Sometimes I think I drive up my own ass and disappear

Rereading Time2: The Epiphany and Time2: The Satisfaction of Black Mariah, by Howard Chaykin. 

The third of the three was Howard Chaykin. It was.

Because we like to arrange things in threes, because that’s our pattern, there’s long been a glaring gap in the history of comics. Everyone agrees on two sides of the triangle: Watchmen and Dark Knight, the autopsy and the brass band funeral. But who’s the third? Maus has been most often suggested, even though it was only half-out, came from a very different place than those glossy contemporaries and wasn’t part of the hip, cool graphic novel movement. No, the third of the three, alongside Moore and Miller, was Chaykin. There was only one problem; the work.

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Because there is, ultimately, an obvious advantage to being with DC Comics, however they rip you off. Even if it’s how they rip you off: they make your work available. They get it in comics shops and bookshops and airports and all those places, all those disregarded distribution outlets that are the grass roots of the graphic novel revolution, that take it to a wider audience. Without that, without that splash, you can be a key player in the revolution, a pioneer of creative ownership, and nobody will even know.

Back up. American Flagg, the comic Chaykin created, wrote and drew, began monthly publication in 1983. Moore was doing great things in 2000AD and Warrior and preparing to bound across the Atlantic. Miller had concluded his first spell on Daredevil and was writing and drawing Ronin. The revolution was gearing up. Everyone was already doing their creator-owned work alongside or inbetween their work-for-hire; it was a part of comics growing up from the very beginning. But Chaykin was winning. Flagg, published (and, according to the indicia, to some extent co-owned) by First Comics, was a hit right out of the gate. Monthly, independent, sexy, unleashing new ideas and characters and complications with every issue. It tore through its first year, 12 issues of 28 pages telling one overarching story. It was hot and it was Howard’s; a commercial sensibility of colour and design and action brought to that sector of comics previously aligned with the black-and-white fantasy of Cerebus and Elfquest. Everyone knew Flagg. I was like 11 years old and I knew Flagg.

Then Chaykin sought out new worlds to conquer and plunged into that other movement of the day, revisionism. Decamping to DC to write and draw a Shadow mini, bringing his relentlessly modern viewpoint to a pulp character cited as Batman’s predecessor, taking a character last seen in comics published in the 70s set in the 30s bang up to the 1980s. It was another hot item, four issues of stylised violence that managed to reconcile two different origins, bring back a supporting cast, introduce a new supporting cast, save New York from a privately-owned nuke and do it all in a heightened, lurid style that fit this old character like a new pair of Uzis. The first issue, in which every page was a fresh scene, building a kaleidoscopic portrait of the character’s world before his bold final-splash return, was an innovation that paid off as if there were never any doubt it would. It sold out, it was published in a collected edition which was the highest honour available at that time, it positioned Chaykin as the guy who could do that shit too. Next? The big personal project. The unfettered expression of identity and creativity. Time2.

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Beginning with format; a big deal in those days. The format of your project was a statement of intent. Watchmen was 32 pages, white paper, no ads. Dark Knight was 48 pages, painted colour, glossy paper, cardstock covers, spine. Time2 one-upped it: 48 pages, painted colour, glossy paper, cardstock covers, spine but oversized, big edging-to-square pages, aping that cool Bande Dessinée format that so many US and British comics copied so slavishly for so long. And that format, like its contemporaries, turns out to be crucial in terms of the work, turned out to be the heart of what it wanted to be, to say. Time2 wasn’t tied to a schedule, wasn’t to be released monthly or bi-monthly: it would come out whenever its artist had another one ready. The first, Time2 :The Epiphany, subtitled ‘a fairy tale of the under city’, came out in November 1986, the year of the graphic novel, post-Dark Knight, concurrently with Watchmen. Every star was aligned to make it a hit.

I didn’t read Time2 until maybe 20 years after it came out, as a .cbr file on an iPad. And it was fine, it was a little slice of the past like when I read Elektra Lives Again years later, but I wasn’t blown away. I wasn’t blown away until late last year when I picked up both volumes from eBay and discovered how it should be read; at its proper size, both pages visible at once. Because it needs that to overwhelm. Only then does it approach the condition of music; page after page of design, of architecture, of cool, stylised figures rapping out rhythmic, overlapping dialogue, of luminous mise-en-scène. It isn’t a story. There aren’t any characters. It’s a place, a hangout, an elaboration, an improvisation. It’s jazz.

