Friday, April 23, 2010

Big Bang Comics

As a youngster reading comics in the heady days of the early 1990's (or "The Rad Era" as we... well, I called it), I read many a comic. However, this was at a period of time when comics pride themselves on being dreadful. It was the Image age, where style took precedence over substance. Bright colorful costumes were replaced by trenchcoats and pouches. SOO many pouches. Also, clean cut heroes were overshadowed by grungy upstarts with long hair and lots of facial stubble. They were shaggy and unkempt, as befit the time. Culture had entered a shaggy, unkempt phase, and I myself sported an unruly mop of hair (I miss hair) as I threw a flannel shirt on over my t-shirt/ ripped jeans combination. Now, I'm not knocking the time, mind you. While there was no shortage of crap, much of it featuring Spawn, there was some really cool stuff during that time as well. Milestone, Ultraverse, NFL Superpro... Wait, scratch that last one. The point is, while there was much on the shelves that catered to what was popular, occasionally you'd find something unique, some different, something fun.
One day, while shopping at Comics Etc, the place where I wasted a good deal of time and along the way made some dear, dear friends, I stumbled across something. It was different than the other books on the shelves. It was called Big Bang Comics, and it looked like something out of a time capsule.
The idea behind BB was to create homages or pastiches of classic characters and present them in the style of bygone eras. Unlike The Golden Age, these weren't just stories that took place during a certain time period, presented with modern sensibilities; the writers and artists took great pains to make the stories presented therein feel like they were stories FROM those days gone by. The first three issues presented Golden Age style stories, and the results were amazing. The art styles, characters, colors, everything truly envoked those old yarns. More importantly, they reminded my angsty, teenage self of why I started reading comics to begin with- because they were fun! Big Bang was all about the fun. They didn't set out to reinvent the wheel as so many of their contemporaries at the time were attempting to do; they were just taking those wheels out for a spin, and I enjoyed the ride.

Big Bang would go on to create stories not just of the Golden Age, but all the ages, though in my opinion, they're most succesful when the focus on the Golden, Silver, or Bronze ages, as those feature a decided lack of pretension. Big Bang is still around, though the complications of independent comic publishing makes the schedule erratic. However, they still manage to pay tribute to the greats of a bygone era- men like Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jack Cole, CC Beck, Otto Binder, Jerry Seigel, Joe Shuster, Joe Simon, and of course, Jack "The King" Kirby. Unlike many of the books I bought in the '90s, Big Bang still holds up. They weren't trying to be "timely" like their contemporaries and in doing so achieved a sort of timelessness.

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