So my orders for the July 2009 Previews Catalogue (for items scheduled to begin shipping in September) is due tomorrow at 11pm… but I won’t be at work tomorrow. I will, however, be at work tonight until this thing is finished. That’s right, we’re liveblogging the Previews, start to finish. I’ve been in Japan for nearly a month and I have almost no idea what’s in this thing–let’s be surprised together!
Cover: I have to say that these are the most visually interesting covers in recent memory. The front cover features a comic by one of the members of the band fall-out boy. I feel like I should be making fun of this fact, but I actually don’t think I know even one Fall-Out Boy song. Let’s go to this generation’s MTV (Youtube) and cue up a song. Oh, I Don’t Care, I actually have heard this song. It’s inoffensive radio-rock where the members of the band are assholes in the music video. Right. The cover features a hot robot chick… are hot robot chicks the innoffensive radio-rock of the comic book industry? Probably. Oh man, that means corporate superhero comics are all “Jero”, the hip young dude who sings songs from two or three generations ago. Hahahaha…
Still, nice-enough illustration.
Back Cover: There we go. Jill Thompson and Evan Dorkin doing a beautifully painted creator owned series for Dark Horse. Beasts of Burden, formerly of the “Dark Horse Book of…” series. This is great, I’m so happy to see this coming out. Cool stuff, everyone make sure to give this one a look, maybe drop some money on it.
Page 17: I don’t know how many people know this, but every year Diamond puts together bundles of comics samplers that folks can buy and give away for halloween. Unlike the heavily monitored Free Comic Book Day program, this one seems to be pretty loosey-goosey affair–as long as you’ve got a recognizable/marketable character, you’re in. I was disappointed beacause last year’s comics (with the exception of the PEANUTS book) all seemed to be excerpts of longer works. I get that you want to send kids into the stores to get the conclusion, but it’s still a bit like getting a mini-chocolate bar with a bite taken out of it. Hopefully this year particpants give kids something with a beginning, middle, and end.
Page 22: Here’s the actual solicit for Beasts of Burden, which previews tells me is a 4 issue mini-series for just $3 an issue. I will say that writer Evan Dorkin really knows how to use the single-issue format well, so I doubt this one will read like a graphic novel arbitrarily split into four parts. Really looking forward to this.
Page 23: Buffy continues to be our best-selling floppy comic, month-in and month-out, with only the barest hint of a slow-down. Even the one-shot from a few months back by the awesome-but-not-regular-creative-team of Becky Cloonan and Vasilis Lolos didn’t experience too much drop-off, which is cool. And hey, Oz and Giles return for this story-arc. It’s got everything!
Page 25: I kinda feel like all of the pages with Hellboy solicitations should have a black background, instead of the standard white for DH’s section. The covers are daaaaaaaaaaarrrk.
Page 28: It looks like Dark Horse will be releasing a full-colour original graphic novel featuring Usagi Yojimbo. Neat! It’s called Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai and it seems to be entirely watercolour painted by Sakai. I wonder if this is a trial-balloon to see about moving the series entirely to original trade paperbacks/graphic novels? It’s nice, as a retailer, to see a creator-owned series hit the shelves 10 out of 12 months of the year (Usagi Yojimbo #123 is also solicited this month) but I can’t imagine it’s setting any sales records. We actually order more of the trades than of the single issues here at the store, but we do have a regular clientelle for the singles, with our numbers staying fairly consistant (plus or minus a copy) for the last 4 or 5 years…! Can’t say that about literally any other book we carry. Either way, this should be an excellent introduction for anyone who’s ever wondered about the series.
Page 32: Looks like Dark Horse has got a new edition of Eric Drooker’s Blood Song wordless graphic novel out. Oh they’re also doing a new book of Carol Swain comics, Crossing The Empty Quarter and Other Stories. Looks like a dude with a giraffe head on the cover. That either seems a very strange choice for Dark Horse, or following up on Usagi Yojimbo, perfectly suited. Feel free to tell me which in the comment section.
Page 44: New Blade of the Immortal trade paperback entitled “Legend of the Sword Demon”, which sounds fairly badass, doesn’t it?
Page 45: “Superstar Writer J. Michael Straczynski takes over The Brave and the Bold”. Well, I hope that none of you Brave and the Bold fans actually liked that comic coming out.
