So usually I liveblog my initial reactions to The PREVIEWS catalogue — the main ordering catalogue through which most retailers order most of their comics and graphic novels product from Diamond Comics Distributors — on the day before or day that the order that has to be placed from that catalogue is due. It’s just the way it goes at the store, a thousand other things going on.
But not this time. You see this time, The Previews is due during the week of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a big comics event in Toronto that I happen to be in charge of putting together. And you know what I’m not gonna have time for? 18 hours of going through Previews. So I figured that since I’m supposed to be working anyway today, I’d just do that whole order now. It does take a considerable ammount of the… urgency… out of my responses to do it with basically an open deadline, but I wanna be done this whole thing by midnight, tonight, and that should be incentive enough to tear through… And hey, since I’m actually doing this weeks before the Previews is due, it might actually be of use to someone trying to figure out what to buy…! It’s nice to be helpful.
Alright, ready? Let’s go through the Previews catalogue.
2:20pm: The front cover image this month is that Green Arrow piece, a character subject to some of the worst writing over the past few months. Awful, implausibly bad stuff. And now the series is getting it’s third relaunch in 3 or 4 years…? Terrible. The back cover is for another novel-to-comics adaptation, this time from Dark Horse. Didn’t we have one of those last month…? Or is this the same thing…? Either way, it’s nice to see something a)not superheroes and b) intended for a female audience on the cover of The Previews… That’s a VERY rare thing.
2:24pm: Page 1 has a WHAT MAKES A HERO ad featuring the BPRD… Dark Horse has been running these all-purpose BPRD ads for a few months now, I suppose trying to push the (large) superhero audience to read a slightly different sort of Superhero book. By all accounts this is very good stuff, it’s one of our best-selling monthly comics at The Beguiling, so I feel like it has a wide crossover…
2:27pm: Who is Previews for? Previews is for people who read Previews. Check this out from page 4′s “Previews Art Gallery” section:
Bad Girls Forever, my friends.
2:38pm: Uh… Adrian Brody and Samuel L. Jackson are in a new PREDATOR movie? And that movie is called PREDATORS? I’m sorry, that’s ridiculous, particularly because now all I can think of is To Catch A Predator which turns this whole exercise into a Robot Chicken sketch. Meanwhile, if’n you’re looking for a 4 issue prequel mini-series (that will be collected in trade imminently) to all of this, Dark Horse has got you covered on page 27, for $2.99 a pop.
2:42pm: Okay, I’m losing my mind because I swear I ordered Troublemaker Book One (Dark Horse, $17.99, Page 32) last month… Lemmie check this.
Hah! Yeah, I knew I did:
DARK HORSE GEM MAR10 0015 JANET EVANOVICH TROUBLEMAKER HC BOOK 01 (C: 0-1-2) $17.99 07/20/10 06/10/10
So why is this in here again? Especially with nothing telling folks it’s solicited a second time?
It’s clearer in the order-form, that we can order it under last month’s code if we want to, but… I dunno, I just feel like there should be a slug or burst or something in the actual previews catalog that spells it out, “Hey, this has a final order date of June 10th, order by then!”. Common courtesy.
2:48pm: So on page 37 we’ve got GROO: THE HOGS OF HORDER trade paperback, collecting the recent mini-series rather pricely at 120 pages for $17.99. That’s almost IDW pricing. Meanwhile, pages 38-39 have a plethora of Usagi Yojimbo, with new “remastered artwork and new story notes” in brand new editions of Usagi Yojimbo Volume 8, 9, and 10. These are great books… It never occurs to me to really get out there and mention it because Usagi and Stan Sakai are such an industry institution, but these really are fantastic books. If you’ve never read Usagi pick up a book, you won’t be disappointed.
2:53pm: I almost feel like I shouldn’t bother mentioning it because it’ll probably get cancelled and resolicited again, but Dark Horse has CAGES by Dave McKean in a brand new softcover edition for $29.99, incredibly affordable for a long out-of-print book. It’s another classic, and a must read for both its visual and narrative ingenuity. That’s on page 40.
Meanwhile, on page 41 comes “MOGWORLD”, a novel from Yahtzee, the fella who does those fantastic ZERO PUNCTUATION video game reviews. Normally we stay away from novels at the store, but I’d say that this one has all the makings of a genuine hit, and I’m looking forward to having a copy for myself… $7.99 for 350 pages.
