I’m happy to announce that Rusty Staples’ sophomore year (“sophomore” is American high-school slang for “second”) was even more successful than its first, even despite the four-month drought in the summer when I was too busy to post anything (due to a heavy workload, a week’s holiday in London, the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, and a second, lengthier holiday in the USA with Mrs Rusty to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary).
Now, in what the critics are already calling “a lazy way to conjure a new article out of nothing,” we’re looking up at a shiny new 2020, but first we shall cast our eyes back at 2019 — though not literally — and see which articles posted in that year were the most popular.
10. Pocket-Money Comics: Hotspur
The Rusty Readers do seem to like these in-depth looks at individual comics, and I’d love to do them more often but, by crikey, they take a huge amount of time to create: at least a day each, and usually longer. I have a few more lined up for 2020 but I can’t even hazard a guess as to when I might get around to them.
9. Noncomics: Making Superman’s Shield
True confession time: it’s been almost a year since I made this, and I still haven’t decided what to do with it… it’s just too big! But I’m still pretty pleased with it. I’ve since made a Batman logo, too: the one from the Christopher Nolan movies. It’s right here beside me on the desk as I write this… I will mount it on the wall one day, when I get around to it.
8. Oddities #20191101
The idea behind the Oddities series was simply to present some of those odds and ends that a comic-book fan tends to accumulate over the years. Most have proved to be of mild interest, but this one — the paper bag from Forbidden Planet, London circa 1982 — has been by far the most popular.
7. Branding: Spider-Man Comics Weekly
And I thought that the Pocket-Money Comics articles were a lot of work… They are, but not compared to these Branding articles. This one took over a week, a very large chunk of which was spent on the web hunting down articles about specific issues of SMCW and comparing covers and the like.
6. Noncomics: KP Outer Spacers Free Space Posters
Well, this one caught me out… I thought it might be of interest to a small handful of readers, but, no, this post was extremely popular. It seems that many people remembered that these fantastic posters existed… but I’ve only heard from one other person who actually bought them.
5. Comics That Never Were #1
Probably not one of my better ideas! I decided to put this series on hold following some extremely strong reactions. I should have learned my lesson years ago when I created an image of 2000AD annuals as they might have been had the series continued. This article’s look at the never-existed Halo Jones Book 4 apparently upset a lot of fans who’ve spent several decades hoping it might one day happen. (It also triggered an accusation that I had launched “a vicious, snide, underhanded, and completely unprovoked attack” on Alan Moore, which was as amusing as it was inaccurate.)
4. Branding: Battle Picture Weekly
The last entry, so far, in the Branding series, and there are no more planned at the moment: aside from the time it takes to compile these, there aren’t really very many candidates… It’s not just a matter of picking a comic that frequently changes its logo — we have plenty of examples of that, most notably 2000AD — the articles are about comics that change their focus over time.
3. Star Wars in 2000AD
The article so large that I had to split it into two chunks (you can find the second part here)… and probably the most time-consuming feature to assemble. But it was a huge amount of fun, too, so no regrets at the lost couple of weeks and the burnt-out scanner. Also: this has, as far as I know, been the only Rusty Staples article that someone else tried to publish as a small-press book. His argument was that the article could be read on-line for free, therefore it was fair game for him to do with as he pleased. (He has since been shown the light.)
2. The Marvel UK Timelines
Another two-parter (part two is here), this article only covers the Marvel UK comics of the 1970s and 1980s: I’ve received a lot of requests to cover the 1990s and beyond, but frankly I don’t have anything even close to the same level of enthusiasm for that era, plus it’s much more complicated… that’s a job for someone else, I think.
1. Branding: Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly/Magazine
Easily the most popular Rusty Staples article so far, and a great deal of the credit for its popularity must go to John Freeman for promoting the article on his wonderfully entertaining and informative Down the Tubes blog. The DW magazine is still going strong, and passed its fortieth anniversary back in October!
Thank you all for your support throughout 2019, “Rusty Staples” readers! May the coming year bring you peace, happiness, prosperity and comics — lots and lots of comics!