And now, to the dulcet tones and beeps of Underworld’s Rez/Cowgirl, we shall commence liveblogging the second half of the Previews Catalogue. What does this mean, by the by? Well as I flip through the pages of the May 2009 Previews catalogue (for items scheduled to start shipping in July), I’m reading descriptions of the books, checking our order history and our sell-through of previous issues, and then figuring out how many copies I’m going to order. What you’re seeing are my honest, off-the-cuff reactions to the books (and attitudes…) found in your average issue of Previews. Ready, let’s read!
12:44pm: Page 178 features this month’s WIZARD solicit, which, again, looks like it’s being designed by the Previews staff rather than at Wizard. I really do think they’ve finally fired everyone at that magazine that they could…? Anyway. This page is notable because one of the features of this issue of WIZARD is: HOW TO GET YOUR GIRL TO READ COMICS, which is delightful in a late-90s internet article sort of way. The best, BEST part? The afformentioned “girl” in the little photo accompanying the article is carrying copies of: 6 Superhero books, Sin City, Y The Last Man, and… can’t quite make out the top one. Against a wall of high-priced back issues. So, yeah, this photo is not doing the article any favours. I’ve long-since grown past the need to read Wizard just to be offended or upset at bad content, but I’m really kind of anxious to read this one, just to see if it “lives up” to the photo.
Of course, I’m actually cutting orders on this issue as sales are sliding badly on the magazine…
12:52pm: We are continuing to sell out of Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss, which is kind of surprising… We’re also continuing to do the same with Terry Moore’s ECHO, which is less surprising, but I’m going to be honest, I really thought the first trade paperback would’ve killed the issue sales. Nope! It seems people want to read Terry Moore as soon as they can get him. Good for him.
12:59pm: PROCESS RECESS 3. The 3rd in AdHouse’s release of James Jean art-books. The first two have sold right-the-fuck-out and are going for ludicrous prices online. This third one apparently collects sketchbook work, new paintings and illustrations, all kinds of cool stuff by M. Jean. We’ll be ordering a bunch.
Cover Image to the right, click for (much) larger.
EDIT: Oh yeah, check out James Jean’s blog for more info on this, it’s nifty: http://www.processrecess.com/?uid=FA8BCD
1:20pm: So, Page 188 shows us that Antarctic is now designing their own section of the Previews catalogue… With, I think, utterly disastrous results. I appreciate that it’s good to be able to control the size and presentation of your books–good for you, seriously. But? This is a jumbled mess. No center-of-interest, doesn’t lead the eye, and the blue hackground makes it basically-impossible for me to write my little numbers for what I want to order next to the solicit. :-/
As you can see, the only thing that really stands-out is the PRESIDENT EVIL title treatment, and even then, it’s a little difficult to make-out as Barack Obama (although really what else could it be…).
Yeah, guys, seriously this is not doing you any favours whatsoever. Look at like… catalogue layout sometime or something. Or figure out some way to layout your info better, because this is terrible.
1:36pm: I’m kind of having guilt pangs about not ordering this terrible fucking Obama/Resident Evil ‘parody’, because I know it will sell off the rack, but it’s just conceptually awful, like the terrible Barbarian comics probably will too. But no one has preordered them so I just don’t want them on the rack, I’d like to stand for something, you know?
Anyway, I am conflicted. But I am not ordering them. If someone really wants one they can do a special order.
1:39pm: So APE Entertainment’s The Trouble With Katie Rogers (p190) looks kind of neat. A contemporary romantic comedy in graphic novel format. We have a healthy balance of men and women shopping at the store, I’m curious if something like this will do well for us, or if it really is a bookstore thing. I’ll give it a go. (Nice MySpace page too, actually).
Oh, also on this page is Zeke Deadwood: Zombie Lawman from SLG. I’m actually not “sick” of the Zombie thing yet, and this looks pretty good, played for laughs. Looks like a sort of Westerns versions of Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse. We’ll give this a solid order, hopefully it works out.
1:45pm: So all of my questioning is for naught, it looks very much like the Mouse Guard series has finished, and at Archaia to boot. Now here comes the second graphic novel collection, Mouse Guard Volume 2: Winter 1152. I imagine it will do well for us.
I think I saw someone, maybe Mike Sterling, wondering aloud on his blog as to why the sales on the single-issues of the MOUSE GUARD series had dropped through the floor at his store. I think one reason why might be that the solicit for this collection promises “a new epilogue”, which, considering the series just ended this past week, is kind of unfortunate. I don’t subscribe to the idea that putting new content is “screwing” people who bought the singles–I did when I was a little younger but now I realize that you get what you pay for. You paid four bucks and issue for 6 issues of a comic, and you didn’t mind doing so at the time, you probably got $4 of enjoyment out of that book, epilogue or no. But seeing stuff like this happen? It does make customers less likely to support serialization, it does erode customers faith and interest in a series, and when you make it a selling feature that the pretty new hardcover contains a bunch of stuff not in the smelly-old issues, it makes me as a retailer reconsider my approach to ordering your single issue comics. Not just from this creator, but from this whole publisher.
