Hello! And welcome to Liveblogging The Previews. My name is Christopher Butcher, and I’m a comics retailer, managing The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada. At The Beguiling we do a significant portion of our ordering of new comics and graphic novels through Diamond Comics Distributors’ monthly PREVIEWS catalogue, a 400+ page beast. That order is due this Tuesday, December 1st, by 11:59pm, and as of today I haven’t really so much as opened the thing up. What follows are my time-stamped reactions to the catalogue, as they occur. Keep refreshing this page to see the insanity that is sure to follow.

3:37pm: Cover. This month our cover options are “Sexy Blue Chick” from the comic book adaptation of the video game “Mass Effect”, or heavily shadowed and poorly drawn Superman characters in, and I’m not fucking with you here, “a new era of excitement!” from Dan DiDio and Philip Tan. Poor month for PREVIEWS covers when sexy blue lesbian alien based on a video game is the less embarrassing comic book cover, artistically.

3:42pm: Dark Horse: Congratulations to the fine folks at DH for putting back into print BLACKSAD, the only furry comic most “normal” comic fans aren’t embarrassed to have on their bookshelves. Sexy jungle-cat Blacksad P.I. is tracking down murders and kidnappers and the like, getting into trouble, and having sex with sexy cat ladies. It’s 1930s and 40s pulp noir streaming through the hand of an extraordinarily talented Disney animator. It’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it is hard-boiled kitty cats. DH’s edition collects all three Blacksad stories released to date in one hardcover. Previously the first two stories were available from iBooks and those out-of-print volumes were fetching 60 and 70 bucks a pop on the aftermarket, so this will probably do quite well upon release.

3:49pm: The new BPRD series starts up with KING OF FEAR #1 and the return of Guy Davis. Meanwhile, the most recent Hellboy Arc gets a collection in HELLBOY VOLUME 9: THE WILD HUNT . Artist Duncan Fegredo is an amazing match for this series, the pages are just gorgeous and it’s selling more-or-less as well as anything Mignola drew.

3:55pm: On page 41 we’ve got Rafael Grampa’s MESMO DELIVERY, in a brand new edition from Dark Horse, and at a reduced price of just $10. Here’s the problem: We sold a BUTLOAD of the AdHouse edition of this. So I’m not quite sure how many to order of this new edition… I mean it’s gorgeous, has a terrifying little story, and I do think moving from Adhouse to DH will raise its profile. Do I just order a lot, or another BUTLOAD? It’s so tough doing the Previews some months.

3:58pm: Pages 42 and 43 bring us two interesting new books. SHINJUKU is an original project by Yoshitaka Amano and someone named “Mink” join forces to release an original prose project in the vein of Amano and Gaiaman’s SANDMAN: DREAM HUNTERS, with a story and over 100 original paintings to go along with it. It’ll be interesting to see Amano tackle more contemporary images, as his primary art style seems ideally suited to historical works. Speaking of, Dark Horse releases OKIMONO KIMONO, an art book collecting the intricate kimono designs and art of CLAMP member Mokona. It’s coming in a little small for an artbook at the Tokyopop trim size, but that also means we get it for just $12.99.

4:16pm: DC Comics: We get a skip-month for Blackest Night as the creative team catches up, but hey, we get the oversized anniversary issue GREEN LANTERN #50 (page 57). But the biggest and weirdest news of the month are the Blackest Night “Rebirth” books, featuring additional issues of cancelled (dead) series like Catwoman, Phantom Stranger, and James Robinson’s Starman. That’s actually one of the most clever tie-ins I’ve ever heard of, good on you DC.

4:30pm: Grant Morrison’s BATMAN AND ROBIN returns after a skip-month with #7, and Morrison’s SEAGUY collaborator Cameron Stewart in tow. I think more-or-less everyone is happy to see anyone other than Phillip Tan on the book (we seriously had returns), and the promo art I’ve seen from Stewart  looks really sharp. Here’s hoping for a return to form!

4:50pm: Gary Frank draws a kind of a terrifying Superman, even without the Christopher Reeve Death Mask:

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I wouldn’t want to be locked in a room with his Adam Strange either.

5:02pm: Man, whole lotta nothing in the mainstream DCU section. Nice cover on Wonder Woman #40, murder of crows, that whole thing. But… yeah. Anyway. Quick dinner break and then I’ll be back.

5:16pm: The collected editions section is looking pretty good this month, with the too-long-awaited All Star Superman Volume 2 finally getting a softcover. A new printing of the second HITMAN book, and a trade paperback collecting all of the ‘origins’ backups from 52 and COUNTDOWN, the best part of either of those series (though 52 has its fans).