No, seriously, what the fuck is this? This bullshit blame game? Marvel’s “The Twelve”. Chris Weston is too busy to draw the script so Strazcynski just doesn’t bother writing it? You know what, JMS fucks up his schedule and Weston’s gotta pay the rent so he takes on another gig, fine, but that doesn’t excuse JMS–who caused the problem in the first place(!)–from actually delivering the scripts. You know, so that when Weston finishes up his rent paying gig, he can go back to the work he was hoping to all along. I’m kind of sick of this attitude amongst contemporary writers that if the artist isn’t immediately available to draw the script pages they have ready, they’re off the hook, they can take as long as they want. I try really hard not to get up and tell creators how to do their jobs, but why haven’t any of the editors at Marvel in particular figured out that this strategy doesn’t work? That every book JMS or Millar work on is chronically, painfully late because of this?
Or do they not care?
Maybe people really don’t care, maybe it’s all about the eventual collected edition. But it seems absolutely ass-backwards, a poor way of doing business and incredibly unprofessional to boot.
Hah, there is a customer in the store who just asked for the Kick-Ass trade paperback. I tried not to smile when I told him that Millar hadn’t gotten the single issues finished yet. There’s your lost sales right there.
That couldn’t have worked better if I’d planned it.
Paage 64-65: I really wasn’t that into the first few pages of the DC section, it all looks a bit samey although I guess if you’re really into Blackest Night and all that, Donna troy’s undead demon baby is probably at least amusing. It took the one-two punch of Morrison’s Batman & Robin #4 and JH Williams on Detective Comics #857 to get me to stop. I have to say that following up Frank Quitely on Batman and Robin with ex-Top Cow penciler Philip Tan is… a pretty brutal choice. I dunno, maybe he’ll raise his game, or maybe he’ll be another Tony Daniel, utterly obliterating Morrison’s script with awful, awful pencils. OH THE FUN OF ORDERING COMICS TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE. I shall be cutting my orders, somewhat, on this one. Meanwhile, JH Williams always delivers, bless him.
Page 67: I’m actually going through our sales history and checking sell-through, orders, etc., as I do this, which is why some of the updates take longer than others. I was surprised to see that the sell-through on the Paul Dini Batman: Streets of Gotham has dropped through the floor, less than half of what the first issue sold and way lower than Detective before the big shake-up. Is it not good or something? It looks strong, and Dini’s got a lot of fans… maybe it’s just bat-fatigue?
… whoa, same drop on Gotham City Sirens #2. That’s strange, I thought the first issue of that was pretty good, considering. Maybe it’s just the summertime thing, not every customer is coming in every week due to holidays/poor weather/good weather/etc. Hopefully they’ll all catch back up the last week of August…!?
Page 69: I know nerds are really angry at Geoff Johns remaking the Superman Universe into his own personal playground, but enh. It’s actually the best superhero-comics he’s written, the Action Comics and Legion stuff, and DC’s gonna reboot this stuff every 10 years from now on anyway, why not let Johns have a turn? So, just to clarify everything, DC is launching Superman: Secret Origin #1 with the Action Comics team of Johns and Gary Frank. The definitive 6 issue mini-series retelling Superman’s origin, now with creepy Christopher-Reeve looking kid-Superman.
Seriously, the likeness stuff they’re doing there really weirds me out.
Page 70-71: Meanwhile sales continue to slide on “a year of Superman comics without Superman in them…” ugh. Talk about pissing away the momentum you gained with the New Krypton arc.
Page 82: Ah, the doldrums have set in. Red Tornado gets an ongoing series and suddenly I have no interest in liveblogging the Previews anymore. Ah well, let’s all just soldier on past the shelf-fillers.
Page 85: I know I shouldn’t think it’s a big deal, but I was surprised to see that the new writer of Teen Titans is a woman. Because that sort of thing is surprising in superhero comics.
page 90: MEANWHILE! Sorry for the delay on that one, it got busy here at the store. SO! It looks like Gail Simone’s newest Wonder Woman Arc Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian will be getting a simultaneous hardcover and trade paperback release on November 4th. That’s surprising, I guess that if I were more up on comics news I would know that (or the reasons why). I’m personally ‘done’ with the standard-format hardcover releases of stuff, I hope that the tp sales blow the hardcovers out of the water. That’s selfish, admittedly, but the space required to double-rack the majority of the DC Universe in softcover and hardcover is getting ridiculous.
