The Previews order, made from the big Previews catalogue book that most comics retailers order most of their product out of, is due tomorrow. I have not yet opened this month’s Previews, or been exposed to its 376 pages of comicy goodness. Or badness. I guess we’ll find out?
4:21: Cover: Well, the covers for the Decemember Previews are both centered around ‘toys’, which is to say a high-end Iron Man 2 action figure, and some True Blood “BUSTS” that cut the characters off mid-thigh.
Fun-fact: Statues and busts often have a very strict approvals process, with the showrunners and actors wanting to ensure that anything that is supposed to be that character actually looks like that character. But because the manufacturing lead time on a statue is so long, and the approvals process is so long, and the solicitation has to come so early, often things will wind up in the Previews with “not final version” or “approval pending” warnings, with photos of the mock-up toys (or sometimes no photo at all). But what do you do when you want to put something like that on the cover of a catalog, but you can’t (or aren’t legally allowed to) show unapproved likenesses? Why, you take approved likenesses, say photos of the cast members, and you photoshop them onto the bodies of the statues, which don’t need likeness approvals.
What I’m perhaps… perturbed… about, is the ethical question of putting this product on the cover of a catalogue and saying BUY IT and then not mentioning that the product isn’t going to look like this, that these are Photographs Photoshopped onto Statues, and that’s just a wee bit dishonest, isn’t it? I mean, inside the catalogue they’ve got a little slug of text that says “Images are not final. Watch the website for updates.” But you’d think you’d run that disclaimer every time you ran that image, wouldn’t you?
4:38pm: So moving through the catalogue, the inside cover is an advertisement for FATHOM: BLUE DESCENT which is another mini-series from Aspen that won’t come out on time from an artist that may or may not finish the series. Also: Holy shit what is wrong with her arms? I thought the whole reason this book existed was to give Witchblade fans something else to spank to…? Who wants to jerk off to THAT? Actually, scratch that, I’m sure it’s someone and I probably don’t wanna know them.
Meanwhile, Page 1 is a toy ad, pages 2-3 are toy ads. Pages 4-5 are the contents…which seem fairly laid out, if boring. The note from Our Pal @ Previews, Marty, is pretty short this month. He wishes us well but it’s empty and perfunctory, and 2 short sentences at that. The rest of the space for his “Editor’s Note” is taken up by a picture of Santa Claus in a motor-car, badly cropped, with YOU’D BETTER WATCH OUT as the accompanying text. Santa will mow you down, with his half-cropped carload of presents.
What exactly is the message here, Marty?
4:47pm: So on page 10, there’s a full page article describing Jeph Loeb and Art Adams’ new ongoing series, ULTIMATE COMICS X, where a pouty kid with wolverine claws is… emo. This is the ‘series’ (and really, who’s got money that says the second issue will be late?) that follows up on the Ultimatum stuff that Loeb did, that everyone would be better-served ignoring. Who writes this? It reads like it’s written by and for fanboys. Like it’s literally 4 paragraphs of plot-recap, and a sentence about who might enjoy reading this specific comic book. Nothing about how rare it is that Art Adams is doing a regular series (or irregular as the case may be), nothing not in the actual solicit for the book, nothing even about the variant covers. Nothing of use to me as a retailer. Trees died for that.
4:56pm: OKAY, DARK HORSE! First up on page 22 is… holy shit, Madhouse is doing a comic? I have no idea how I missed the memo on this. It’s called DEVIL. The dude who does the fun and porny colour manga series MAKA MAKA and animation studio Madhouse (Trigun, Paprika, Ninja Scroll) have teamed up to do a full colour 4-issue miniseries exclusive to America. That’s… pretty awesome. Apparently it involves a new take on vampires, wicked looking guns, and disaffected badasses. For people who like this sort of thing, this is the single best thing of the year.
My big questions as a retailer:
1) Are most manga fans going to buy this as a 4-issue mini-series, or wait until a collection comes out?
2) Are manga fans going to buy this, or is it going to appeal to the sort of older, non-hardcore audience that loves stuff like NINJA SCROLL or whatever?
3) Are manga fans going to buy this at all, or will piracy kill it?
I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, because I’m kind of at a loss. I’ll put down a temporary number for now.
5:10pm: Incidentally, it looks like Dark Horse is doing original graphic novels featuring the ALIENS license, which is very different for them. John Arcudi, Zach Howard, 96 pages in full colour for $16. Aliens: More Than Human on page 25.
