I have read some comics, though...

*From the past and present. For example, I just finished the first five-issue storyline of Ed Brubaker's and Sean Phillips' Criminal, which is a perfectly nice little crime thing, although it does get awfully goofy at the very end with the pulse-pounding action histrionics and likewise - I presume Brubaker meant the ending as an ironic departure from his main character's usual way of doing things, an illustration of the secrets he was keeping about himself, but it still seemed like an over-the-top means of wrapping up the loose plot threads, and that's even compared to the heads being blown apart in rush hour traffic that was the heist sequence in issue #2. Still, it was a decent series, and I'll look out for storyline #2 this May.

The most interesting older comic I read recently was the five-issue 1993-94 Kitchen Sink miniseries Captain Sternn: Running Out of Time, from creator/writer/penciller Bernie Wrightson. It was one of those series I picked up in part from a dollar bin a while ago, then broke down and bought the rest of online. You might recall Wrightson's Captain Sternn character from Heavy Metal - his segment was one of the pieces adapted into the film, after all. I did. But I'd not realized that he'd had an entire miniseries years later, and a big one too: each issue weighs in at 48 pages of story, not counting ads, with the art spilling out onto the inside-back cover of each issue. I don't believe a collected edition was ever released, which is really too bad; from the looks of the miniseries, I think it might have been intended for Kevin Eastman's Tundra, which was bought out by Kitchen Sink in early 1993, and maybe the latter entity didn't feel it warranted a collection. Actually, the latter didn't remain publishing for all that much longer itself.

Regardless, the series itself did finish, and I can't actually think of any one series with quite this much sustained Wrightson art - Batman: The Cult springs to mind, but I can't seem to think of other extended Wrightson stories. I get the feeling this series was a chance for the artist to get virtually everything that piques his interest out on the page at once: sci-fi technology, dinosaurs, zombies, and zombie dinosaurs being fought with sci-fi technology, all of it wrapped around a very silly plot concerning an evil cola magnate's plot to own New York City by addicting all of humankind to his evil soda, which requires the use of special narcotic fruits that can only grow in prehistoric times, which means he has to steal the time-traveling technology of a scientist who's working on a cure for Earth's undead plague, which itself is a smirking metaphor concerning consumerist culture in the US... it's not as much complicated as very long, albeit a very good excuse for Bernie Wrightson to draw whatever he wants, even if 240 pages eventually comes off as more than slightly over-indulgent for a project like this.

But flipping through these nicely-produced, full-color pages really takes you back to the days of Kitchen Sink's seemingly affluent press into the mainstream. There's ads for the Xenozoic Tales cartoon show (Cadilacs & Dinosaurs), a Melting Pot contest with the prize being a '69 Camaro painted by Simon Bisley. Excellent production values (although I suspect the $4.95 per issue price tag must have stung back in '93). The Captain and his crew have been greatly toned down from the Heavy Metal original - he's more of a charming rogue than the man behind the preschool prostitution ring of yore. Maybe there was a hope toward wider 'mainstream' success underlying the project? I don't know, but it's an eye-catching series, the sort of thing I'm always glad to discover existed...

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