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The opening bars of The Epiphany are all horizontal: news tickers stripe the page, store logos and billboards float in the background, cars float and drift along never-delineated neon roadways. Heavy verticals interrupt and punctuate, full-height femme fatales and soaring music and brutal skyscrapers. There’s a bubble-stream of murder, cabbie killing robot in ever-decreasing circles. The camera drifts along the streets, following the car, the woman, hooking onto another set of passers-by and their double-dashed dialogues, never a full stop. Sound effects trail across the page, shaping it, or weigh it down in black rectangles overlaid by every other layer. Interiors are broken into grids by the steps of spiral staircases, by blinds or the grille of windows. Finally, page 19, we’re in the club, El Tropicana, the Trop, where the music’s been coming from, the jazz whose rhythm has dictated and animated everything we’ve seen. Only then do we get some ordinary pages, white gutters and dialogue that pins some plot in place. We haven’t met, really, any of its prime movers.

Who’s doing all the talking? Because come on, this is a Chaykin comic, and they’re wordy. Apart from a scene with Shalimar Hussy – a name 007-like in its two-dimensional summing-up – and demon cop MacHoot, we’re guided through by tautologically-named radio DJ Diogenes Pilgrim and the Chaykin choir of tailless balloons. There’s even a walk-on chorus, three sharp-suited dudes filling in the gaps in information we largely haven’t been given, striding across Time Square laying street wisdom on the people. No conversation ever starts or finishes, they’re all one continuous flow, each beginning before the last has ended, before the speaker’s seen. The reader’s immersed in the babble, in the outdated slang, in the machinations of people we don’t even know. Come on, the narrative is saying. You can work out who’s saying what and why when you spin this disc again. Go with it. Don’t fight it. Let yourself feel it.

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The design is beautiful. And like jazz, it’s a band performance. Ken Bruzenak, letterer of all Chaykin’s 80s projects, owns the pages almost as commandingly as the artist. Steve Oliff, on the blueline painted colours now so redolent of the period, anchors the layouts, draws the eye to where it needs to go. (Incredibly neither’s credited in the comic itself; nobody is except Chaykin on the cover. For someone who worked for so long with the same collaborators and has always acknowledged them, you’ve got to think that’s an accident.) Howard’s the Miles, the Coltrane, leading the line and taking solos, but he’d be doing nothing but squawking if they weren’t behind him. There’s evidence that the first Time2 wasn’t drawn for its format, the lettering’s oversized and has shrunk by the second volume, but the decision to make it that way pays off artistically. If not commercially, of which more later.

What’s the story? It’s an excuse for the place. Which is a positive, because Chaykin’s plots can be horribly confusing; the first year of Flagg takes at least a couple of reads to get the sense of. One of the key elements Matt Fraction used in Satellite Sam, that tribute-to-Chaykin with Chaykin onboard, was to throw in as many characters and plotlines as possible to leave the reader floundering to keep up. But the story of Time2 is simple to the point of barely being there: two events, the first happening offstage before the comic begins, the last happening in the final pages. Cosmo Jacobi, “one-time giant of Bop St”, has been found dead in an unexplained double suicide along with a robot girl. A saxophonist, owner of the Trop, who hasn’t been able to play for years. Not the suicide type. Married barely a month. We’re set up for a mystery. But there’s no mystery. Everyone – the cops, the word on the street, the whole cast – knows that new bride Shalimar Hussy did it, or arranged it. So, you’d think, the noir action moves to investigating exactly how this femme fatale killed her man and getting her in the slammer for it. Cosmo’s old buddy Maxim Glory, the boilerplate Chaykin hero, is back in town to settle his affairs. He’ll be the one who pins her ass to the wall.

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But nah. Nobody cares about that, either. Less than halfway through we get a big hint that it was Ingo, the blonde – in Chaykin, there are no good blondes – buffoon who’s chasing Shalimar who did it, and sure he gets punished, but it’s more universal justice than the human kind. The only punishment for the widow herself, who’d arranged a gang-bang as alibi, is to remain married to Cosmo when he returns from the dead with his mind in a robot body. A Devoidoid, a concept that’s been floated across the page without full explanation earlier and is only revealed here in a twist that’s weak in terms of plot but has emotional bite. “That woman blew you away—!” “With chicks like Shalimar — there’s just some shit you’ve got to put up with.” That’s how noir life is in the Square. Everyone just keeps on punishing each other with their existence forever.