5:16pm: Another surprising entry from Dark Horse is a reprint of the Tale of One Bad Rat in hardcover, from Bryan Talbot. $19.99, HC, 136 pages, page 31. A quick check at Diamond confirms my suspicions that this was allowed to fall out of print for a while. I’ve done my fair share of criticizing Dark Horse for how they maintain their backlist, and I realize it is both incredibly costly and not terribly effective to keep everything you’ve ever printed in print, indefinitely, but TTOOBR is the kind of book that, because of both its subject matter and skillful execution, becomes recommended far and wide by any number of booklists and organizations. It’s one of the earliest graphic novels to receive a YALSA recommendation, for example. Allowing a book like this to go out of print, even for a short while, is truly unfortunate. I’d love it if Dark Horse could re-prioritize their backlist policy, to ensure that titles that can easily be called “Modern Classics” are available without interruption, particularly in the single-largest boom time for works of this type in the history of the medium in North America.
5:24pm: Hoo-rah! ACHEWOOD VOLUME 3: A Home For Scared People, and WONDERMARK VOLUME 3: Dapper Caps & Pedal Copters, both debut this April. Both will contain wonderful extras not available elsewhere, both of them are excellent comics which have seen print online, both of them are worth your attention.
5:26pm: And we flip the page to page 36, and see that the lovely and talented Graham Annable has a collection of his GRICKLE comics and shorts collected with an introduction by Jeff Smith! Annable is the fabulously talented fellow behind Youtube video sensations like:
Which slays me every time. Click on that to see the rest of his videos btw, they’re all awesome.
Anyway, Dark Horse is doing a 200 page collection of his hilarious short comics, and it is worth every penny at $17.99 for 200 pages. Get it April 7th!
5:37pm: Man the cover for that Jerry Robinson comic strip book is awful. Anyway, new Hellboy-universe collection, WITCHFINDER, collecting the recent mini-series (page 39). I’ve only read about 100 pages, total, of anything to do with Hellboy, ever. I just have no desire to read more.
Meanwhile, Buffy seems to be flying on the cover of the new issue of Buffy, written by… Brad Metzler! Is this his first arc on Buffy Season 8? Also, it just occurs to me now that the villain, the Big Bad, of Buffy Season 8 is called “Twilight”, which… heh, which works so incredibly well on a metaphorical level that I can’t believe it. Buffy vs. Twilight. Bravo.
5:42pm: Holy shit, 10th volume of HELLSING. I totally thought that had ended. According to the solicit text (page 42) this is The Final Volume of Hellsing. I don’t really follow this series, honestly, but seeing how volume 9 came out… October 22nd 2008, this is shocking.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is ending with issue #50 (p47), and while it tied into the very popular video game, it still sold the same few copies that almost all the Star Wars stuff does. Still, big-ups for 50 issues of a video-game tie-in series, that’s almost unheard of.
5:49pm: Speaking of trees dying for no reason, the first 3 pages of the DC section are just big black boxes that say “TOP SECRET” in reference to Blackest Night tie-in comics. So… yeah. Thanks, that’s… awesome.
5:53pm: Batman & Robin gets TWO issues in February, courtesy of Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart. Looks like they’re trying to make up for that skip-month a little while back. Good on Cameron for being able to get the work out that quickly, and the previews he’s shown so far have been quite nice looking too. (p71).
6:06pm: Sorry, bit of an interuption there with a customer. :) So anyway, we’re just paging through the DC section here and it all looks… exactly like contemporary DC comics. You know what stands out for me? Phil Noto’s cover on Batgirl, which this month features Batgirl and Roxy Rocket from Batman:TAS. There, I just posted it in. It’s actually kinda nicely drawn, well-designed, the colours are attractive, it doesn’t have that vaguely-washed-out look that Noto’s stuff can sometimes have. good job Noto.
Oh, and just going through the numbers here, our Azrael sales have dipped to… zero. Yikes.
6:17pm: Holy shit, new Human Target mini-series? Apparently the character is returning to television from Fox at some point, and so we got a new Human Target tpb last month, and this new mini-series (by Len Wein…!) this month. Nice cover by Lee Bermejo as well, whose work I’ve liked since the very beginning. I’ll order heavy on the first issue of this one, it has a lot of potential. (p76)
And on the facing page, MILESTONE FOREVER, a 2 issue wrap-up of the original Milestone universe. Art by John Paul Leon, MD Bright, and Chris Cross too, which is cool. Tying into the recent Justice League appearance I’d think that the sales potential for this 2-issue crossover is definitely there, but I guess it’ll depend on how closely it ties into the JLA book because as a wrap-up of a 16-year-old superhero universe, I’m not sure how many I’d order. That’s an impressive creative roster though, I’ll give it a shot.
