You know, I’ve seen comments that ask how someone can “liveblog” a static object. I get it, I’m a pedant too. Instead, you should probably consider this me liveblogging my reaction to The August 2009 Previews Catalogue for items shipping in October 2009. You see, I’m a comic book retailer for The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada. And my Diamond Comics order–ordered through the Previews Catalogue–is due tomorrow at 11pm. And like most months, I haven’t even cracked the catalogue yet. So let’s you and I wander through the Previews Catalogue together, seeing what we think… in the most reactionary and vaguely-informed way possible. Ready!

85472_221041_12:57PM: This month’s covers offer us… THE FINAL ISSUE OF PLANETARY, and Cowboy Ninja Viking. I know where my money’s going.

Actually, I do kind of wonder if the demand for this single issue has maintained since the last issue 2 or 3 years ago. Actually, exactly 3 years ago by the time this appears. I was really hoping for quick collections on this to capitalize on the renewed interest… but that ain’t happening. I don’t know how much has been made public, but seriously? March for the regular hardcover, the rest some time after that.

You’d think they would get those out a bit quicker, eh?

3:06pm: Huh, in the front half of the Previews stuff that I don’t normally read, there’s a feature on Dave McKean. Apparently Dave McKean is reading Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL, BLUE PILLS by Frederik Peeters, and THE SECRET by Andrzej Klimowski (not the creepy self-help book). That actually got me to pause while flipping through this, which is rare indeed.

DARK HORSE

165233:08: This is a big month at DH for one-shots. They’re calling them “One-shot Wonders” in the catalogue, which has connotations I myself wouldn’t want to be associated with, but who reads Previews anyway? First up is SUGARSHOCK, by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon. This reprints the stories from MySpace Dark Horse Presents, which were recently published in those MSDHP trade collections. Actually, despite appearing in trade and online for free, I still think we’re going to do AMAZING with this one-shot, to hit all those people still coming into the shop, month after month, buying tons of Buffy comics. Thanks DH! Please keep this one in print indefinitely! And bring back Mignola’s AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD while you’re at it.

3:15pm: So I flipped forward a few pages, and this one-shot-wonders program is going to have an incentive signed print by Travis Charest attached.  Ah, here are the details: “retailers ordering 10 each of all one shots from Aug, Sep & Oct Previews get Charest litho signed by creators.” OO, that’s gonna be pretty hard to hit on a couple of those… But to be fair, Travis Charest drawing Dr. Horrible, Conan, Darth Vader, and Hellboy on the same signed print? Probably will pay for the rest.

3:21pm: I was just wondering the other day why the most recent Grendel series, GRENDEL: BEHOLD THE DEVIL written and drawn by Matt Wagner, hadn’t been collected yet. And here we are on page 30. 184 page hc for $19.95 is a steal, and a great place to jump on board for folks who’ve never read the series before. Oh and on page 31, we’ve got a reprise of the naked John & Yoko album cover on RAPTURE #5, complete with naked man-ass. I think this might be a first for Previews? Actually, this momentous occasion deserves a full-size image:

15854

He’s a bit skinny but I’d still tap that.

3:27pm: Speaking of things that have been out of print for too long, uber-hot mainstream writer Brian K. Vaughan’s THE ESCAPISTS has been out of print for over a year. I thought it was a pretty decent graphic novel, and it’s not like Vaughan doesn’t sell well. It’s not a major work, but then DC isn’t letting PRIDE OF BAGDHAD go out of print for a year either, because we all like making money… Anyway, the softcover edition finally puts in an appearance on page 33.

3:31pm: I saw a post entitled 365 SAMURAI AND A FEW BOWLS OF RICE the other day, I thought it was someone talking about samurai manga and not the title of an actual book. But apparently this is an original graphic novel that describes itself as a cross between BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL and BONE. Huh. 400 pages for $16.95 on page 34, I’ll give that one a go.

