Monday, August 04, 2008

Dream Trades: The Rest of Paul Pope's DC Work

DC’s got hundreds of pages of Paul Pope comics in print at the moment, between Batman: Year 100, Heavy Liquid and 100%. And while that sure is a lot of Paul Pope comics to devote trades to, they also have plenty of shorter Pope stories floating around here and there, probably enough to get together in one place and publish as a standalone trade, along the lines of trades they’ve done for Alan Moore, Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale.

I’m not sure what you’d call such a theoretical collection of Pope material, but then these creator-specific collections DC has done lately have all had pretty terrible names.

You certainly wouldn’t be hurting for material, however, as Pope has a ton of short works he’s done for various DC publications and, considering how many pin-ups and covers he’s done, I wonder if DC could conceivably publish a Paul Pope trade in a larger, album-sized format, and push it as an art book instead of a just-another-mess-of-Batman-comics type of trade?

The first decision Mr. (or Ms.) Person In Charge of Deciding What DC Should Collect Into Trade would have to make would be whether or not to include the DCU and the Vertigo material, what with the recent erection of an impermeable wall between the imprints that characters can’t cross (Although the Alan Moore trades, Across The Universe and then DC Universe, including Swamp Thing among the DCU characters).

Pope’s had short pieces in several Vertigo books, mostly anthologies and jam issues: 100 Bullets #26, The Dreaming #55, Swamp Thing #9 (the Brian K. Vaughan series), Weird War Tales, Weird Western Tales, and Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #1-#2.

In the DCU proper, the character he seems to have done the most work on is Batman (hence Bat-Pope Week). He wrote and drew “The Berlin Batman” story for Batman Chronicles #11 a Batman Black and White story entitled “Broken Nose” about Batman fighting a man in a robot suit. He also illustrated the fifth and final issue of the Greg Rucka/Ed Brubaker/Chuck Dixon miniseries Batman: Turning Points, and his issue of Solo, the greatest comic book series DC ever cancelled, included a Batman and Robin story entitled “Teenage Sidekick.” (We’ll examine all of these Batman sories in greater detail later in the week).

That issue of Solo obviously includes a lot of Paul Pope material. If DC would want this theoretical trade to stick to Pope stories featuring their heroes, then Solo offers the excellent “Are You Ready For The World That’s Coming?”, a lovingly crafted “cover version” of Jack Kirby’s OMAC, in which pope re-draws Kirby’s original story.

It looks like this:

And this:

The rest of Solo #3 is comprised of non-DCU short stories: “The Problem In Knossos” is a kinda sorta Theseus and the Minotaur retelling, “On This Corner” is a story about a New York City stret corner, and “Life-Sized Monster Ghost” is a neat little story about one of those products you used to see advertised in old comics.

Pope illustrated a Bizarro vs. Superman short story for 2000 hardcover anthology Bizarro Comics, a short story written by Jeff Smith, a name that sure seems to help sell graphic novels these days. In this story, Superman is in space saving people when he comes across a potentially dangerous Bizarro, and is able to talk Bizarro out of causing trouble by using some cleverly applied backwards talking (Bizarro can dish it, but he can’t take it).

It’s a great little story, and Smith and Pope make nice use of the zero gravity setting to set much of the action upside down. But then, just about everything in that comic is a great little story, except for the framing sequence by Chris Duffy and Stephen DeStefano, which is a great big story.

What else is there?

Pope’s Wonder Woman pin-up from 1997’s JLA Gallery #1

his covers for Catwoman, back when it was still a cool crime-oriented book

and that weird little fashion advertisement insert section he did back in 2000, which featured members of Young Justice and Gen 13 in back-to-school fashions (Sorry, no scans; it's somewhere in my longboxes, but I know not where).

Am I missing anything?

Anyway, I’d sure by an oversized, art album-style trade featuring all these stories and images, and I already have them all somewhere in my long boxes.


TS said...

The Pope Solo issue is one of my favorites as well; mighty fine stuff. (I enjoyed the Aragonés issue almost as much -- it's a bona fide keeper.)

As far as a PP dream trade, since 2008-09 seems to be building toward some kind of critical mass for Pope's comic work, maybe DC will wake up and get this stuff pulled together around 2012, just in time for the end of the world (I keed, I keed).

Thanks for the Pope posts!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Pope is getting a lot of attention now, but mostly critical, outside of mainstream comic kind of stuff. I mean, his Batman is awesome enough for you to devote a week to him, but that came out like 4 years ago, right? This post itself illustrates that he really hasn't produced that much stuff for DC, which is a crime in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

Also, those have to be the worst Catwoman covers ever. I can see not one, NOT ONE, shot of cleavage or any stark white skin showing up in contrast to her cat-ninja outfit.

You know, the way Batman used to say that the yellow bat was to give something for criminals to shoot so they wouldn't shoot him in the face. She wants to be shot there.