Thee Comic Column #136: Rick Remender’s Year of Creator-Owned Comics

DeadlyClass_12Recently I fell behind in my comics. Due to extenuating personal circumstances I found myself repeatedly unable to get into the shop and pick up my pull. This lasted for a while – almost two agonizing months to be specific! Near the end it became a self-perpetuating problem, as week after week I realized that the amount of cash I was going to need to empty my box at Manhattan Beach’s amazing Comic Bug was growing into a monster. Finally I found myself with a spare $100 bill (how often does that happen?) and I walked in and traded that sucker – or $97 of it – for everything I had missed since the beginning of June. As you might imagine, it’s taking me all the spare time in a busy weekend to put a dent in this pile. This was especially true when, in the backs of both the latest issues of Deadly Class and Black Science, writer Rick Remender made with the best comic-related news imaginable: He is taking a break from writing at Marvel Comics and spending the next year focusing on his creator-owned series.

Made my week.

Mr. Remender’s work at Marvel has been legendary in my eyes; despite my giving up reading the company’s titles a few months back in order to further support indie and creator-owned books I’ve enjoyed his run on everything there since 2011 and it’s hard to imagine him not plotting some of their big guns, as Mr. Remender was the man who single-handedly got me back into reading Marvel in 2012.

It was on the recommendation of a friend at the ‘Bug that I reluctantly picked up Uncanny X-Force #10 and Venom #3. Man, it was a revelation! I’d been down on the company’s books for years, exhausted from crossovers and dense, ouroboros-like continuity when Mr. Remender showed me that someone there was still doing great things – things concerned with crafting epic continuity and not falling constant victim to editorial directives and crossover gobble-de-gook. And as I fell more and more under Remender’s spell, moving through that breath-taking X-Force run and on into its companion book Uncanny Avengers, finishing his Venom and being absolutely blown away by the Dimension Z storyline that kicked off his Captain America run I had a new writer to rabidly follow. And follow I did, but not just within the confines of Marvel. Deadly Class and Black Science – Remender’s two creator-owned books inaugurated at Image in 2014 – remain two of the books I simply cannot wait to read every time they hit the stand. His collaboration with Greg Tocchini, the under-water civilization book Low is one I’ve saved for trade (note to self: about time to get on that) but I’ve read some of it and it’s fantastic, and I’m chomping at the bit for his collaboration with Sean Murphy on the upcoming Tokyo Ghost. These are all fantastic books and hearing the news that it was on this aspect of his career Mr. Remender would be focused for the next year made me, well, giddy with anticipation for all the great stories this move will no doubt provide us with.

Tokyo Ghost

Tokyo Ghost w/ the inimitable Sean Murphy!

But let’s be realistic. This is going to take support. These books do well, but they don’t do what a Captain America or an X-book do sales wise. If you’re a Remender fan you no doubt feel the same as I do and probably realize that it is going to take us help spread the word to the uninitiated that will further the success this wonderful writer receives. So writing this little piece is my way of doing just that; spreading the word.

Whether you dig the capes stuff or the indie stuff, independent books are increasingly the most important aspect of the actual medium of comics. It’s how they will grow and evolve on the page. Marvel might be  on top of their game – and hell, looks like DC’s ramping up to make one hell of a come back – but these two companies are essentially proven institutions whose books essentially serve as idea farms* for their characters continued evolution into the medium of film. And I have no problem with that. However, as much as I love well done comic-based movies, I love comics themselves more. In the wake of this Hollywood explosion the industry has become mainstream and following from that indie, creator-owned books are increasingly able to shine and grow their audience as well, but they still don’t have the viral currency to penetrate to all of the potential readers out there who would love them. Creators like Rick Remender excel in both facets of this game, and now that he’s leaving the safety net of Marvel’s guaranteed paycheck behind we need to throw up a rally cry and help spread the word, so that his venture can go further – for him and for all creator-owned books. There’s just so much potential here.

Deadly Class - a high Lowschool drama set during the 80s and following a group of teenagers who just happen to attend a secret school for assassins  is the perfect story to be made into a movie – it’d be like a good version of that school/action archetype that crap like Vampire Academy continually utilizes to grab young audiences. Black Science should be in the hands of anyone who loves Weird Fiction or Old School Sci Fi. These are ageless stories that stand up to or above anything being done with the Big 2’s iconic characters and if things continue to go well for Remender we’ll get more of it. Also, his continued success will help bring even more attention to all of the other great creator-owned books out there. Imagine a world where it’s not only the Big 2’s titles that receive big-budget adaptations to the screen. We’ve already seen some of this with Mark Millar’s Millarworld stuff (Kingsman, Kick Ass, Wanted, etc.) and random one-offs like Boom! Studios’ Two Guns and Warrren Ellis’ Red succeed but there’s a lot of other stuff out there that would benefit from big film studios’ involvement. Imagine Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus becoming a serialized, top-tier cable show. Imagine Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s The Empty Man as a Blumhouse-produced horror film. Or Brian Buccellato’s Sons of the Devil becoming a series. The possibilities are endless and it starts with little stuff like supporting creator-owned comics.

As popular as Rick Remender‘s creator-owned titles are the man is still taking a big risk. He’s leaving behind the support structure of a major Hollywood institution like Marvel and their Deep Pocket’s parent Disney. He’s striking out on his own to follow his heart and continue to forge his dream into a reality, and with our support he can continue to tell amazing stories and explore his craft and his imagination. After all the great reading this man has given us, how can we not support that?

Viva la Remender! Now, take a drink.


* to borrow Grant Morrison’s metaphor.


Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!


Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Thee Comic Column #136: Rick Remender’s Year of Creator-Owned Comics
  1. […] Seven to Eternity is published by Image Comics and I believe will make another wonderful edition to ...

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