat. Supergirl‘s facial expressions as drawn by Conner are priceless.
- “Wonder Woman” by Ben Caldwell is a surreal, dreamlike adventure. While most artists use the big pages for huge artwork, Caldwell does the opposite, cramming each page with dozens of tiny panels, every one beautifully drawn so it’s worth the close inspection.
But my all-around favorite is “Metamorpho, the Element Man” by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred. This is a 1960s-style adventure about a search for the “legendary star of Atlantis diamond.” Allred’s kitchy, retro art works perfectly with Gaiman’s campy script. Best of all are the two pages Allred designs as a periodic table, with Gaiman working each element abbreviation into the dialogue – very clever and very funny.
“Wednesday Comics” is a must-have book for DC comics fans, fans of any comic art, or even those who used to read comics but haven’t done so for years. These classic characters still captivate our imaginations – as they have for decades. To read this book is to feel nostalgia for those lazy summer days when you had nothing to worry about except how Superman would defeat his latest challenger.
I’ll be leaving space on my bookshelf hoping for a Volume 2.
Rich Clabaugh is a staff artist at the Monitor.