Page 93: This image is a little unsettling. I don’t like that Shaggy has nipples but that Scooby doesn’t… And they’re both sumo-wrestling in bluejeans. Yeah. I don’t get it…
Page 94: It looks like the second(?) Zuda comic to get a collection, High Moon by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis gets a collection this month. I hope it’s got better production than Bayou, despite the acclain that trade has received I thought the production values were really shoddy, and didn’t really serve the story at all. I hope future editions are treated a little more respectfully by DC… and that High Moon doesn’t suffer a similar fate.
Page 97: The solicitation for ExMachina #45 mentions that the series is due to finish at #50. I knew the end was coming, but I didn’t think that it was so near. Although at the current rate of production those six issues could take us well into 2010… (rimshot..!). Seriously though, love this series, wish it could get back on a stable schedule. Here’s hoping that we’re monthly right through to the end eh?
Page 99: Although I didn’t do a Previews Liveblog last month, I did actually do all of the ordering and one of the new series I was most interested in was Red Herring, by David Tischman and Philip Bond (and David Hahn too, I think). A new Philip Bond-drawn series is always cause for celebration, but the premise sounded neat too. The second issue is solicited without much fanfare this month, but I do think it might be one worth reading.
Page 107: Even if we weren’t doing a launch/book signing for Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth #1, we’d probably still order really heavily on it. Post-apocalyptic stories tend to do very well here at the store anyway, and Lemire’s work is a proven seller for us (being a hometown store doesn’t hurt…). The last few Vertigo #1 issues that debuted at a buck did really well for us too, so this is all leading to a confluence of massive sales on this one. Fingers crossed…
Page 112: Whoa! There’s a blast from the past. Judd Winick and Tomm Coker’s Blood and Water miniseries is finally being collected into a trade paperback. Slightly goofy vampire stories, very pre-superhero Winnicky stuff. I was really surprised at the time that this never got collected, and 3 or 4 years later I’m even more surprised that it is. Did someone option this for a movie or something? Or is it just that anything remotely “Twilighty” might have a chance?
Anyway, it’s been a long time since I read it, but I really love Tomm Coker’s artwork in general and I remember this looking pretty good indeed. I’ll keep an eye out for this, see if it holds up.
Page 114: You know, I always really liked the covers that Geof Darrow did for Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. No disrespect to Robertson, but I always felt that Darrow’s vision of Ellis’ future was the most fully realized. Spider’s costume is entirely negative space, black on black with solid black tattoos and a little bit of tech for visual interest on the face (glasses). He should always be set against absolute cacophony. Of course, absolute cacophony is fucking nuts to try and draw on a monthly book, and I think Robertson did a great job considering. But look at this, tell me this isn’t just amazing:
That’s the cover for the new edition of Transmetropolitan Volume 4: The New Scum. Lovely isn’t it?
Page 132: Hey, look! Jeff Parker and Steve Leiber are doing a new creator owned book! About spelunking and intrigue! Now, I don’t want to throw this back in your faces or anything, but I was TOTALLY right about John Layman’s CHEW #1 and how you should have given that a read, and now here’s another new series from Image that might be underordered and will almost certainly get amazing reviews, tons of hype, and then you might not be able to find it and you’ll have to pay EBAY prices. So get to your retailer this week and tell them you want one, so that they can bump their order or put in an increase or something.
Or just shop at The Beguiling, we’re ordering tons. :-D
Page 134: Shitting on a new Image #1 is a little bit like kicking a baby, but a manga-looking series from a creator with a big manga-following based on a video game and it’s coming out as a five-issue miniseries? It just seems like it’s missing the point a little, you know? Like maybe this should be a nice 6×9″ book for $20? Serialize a preview issue on IGN to get the fans interested and then have the whole thing done-in-one? No? I dunno. The art is pretty, here’s hoping it doesn’t crash and burn. :-/
Page 136: Speaking of, Beast OGN by Marian Churchland is an interesting looking project, a horror/mystery graphic novel with a surprising art style, half way between contemporary illustration and comics realism. The cover looks lovely too, I hope Image doesn’t… do… anything to the trade dress.