Actually, let me expand on the first part of this: I’m kind of sick of DC’s and Marvel’s hardcover programs. While I appreciate the short-term $$$ that comes from charging an extra $10 for a hardcover on a book, I think they’re really hurting long-term sales. I know that the whole superhero section of the industry seems to be predicated on short-term thinking, but I think that if it was about giving consumers choice simultaneous releases would be the way to go. This is a bit of a bigger problem than I have time to give it right now, but DC and Marvel mandating hardcover exclusives for 4-6 months means that their biggest, newest, ‘hottest’ storylines remain considerably more inaccessible until well after the heat has entirely dissipated on the series. The Justice Society relaunch is the hardest-hit series I can think of, but Green Lantern and Spider-Man and Runaways from Marvel are also suffering, from my POV, for having long gaps between HC and SC collections.  Maybe if I’ve got time I’ll follow it up with a longer post.

5:31pm: Speaking of, the 4th and final PLANETARY collection is solicited this issue. HC only. For MARCH. Talk about striking while the iron is cooled, the cord is wrapped up, and the whole thing’s been put back in the closet. Soooo unfortunate.

5:34pm: What If Alan Moore WAS Swamp Thing? Check out Astro City: The Dark Age Book 4 #1.

13853_400x600

Meanwhile, over on page 105 we have the next book in DC’s little hardcover crime line, THE BRONX HILL by Peter Milligan and old-timey Vertigo artist (can we say that? are they old enough?) James Romberger, whose last work I can remember is the excellent Seven Miles a Second. Actually, heh, DC has this thing where when they’re mentioning artist credits they include other DC credits in allcaps, and work for other publishers as italics. So author Peter Milligan is Peter Milligan (GREEK STREET, HUMAN TARGET), and James Romberger is James Romberger (Seven miles a Second). Funny thing is, DC Vertigo were the publishers of Seven Miles a Second, at least initially. It’s the graphic biography of gay artist David Wojnarowicz, and Vertigo pub’d it in 1996. I know a new edition was planned but so far as I can tell it never came out. So there’s a history lesson for whomever writes the Previews solicitations at DC: Look, it’s a book you published!

Edit: Mystery solved! See the 8:15pm entry.

joethebarbarian15:55pm: There we go, it’s a new creator-owned series from Grant Morrison. JOE THE BARBARIAN #1 sees Morrison team with relative newcomer Sean Murphy to do a pretty-looking mini-series about a boy who falls into his childhood fantasy world.  The preview looks good, and the price is hard to beat: It’s just a dollar! I think we’re going to give the first issue away for free, too… really build up a readership for this one, and give people a reason to come to the comic shop every month. It’s somewhat tough, particularly when Morrison’s fans have largely converted to collected editions, to get them in regularly to see all the great new stuff that’s come out. I think we can make a pretty-good go of it with a new #1. Fingers crossed!

6:14pm: Speaking of Vertigo, Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon continues to have lovely understated painted covers, it kind of makes everything else on the solicit pages look obscene by comparison. But that’s art for you.

6:21pm: We’ve got a very rare thing from DC, a bind-up. That’s a publishing industry term for taking 2 or more books and putting them under one cover… Most comic book trade paperbacks are essentially bind-ups, but with THE LOSERS VOL 1 & 2 TP ($19.99, January 27) we’ve got the first two collections in one book. Usually when this happens, one retail outlet has agreed to order a lot of copies of a book if they can get it in a more shelf-friendly format. With THE LOSERS film dropping in April, this inexpensive new collection will hopefully lead new people to the series.

Quite honestly, I kind of wish most of DC’s backlist would get bind-ups like this, and that they’d stop re-releasing things like HITMAN or whatever by story-arc… One trade on the shelf, one book to keep in stock instead of two. Make my job a lot easier.

6:30pm: Just gonna pretend DC Direct doesn’t exist. Moving on…

6:36pm: Image Comics! And on page 132 we’ve got ORC STAIN #1, the new ongoing series from WONTON SOUP (Oni) creator James Stokoe. It’s a full-colour Orc-straveganza, a fantasy epic for the console video game generation with a one-eyed orc character who’s kinda like Karnak from The Inhumans. Really nice art on this one, and apparently it’s an ongoing series! I am very-much inclined to support this one with strong orders, and with Brandon Graham’s KING CITY also appearing monthly it should be an easy book to cross-promote. Check out an article and promo art from the series at http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=23260.

6:44pm: Okay, 3 things:

haunt4_previews_1

1. I’m actually pretty cool about comics that have their heroes covered in cum. You know, live and let live. Granted, those comics tend to come from CLASS COMICS and not Image, but different strokes and all that. It’s just that they don’t usually get a full-page in previews. Surely one of those retailers in the bible belt that’s bemoaning the state of comics, surely one of them has been wounded by this? Has anyone called the CBLDF yet?

