With the sad news that Wildstorm will no longer be its own imprint within the DC, there have been many people lamenting the loss (including various creators at The Beat, Newsarama, as well as other people discussing the implications or just their favourite titles). I don’t have the eloquence or ‘big picture’ insight that some of those do, but I did want to mention some of the reasons for me that make this a sad news item.
Comic books have succeeded on characters and fan favourite artists, but Wildstorm was a place where creators were allowed and encouraged to let their imaginations run and given room to do what they did best. James Robinson and Alan Moore had fun on WildCATS, with Travis Charest on art, and Moore created the wonderful ABC comics at Wildstorm as well as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Warren Ellis was given Stormwatch with Tom Raney, which became The Authority with Bryan Hitch (then with Mark Millar and Frank Quitely), and there was also Planetary with John Cassaday, and Global Frequency, which almost became a television series, and Ocean with Chris Sprouse (and I wish there had been more Desolation Jones); Ed Brubaker starts on Point Blank before creating Sleeper with Sean Phillips; Joe Casey did new things with a second volume of WildCATS and then the postmodern and ahead of its time Wildcats Version 3.0 with Dustin Nguyen, as well as the short-lived The Intimates; Brian K Vaughan did Ex Machina at Wildstorm with Tony Harris, while Kurt Busiek has been happily doing his Astro City in the same place, and Gail Simone used the Wildstorm backdrop for her Welcome To Tranquillity series.. There was also the brilliant mini-series The Winter Men by Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon – where else could something like that been done?
These were books I bought mostly as individual comic books as they came out, and they were individual voices that were unafraid to be themselves and enjoy doing it. Looking at the list of books I have collected over the years, and it’s an impressive group of comics in its own right, made even more amazing that the series came from the same imprint that started relatively recently. How many publishers, including ones who have been around for longer, can boast such achievements? Great creators producing work that still stands up – Wildstorm will be missed. Yes, things went pear-shaped at the end, with the abortive relaunch of Wildcats and The Authority supposedly via Grant Morrison, but no publisher is great all the time. It’s a shame that Wildstorm will no longer be around as good place to make comics, but we’ll always have the stories that were produced there.
[EDIT: I wanted to add Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco’s Arrowsmith and James Robinson and Paul Smith’s Leave It To Chance to the list of great comic books from Wildstorm, after reading Timothy Callahan’s piece at CBR.]