Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Secret Origin of the LGC:Doom Patrol Blog

(An earlier version of this entry appeared previously on my Livejournal page on August 30th, 2009.)

With the current revival of the Doom Patrol by Keith Giffen and Matt Clark looming a few months ago (it has since begun publishing), I went looking for an online fansite devoted to the team. I had prior been able to find fanatically detailed sites for Challengers of the Unknown, Swamp Thing and others. It seemed like a natural for someone to attempt the same for the Doom Patrol: the outsider vibe generally leads to a lack of extensive coverage on the publisher's site of all but the most recent appearances; they'd been around long enough for intergenerational appeal; until about five years ago they rarely made appearances outside of their own title(s), simplifying the research a little; and their adventures were sufficiently bizarre that it seemed plausible that people would seek out the opinions of others as to what exactly we had all been reading. I was expecting something po
sted by someone in their forties back in 2001, something that would point out apparent conflicts of continuity between stories and speculated on possible explanations. Something with four-year-old comment strings piping in about storylines resolved in other titles and decrying the lack of trade paperbacks to bring complete stories together. All I found was a site seemingly put together as a college project before the Byrne stories and never completed, as well as the excellent blog found at the following link:

I've enjoyed the above blog immensely and would recommend it to any comics fan but especially those curious about the current series. It seems to have been started by someone to fill precisely the void I just described with the bonus of viewing the team as a living, ongoing concern and not simply the nostalgia trip I was expecting. One thing that did strike me as odd though is that not only the writer but many of the commentors (beside myself) have mentioned that they were unfamiliar with the issues written by Grant Morrison. Not all, but many. Sure, a few said they were confused by them and one said he simply didn't like them (opinions I don't share but certainly understand). It was my recollection (and I admit that I could be waaa-ay off on this) is that theMorrison isues were very good sellers, as 'Mature Reader' titles go. He certainly wrote more issues than any other author, more in fact than the entire original run of the book back in the sixties, more than the previous two volumes of this decade combined. You just don't stay that long if you're selling poorly. An editor may gamble on an experiment and consider a poor selling issue to be the just cost of gauging the readership's tastes, but nobody experiments for four years. Also, his entire run is available in color paperbacks while even the original 1960's stories are available only in pricey hardcover archives that don't exactly scream "mass marketing" (and yes, the first half of those stories are now also compiled in an inexpensive black & white paperback but that was only recently released). Most of the group's 40+ year history has never made it to color paperback ever but the issues most likely printed in the largest quantity have, yet the persons most devoted to the group, who will not only seek out a blog devoted to it but make the effort to let the blogger know that his work is read and appreciated, those are the persons who haven't read the Morrison issues? That's like Chris Rock's old joke about the Spice Girls. "The Spice Girls are like crack," he told the audience at an MTV awards show, "everybody says they don't like 'em, but somebody's buying an awful lot of it."

Since I do enjoy getting updates and breezy commentary on mga80, I neither want to leaden it with lists of facts and statistics or burden the blogger with requests for coverage of the past. I also am wary of recommending to fellow fans to rely too much on the DC wikia, since I found a few factual errors and numerous omissions and ran into too many walls trying to report them. Let this then be the background companion both the mga80 and the new series, a reference appendix built one brick at a time

The next entry should outline the nine phases of the Doom Patrol that I've defined for clarifying research; starting with that each subsequent entry should detail the stories encompassed by each phase and lay down an itinerary for the blog through next spring. See you in two days.

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