Though Ingo dies. After being disarmed by Maxim’s kinetic sculpture and beaten by our square-jawed hero – he’s wearing a beret, he deserves it – he escapes to the street where he collides with a subplot. Throughout a taxi driver, trailed by taktaktakTOK lettering, has been killing or dismantling the sex robots that stalk the square. The Devoidoll slasher, the newspaper calls him, and a demon gets sent out on the streets as a honeytrap for him. Except the demon kills Ingo instead, and the slasher merely runs away, out of the book, no justice done. Mr Kung, who runs Rossum’s Universal Robots, gets a couple of pages this time around and a bigger role next time, but Trop bouncer Double Decker and his girlfriend gets time here then are barely seen again, while Rose DaSilva, in theory the villain of Time2, gets a single-panel cameo. A beautiful clockwork this isn’t. It’s a mess. It’s meant to be a mess.

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Chaykin’s always attributed the failure of Time2 to his own lack of restraint, to his pouring everything he was obsessed with onto the page. To quote from various interviews:

“Time2 happens in a universe where the Second World War never occurred. It’s influenced by bebop.

“It’s a fantasia of [a 1940s] childhood. I saw a lot of that from a toddler’s perspective, you know; I grew up surrounded by hipsters in baggy pants and crêpe-soled shoes… Symphony Sid, the bebop radio stuff, the Jewish culture of the Lower-East Side.

“I did [the books] in utter acts of arrogance and hubris because I should have recognized at the time that my obsessions and interests weren’t shared by the audience.”

It’s a solid reason for the death of your personal project. If I was creating something, if I’d put that much of myself into something that failed, it’s the reason I’d go for. But I’m not sure it’s true.

Because let’s be real: Chaykin is an artist with limitations. He always does his thing. He always has the same square-jawed Jewish bad-boy hero, the same dialogue, the same showdowns with twisted but ultimately weak villains, the same tough-talking chicks crazy for bad-boy dick, the same overcomplications and quixotic obsessions. And in Time2 he throws everything in but that mainly means throwing everything into setting, this nine-block square which is the city, the scene, the world. Rather than bother with the armature, the kinetic sculpture of plot, it’s all detail and so much of it period detail. Instead of infusing a story about the future or the 80s it’s swimming in it, drowning in it; Chaykin as a crazy chef finally allowed to add as much seasoning as he likes and serving up a whole plate, a whole meal of seasoning. Apart from one significant absence which I’ll get to this is pure Chaykin, uncut Chaykin, raw Chaykin, so not surprising that it’s at once a little too much and kind of empty. “There’s no there, there,” Gertrude Stein said about where she grew up in California. This is the opposite. There’s only there in the Square. The characters, the plot, are only a function of describing the place. There’s nothing but there, there.

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Maybe that’s why it failed. Or maybe not. Because Howard Chaykin was a controversial figure, back in 1986. Howard Chaykin is a controversial figure now and I’ll get to that, I’m just bored of that article structure which cuts in paragraph four to a full apologia for writing the article, but he was controversial for different reasons back in 1986. Because he’d created American Flagg, and he’d done just over two years as the writer and artist on American Flagg, and readers had piled into American Flagg, and then without ceremony the writer, artist and creator of American Flagg had fucked off. He’d handed it over to hired hands – an Alan Moore issue concluding his backups first, sure, nobody’s complaining about that – but then he stopped doing the art, and then he stopped writing it, and within six months he wasn’t even on covers. Dave Sim, then still a figure of moral authority, wrote a damning piece in the Comics Journal about it, his self-serving but not necessarily wrong conclusion that you could only trust self-publishers to stay with their characters. To take a powder to do The Shadow, a corporate project, laying truth on the DC masses, was bad but understandable, the old see-saw of taking commercial work to hook new readers in. To abandon your creator-owned dream project to hired hands for another, different creator-owned dream project is kind of insulting. And that insult was made tangible, and purchasable.

16cb0ba5fa4f0fdb7eb6f719e4e8a681_lBecause there are two-and-a-half volumes of Time2. The first, the one I’ve been waxing about, is The Epiphany, a title with very little relation to the contents. The second, 1987’s The Satisfaction of Black Mariah, has a much more direct relationship to its title. But preceding both was a prelude to the series; Chaykin’s return to his abandoned baby as writer and artist of an American Flagg special which wasn’t about American Flagg at all. It was all about Time2.