Page 152: I’m happy to hear that Invincible co-creator Cory Walker is returning to Invincible #66, I always thought his work looked best on the series. Hopefully that doesn’t leave previous penciller Ryan Ottley out in the cold, his art is really strong as well, and I feel like he draws “ugly” better than Walker does…which is important when someone is getting their face literally caved in. What is Ottley up to anyway? I almost wish I followed the daily comics news more closely, now. Almost.
Page 153: I was away last month so I didn’t get to really recommend Brandon Graham’s King City series now on its way from Image. #2 is offered this month, and I hope that stores ordered lots of shelf copies on this one, I think it’s really gonna surprise people. Oh and I’m not totally crazy, this one IS being solicited as Full Colour in the catalogue, even though it’s B&W.
Marvel P4: So the big “Reborn” hubub came and went, it was what everyone was expecting, and while it was a fairly strong comic I just don’t think it waranted all of the nonsense. I guess it’s the difference between being in the entertainment business and being in the business of telling good stories? I’m not trying to take anything away from Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice, or any of the creative team here, but…? Really? A solid black page in the catalogue with REBORN on it? You look at the other great works in the comics industry, the stuff that really catches media or critical attention, and it’s based on quality or noteworthiness, not… big empty solicitations.
I just thought of another “Chris uses Achewood to describe the comics industry” post. Let’s do that later.
Anyway, just saying. I kinda dug Reborn #1, particularly as it’s a total extension of Brubaker’s run on Captain America with literally no breaks whatsoever… But the hype is more offputting than anything.
Mp6: Ditto Marvels Project.
Mp23: “You’ve been asking for it… and now it’s here: THE CLONE SAGA!!!” Really? Who has been asking for this? I had no idea. $4 an issue for Todd Nauck art and a story reviled by Marvel fans? No thank you.
Mp25: I’m actually not convinced that any of our readers are following the Dark Reign stuff. There are a lot of random, frequently awful books with DARK REIGN! on top. I’m paid to keep on top of this sort of stuff and I’m just barely following it, I can’t imagine most of our regulars are going out of their way to collect go-nowhere mini-series and one shots that “CAN’T BE MISSED”. I think Spurgeon is probably right, that these big crossovers are the equivilent of the company screaming at you all the time, and if they never turn down the volume eventually everyone just goes deaf to what they’re saying…
Mp28: …and it doesn’t help that the company doesn’t seem to have a handle on this stuff either. Page 28 here. The conclusion to the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men Crossover, which until this point has been called UTOPIA and all of the books have the word UTOPIA on the cover larger than the regular logos? The conclusion is called something completely different. And it’s got another epilgoue issue written by two other writers totally uninvolved with the main story, with the artist “To Be Determined”. Like… come on, at what point do you just sit down and admit this has all gotten away from you? You need 2 mis-titled bookends, 6 issues, a 3-issue mini-series, 4 tie-in issues, and an epilgoue, involving 6+ writers and a dozen artists to tell this story? Oh and another one-shot in October?
Who exactly are you expecting to read all this?
Mp42: So let I get this straight. Incredible Hercules, Incredible Hulk (featuring Skarr, son of hulk), Son Of Hulk (also… featuring… Skarr son of hulk? ), and Hulk, are all ongoing series now all spinning out of, what was two years ago, Incredible Hulk. Oh, and because there’s not enough stuff this month there’s a Hulk Team-Up one-shot as well.
Wow. That’s almost as ballsy as two Deadpool ongoing series AND a mini-series. Oh, wait.
Mp49: Ah, Pat Lee covering Spider-Man Magazine #8. It’s good to know that no matter how bad you fuck people over, how unethically you behave as an artist OR a businessman, someone at Marvel or DC will give you some work. See, Wheeler? There’s no moral compass at all, it’s not just about staying at the Hyatt to support a known homophobe.
Actually, I just realized seeing Marvel run Pat Lee art has put me in such a foul mood that anything else I say about them is going to be fairly negative, deserving or otherwise. So, fuck it. I’ll be back in an hour with Part 2 and the rest of the Previews.
- Chris (Edited for some spelling)