6:25pm: It looks like on the non-feature pages DC has dropped their font size a couple points. p78-79 have tiny little fonts. The layout of the creative info has also been tweaked a little. I guess everything got smaller because adding ‘co-features’ to each comic also doubled the number of creative staff per issue? Hm. Nice Ladronn cover on Green Arrow & Black Canary #29, btw. Oh, and big-ups to DC for finally doing this double-page splash in alphabetical order… The first time I can remember this happening in the last couple of years.
6:29pm: The solicit image for Justice Society of America #36 has a big swastika in it… Does that make this issue of Previews banned in Germany? Meanwhile in the JSA spinoffs, I’ve actually read the solicitations for this stuff, and… this is pretty tightly plotted isn’t it, all of these JSA books? Three of the solicits reference each other, and Power Girl and Magog are the centers of attention for 3 of the book covers. Is it just doubling up content or do they tie together or what? Also, I kind of thought everyone hated Magog… we’re certainly selling almost no issues of his comic. Why is he the star of these stories? I don’t really get it.
6:38pm: Things that contribute to internet pundits like myself saying things like “I really don’t think DC has any idea what the hell they’re doing, at this point. They are literally just throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks”:
Last month DC relaunched Justice League of America with issue #41, with the new creative team of James Robins and Mark Bagley, with an advertisement in the front of the section, a half-page advertisement in full colour, interlocking variant covers, and a promise that this would tie right into the DCU. This month, we get a 1/4 page, 25 words of solicit, and a black and white image shot from pencils that has NOT FINAL COVER written on it. So DC has basically stopped supporting this big relaunch with the second issue solicitation, a month before the first issue comes out. This book used to be the flagship of their WHOLE LINE, and it gets 25 words of solicit and they couldn’t even pull the cover together for the catalogue. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.
6:50pm: On p85, the first deluxe hardcover of Grant Morrison’s BATMAN & ROBIN series arrives, and as assumed it pairs the 3 gorgeous issues of Frank Quitely art with 3 issues of nigh-unreadable Philip Tan art. Ah, well. We’ll probably still do just fine with it.
Perhaps more interesting is that there’s another Frank Quitely collection slipped into the DC Solicits this month… BATMAN INTERNATIONAL collects the recent one-shot by Mark Waid, but also the hard-to-find Batman: The Scottish Connection by Alan Grant and Quitely! Very nice indeed. $17.99 for 168 pages of comics.
7:00pm: So, earlier on, you may remember that I took DC to task for wasting 3 pages of paper with big black boxes that said CLASSIFIED. Those 3 pages promoted 3 different $4 comics, each given a full page, for no real reason (even less cuz they didn’t put anything on them). Flipping ahead to page 91, we see that the collection of Wednesday Comics, their second-most talked about project of the year and weighing in at a 200 page hardcover with a $50 price tag? Well that merits a big fat half-a-page.
Let me repeat: $4 comic with no art and vague solicitation text? Full page! $50 comic with tons of info and art and critical acclaim? Half page, shrunken text.
So, yeah. I have no idea what to say about that.
Meanwhile, the Wednesday Comics collection is going to measure 11 inches by 17.5 inches, smaller than the newspaper broadsheets but bigger than Absolute editions. And unlike an absolute, it’s only going to clock in at $50 (seriously, how they can sleep at night having charged $100 for Absolute Death or Absolute LOEG3 is beyond me). Oh, and in addition to all of the content from the series, they’re going to include the two fill-in pages that never saw print!: The Creeper by Keith Giffen and Eric Canete, and Plastic Man by Evan Dorkin and Stephen DeStefano, which is very good news!
7:25pm: Speaking of Absolute Editions, DC is eaking out Absolute Planetary Book Two with as little fanfare as humanly possible, on p97. Collects #13-27, apparently no bonus material at all, and that cover design (right) looks… well let’s just hope they forgot to stamp “Not Final Cover” on it? Still, at least it’s only $75 for the 384 page collection. Also available, they’re doing a new printing of Absolute Planetary Book One, which is nice as I was incredibly poor the first time it came around.
It’d have been nice if Warren Ellis and DC could’ve worked things out a little on this one to spruce up the final collection. I’m not privy to that much inside info, but it’s pretty clear that things are awfully sour between the two, and it does highlight the very real differences between a “Creator Participation” deal and a real creator ownership deal… and the difference between working with Wildstorm before and after they were acquired by DC…! I still remember when the first Planetary Tpb came out, and it was printed on what was basically toilet paper; an awful muddy stock of paper that ruined Laura Dupuy (Martin)’s colours and made the whole thing look awful. Warren Ellis seemed fairly surprised himself. It took a whole print-run to get it fixed, but even now the trades are printed on worse paper than the single issues, which must be maddening considering the high degree of craft that all parties invested in this series… It didn’t surprise me at all that all of Ellis’ colour Avatar work has shown up on the shiniest, thickest paper they could find. :)
Anyhow, Planetary is a great series, and the Absolute format is far-and-away the best format in which to enjoy it. If you’ve got the scratch, pick it up.