Oh and Dean Motter’s ELECTROPOLIS gets a collection page 35. Huh.

3:34pm: Good month for DH! Jeez. Charles Vess art book (the first?) on page 36, 200 pages for 40 bucks, and a brand new GROO mini-series, THE HOGS OF HORDER #1, on page 37.  Page 38 has a HC, upscale reprinting of 2 Casper The Friendly Ghost comics, one from 1949 and one from 1952. I have no idea whatsoever if this sort of reprint project will catch on, 80 pages in HC for $10, but it’s at least interesting. Here’s hoping the repro is up-to-snuff.

3:38pm: Title of the month so far is: DR. GRORDBORT PRESENTS: VICTORY–SCIENTIFIC ADVENTURE VIOLENCE FOR YOUNG MEN AND LITERATE WOMEN. It’s basically porn for steampunkers, in that there are no naked bits but lots of rayguns. It seems like there may even be some comics in this… who knew?

3:51pm: Hah, it really is “lost” DH projects this month, as Eric Powell’s GOON: CHINATOWN (which is actually volume 6) finally gets a softcover release, 112 pages for $15.95 (bit pricey there eh) on page 46.

DC COMICS

3:56pm: I just can’t help it, I see a rainbow and I think “pride flag”. re: Blackest Night #4.

3:58pm: Man, those FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH one-shots were utterly dead on arrival. Same goes for the RED CIRCLE stuff. Absolutely no interest.

4:00pm: I will say that our minimum-Grant-Morrison-on-a-superhero-number is about 60% of our minimum-Grant-Morrison-and-Frank-Quitely-on-anything number, but I’m still anticipating a bit of a shock-drop on the post-Quitely issues of Batman & Robin. The art shown here by Philip Tan is much stronger (in every way) than Tony Daniel’s run on the last Morrison Batman stuff, but… it’s still no Quitely. I’m hoping to be proven wrong though.

4:03pm: Are you fucking kidding? Azrael? REALLY?

4:04pm: See, shit like this is why I could never take GOTHAM CENTRAL seriously, despite the best efforts of Brubaker and Rucka. According to ARKHAM REBORN #1, “Following the Black Mask’s destruction of Arkham Asylum in Battle For The Cowl, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham has rebuilt the Asylum following the design of his mad Uncle Amadeus.” It “soon mutates into a Torture House.”

Seriously? There are so many things that stretch credability to breaking in that description that when respected writers come in and try actually mature stories that it’s just a fucking joke. There’s some great, great work done on the bat-books every once in a while that’s utterly undermined by adolescent torture porn featuring Batman, just for the sake of filling the racks with as many crossovers and minis as possible… Gross, just gross.

4:35pm: Okay, we’re back! And not a moment too soon, because it looks like Gary Frank has drawn another utterly creepy Christopher Reeve face on SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #2.

creepysuperman2

It’s just… wrong. Uncanny Valley wrong. I will restate my caveat from last month though that despite these Christopher Reeve caricatures being drawn in, badly, that the Johns/Frank Superman and the Legion stuff has been pretty good reading.

4:42pm: Huh, going through our tracking numbers, it looks like the new DOOM PATROL series by Giffen and Matthew Clark did really well on its first issue. Shocking. I will actually need to bump my orders up on #2 & #3. Unless, of course, everyone abandons the series with the second issue.

4:54pm: Sorry for the slow-down between updates, but a lot of the DC section is pretty perfunctory stuff without much to comment on…

13246_400x600So on page 96 we’ve got DC COMICS CLASSICS LIBRARY: SHAZAM! – THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL. This is the original Binder/Beck story, considered to be one of the first serialized stories with a beginning, middle, and end, right out of 1943. My customers have been waiting for this story arc for a very long time, since about half-way through Jeff Smith’s recent re-do of the story from a few years back. In fact, DC started up a whole new line, the classics library, to accommodate the re-printing of this one. I know I’m sounding like a bit of a broken record here, but the release of Smith’s MONSTER SOCIETY was a really big deal, that generated a lot of interest in Shazam as a character and in the original story-arc, and DC has frittered almost all of that away. Following the completion of Smith’s four-issue series, it took a Full Year for them to get another kid-friendly Shazam series on the stands, all the while the Shazam family was dragged through all kinds of mud in the mainsteam DCU… Now, 2 and a half years past the end of Smith’s series we’re going to get a prestige-format, $40, fanboy-targeted release of these original comics. The whole thing is just a series of truly awful business decisions on DC’s part, and it means less money for all involved.

