By Jimmy S. Jay
Looking at the advance ship lists from Diamond of books hitting the stores on 12/24, It looks like Christmas is coming a little early. Marvel is dropping two of its heavyweights on the same day, ULTIMATUM and HULK; both entries are from the pen of Jeph Loeb.
This prompts the discussion, when was the last good thing written ABOUT Jeph Loeb? It seems that the writer has become the whipping boy for the bloggers and comic literati, yet the fact remains that an overwhelmingly majority of fans love his comics. Or why else would folks be willing to plunk down their hard earned $3 or $4 bucks several times a month?
The New Sales rankings for the month of November have been released with Ultimatum #1 topping the charts with Red Hulk quickly following in third place.
GOLD and BRONZE Medals in the competitive world of comics, even the decorated Olympian Michael Phelps wouldn’t think think was too shabby.
Add the newest Loeb book – Buffy the Vampire Slayer #20, hitting stores this past week, looks like the writer will close the year with three more books in the top 10 in DECEMBER. And this isn’t anything new; Loeb has been parked near the top of the charts for the better part of the decade, yet 2008 was a banner year in terms of accomplishments though – Loeb launched (or relaunched) THREE franchises (Ultimates 3; Hulk; Ultimatum) in the #1 top spot during the last 12 month span.
Perhaps we should look to the approach of Jeph Loeb to grasp the basis of this popularity – much like a Hall of Fame coaches such as Phil Jackson or Joe Torre, Jeph Loeb puts his team in the best position to score. Here the writer manages his titles by letting the artists shine to their strengths, and incorporating multiple splash page storytelling.
More specifically, In the Red HULK Hardcover, which collects issues #1-6 of the current series, 91 pages are pure action splashes out of the 132 total. Out of that number, 58 are double page splashes. Further-
In issue #1, 6 of 22 pages are Splashes
#2 10 of 22 are splashes
#3 7 of 22 are splashes
#4 9 of 22 are splashes
#5 8 of 22 are splashes
#6 8 of 22 are splashes.
Please note, these counts do not include half page images, nor other pages with boarder breaking panels with posed characters.
Jeph’s approach to comic storytelling does not deviate from the wide variety of artists he frequently collaborates with: the Tim Sale Eisner-winning partnerships; Jim Lee’s beloved Batman HUSH; the pop of Michael Turner’s “Supergirl” run of Superman/Batman; Joe Mad’s return to the medium in Ultimates 3; or Finch bringing down the house in Ultimatum. All incorporate a healthy dose of splash pages.
And this success does not happen in a vacuum – Brian Bendis’ best selling monthly comic to date follows the path of a Jeph Loeb story. SECRET INVASION #1, and the rest of the 8 issue mini-series, leans on artist Leinil Yu with loaded action and almost as many splash pages of an IMAGE COMIC from the mid-1990s.
How is this not candy in its connection to the mass audience? People buy, collect, and consume these books in monthly format, and for years as evergreen products in trade paperbacks and hardcovers. And in this challenging economy, retailers must respect the cash these products bring in.
And that’s the bottom line.
Jay Company Comics is a family run and operated comic book retail organization that focuses on the hottest collectibles in the market. Jay Company was founded by brothers, Bill and Jimmy S. Jay, in the spring of 1996, as they established an extensive mail order company and quickly became the #1 largest convention dealership in the nation. You can visit our family at the Jay Company booths at the San Diego Comic Con International, all WizardWorld Conventions, and other shows throughout the country.