I should point out here that though both of these books are being solicited in The April 2010 Previews Catalog for items beginning to ship in June 2010, they both have August in-store dates. And CAGES has already missed it’s first in-store and needed to be resolicited. So… Grain of salt, folks. Grain of salt.
3:14pm: Sinful admission time: I am glad they are being produced, but I generally don’t care about classic comic strip reprints. Like… at all. I’ve even been told (repeatedly) that I would really like a couple of them, but I have no enthusiasm for them at all. I promise one day to at least commit to reading a whole tome of unfunny 70 year old ‘gags’ just out of spite. But that day is not today.
3:15pm: Check out this cover on from ABE SAPIEN: THE ABYSSAL PLAIN #1 (page 44):
Dave Johnson did that one, it’s quite nice. It’s also the exact opposite of a BPRD cover, which tend to have very rigid cover treatments, and have for more than 11 volumes of material now. Interesting to see how this one goes over, or if they just cram it into the existing cover style.
3:20pm: Okay, I’m too much of a nerd to let this one go, but: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: CAMPUS APOCALYPSE VOLUME 1 is a shoujo manga (girls’ comic) reimagining of the giant robot anime as a boarding school secrets sort of thing, and it all sounds ludicrous and kind of fun, too. Like, way too serious and angsty, but that’s the point? Anyway I’m going to have to at least try to read it.
3:55pm: Back! So now we’re at page 64 and DC Comics. A tale of two properties here, with Superman #700 weighing in at 56 pages and $4.99 on the left page, and Batman #700 weighing in at 56 pages and $4.99 on the right page. Honestly? Our sales on Batman are roughly FIVE TIMES AS HIGH as they are on Superman, and ordering responsibly (and that means ignoring rounding-up the numbers to get extra variant covers–a 1:25 and 1:75 on each book) means that I wouldn’t qualify for any variants at all on the Superman book. I know there are a hundred and one excuses as to why Superman is in the toilet, but the buck stops at Dan DiDio and I kinda wish he’d just step up and say “hey, i totally fucked up. Sorry.” because the last 2 years of superman comics have been DOA, sales-wise.
4:03pm: I didn’t really talk about the books, there, just bitched, but I’m relatively happy to see Morrison back on the main BATMAN book, and Straczynski taking over Superman will be interesting. I mention that because page 66 has the news that JMS is also taking over Wonder Woman with the anniversary issue #600. I remember the hype and fanfare around the series when Gail Simone took over as writer–”For the first time ever, a woman writing the ongoing Wonder Woman book!” Though that announcement had its caveats, I do think it was a noteworthy event, and Simone is doing some good stuff on the series. Kinda sucks to get bumped off the book like that.
4:15pm: I’m still here, I just don’t have a lot to say about the DC stuff so far. “Brightest Day” Flash #3 has a blood-splattered hero on the cover, with a chalk-outline being drawn around him… Like… I wonder if these people even read their own press releases any more? That doesn’t seem very Brightest Day to me, you know? Seems like Exactly The Same As The Last 10 Years.
4:21pm: Now that’s a pretty nice cover:
That’s the cover to Batman Beyond #1, by Dustin Nguyen. Interior art is by Ryan Benjamin, whom I also dig. See, that looks like a sharp, stylish, contemporary comic book. That looks like something I can sell… I have no idea if it will sell.
4:24pm: Page 80. So I know I kind of ‘knew’ this, but I was surprised flipping the page here to see BATMAN & ROBIN #13, with art by the awesome Frazier Irving and still written by Grant Morrison. That makes 3 Morrison Batman books coming out this month, which… you’d think that’s overkill, but really, it’s all been selling great. Actually, issues 4-6 of B&R aside, it’s been selling great too. But yeah, I had thought that with Morrison’s return to the main series, and the Bruce Wayne book, that this was the end of B&R. I’m very glad indeed that it is not. :)
Just below that on page 80 is a Dennis O’Neil done-in-one story with art by Dustin Nguyen in Detective Comics #866, which should help soften the blow of a Rucka-less Detective… at least for a month or so.
4:36pm: So the Legion can’t seem to support itself for more than 12 issues at a go before needing a team reboot or a creative team reboot, but now there are two ongoing Legion books? Adventures Comics and The Legion of Superheroes? Both written by Paul Levitz? That seems… well not “Overkill” exactly, as both Marvel and DC have gone way past overkill into a whole new territory of making-the-Lorax-weep-at-the-waste-of-trees, but it seems like throwing money away doesn’t it? Why have one Legion book that not-enough people want to read when we can have two?