7:42pm: I can only assume people are kinda done with zombies for a while, because we just cannot sell Victorian Undead, and we do great business with other zombie comics. It’s essentially ZOMBIE SHERLOCK HOLMES, and what isn’t awesome about that? And yet, sales are poor. I’ll have to give it another push or something. (p98)
Also on page 98 is the collected edition of Mysterius The Unfathomable, a really fun take on a ‘sorcerer supreme’ type character from Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler. It’s a great looking series, and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m biased, we had Mr. Fowler in for a signing to launch the first issue, but seriously? Make sure to give the collection a go…! You’ll probably love it.
7:49pm: Vertigo’s publishing an original graphic novel by Peter Bagge! I had heard about it, but didn’t know it was finally on its way. It’s called OTHER LIVES and it’s about people creating different identities for themselves online and how those identities begin to get confused and conflated. That sounds really, really good actually. 136 pages, $25, B&W, p107. Coming out April 14th, apparently.
7:54pm: I’ve been informed by Mr. Brian Wood that February is, in fact, Brian Wood Month (of sorts) at Vertigo. The front page of the DC section mentions the big project of the month, DEMO 2 #1, by Wood and Becky Cloonan. The two return to the series which should be released in exactly the same format as the first series, on lush shiny paper, with no interior advertisements! Six issues of monthly done-in-one stories about ordinary people forced to confornt the extraordinary in their lives. Also from Brian Wood this month is the oversized anniversary issue DMZ #50 with a ton of great artists, in a short-illustrated-stories format perfect for new readers. Meanwhile, Wood’s other Vertigo series gets a trade and an anniversary issue with Northlanders #25 and Northlanders Volume 3: Blood in the Snow. Congrats to Wood on launching projects and surviving in a pretty hostile direct market, here’s the 25 more issues of everything you’re working on.
Allright! It’s 8:11pm and we have finally finished the DC section. Man, that felt like it took forever, and according to my little timestamps it took over 2 hours. Bruuuutal. Apologies to everyone reading along with this. It’s slow-going this month, lots of one-shots and numbers to check and lots to write about. Ah well. We are at Image now.
Image: Their big book this month is a six issue mini-series by Ben Templesmith and Ben McCool, called CHOKER. They kick off the promotion for this one with a six-page preview of the first issue, which is pretty-much unprecidented for Image; I think HAUNT only got 5 pages and that was from 2 Image partners. So, right off the bat, kudos to the Bens. Speaking of Mr. Templesmith, he is the artist for the currently-in-limbo series FELL, which was a great idea and a solid seller that just sort of petered out and nothing has been heard of it since, and neither creator has really said WHY. I sincerely hope the same thing does not happen to this series, which I think is a pretty fair hope (particularly as this is being billed as a six-issue series, rather than a series of oneshots). At the very least, this issue will make a very easy recommendation to fans of FELL.
The preview looks good, and reads very modern-age pulp. A bit Ellisy. Should be a popular one on the stands.
8:21pm: SPAWN 200! It’s got I think 10 different covers? SPAWN 200!
8:25pm: Skipped out on mentioning the Invicible one-shot where het gets his original cover back to point out that the dude who does Hack Slash has a webcomic where he’s just ripping off He-Man but “has put a modern sense of humour” into it. He calls it Colt Noble and the Megalords. And apparently Image is going to publish it as a one-shot. Really? Sexy He-Man? Alright, I’m gonna check this out online.
…and we’re back. I got 3 pages in. It’s fucking He-Man fan-fiction with the costumes drawn a little differently. What an incredible paucity of creativity. I’m a worse person for knowing this exists. And Image? You should be embarrassed for publishing Tim Seely’s He-Man fanfic. Seriously. Embarrassed.
8:42pm: Hey, Brandon Graham’s KING CITY hits #7… which is Coincidentally the first issue that contains the stuff that would’ve made up the second trade paperback. If you’ve been holding off buying the series in the new format, first off, shame on you cuz it’s great and it’s got new stuff in it as backups and new comics and stuff and it’s only 3 bucks anyway, but secondly, now you should start picking up these issues! Exciting!
(Gotta take a little computer-reboot-break. Back in 10.)