Even reading it now, it’s a real kick in the nuts to Flagg-lovers. Raoul, Flagg’s talking cat, and the eponymous hero are dragged through dimensions or whatever to the Square and are introduced to the characters. Maxim Glory doesn’t appear. Aunt Rose, shadowed like she’s one of the key players of the locale, appears more here than anywhere else. It’s a strange, misguided, inessential and insensitive preview, like a husband breathlessly introducing his estranged wife to the younger girlfriend he’s left her for. I can’t prove any commercial impact, any ill-will among Flagg fans who’d picked this up, but nor can I imagine a scenario where their loyalty wouldn’t be severely tested.

Time2’s second and final volume begins much like its first, with scrolling text and floating colour-coded chatter and a whole bunch of panels whose background is nothing but a collage of overlaid sound effects. We’re straight into the Trop, where the jazz sax is so intense that the demon police officer MacHoot is hell-bent on shutting that shit down. Maxim, the club’s owner since the end of v1, stops him with nothing but sheer confident cool until Aunt Rose’s boys use a satanic hooker to do… something, probably enlarge a client to immense size and almost destroy the place, until he doesn’t. It’s not entirely clear. It doesn’t matter. (Though the client, who certainly doesn’t survive, is like Ingo last issue wearing a beret. Everyone wearing a beret in Time2 dies, apart from Cosmo who’s already dead. This, surely, is a prejudice of Chaykin’s we can all get behind.) The plot, thin as it is, starts here with the ‘gghghghghgnnngngn’ of a police car, the eponymous Black Mariah, creeping up on a midget doorman. And this sequence – coming shortly after a splash where Chaykin rips off the Miller/Janson Dark Knight style better than I’ve ever seen anyone do it – is fantastic, three pages of nothing but images and Bruzenak’s stylish lettering as a man gets eaten, fucked, consumed. By a car. It would appear that these pages are the sole reason for the car being the antagonist, the single engine of plot, in this volume. Good enough reason. The design joy keeps on, page by page, a shuttering sequence of narrowing panels to replicate the strobed moments of a strip-show, art-deco lettering in outline for her music, the background detail of a robotic arm unobtrusively removing her clothing from the stage. The fantastic drapery of the suits, the cluttered signs of the streets, the inlaid tabloid headlines, only a cut-off window of each included, no information ever conveyed whole. Then, a little over halfway through, it stops.

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Not suddenly. Gradually, over six or so pages, as the story kicks in, the joy drains out. Not completely, either; the art’s still fantastic, the lines and shapes, there are still great panels and great little effects like the clash of patterns as Maxim and Patsy make out, or the trail of ‘mmmpopmmmmpop’ behind a robot. But there’s a definite change of direction. The freewheeling invention, the sense that every page has had as many layers piled on it as possible like a Xenomania track, departs. You feel like the creative team took a call from the studio head, telling them that money and patience were running out so get it done.

Instead of all that good stuff, we’re taken from point-to-point in the story, the unravelling of the origin and neutralisation of the menace of Black Mariah, and the big problem there is that the story is bullshit. It’s bollocks. It literally, in the original sense of that maligned adjective, reads as if Chaykin’s making it up as he goes along, waking up after the technicolour orgy of the book’s first half and grabbing frantically at whatever elements are lying around to bolt together a conclusion. The ‘Big Conk’ is triggered – you haven’t heard of it? Nor would you if you’d been reading the book – and all the Square’s robots hurl themselves at Mariah, who’s sometimes a dancing sexy robot and not just a car. (Transformers had been around a while at this point, yeah, thanks for asking.) MacHoot wakes up, rushes to the scene, and fucks Mariah in the petrol tank, to be blunt. “A 3000-year-old bog monster fucking a nymphomaniacal prowl car,” apparently fixes the situation to everyone’s satisfaction, and we end with the perpetually horny-and-angry-about-it Patsy, Maxim’s girl, about to finally blow him. The final three panels are Cosmo, waking up in robotic wreckage, shrugging to camera surrounded by question marks. Which credit the writer with at least some self-awareness, to end on basically a mirror. Because: ?

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The ending also serves as a reminder of what wasn’t in Time2, the project Chaykin threw everything into. It took me a couple of readings to spot but would’ve taken the adolescent me, when this came out, no readings to spot. There’s no sex in it. There’s no sexy. American Flagg was a fuckathon, Reuben screwing and being screwed by every woman in the large cast and quite a few walk-ons. Black Kiss, two projects after this, was nothing but sex. Here there just isn’t time. There are moments, of course, the aforementioned stripper, Patsy’s clinch with a robotic lady old flame on the dancefloor, but they’re both aborted before anything happens. There’s barely even a glimpse of stocking, which for Chaykin is quite shocking. Pansy’s so pissed off that she rarely looks desirable and Maxim’s suit falls beautifully but he’s a block of wood. Flagg’s appeal was that he was handsome but kind of a nebbish, simultaneously hapless and headstrong, manipulated by stronger women. The hero here isn’t anything but the hero. And sex was essentially Chaykin’s USP. Miller was the violent one, Moore was the cerebral one, Chaykin was the sexy one. But there isn’t time for sex in Time2. That probably didn’t help it either.

