Will I keep buying: Casanova?
Most comics publishers have been slow to alter Canadian cover prices, I figure, so as not to alienate comics retailers, preferring instead to alienate comics buyers. There’s a lot of talk about the effort needed to alter cover pricing, but if our currency had gone in the other direction, I’m sure the response from the big companies would have been much faster.
I’m not giving up comics, but I’m becoming even more selective in what I pick up, and I’m seeing what I can wait to pick up off of eBay or Amazon at a discount. Whenever I’m in the comic store now, the question I ask is, “Do I need this issue right today, or can I wait a few months until it’s collected?” Or, “Do I need to be buying this book at all?” I think a lot of comic buying is driven by the continuous run. You stick with a series long after you’ve stopped enjoying it, sheerly out of force of habit. (The same happens in relationships or with bad TV shows -cough - Smallville - cough -). All you need to drop a series is an excuse to break your uninterrupted streak, like, say, price gouging.
All these thoughts were running through my head last week, when I was in my comic store and I saw the latest issue of Casanova. When this series started up, I gave it a chance precisely because it was cheap. I’d never read anything by the writer, Matt Fraction, or the artist, Gabriel Ba, before, but the series was being published in the format pioneered by Warren Ellis’s Fell: 16 pages of story, 4 pages of text in the back, no ads, all for two bucks, and I wanted to support the experiment. I wound up liking the writing and loving the art, so I stuck with the book.
Recently, however, in addition to my money concerns, Gabriel Ba left the book and his twin brother, Fabio Moon, replaced him, with an art style I don’t like as much. For me, the biggest selling point of this book was always the art, and with all this comic price resentment brewing in me, I decided that this new issue was a make-or-break, and would determine whether I’d keep buying the series.
The issue, unfortunately, was awesome. The book is chock full of good bits, but this three panel sequence convinced me to keep buying:
Casanova is the coolest spy movie you've ever seen, but smarter. Except it's more than that. It's Steranko's Nick Fury by way of Grant Morrison – a comparison I’m not going to be able to make for long, because the more I read of Fraction's work the more I'm hearing a voice distinct from Morrison's- obsessed with the same sort of hypercool weirdness, but tinged more with scifi than, I don’t know, is it magic that Morrison’s into? Casanova is funny, it's clever, it's mean, and while it's all about surfaces there’s something going on underneath. The whole first issue is online here. You should read it.