4:41pm: Hah! Here’s how to do a bloody and bruised hero without it seeming grim and stupid:
Left: Booster Gold #32, solicited last month. Right: Booster Gold #33, solicited this month (page 90, $2.99). Art by Kevin Maguire. Click for larger.
So, yeah, there you go, that’s kind of amazing actually.
4:49pm: Huh, last issues for the two Archie books… Sorry “The Red Circle” books, the shield and the web. I am… unsurprised. I didn’t really see DC needing yet another bunch of superheroes. I only hope they don’t waste our time and shelf-space producing trade paperbacks of these awful, pointless, failed series. Page 95 though if you’re curious.
4:56pm: Since I did not do this last month, I missed the chance to express shock and amazement that Paul Dini had been allowed to write an ongoing ZATANNA mini-series! That’s pretty exciting, actually, as Morrison’s Seven Soldiers mini was really great reading (with gorgeous Ryan Sook art…) and Dini has an affection for the character that comes through in the writing, it makes for a fun time. I’m expecting good things out of this one. Zatanna #2 is on page 96, features lovely art by Stephane Roux, and is $2.99.
5:01pm: I know that it’s a clever writers’ trick to say, ask DC not to publish an unsellable piece of trash and then see that piece of trash 5 pages later in the catalogue, but I swear I did not employ that here. I am _genuinely mystified_ as to why DC would publish THE SHIELD: KICKING DOWN THE DOOR containing the relaunch of the character, on page 99. $14.99 for 160 pages that could have been better served by just donating money to the homeless. Seriously, the series isn’t that bad, it’s not a crime against humanity or anything, but it’s an abject and undeniable sales and creative failure. Why is DC committing that material to a ‘permanent’ edition, when it’s pretty clear that there’s NO audience for it? Why are they wasting my time as a retailer asking me to order this, when 5 pages earlier they cancelled the series and told me ‘no one wants this’. Is tricking JMS’ fanbase into buying bad comics in the book-trade their new sales tactic?
Oh and that Red Tornado trade paperback on the same page ain’t no prize either.
5:11pm: Superman: Secret Origin Deluxe Edition HC. Well, this is just-about the last time I’m going to have to see the creepy-child-with-Christopher-Reeve-Death-Mask drawn by Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal, so that’s good. This is a pretty enjoyable series (plagued with delays… I think the last issue is still-to-come) but man, drawing a young Clark Kent like an adult Christopher Reeve? I cannot stress how bad an idea that is, that should have occurred to everyone early on. Page 101 for the $30, 240 page HC.
5:31pm: A highly-demanded reprint volume, though the cover price of $40 for the 80-page “facsimile edition” is out to lunch… DC’s last round of Treasury-sized books were the Dini/Ross collaborations and they were 10 bucks a pop! The smaller “Deluxe” edition is a slightly more reasonable $20, and 96 pages with a bunch of extra material and a new cover by Neal Adams.
I’m not trying to talk anyone in-to or out-of a purchasing decision here, if you want this in the big size then that’s how you want it, no problems. I just wish DC could’ve been a bit more reasonable with the pricing.
5:40pm: Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #1, featuring the return of Alan Moore’s pulp-novel pastiche character in a story by Peter Hogan, whose writing I’ve been pretty ambivalent about, and Chris Sprouse and Karl Story, who I’m very excited to see return to the character…! Honestly I’m pretty surprised to see any new ABC comics at all… Though they could hardly fare worse than the red circle stuff. Page 107, six issue mini-series at $3.99 a pop, from Wildstorm.
6:11pm: Sorry, got a little distracted there.
So! Andersen Gabrych and Brad Rader, two out gay comics creators who’ve done work for DC in the past, are the newest creative team to tackle one of the Vertigo Crime graphic novels. According to our official reader of these books, Jason Azzopardi, “Milligan’s is the first one that was readable,” referring to Peter Milligan’s Bronx Kill released a month-or-so back, and the fifth or sixth in the line…! This is not a line that has been getting good reviews. So when I hear that two out gay comics creators are going to tell a story about a deeply-closted private investigator in 1950s San Francisco, my feelings switch back and forth between anticipation and apprehension so fast it’d make other, weaker men a little dizzy. I want this one to be good, but I don’t have high hopes given its contemporaries. Still, come August 4th I will be checking out Fogtown, 176 pages, $19.99, Page 114. I’ve got my fingers crossed…
Actually, here’s something. In the Previews, Fogtown is listed as a hard cover. But at the DC/Vertigo site it’s listed as a softcover. Here’s hoping that it’s the ‘official’ site that’s in error, because dropping this down to a sc (the only one in the line) with no reduction in price would be pretty lame.
