KBAC to the Future


Astro City returned last week after too long an absence.

POV from reader amidst crowd with fans holding autograph notebook and taking video of crowd of superheroes before us including Samaritan, Winged Victory, and Cleopatra

The reviews, judging from links at the series’ new Facebook page and general chatter, are good. I haven’t read the new #1 yet myself but wouldn’t expect any different.

While some visitors to this site are likely familiar with Astro City, I’ve put up a 1995 article of mine over on Adventures in Comicology in which Kurt Busiek discussed his creation — also known to fans as KBAC for its original full title, Kurt Busiek’s Astro City — when it was aborning. (I’ll have plenty more such blasts from the past in the archives there eventually.) Kurt was at the time still flush from the success of his and Alex Ross’ Marvels — whose painted art, breathtaking as it was, became the takeaway to the error of many when in fact the story’s more crucial signature element was its unusual, intimate perspective. Marvels was narrated by a literal man on the street, Phil Sheldon. With Astro City, Busiek switches up the POV; one issue humanizes the world’s greatest superhero, the next might look at that same character through the eyes of a journalist, fledgling crimefighter, or small-time crook. At this writing you can get a free digital copy of that original debut issue [bad link].


Caped figure of Samaritan flying, backlit from above by the sun, crowd below pointing up at him Samaritan opening doors leading to reader's POV, other superheroes behind him

New entries in the Astro City canon, now making its home at DC’s Vertigo imprint, haven’t been seen by anyone outside its creative circle since the summer of 2010. Kurt has been working on the series when possible, feeding scripts to his collaborators to build up a solid store of material pending its reemergence.

From its initial six-issue stint at Image, to its 1996-2000 publication by WildStorm’s Homage imprint through Image and then DC, to its WildStorm miniseries and specials of more recent vintage, Astro City’s run has been collected in eight volumes total: Life in the Big City, Family Album, Confession, Tarnished Angel, Local Heroes, The Dark Age Books One and Two, and Shining Stars. Not all of them are in print — which doesn’t mean for sure that your local comics shop won’t have them in stock — but according to Kurt now that new issues are finally rolling off the press again DC will likely get new editions of the backlist in print. Kurt also says that the new series is reader-friendly for those hopping aboard for the first time, and I’m sure it is; since it does follow chronologically from earlier storylines, though, I have to snap up some missed issues myself first to fill holes from my time in the wilderness.

You can find Kurt at his own official Facebook page, in addition to the one for Astro
City
, and read his periodic insights on Formspring [bad link]. The latter continues to astound me in how insightful and articulate Kurt’s replies are to all manner of inquiries. Having this man write as much as possible of whatever he wants, be it great comics like Astro City and Superman: Secret Identity and Ninjak and Marvels and The Wizard’s Tale or process talk about writing itself, can only be a good thing.

Covers to the original Astro City #1 and this year's relaunch, along with promotional art above,
© 1995 and 2013 Juke Box Productions. Illustration: Alex Ross. Design, Typography: Comicraft.



Related: Head Space Rounds of the Night Table The Green, Green Ross

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