The Comics Train was what they called the train out of Oslo to Bergen for the Bergen comics festival. The industry was in Oslo, the festival was in Bergen, so everyone in comics in Oslo got on the one train to get them into Bergen that night. My family and I – my daughter was not quite three years old, I think — actually went to the station to help greet the Comics Train. It seemed to be a thing.
I like trains, as mentioned. I like train schedules. You come to understand them, early in life, as speculative. They’re the stories everyone tries very hard to make come true.
Oh, but sometimes the rolling stock gets old, and the overhead lines rot out, and a dozen different things start happening that prevent the train from leaping down the rails into the future.
(Joe Maneely, one of early American comics’ most unique stylists, on the verge of his very best work, died on a train. Crushed between coaches. Not sure why I feel the need to note that, but everything I write here is Not Fully Baked and intended to be sorted out later, so I just throw everything in.)
I remember, years ago, a prominent comics retailer doing an aria at me about how the small tankoubon editions of LONE WOLF AND CUB were a crime perpetrated upon the market by the publisher. They were too small, they were going to be easily nicked, they were hard to rack, etcetera. They quickly became the best-selling book in their category. I remember, a little later, a retailer looking me in the eye and telling me he didn’t want new stuff, he wanted the old stuff done better. When I pointed out that, from that stance, he never would have ordered a copy of WATCHMEN, he kept eye contact and said, “That’s right. So?”
I accidentally sort of invented a weird cheap comics format, which, later, to not enough fanfare, introduced Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie to the wider world. Bet you that guy made many gold coins off those three.
Comics can get caught up with market issues and opinions, and forget the engine pulling the people to the next station.
Given that this space is always Not Fully Baked thoughts, and given a recent cursory look that suggests Anglophone comics are in a similar space to that I found when I created said goofy format, I kind of want to spend a little time looking at the engines.
Said similar space: everything I look at lately looks kind of the same.
Additional: Comics Are The Ghost Train