6:22pm: And speaking of original Vertigo hard covers, the facing page (115) has DARK RAIN: A NEW ORLEANS STORY. Seems like a straight-ahead crime/caper story set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, by the creative team of Incognegro. Except this one is full-size, and $24.99 instead of being smaller and $19.99. Doesn’t make much sense to me…
6:25pm: Huh, well I lost that bet.
Fables: Covers by James Jean – New Printing HC
Written by JAMES JEAN • Afterword by BILL WILLINGHAM • Art and cover by JAMES JEAN
Due to popular demand, this collection of James Jean’s FABLES covers is back in print! The deluxe, oversized hardcover includes 10 vellum sleeve inserts, an embossed case and commentary from Jean, making it as elegantly unique as the FABLES covers themselves.
Vertigo 208pg. Color Oversized Hardcover $49.99 US Mature Readers
On Sale October 6, 2010
So, I know it’s only their job to make this clear and easy to understand in the solicitations, but it would have been nice if they could have actually done that. As far as I can piece together, the “new printing” of this book actually isn’t just a new printing. It’s now going to come with a slipcase (which the first one did not have), and 10 vellum inserts (which the first one did not have), and it’s going to cost $10 more. Considering the market for this book is collectors, it would have been nice if the solicits in Previews, the catalog for collectors, were presented in such a way as to imply DC gives a shit about this book, because currently, it is not presented in that way. The new information is just sort of lain there on the page with no extra info.
If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the new ‘vellum inserts’ will contain the FABLES cover images that were not collected in the book, thereby wrapping up all of Jean’s work on the series. I would also hazard a guess that the slipcase & images will be made available separately at some point in the future, for the thousands of people who bought the book the first time it came out and didn’t get the bonus material.
All in all though, an EXCEPTIONALLY poorly written solicitation. Shameful, really.
I don’t generally mention series that are still ongoing, but I did want to give a nod to Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe The Barbarian, which I am really enjoying. The 6th issue hits in June, and I liked this cover. I think the final colours will be nice too. That’s all :) Page 121, $2.99.
6:53pm: And that takes us to Im… no, it takes us to IDW! That’s right, April 2010 is the first month that IDW books gets to sit at the grown-up table at the front of the catalogue. Congrats to everyone there for their hard work.
Unfortunately for retailers, literally nothing changes for us. Same discount (lower than the rest of the premier publishers), same reorder penalty, same everything. Kinda disappointing, as I think whatever benefits that IDW would have gained by the move will be somewhat tempered by the similar terms… Here’s hoping I’m wrong though.
Meanwhile, IDW starts their move off with… a licensed book based on a movie. Not personally thrilling, but the writer is Bob Schreck in his first post-DC outing, and it comes witha variant cover by Frank Miller? That’s kind of a big deal. The interior art shown on the page honestly doesn’t thrill me, but with Jurassic Park being one of the best-selling books and movies of all time, and this being a direct sequel to the first film, Jurassic Park: Redemption #1 (it’s official title) will definitely have its fans. Page 140, $3.99.
7:02pm: James Patterson continues to sell very well in the states while remaining virtually unknown in Canada, it’s kind of amazing. This month debuts another of his many comics projects, The Murder of King Tut #1, $3.99, page 148. Nice Darwyn Cooke cover there, working in a style similar to his Shuster Awards poster from a couple years back.
7:13pm: Going through the catalogue here, it ocurrs to me that a) there are a _lot_ of second issues in here, for series’ whose launches would’ve been better served in this catalogue than in the last, and b) there are no relists/offered agains for a lot of this product, where something like Love & Capes Volume 2: Going to the Chapel (p.159, 192 pages, $19.99) is probably being seen by a LOT of retailers for the very first time (yes, despite FCBD and everything else), and being able to conveniently order v1 at the same time would’ve been a boon… Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.
Meanwhile, TRIBES: THE DOG YEARS ($24.99, 200 pages, page 159) looks like the sort of weird/neat sci fi graphic novel we’d get if we lived in France or something, about a world where adults have been wiped out and only tribes of kids remain in a sort of bloody series of battles. It also sounds exactly like the late-90s tv series THE TRIBE, about exactly the same thing, though the solicit info doesn’t mention anything to do with any of that. I certainly hope this is a licensed product, or there’ll be one hell of a lawsuit coming down the pipe…
7:22pm: it’s been quite a while since there’ve been Felix The Cat comics in print, and it looks like IDW will be bringing bat the classic Otto Messmer Dell/Harvey stories in Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails (p164, $34.99, 224 pages, hardcover). Edited by Craig Yoe.