9:01pm: Possibly the most disturbing Walking Dead cover image yet:
9:09pm: MARVEL! Let’s see what Marvel has to offer this month:
p4 has the solicit for SIEGE #2, which promises AN AVENGER WILL DIE! I’ve lost track, is this the crossover where we kill a racial minority, or the crossover where we kill a woman?
p7 I was just about to compliment the cover design for the SIEGE books, when I realized why I liked it: It’s just a modified version of the FINAL CRISIS cover design. For all the crowing that Marvel does about DC stealing their ideas for big ‘event’ comics, they’re branding their entire crossover with a rework of a DC / Chip Kidd design from over a year ago. Just sayin’.
p14 Just a shout out to the consistent quality of the DARK TOWER series. It’s everything a Stephen King fan could want in a comic.
p21 Man I hope someone buys all these Deadpool comics.
p27 Hey neat. I totally love David Lafuente’s turn on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, but I’m happy to see my pal Takeshi Miyazawa doing the art chores on a 2-part story. Nifty. Nice cover on that too.
p28 Damn Marcos Martin is just so, so good. Check out this cover for Amazing Spider-Man #620:
That dude can draw. I would honestly buy a collection of just his work, regardless of the context of whether it appears in the middle of story-arcs or whatever. Niced.
p40 Apparently Doom conquered Wakanda and is killing people? Totally missed that. I guess this is why Marvel publishes reading chronologies eh?
p42 I was pretty disappointed that Marvel put a no-way-to-opt-out 50/50 variant on Matt Fractions INVINCIBLE IRON MAN with the sharp new cover designs by Rian Hughes. Instead of getting a full order of gorgeous designy and attractive covers, we get this mediocre “conventional” thing not even drawn by the interior artist. Who the hell is Patrick Zircher? It would’ve been nice if they’d had the courage of their convictions and just put out a nice looking product.
p46 Marvel Heartbreakers is a one shot featuring “the fabulous femmes of Marvel” which… There’s an easy joke there I shant be making. Anyway, it seems like a weird one-off book for Valentine’s Day, and the less continuity-heavy Marvel shorts are generally pretty decent. Worth a look.
p54 Looks like Ms. Marvel is ending. 50 issues, respectable, though I’m mystified it lasted that long, our sales had entirely bottomed out for over a year.
p57 I still can’t believe they killed The Punisher and replaced him with Frankenstein. But hey, sales are up. Not quite as high as when they killed The Punisher and turned him into an angel with holy weaponry, drawn by Pat Lee, but, you know. Up.
p69 Though they’re a total pain in the ass to order, because who knows how many people reading the main book are going to read the spin-off, I will say that these little spin-off mini-series will occasionally have some really neat stories in them. Nation X #3 features a Cannonball story by Corey Lewis, for example. That’s pretty neat.
p77: Apparently in this issue of Uncanny X-Men: First Class, Banshee must save a leprechaun from imps or gnomes or something. I am not making this up.
p80/81 CRIMINAL #5 and POWERS #4. Good, good stuff. Oh and on p82 it looks like they’re taking another stab at releasing that KICK-ASS collection, so maybe the 8th issue will eventually come out…?
p86-89 Here’s something, Marvel kicks off their trades/graphic novels section with 4 pages of IRON MAN backlist relists, just in time for the new movie, which is really rather smart. Then we get 2 pages of new Iron Man collected edition solicits, including an oversized Fraction/Iron Man collection of #1-19. Oh, then 2 more pages of new Iron Man movie tie-in stuff. I’ve never seen Marvel capitalize on a movie tie-in better in their solicits. Good on them.
p96-97 There’s a second Brubaker/Lark DAREDEVIL OMNIBUS collection, finishing up their run on the title. But most exciting? The HC collection of Marvel’s recent STRANGE TALES mini-series. Oversized, 200 pages for $30, and with tons of content that hit way, way more often than it missed. Apparently this one is going to have a cover design by Chip Kidd…! interesting. Oh, shit, I should read the solicits closer. This will include Strange Tales #1-3, the Peter Bagge Megalomaniacal Spider-Man one-shot, and “material” from All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special. Nice.
p111 All 12 issues of NEXTWAVE are collected in one big omnibus, the NEXTWAVE ULTIMATE COLLECTION. Easily in the top 10 things Marvel has published this decade.
p116 It looks like they’re going to start collecting the Ann Nocenti / John Romita JR Daredevil stuff! Neat. I’ve always wanted to read this stuff… It’s what was coming out when I first started reading superhero comics, and it was always around, it just seemed utterly insane.
Oh, and they’re making a poster out of LADY DEADPOOL. That’s fucked up.
Okay, that wraps-up the front half of the previews. Stay tuned for part 2, coming later tonight (probably)!
- Chris …