I wish they’d hire some editors from non-comics publishers every once in a while to just sit in on meetings and say things like “Say, what are you going to do to capitalize on the momentum, sales, and good-will generated by publishing new work from million-selling author Jeff Smith’s book the month after it’s over?” I wonder if that question would get a blank look, or a self-satisfied “Nothing.”

Anyway, it’s 272 pages in the mystifyingly-priced $40 hard cover format.

5:17pm: Hey look, it’s THE WINTER MEN TP (page 107, $19.99, 176pages). The beloved, beautifully drawn mini-series by Lewis and John Paul Leon. We did okay with this mini–it never set any sales records or anything–but really it’s the kind of thing we’re going to do well with in trade paperback, and hopfully for years to come. Let’s order it like a VERTIGO trade and see what happens.

5:20pm: The Wildstorm video game adaptation comics have been pretty hit-or-miss, both sales-wise and quality wise. I think producing comics for people used to downloading shit for free is maybe not the smartest business plan, but they keep making them so somebody must be buying them. GOD OF WAR #1 is particularly notable because none other than Marv Wolfman is adapting the game into comics form, and GOW is a video game that actually has a story (or at least a really good plot), so there’ll be plenty to work with.

5:51pm: Huh, Vertigo is reprinting SHADE: THE CHANGING MAN and releasing a long-awaited volume 2. That’s… kind of surprising. I’ve only read Shade in drips-and-drabs, it’d be nice if they actually followed-through and reprinted the whole series… Looks like that’s the plan anyway. They seem pretty committed with their similarly surprising SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE collections, which have seen 7(!) trade paperbacks released in the last few years.  Here’s hoping, eh?

(P.S.: Anyone who’s enjoying the crime/noir resurgence of the past few years with titles like CRIMINAL and HUNTER, I’d definitely recommend SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE, it’s an amazing series of short noir stories, with only very small touches of the fantastic rooted in surprisingly gritty realism)

IMAGE COMICS

5:59pm: HAUNT #1. The new IP from Todd McFarlane.  Story by Robert Kirkman. Why is Robert Kirkman doing work-for-hire for Todd McFarlane? I guess Kirkman is excited about this, but I’ve never read any Work For Hire from him that was even half as good as his creator owned stuff.

Also, Capullo on layouts, Ottley on pencils, and McFarlane on inks? I suppose that’s pretty badass? I dunno. I feel like this might be a big deal but I missed the hype. I hope people are excited about it. I’m not order-100-copies-and-get-a-1in100-variant excited though, but we’ll at least give the first few issues a shot, see if we can turn Kirkman’s enthusiasm into sales.

one-model-nation-cover6:26pm: Well, that’s a disturbing looking solicitation image.

ONE MODEL NATION is a new original graphic novel featuring art by Jim Rugg, a buddy of mine and the amazing artist behind STREET ANGEL. It’s written by Dandy Warhols singer Courtney Taylor, and apparently that’s not the the final cover, but I can’t imagine why they’d use it if it wasn’t… Nazi imagery tends to be pretty divisive. At any rate, I’ve got a lot of faith in the project, and the plot sounds right up my alley. It’s very Rock N Roll.  Check out a preview here.

6:34pm: I even like Steaven T. Seagle, but $30 for the SOUL KISS hard cover seems a bit pricey for the material.