So, you know, as a publisher you can do whatever the hell you want, it’s your business. Just know that there are reprecussions.
1:56pm: The ASPEN MLT INC. publisher pages look an awful lot like advertisements, but it turns out those are the solicitations, and the only ones at that. Meanwhile, flipping along, the AVATAR solicits look a lot more like solicits than advertisements (although the Anna Mercury 2 #2 spread was a little confusing at first). Still, one looks like it is imparting information, the other is drowning in graphic elements, headlines, logos, and tiny tiny text. It’s pretty easy to figure out which is more successful.
2:17pm: I know they’re “just” licensed books, but I’m kind of shocked to see that the first wave of trade paperback collections of Boom’s THE MUPPET SHOW, THE INCREDIBLES, and THE WORLD OF CARS got almost no play at all in the catalogue. We’ve done very well with the single issues of all of these books, Very Well, and the treade paperback collections (at a friendly $10 price point) are going to do gangbusters for us, I think? Maybe I’m wrong on this, but we’re definitely investing in them at the store… We’re doing progressively better with kids material and this is really solid looking stuff.
2:41pm: Similarly surprising? No special-attention paid to Cartoon Books’ solicitation of the limited-edition RASL HC (P222). Limited edition oversized HC of Jeff Smith material… you’d think that Diamond would be all over that. I mean, I know it’s not going to sell BONE HC numbers, but we’ve been doing really well with RASL. Again, I’m all over this collection, particularly for the long-haul collectors that are going to want this (very) limited collection, but might not have the pocket-money on hand to do so now.
2:46pm: Also on page 222 is Jack Moriarty’s THE COMPLETE JACK SURVIVES from Buenaventura Press. Originally published in the venerable RAW magazine, this collects every Jack Survives strip in a lovely 11×14 package, in full colour. I’m only very casually familiar with the material, but it’s spoken-of very reverently amongst my artcomix friends, and anything out of RAW is obviously work at least a look.
3:20pm: I know this is going a little slower than usual today, but man, things are a little intense at work here today. Lots of stuff in the air. Sorry.
DMP BOOKS is changing the size of some of their manga? I think I missed this announcement, but going through their solicitations today (starting on P237) it looks like they’re doing some of their books at B6 (a format more-or-less unknown in North America), which measure 5 1/8″ x 7 3/16″, or thereabouts… which is a little smaller than the current “TOKYOPOP SIZE” favoured by the majority of the comics industry. They’re doing the rest of their books in the A5 size, which measure 5.875″ x 8.25″, or slightly smaller than their current size of manga. Basically their entire line is changing size over the next few months. I… assume this is to cut costs? But I’ve got no idea.
I hope that the effect of this is minimized when it comes to changes in size between volumes of the same series, because comics fans of all ages, genders, and sexual proviclivities, FUCKING HATE IT when the spines don’t match up on their manga.
3:29pm: I had kind of thought that Big Questions #12 by Anders Nilsen (P243) was the last issue of the series, but the solicit makes no mention either way. I am greatly, greatly looking forward to a collection of this series… though these individual issues are just gorgeous too. Hopefully any collection will include all of the colour paintings and things. But of course, it’s D&Q, so that’s probably very likely…
Speaking of D&Q, THE JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY: NANCY VOL 1 is also solicited this week. I have to say I kinda dug the old-school repro on their recent Melvin The Monster collection… The feel of reading old comics is a much nicer one, to me, than the feel of reading badly-computer-recoloured comics with digitally altered linework. I hope I’m not in the minority? I’d much rather see this kind of reprint, when good-quality copies exist to shoot from (or be fixed with minor tweaks).
6:15pm: Okay, let’s try and power through to the end of the Previews, shall we?
Page 245: I’m always pretty excited about new work from Fanfare/Ponent-Mon. Their new graphic novel YEARS OF THE ELEPHANT is something of a departure for them, a European work with no Japanese connection. I got to see a preview of this one at the New York Comicon this past winter, and it’s a really unique work. It’s nicely drawn, in pencils mostly, though a bit sketchy sloppy at times. The solicit calls it “rudimentary” but it has a classical cartooning kind of feel. And the nature of the story, about a many who’s sort of slowly and humourously losing his mind after his son committs suicide, it takes a while but it definitely grows on you as you flip the pages. I have no idea how something like this will be received in North America, quite honestly. As far as I can tell it’s at least partly autobiographical, and personal tragedy memoirs tend to find their audiences more often than not. But it really is a strange book… One that I’m personally looking forward to, particularly considering that Editor Stephen Robson has the foresight to pick up strange-tale-of-personal-tragedy Hideo Azuma’s DISAPPEARANCE DIARY and it was fantastic. I figure this one is at least worth a shot.
