March 3, 1998
by Chuck Miller
Oni Press, that's today's topic, which I will get to as soon as I tell you about just ONE (I promise) superhero-oriented thing.
The second Flash, Barry Allen, is one of my all-time favorite characters. I realize I have said the same thing about many different superheroes, but remember, I've been reading comics for a long while and at one time or another scores of different characters have occupied my top spot. (I don't say it about everyone; I have never been particularly fond of Iron Man.)
Anyhow, when I was 8 years old I loved the Flash. I still do and I miss him. Barry died during the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" several years ago, one of the few comic book deaths that I really minded and about the only one that has remained permanent. But interest in the character is not dead. DC recently came out with The Life Story of the Flash, a 96-page hardback biography of the beloved character. It's pretty nifty and ties together a lot of messy post-Crisis continuity threads for those of us who care about such things. (Though the explanation for what happened to Jay Garrick, the original Flash, for all those years is a bit lame. And they might want to rethink it; the diddling they've done with the original Green Lantern's origin proves their continuity isn't written in stone.) It's written by Mark Waid and drawn by Gil Kane and Joe Staton, a very odd choice for an art team. I have never seen these two work together, but the result is oddly Carmine Infantino-like, which may have been intentional. Anyhow, I recommend it, but only for hard-core Barry Allen fanatics like myself. I know there are some of you out there.
Okay. Every now and then something comes along in the comics world that really gets me EXCITED. Oni Press is one of those things. This looks like it's gonna be one damn fine company once they get started. The only thing I've seen on the stands so far is ONI DOUBLE FEATURE #1. Our local retailers got in a pitiful few copies of this maiden effort, but they did get it, which is good. What you need to do is go and bug them to carry more.
What is ONI all about? Let me let them tell you. The following is an excerpt from the manifesto by publishers Bob Schreck and Joe Nozemack and marketing director Shannon T. Stewart which appears in DOUBLE FEATURE #1:
"Oni Press is our dream come true and we hope to make it yours, as well. It is our goal to present the very best efforts from the very best talents the comics medium has to offer. It is our intent to let this title serve as fertile ground for a creator to explore their craft and tell their tales unencumbered by all possible worldly distractions, save for the limitations of their own imaginations.
"Why? Because we are in awe of the beauty of comics. How one mind conjures a story onto the page and how yet another mind decodes its message. It is a magic that we will never grow tired of. It's a special language that we share and we treasure its uniqueness above all others. "
Yeah! Though I have been saying much the same thing for years, I couldn't have said it any better than that.
The first issue of DOUBLE FEATURE contains a Jay and Silent Bob story by CLERKS/MALLRATS/CHASING AMY director/writer Kevin Smith, illustrated by Matt Wagner. The story is just flat-out hilarious, with a laugh on every page, nearly in every panel. Jay and Silent Bob, as Smith fans will know, are a pair of ne'er-do-well stoners and small-time dope dealers who drift through the movies providing comic relief and the occasional poignant moment. Here they star in their first-ever vignette (sort of the comic book equivalent of a two-reel comedy, I guess, a la the Three Stooges) called "Walt Flanagan's Dog."
DOUBLE FEATURE is one of those flip books, where if you turn it over and upside-down you get another cover and another story, printed backwards from the first one. On the other side is "Secret Broadcast" by the Pander Brothers. This is also a fine little story.
Oni also sent me a preview copy of their CLERKS comic, which should be on sale by the time you read this. This is also written by Kevin Smith, of course, and drawn by Jim Mahfood. This is gonna be well worth your money. Smith is a notorious comic book and pop culture junkie, just like I am, and just like I hope YOU are, and his comic book work is filled with all kinds of neat comic and sci-fi fan in-jokes to keep you busy. If you are a comic book fan/collector who can't stand a few jokes at his/her expense, stay away from this. In fact, stay away from comics altogether. Start collecting china or Depression glass.
Coming soon from Oni is BAD BOY by Frank Miller and Simon Bisley.
This is GOOD STUFF! TRUST ME! I don't think they offer any kind of subscriptions or mail-order service at this time, so that's why you need to hound the local comic stores. Speaking of which...
At a time when the comics industry is in a slump and there are ENTIRE STATES that don't have a single comics specialty store, Mobile is lucky enough to have two of them. And it's really important that we support them. To that end, I offer these UNSOLICITED plugs:
GOLD DRAGON COMICS has been doing business in Mobile for 10 years or more. I've probably dropped enough cash in there to put a good down payment on a house. They are located at 3970 Government Blvd., in the Skyland Shopping Center.
SINCERE COMICS has been here for a good while, too. They are at 4667 Airport Blvd., in that shopping center near the new Bruno's. Convenient to the University of South Alabama, if any of you feel like taking your noses out of those dry textbooks and checking out some of the groovy stuff you've read about here.
Both stores offer good selections of back issues and in-house subscription services, so you won't miss any of your favorite new stuff. I do have a preference, but it wouldn't be fair to state it here, and I do patronize both places. Go to the one nearest your home! Or, better yet, go to both! Each is special in its own way...