MARVEL COMICS

6:47pm: It’s kind of lovely to open up the Marvel section of the Previews, and be greeted by lovely-looking adaptations of classic literature, rather than grit-teeth gun-toating badasses and boobsocks. THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ HC is $30 and 200 pages, still pricier than I’d like to see for an all ages book, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE PREMIERE HC is $20 for 120 pages, and they were good enough to keep that faux-teen-magazine style cover. Just lovely.

6:56pm: Wow, they’re relaunching WEB OF SPIDER-MAN? That’s entirely awful. They’re launching it to tie into the clone nonsense too…. and as an anthologY! Heh. Wow. That is a phenomenally shitty waste of time and paper. No one is going to want this. Well, I mean, people have bought far, far shittier books. But? Web of Spider-Man? No way.

7:03pm: Well, it had to happen. Brother Voodoo is getting his own limited series. DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL #1 spins out of Bendis’ awful depiction of the charcter in New Avengers, and is a true rarity in that it’s an ongoing book being launched by Marvel or DC that features a person of colour in the lead. Fuck, it’s notable for being only the third superhero book currently published with a lead that’s a person-of-colour. And they’re all published by Marvel. Shit, three cheers for Marvel on that one.

7:16pm: I kind of can’t believe that Peter Bagge did a red Hulk variant for STRANGE TALES #2. And hey, it looks like Jim Rugg is listed in the credits for this one. Last I’d heard his Brother Voodoo story wasn’t going to be published. Hopefully the folks in charge changed their minds.

7:18pm: It looks like consumate professional Phil Jimenez is the new artist on Warren Ellis’ ASTONISHING X-MEN run starting with #31, which I had given up for dead. Our numbers have been dropping like a stone on the series since the heights of the Joss Whedon run thanks to the frequent delays. Despite the relaunch I have to wonder how many people are still interested… well, we’ll order the series at the sell-through of issue #30 and I’m sure Marvel will be ready with a second printing, if anyone still cares.

7:30pm: You’re not going to believe this, but in the Marvel Previews catalogue Marvel seems to have flipped the Dave Johnson cover for PUNISHER: FRANK CASTLE MAX #75, including his backwards signature. Check it:

_Media Card_BlackBerry_pictures_IMG00230

They’ve got it right on the website, as in not-flipped, but, yeah. I hope the error was somehow on Johnson’s side, because if it was Marvel that’s pretty not-cool.

7:37pm: Uh, Richard Corben is drawing a STARR THE SLAYER mini-series? How the hell did I miss that?

7:45pm: Alright, that’s all I’ve got for the Marvel part of the catalogue. Unfortunately I’m completely out of time for work stuff today. So Part two: The Rest Of The Catalogue, will have to wait until tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading, for now!

- Christopher


16 Comments on “Liveblogging the August 2009 Previews – Part 1”

You can track this conversation through its atom feed.

  1. Bitter Matt says:

    YES. It’s on.

    Y’know, I made a point of preordering Planetary #27 when it occurred to me that it’s got to be a complete crapshoot to estimate orders for that one. Because not only has it been so long, iirc #26 was assumed to be the last issue at the time. It certainly didn’t end on a cliffhanger, and while the 27th issue has gotten some publicity since, I swear it was not at all clear at the time that there would be any more.

    I bet it does well, though. Plenty of people came back after a whole decade for the ending of Scud (at least at my LCS); myself among them.

  2. Bitter Matt says:

    Can I also say that Marvel’s previews for November just looked painfully, uniformly atrociously bad? Normally it seems like a few rays of light get through, but this time, just utter bleaacccchh.

  3. Chris says:

    I ended up ordering Planetary with a little bit of “oomph” behind it because I do think that, despite the time, people like yourself are gonna wanna finish their collection (and not wait a year to see how it ends…). We had a lot of success with SCUD too, so never doubt the power of fandom.