Page 246-247: Fantagraphics’ acid-trip orange-and-purple spread is certainly eye-catching, and the info is laid out in a professional, easy-to-read way. It’s just that the overall effect is sort of hideous. But anyway, good books in here. The one I’m most immediately interested in is the TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE hardcover collection, collecting the first four issues of the series, and now in full colour. THRIZZLE has been an easy single-issue sale for us since its debut, I imagine this handsome new hardcover will do similarly well.
For the classic strips guys, there’s another volume of POPEYE. For the art guys, there’s a third JIM FLORA art book. For nerds, there’s THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS CRITICISM OF THE 21ST CENTURY. Pretty solid month for Fanta.
Page 252: It’s not often that authors tend to really get behind the graphic novel adaptations of their work, but Tim Hamilton’s graphic adaptation of FARENHEIT 451 features an introduction by Bradbury himself, quite a coup. The $30 price tag is surprisingly high, but then so are the expectations on this one if the advance press I’ve seen is anything to go by.
Also on this page, Kevin Eastman releases his (competing? complimentary?) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Anniversary collection. the TMNT 25TH ANNIVERSARY BY KEVIN EASTMAN (kind of a fuck-you-title, isn’t that?) features Eastman’s fav Turtles stories, some of them in colour for the first time. That’s kind of interesting? But the big turtles release is a few pages away still.
Page 253: RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE HUNTER adapted by Darwyn Cooke. What can I say? This looks pretty darned amazing. IDW let me know that they sent me a preview of this one a few days ago, but it hasn’t shown up yet unfortunately. I was hoping to have read it before I could just unequivocally recommend it, but since I can’t I’ll have to just say that it’s PROBABLY the best new book in the Previews this month and you should pick it up. If you’re not sure, there’s tons of great preview/interview stuff online, and if just reading the first 20 pages doesn’t convince you I dunno what will.
Hey IDW guys: Maybe I’m blind here, but why isn’t that PARKER preview linked off of your frontpage? I actually couldn’t find it on your site, had to google it.
Page 270: Alright, here you go. It’s the first 540 pages of Eastman and Laird’s TMNT from the 80s, in black and white (11 issues plus the four ‘micro-series’ issues) for $30. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COLLECTED BOOK VOLUME 1 SC. I am definitely going to take one of these home with me. I’ve read a bunch of these through random reprints and stuff, but I think I’d really dig reading these all at once. Hell, SOMEBODY did… And it’s been one of our most-demanded trade paperback collections for years…!
Page 278: The long-anticipated Jeff Smith TOON BOOKS entry drops in July. LITTLE MOUSE GETS READY seems to be in the format of their youngest-reader stuff, like the Silly Lily books, and it looks great. I kind of felt like the Silly Lily books had a lower vocabulary for the 4-6 year old set, and this one seems like a book that you read-to a child, rather than one they can read on their own? I’m not an expert or anything, but I’d be curious to know who the age group is for this one. Either way, it’s lovely looking.
Page 280: The kids comic series THE STUFF OF LEGEND got a bit of buzz following Free Comic Book Day, so I’ll give the first issue a decent order, see if it will pick up a following in our store. It seems to be in Mouse Guard format, so I guess they know who they’re going-after audience-wise.
Page 282: Long awaited D.N. ANGEL VOLUME 12 from Tokyopop, and no a whole hell of a lot else. BISENGHAST VOLUME 6, possible the last “OEL” title that TP is physically publishing, actually, that’s kind of news too.
Page 284: For those of you who read my earlier bitching, the LENORE: NOOGIES color edition is here. 128 pages for $24.95. Also this page is the second collection of Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s SURROGATES, FLESH AND BONE, a prequel to the first trade and, conveniently enough, the upcoming movie. Also from Top Shelf on the following page is a new printing of SURROGATES VOLUME ONE, and an omnibus HC collecting one and 2, for people that need to own things in HC.
Page 286: Speaking of Darwyn Cooke, Twomorrows solicits MODERN MASTERS VOLUME 23: DARWYN COOKE to coincide with THE HUNTER. A 120 page collection of sketches, rare art, and illustration. Generally the Modern Masters series of books are snapped-up by the fans of the creators they cover, this one will be no different. Actually, that’s not true; thanks to his huge fanbase and a hometown crowd, we’ll probably just add a zero to the end of whatever number we ordered on volume 22 for this one.
Page 292: So this year Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A DRIFTING LIFE shared the top prize for the Tezuka Cultural Prize for manga. It shared it with Fumi Yoshinaga’s series OOKU: THE INNER CHAMBERS, and the first volume of that series drops this month from Viz. If it’s half as interesting or well-done as A DRIFTING LIFE, it’ll be a must-buy for sure. Yoshinaga is the author of ANTIQUE BAKERY and FLOWER OF LIFE amongst many other fan-fav almost-yaoi titles, and more of her work will certainly be appreciated.
Okay then, I think we’re done for this month. Thanks for reading, hopefully next month will go a little more smoothly.