Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Comics That Changed Me: Y: the Last Man#1

For the remainder of this series the emphasis is going to shift from content to, of all things, branding. By 2002, I was fairly certain of what I wanted from my comic books. I was scraping by on my own, making my presence on the internet, making internet friends who shared my comic book interests and keeping well-informed on the state of the comic book market.

For most of 2002, I was still rationing myself to a select few titles and all of them were Marvel Comics. I was (and am) heavily invested in the Marvel Universe and its trappings, so it made sense to spend my meager funds there rather than commit to any other fictional universes.

But around the same time my fortunes began to improve, I became better acquainted with some long-time local friends, a few of whom were comic book fans. Although we could speak to each about comic books in that way that people who aren't into the medium can't understand, we didn't share too many interests in common.

I vividly recall the the day one of my friends was reading Y: the Last Man, a newly-launched title from Vertigo. He remarked to me by way of half-hearted recommendation, "It's a good book, but I know you don't like things that are good."

So, that stung.

I was aware of Y: the Last Man prior to this episode thanks to my internet browsing. when I read Randy Lander & Don MacPherson's review of the first issue I thought it sounded like a great concept for a series. Then I put it out of my mind. After all, it wasn't Marvel.

Some of my hesitation to Y was also based on the Vertigo label. I simply didn't buy comics which held a "mature readers" warning. I knew it would mean gore, nudity and/or profanity and I simply wasn't interested in seeing those elements in my comics.

But, oh, how my pride had been wounded; so I took action:

Writer: Brian K. Vaughn Artists: Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr.

After a mysterious event which kills every other man on Earth, the last surviving male - Yorick - sets out to find answers, restore order and hopefully save humanity's future. But mostly he travels around in a post-apocalyptic wasteland making quips with his pet monkey.

It wasn't easy getting started on Y: the Last Man because issue #4 was already out by the time I decided to take the plunge. Those early issues were scarce at the start as rave reviews took comic book sites by storm and it took some work to find copies still on sale.

As I said, the content isn't what's important in this case; I read Y: the Last Man for a few years, then got tired of it and gave up. But this was where I broke out of my Marvel-only ghetto mindset, as well as overcoming my hesitation to pick up mature readers books. Since I returned to comics in 1997, I had vowed to myself that I would spend my money on comics that I enjoyed, not purchasing anything out of a sense of obligation or speculation. Looking for quality material had led me as far as Vertigo; in the following installment, the other shoe drops.

Next time: small publishers - threat or menace?

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