If you read comics during the ‘90s, you’d recently have gotten the sense of “coming through” reading comics back then. The signs are everywhere in the industry and hard to miss even after the most cursory of glances. Digital distribution has allowed us to understand what was broken about the way the ‘90s tackled the problem of popularization—by removing comics from the cultural mainstream. Look at your iPad (or if you must, look at your Android)—those days are gone. Comics have become mobile again, tucked into a coat pocket as the winter closes in, moving with us wherever we head. Reading comics in 2014 feels very much like we’ve all come through reading comics in the ‘90s, regardless of whether or not we were around at the time. The cultural differences between reading comics now and reading them then stand in that stark a contrast.
But what about the cultural artifacts from Back Then? Can the things that had their genesis back then merit our attention now? Or are they best relegated to nostalgia and local comicbook stores?
Dead Boy Detectives offers a radical solution to exactly that question. In “Ghost Snow Storms part 4 of 5” (issue #10, that releases this coming Wednesday) Mark Buckingham (one of the original co-creators of the Dead Boys) and current series writer Toby Litt demonstrate how old ideas can be evolved.
Easy early as the first page (although to be technically accurate, the second story, since the story starts on the cover as part of Vertigo’s “Defy Covers” theme), Dead Boy Charles offers a Millennium, Stephen Colbert-esque analogy. If we don’t succeed, Charles suggests, it will take “as long as a Mafia boat ride” for things to hit the fan. But on the pages immediately following, we return to that ‘90s style page layout of multiple thumbnails to tell the story. And on the pages following that, back to a regular Millennial-style page layout, and with that a return to the theme of family-history-as-destiny and Charles more and more becoming his father slowly over time.
Dead Boy Detectives is a tiny, hauntingly moving love letter, not only to its own origins and the decade that birthed, but to the most powerful idea in comics—that once begun, an idea can change over time and grow with us, continuing its cultural relevance for generations to come. Please enjoy our exclusive preview of “Ghost Snow Storms,” Dead Boy Detectives #10.