2. Look at those legs. Ugggh. At least the character’s left leg has the excuse of ‘foreshortening”. But the right leg? The section from the knee to the foor is 2/3s the length of his massive thighs… He’d look ridiculous standing up. I thought they had a talented artist doing the layouts for McFarlane?Actually while I’m at it that right hand seems to have three or four joints on the thumb. Though I’ve only read the first issue, so perhaps that is one of Haunt’s powers.

3. HELP. Seriously, if you saw a dude in this outfit and covered in cum in this alley, would you help him? I don’t think I would, and I’m the open-minded sort. I’d definitely call the cops though.

7:39pm: Just had to take a short work-break there, sorry. In the interim, I realize that I needed to give props to Image Comics for having the single-best section in the catalogue. Clean design, nice colours, a layout of info that makes sense (for a change). Important projects in front, graphic novels (alphabetical!) in the middle, single-issue comics in the back (alphabetical!). Easy as hell to find stuff month-to-month. Bravo, Image Comics! Your Previews section is magnificent.

8:15pm: And Calvin Reid, former editor of the Reed Publishing graphic novel line, popped up on Twitter to say that yes, it was his imprint that was going to put David Wojnarowicz’s Seven Miles a Second back into print:

@calreid: I think I Can answer. Reid & Reed planned a new revised edition of Seven Miles A Second, which was completed but has never been published. Reed pulled the plug on the imprint before we could pub. The new edition has about 20 new pages. I hope someone publishes it.
I think Seven Miles a Second is one of the great comics memoirs and an important record of David W. & of a seminal time in NY.

I hope so too, Calvin. The magic of instant communication!

8:20pm: Marvel. Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic’s “Marvel Women Variant” is a nice piece of art. Or at least, it makes an impression.

Whoa, looks like the folks at PETA got their hands on Siege Embedded #1:

siegeembedded1

Look, I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals, but I think throwing fake blood at our nation’s heroes is a step too far.

8:36pm: Let I Get This Straight: Captain America Reborn is now six issues, AND it’s finishing AFTER the books in which Cap actually returns to the Marvel Universe? Man, it’s a good thing no one who works for Marvel is ever accountable for their actions. Cuz, haha, I mean, this makes the Civil War problems look quaint in comparison. I kinda wanna work for Marvel now. Seems like a pretty good gig.

8:42pm: I notice the solicit text for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6 contains the following: “Join rockstars Brian Michael Bendis and David Lafuente as we swing into the final chapter of this thrilling arc!” I just wanna say that if I started calling Bendis “rockstar” to his face, he’d take a swing at me before the end of the first day. In fact I invite everyone who knows him to only address him as “rockstar” from now on.

8:46pm: No, wait, this solicit text is better: Spider-Man The Clone Saga #5: “MAXIMUM CLONAGE! It’s Hoo-Ha Time as MJ goes into labor…” Well holy shit. Whoda thunk it would ever be vagina-time in a Marvel comic? Just goes to show.

8:50pm: Huh, apparently Marvel’s launching a movie-continuity Iron man comic. 2 issues only. Weird. I kind of assume this is just to fill out a trade paperback somewhere?

8:54pm: Including the back-up story in Incredible Hercules this month, there are going to be THREE Agents Of Atlas books on the stands in November. Agents of Atlas vs. Avengers, Marvel Boy: The Uranian, and the back-up story. Not bad for a book that was more-or-less cancelled a few months back. Oh shit, AND they’re in Thunderbolts #140. 4 Atlas books.

9:02pm: Nothing really jumped out at me from Marvel’s collected editions. So let’s stop this here for now, and we’ll pick up with the back-half of the catalog some time this weekend… Monday at the latest.

- Chris


16 Comments on “Liveblogging The November 2009 Previews – Part 1”

You can track this conversation through its atom feed.

  1. Ralf Haring says:

    1000% agree on the hc-then-sc wait period. To my mind Marvel had it perfect a while back: near-immediate softcovers with no frills followed by oversized, longer hardcovers when a series warranted deluxe treatment.

  2. Dave Knott says:

    “BLACKSAD, the only furry comic most “normal” comic fans aren’t embarrassed to have on their bookshelves.

    *cough*USAGI YOJIMBO*cough*

  3. Chris says:

    Ralf – Yeah, they really did have it perfect. My understanding is that they started doing those ridiculous 6-issue hardcovers due to fan demand, but I don’t remember fans demanding that the hardcovers be the exclusive format for 3-6 months.

    Dave – I stand by what I said. I really like Usagi, but it sells about a quarter of what it should because the lead character is a rabbit, and fights other animal characters. Blacksad is the only furry book I’ve seen that non furries won’t even blink at picking up. (Furries pick it up too).

  4. Chris McLaren says:

    So, do I need MESMO DELIVERY? Because, you know, a retailer with even a little bit of pizzaz can probably overcome my horribly underdeveloped sales resistance…

  5. Chris says:

    Chris- Oh yes absolutely you do. It’s beautiful. Good, good stuff.