    Meanwhile, the only personal bright-spot in the Marvel catalogue was CRIMINAL. The rest was generally not to my taste (save for the one of two bright spots I mentioned, the Marvel Illustrated stuff).

  4. David Wynne says:

    3 superheroes of colour with current titles? So that’s Doctor Voodoo, Black Panther and… who’s the third one?

  5. Chris says:

    War Machine, good sir!

  6. Greg McElhatton says:

    I had no idea that Monster Society of Evil collection still wasn’t out yet. (The original, that is, I’ve got the Jeff Smith one.) That’s just… bizarre. At best. I mean, I even get the whole “softcover a year or so after the hardcover” release schedule because of the amount of stuff I used to do in fiction publishing (although DC needs to figure out when that has to be accelerated, and they’re horrible at that), but the Monster Society hardcover just NOW? Good lord.

    The thing is, I like the idea of the “DC Classics Library” (or whatever it’s called) but I’m actually a little surprised at how few of the books are actually out. With two of them already containing nothing but stories I already own in other reprint forms (Life and Death of Ferro Lad, Roots of the Swamp Thing) I’ve yet to actually buy one. C’mon, DC, pick it up a little bit.

  7. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes says:

    [...] Retailing | Retailer Christopher Butcher once again live-blogs his monthly Previews order. [Comics212] [...]

  8. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Sept. 1, 2009: Nobody knows says:

    [...] Christopher Butcher begins live-blogging the August 2009 Previews, while Dorian Wright has Previews for gays. [...]

  9. Brian says:

    But isn’t wAr Marchine canceled now?

    Cheers,

    B

  10. JJ says:

    Funnily enough having just done the order for my shop last night, some of your comments were similar to what I said when flipping page by page through the Previews.

    Especially the Azrael comment, I believe I said the exact same thing out loud in my store.

    And to be completely honest, the image for One Model Nation actually compelled me to read what it was about, rather than take a slight glance and write it off. Sadly as a history graduate, books that use historical-esque imagery tend to draw my interest a lot more. Hopefully OMN will be a good read and customers will be interested to pick it up.

  11. chasdom says:

    Is “One Model Nation” actually based on the song “Das Model” by Kraftwerk (like Image’s recent string of music-based anthologies), or is it just appropriating the scene to tell a story (like Phonogram)?

  12. JJ says:

    Having read the description on OMN a few more times, it seems to be he just picked the name for the figurehead of the “violent, well dressed revolution” without any background given as to why. Maybe within the actual book it will give a reason for the name, but so far I’ve yet to see anything regarding why “Das Model.”

    Supposedly it’s based on a screenplay Taylor has written as well, so maybe a movie is in the works for this title?

  13. Dave says:

    DC not having any series starring a person of color is even sadder when you realize they have the rights to publish Static, who has all the recognition from the animated series and they’d rather make another go at the Archie heroes.

  14. Kit says:

    “7:16pm: I kind of can’t believe that Peter Bagge did a red Hulk variant for STRANGE TALES #2. “

    I’m sure he didn’t – it’s not his lettering on the “variant”, so Marvel presumably just recoloured the original cover from Incorrigible Hulk and had someone letter a new balloon in-house.

  15. Allyn Gibson says:

    “Oh and on page 31, we’ve got a reprise of the naked John & Yoko album cover on RAPTURE #5, complete with naked man-ass.”

    Not to quibble, but the image of the naked John wrapped around Yoko was not an album cover. It was shot by Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone on the day Lennon was shot and killed — see Rolling Stone‘s article on the matter. :)

  16. Bitter Matt says:

    Whoa: Reading about the Winter Men collection got me interested in checking it out, and I realized something…

    Take a look at the price of back issues. They seem to be about $1, maybe $2. Unless there’s more in the trade than the five issues I’m finding at online retailers, that’s about $7 or so to get the whole series in singles.

    Versus TWENTY DOLLARS?

    I’ve seen this phenomenon from time to time, but that seems a bit extreme!

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