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Out of two-and-a-half books, then, there’s one-and-a-half worth reading. Overly harsh, perhaps: the pages where all the robots wake up, and the gorgeous splash of the Gernsback continuum robotic heart, both in the second half of volume two, can’t be faulted. The first volume was post-Dark Knight; the second was post-Watchmen, too. And then? Chaykin’s next project was back at DC, more revisionism, finally doing a period comic: Blackhawk, a three-issue prestige format mini. The first issue has a nine-page silent, symbol-laden dream sequence that’s incredibly impressive, a bravura piece of work, and the whole is an excellent entry into the rebooting of a war hero, Blackhawk made a Polish veteran of the Spanish Civil War recovering from smears, but it made no splash. It never got collected. Then there was Black Kiss for Vortex, which reversed the priorities of Time2 by being about nothing but sex, a long, nasty porn movie by a film noir director with issues. That was a hit in an independent way, but it was never going to break through to the graphic novel market. So Howard went back to DC one last time for an unlikely passion project: Twilight, a revisionist take on all their neglected sci-fi characters drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, another work that’s too much but this time in terms of plot. Then it was the 90s and, like all the 80s comics superstars, Howard flew wheels-spinning off a cliff. Like Moore, like Miller, he tried his hand at the other visual storytelling medium and its fantastic cash prizes, but unlike the other two he didn’t run screaming back from movies to comics. He kind of liked TV. He stayed.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 17.19.57It was the 00s when he quit that business and went back to his old business. Without a great deal of fanfare, he began producing comics again and at an astonishingly prolific rate. Researching this piece, I’ve found a litter of Chaykin comics I’d never heard of: I knew about Challengers of the Unknown and American Century and City of Tomorrow and his much-loathed run as artist (with old studiomate Walt Simonson scripting) on Hawkgirl, but I had no idea about Mighty Love or Century West or Buck Rogers or Avengers 1959 or Die Hard: Year One or Midnight of the Soul or Bite Club. Or maybe I’d heard of them, but hadn’t really bothered to take note. From those I did check out, the art had deteriorated and the scripts didn’t seem to offer anything new. I liked some, because I like the basic Chaykin offer, but you wouldn’t check them out to see what the guy would be doing now. He’d be doing Chaykin. He also returned to most everything he’d ever done that had been a success: there was a new Shadow mini, Black Kiss 2, a new Flagg story for the collection, even the revival of his Marvel creation, Dominic Fortune. And nobody really cared about any of them.

Howard Chaykin, unlike his contemporaries, appeared to be completely outside of the comics conversation until halfway through last year when suddenly he was being talked about again. Not in a good way. An Image mini called The Divided States of Hysteria, a deliberately taboo-violating vision of a United States which has lost a president to terrorism, it was severely criticised for the cover of its fourth issue, a lynched Pakistani man. I’ve not read the series and I’m not likely to, but there’s no defending that cover. It’s no more horrible than the rape-murders in Black Kiss, and if you want to be offended by Chaykin read Black Kiss, but they were depicted in the comic’s inverted moral universe where sex and violence were interchangeable. To go with one of the most offensive images you can think of as a random comicbook cover, on the racks with Superman and Squirrel Girl, isn’t okay. While that twitterstorm was ongoing I flicked through City of Tomorrow, the only post-comeback Chaykin work I’ve had time for apart from Satellite Sam, and fuck me if that doesn’t begin with an egregious and unnecessary bit of Islamophobia that has nothing to do with the plot. Frank Miller’s been far more viciously Islamophobic in his work, but a combination of low output and being able to draw if not like he used to but still arrestingly has largely seen him get away with it. The majority of Chaykin’s defenders cared because of who he was, not what he does now. It’d be an embarrassment to call that relevant.

