Saturday, September 04, 2010
Will CLiNT No.1 kick ass?
"Grandpa had the Eagle, Dad had 2000AD and now you've got CLiNT, you lucky people."
Thus writes Mark Millar in his editorial for the first issue of CLiNT, the major new, hyped-up, reviewed-on-Newsnight, "boys comic" from Titan Magazines which is in all the shops now. Not just comic shops, but newsagents and supermarkets. Yes, a brand new UK adventure comic. Everywhere. 100 full colour pages for a mere £3.99.
Technically it's not really brand new. The two main strips, Turf and Nemesis, are reprinted from American comics published by Image and Marvel/Icon, and I hope that Nemesis gets back on schedule in the States before CLiNT catches up with it or there'll be a 22 page hole to fill in issue three. Another strip in issue one is an eight-page preview of the forthcoming Kick Ass 2 comic that Marvel/Icon are publishing in the USA later this month.
Of the actual, brand-new, not-connected to any other publisher, comic material that only leaves Rex Royd by Frankie Boyle and Jim Muir, illustrated by Michael Dowling, (11 pages) and a three page Space Oddities strip by Manuel Bracchi. The pale, red-bearded, somewhat anxious face of Frankie Boyle dominates the front cover and I think his fans might be disappointed that although he co-writes the comic strip inside (which has none of his style of humour) there's no interview with him. Instead we get an interview with Jimmy Carr. You know; that comedian who looks like he's wandered through a time warp from a Mack Sennett backlot and has been surprised by the headlights of a car more advanced than a Model T Ford.
The rest of the mag is taken up with articles destined to be the talk of the school lunch break such as Charles Manson's Death List and Hot Mums. Even so, it is comic strips that fill most of CLiNT and this is definitely a comic even though the cover design will suggest it's shelved alongside SFX or Nuts.
So who is it aimed at? Mark Millar definitely refers to it as a "boys comic", and some may think that's tongue in cheek but the whole package of the mag would suggest he's being honest. The promos talk about it appealing to 16 to 30 year-olds but maybe that's just to sell it to retailers. Personally I think CLiNT will really find an audience of 13 to 16 year-olds excited by the ultra-violence of Kick Ass and Nemesis. Don't be surprised to see some prudes rise up to bang on about comics "corrupting children". Every generation has those spoilsports and they've never proven their case yet. It seems to me that Millar and Titan have preempted such attacks by not making the cover look like a comic and clearly putting an "Adult Content" advisory beside the barcode. The responsibility is now with retailers to choose who to sell it to, and with parents to monitor what their kids read. No passing the buck this time for the blame culture.
Is it any good? Turf and Nemesis are the strongest strips, which is fortunate as they take up half of the comic. Turf, written by Jonathan Ross, is perhaps too verbose and full of information overload for new readers unaccustomed to comics but I hope they'll stick with it as it's a good story of mobsters, vampires and aliens. The artwork by Tommy Lee Edwards is fantastic.
I've never read Kick Ass and I missed the movie but from the Kick Ass 2 strip in this issue by Mark Millar, John Romita and Tom Palmer I found it easy to grasp the concept so that's a good start.
If CLiNT raises any controversy it'll most likely be because of Nemesis, a Mark Millar written tale of a super terrorist in the style of Italy's Diabolik. Nicely illustrated by Steve McNiven it features images of mutilation and carnage and a script littered with four letter words. I'm sure that teenagers will see it for the outrageous black comedy it is but there's always some resentful faction of society that have nothing better to do than complain about fiction.
Will CLiNT succeed? Too early to say. I'm sure comic fans will love it but the aim of this title is to reach beyond the fan ghetto and attract Joe Public in the way that comics used to. Comic fans love continuity strips but they're a much harder thing to sell to casual readers who prefer the instant laughs and complete stories of Viz. It's a lot to ask of people to remember the complexities of a serial strip over four-week gaps. In CLiNT's favour it has the same high-energy of a blockbuster movie but it's the "continued next issue" aspect that's the big hurdle. It may have worked for Dickens and Conan Doyle, and even for Eagle and The Hotspur, but this is 2010 and people like self-contained entertainment with sequels as an extension of a concept, not a result of a cliffhanger.
Is CLiNT easy to find in the shops? Well, if retailers do their job right it should be alongside SFX, Sci-Fi Now and 2000AD, but reports are coming in of it being next to anything from Match of the Day Magazine to Fun-Size Beano. In the branch of WH Smith I bought my copy from ten issues had been stacked back to front. That's the next biggest hurdle: retail intelligence.
Any new comic faces a big struggle to succeed today. Outside of faithful collectors and a gradually growing graphic novel readership, I've found that Britain tends to view comics with either indifference, ridicule, or contempt. The cover style of CLiNT should at least raise curiosity of casual browsers and maybe hook some new readers who thought comics were only for young kids.
Mark Millar has ambitious plans beyond CLiNT. As soon as the first issue was placed on the shelves he announced "I’m in this to win it, not fail and so using every trick at making this work where everything since 2000 has died" and announced intentions to revitalize the UK comic industry to "make sure it has as many jobs and as many readers as it had a generation ago".
That's quite a bold statement from someone who's comic had only been on sale for one day, but one has to respect Millar for trying to make a difference and wanting to pull the industry back from the abyss it could face in a few years. It may be hyperbole but in this day and age one has to be confident in order for talent to be noticed amongst the mediocrity. It'll be interesting to see how CLiNT fares and I for one will be following its progress.