  6. Brian J. says:

    Hey Marvel!

    What Chris said about the HC before SC thing. You’re definitely losing my business with such a silly approach – I’ve lost interest in a number of series waiting for the soft cover to come out.

    I’d bet most fans are not demanding HCs.

    Thanks,

    Brian J.

  7. MichaelJ says:

    Joe the Barbarian sounds awesome, I’ll check it out when I get home for the holidays :D

  8. THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Publishing news and notes: ONE PIECE is #1; Sevin Miles a Second; Comics AG says:

    [...] In his always scorching liveblogging of Previews Chris Butcher mentions the amazing Seven Miles A Second by David Wojnarowicz and James Romberger, [...]

  9. Ralf Haring says:

    It should be noted that as “bad” as Marvel is, DC is worse. For example, the first part of the Rucka/Williams Batwoman story is wrapping up in December and I just saw that the hardcover is planned for June! Much, much too late! I doubt the softcover will come out until a year later.

  10. Journalista – the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Dec. 1, 2009: It’s alive says:

    [...] Butcher liveblogs the November edition of Diamond Previews: one, [...]

  11. Nick H says:

    Alright, I’m going to stick my head above the ramparts and say this:

    I don’t think HC-then-SC is such a bad thing.

    Now, wait, before you pile on me already, hear me out.

    HC-then-SC is the traditional publishing model for most of the books you’ll find in a bookshop (excepting, of course, the mass-market tat which never makes it into HC). I’ve yet to see anyone complain that it’s a disgrace how Roth and Palahniuk and what have you get published in HC first and then you have to wait months for the paperbacks.

    Indeed, with non-fiction, it can be a heck of a lot worse. This because non-fiction HCs are very expensive, so if a publisher find they’ve got one that’s selling well, they’ll purposefully delay the release of the paperback. Because, hey, money. No bad thing for a publisher.

    I disagree, to an extent, with what Ralf says in the first comment. I hate, hate, *hate* buying a book and then finding later that I have to buy it *again* to get my preferred format. Waiting isn’t the answer, there’s no guarantee that a later HC will come along, or the SC might go out of print before I can buy it if I get the timing wrong. Absolute/Omnibus editions I can cope with, as clearly there’s a marked difference between those and a normal SC. But pumping out a bog-standard HC *after* the SC? That’s stupid.

    In short, I don’t see the problem. For people who suck up the hype, there’s the single issues to chuck at them. For people who want the premium edition, there’s the HC. And for the people who want it cheap, they can wait for the SC. Just like all other book buyers have to do. Just don’t make me play the ‘Do I buy this SC, or do I wait for the potential HC, which may never turn up?’ game on books I follow. For example, DC really dropped the ball with the Ex Machina hardcovers, putting out one (which I bought) and I haven’t seen any since. Had I known then what I do know I’d've stuck with the SCs and been done with the damn thing already.

  12. Ralf Haring says:

    I don’t think the comparison with the standard book market maps 100%. There early adopters are paying a premium (the HC) to get access to the content before other people. In comics, that role is filled by the single issues.

    The problem with comics HCs as described above is that you aren’t capturing the early adopter market with a higher cost item (they bought the issues) and you aren’t capturing the bulk of the trade waiters (they’ll want the SC). So for months and months your stuck in this nebulous middle ground where publishers are just pissing away reader interest allowing any heat the stories might have had to dissipate.

    If they wanted to release hc and sc simultaneously, I’d be more than pleased with that.

  13. Chris says:

    Ralf- It’s worth noting that there’s a large backlash in the bookselling community against HCs right now, with more and more booksellers asking for paperback-originals (usually trade paperbacks). Many of the booksellers I know regard HCs as “future-bargain-bin-books” or similar…

  14. BoozerX says:

    Comics are a periodical item , and TPB are hurting the series sales.
    So is perfectly acceptable to punish the wait for the trade buyers.
    I buy the comic and help the industry.

  15. Scratchie says:

    Agree 100% w/ Chris and Ralf re: hardcovers. I’ve only been “back into” mainstream comics for a few years now, but there have already been numerous series that I’ve skipped because I had to wait a year or more between the buzz and the TPB edition.

    It’s particularly insulting that the hardcovers in question are so cheap-ass that they usually don’t even include a sewn binding. They’re just a paperback with a cardboard cover glued on, so you can’t even open them wide enough to see the double-page spread. Marvel has recently fixed this on some (all?) of their hardcovers, but for a long time there, the attitude was basically “You people will buy anything, won’t you?”

  16. Comic Book Links For Tuesday December 1st|Comic Book Daily says:

    [...] Butcher (from one of Toronto’s best comic shops The Beguiling) live blogs his previews. Hilarious! (Also he provides us with a great little Bryan Lee O’Malley [...]

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