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He’s returning to Time2, too. Completing the trilogy. It wasn’t a trilogy. The first two American Pie movies were more deserving of a capstone and closure than Time2. It won’t, I’m confident, be any better than anything else he’s done recently. It’ll still be drawn in that same slick, repellent style, as if all the figures are shiny plastic bas-reliefs bulging from the page. Optimistically, the final Time2 is being created so there’s enough to publish a collected volume and the original books will be available again. Even more optimistically, they’ll be published at the same size they were originally, and won’t be recoloured. Pessimistically, at least one of those hopes will be dashed and it won’t have nearly the impact the originals had. Not that they had much impact.

Why did Time2 fail? Why was it not only not a Watchmen or Dark Knight, but a project that sank without trace? Was it the jazz? Was it the density, without the panel borders of those projects keeping it safely caged? Was it the sheer wild creativity, the wanton disregard of the audience? Was it the puzzling lack of sex? Was it the passion? The disregard for plot, or characters, or even sense? The insult of the Flagg special? Published in the years of the graphic novel by a pioneer of it, how did Time2 miss its moment and not even go down as a famous failure, but simply vanish like a stone in a well?

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We tend to be liberal-arts people, those of us writing about comics. Those of us writing about anything. And, being liberal-arts people, we use liberal-arts tools to find liberal-arts answers. When a music weekly closes, everyone wonders if they covered the wrong bands, if they wrote about the wrong things, when the perfectly obvious answer is that there’s no need for teenagers to read about bands when the technology exists to let them hear them. So my assumption, and Howard Chaykin’s assumption, is that the failure of Time2 is because of the content of Time2. But I don’t think that’s the case. To circle back to where we began, I think it was the format. Everyone tried to follow that Bande Dessinée format when comics were trying to get classy in the 80s, when they were one of the few models for doing so. But they didn’t work. They’ve never worked as a format for American comics. Standalone graphic novels were treated by readers as optional, spin-offs, the direct-to-video Coronation Street specials where everyone goes on holiday unmentioned in the soap. They weren’t even considered in-continuity. Batman: Son of the Demon made the Dark Knight a father and was officially non-canon for 19 years; Elektra Lives Again killed both the title character and Bullseye, and was simply ignored. And being open-ended, with no definite date to return, no next issue to watch out for? That’s always been shunned for the very valid reason that the series might just get abandoned without any notification whatsoever. As Time2 did. In all my decades buying comics, I saw one issue of Time2 once. It didn’t die because it challenged the reader; it died because it challenged the marketplace.

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So the third of the three will only be remembered that way by those of us who were there, or thereabouts, at the time. Which is the way it is. To survive a moment there has to be the work, and there wasn’t the work. There was no thick paperback to be named a graphic novel. There never would be, really, not even all this time later. At least with Frank Miller, a younger generation repulsed by his politics can be pointed to the works where he gained his reputation, whether they judge them worthwhile or not. For Chaykin half aren’t even available and the others need contextual explanations. He’s like one of those 60s musicians who all the bands you’ve heard of were in awe of, but who never got it together to make an album. There was no third of the three. Sometimes there’s just two.

“It’s the only work of mine I have in the house all the time — I’m really proud of that work,” Chaykin said of the magnum opus he walked away from. And despite everything that’s become of Chaykin since, despite his drift from auteur to journeyman to “repugnant, vile, garbage fire wearing a human meat suit” (Joe Glass, Bleeding Cool), I’m glad to have Time2 in my house. There’s a use of the language of comics, an opening of possibilities, in its pages that hasn’t been seen again. A writer-artist searching for a new approach, to get across 60 pages worth of information in 20 pages, could strip-mine Time2 and create something genuinely revolutionary, authentically new. It doesn’t stop being new just because it’s old. This isn’t the best time to write about Howard Chaykin. I didn’t choose to in order to be controversial; I have nothing to offer the Comicsgate crowd but contempt. I just read Time2 last year, in its original format, and at a distance of 30 years it burst from the past to take my breath away.

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Timeby Howard Chaykin, Ken Bruzenak, John Moore, Richard Roy and Steve Oliff, is currently out of print but will hopefully be reprinted when a third volume is published. 

2 Responses to “Sometimes I think I drive up my own ass and disappear”
  1. I’ve never read a Chaykin book (except some sword ‘n’ sorcery issues … of something I can’t even remember the title of, for DC; I think), but this article was so well-written I had the sense it was totally fair [?]   `Opened my eyes to bebop storytelling (a different sort of ‘scan’?) that I might just take a chance and read … American Flagg, I guess, because it’s collected; I guess

  2. HC Anderson says:

    Great article. One quibble, Chaykin absolutely credited Oliff and Bruzenak in the comic, in a credits panel on pg.3.

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