5:35am: Well hello there! So right around 7:30 I went for dinner, came home, had a nap, and woke up about 20 minutes ago. So, hopefully you weren’t waiting up all night for me. Or if you were: I’m starting to update again, you can head to bed now if you want. :)
So we’re on page 167, which is the announcement of creator-owned book HACK/SLASH debuting at Image. To announce this, the lead character has a baseball bat pointing directly at her vajayjay, and one of her combat boots improbably pointed inwards and upwards to do the same. Also “Kiss It” is written ON the bat, which is hovering over her vajayjay. Don’t believe me?
Now the question becomes: Did the artist do that on purpose, or is it all subconscious?
5:45am: That’s the thing about Image, the first page is… well, the above… and then you flip the page and it’s like you’re in a whole ‘nother publisher’s section. The Bulletproof Coffin #1 has a sort of a lovely Geoff Darrow, late-80s/early 90s alternative comics thing going on, courtesy of David Hine and Shaky Kane. I’m not familiar with Mr. Kane’s ouevre of alt-brit comics, but he certainly seems to be well regarded on the net and the whole thing owes a debt to utterly bizarre… well, Wikipedia says Silver Age but the whole thing has a sort of an anything-goes Golden Age quality to it, at least from the description. Here’s the solicit:
ALL NEW SIX-ISSUE SERIES! Relive the Golden Age of comics! The Legendary Kane and Hine return to their greatest creations! SEE! Coffin Fly Vs. Zombie Nam Vets! The Shield of Justice walks the Dead Beat! The Unforgiving Eye sees all, forgives nothing! Red Wraith: He’s red! He’s dead! Ramona: Buxom, Beautiful and Bound! Big 2 Publishing, eat your heart out!
See, sounds like fun, right? And it looks like Geof Darrow! Win-win. And it comes on page 168, for $3.99, just after HackSlash. America, what a country!
5:59am: I don’t want to make this the month where Chris Talks About Sexism In The Previews Catalogue, and I know mags like Heavy Metal have a long and proud history of doing exactly, this, but… The bad-ass chick with a gun that is otherwise heavily clothed for a cold, outdoor mission, has her flight suit unzipped to her ribcage to show off her tits, and a come-hither look.
I get it, I get it, sex sells, etc., but does stupidity also sell? This book takes place on the equivalent of the ice planet of Hoth, according to the preview pages… All of the dudes are covered head-to-toes, and it is freezing and snowy with steam rising out of their wounds… And this chick is like “Hey boys, look at this!”
It’s just fucking dumb.
That’s Dust Wars #1 (Seriously, I think it was supposed to be like Dust: Wars but yeah, even the title is dumb) on page 176. $2.99, 1 of 3.
6:05am: And again, washing the unplesant taste out of my mouth, page 178 has META 4, a brand new 5 issue series from Ted McKeever for $3.50 an issue. It sounds really, really Ted McKeevery. But the preview art looks lovely, I gotta say. There’s a page with a Ferris Wheel on fire. Nifty.
Oh, and then on page 181 is SEA BEAR AND GRIZZLY SHARK by Ryan Ottley and Jason Howard, which I feel is some sort of in-joke that I heard about and cannot remember, but it’s about a shark who stalks his prey on land and a bear who roams the seas, what else do you really need to know? $4.99 for 48 b&w pages.
6:12am: It looks like Image is comitted to keeping Garth Ennis, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti’s THE PRO in print, as that book gets another edition on page 182, 72 pages for $7.99. Speaking of new editions, Doug Tenapel’s CREATURE TECH gets its first Image edition (produced many moons ago by Top Shelf) for $17.99 on page 183.
6:17am: The Walking Dead Volume 12 is solicited on page 185, due out on June 2nd. That’s good news. :)
6:33am: Ah, the Marvel section of the catalogue. I have to say that I’m actually getting a little sleepy here, I’m not normally up at 6:34am and my post-dinner sleep could best be described as ‘restless’. I think maybe I’ll finish off this section and then go back for a nap before it’s time to go to work… in 4 hours. :-/
So whaddawegot? p4 Marvelman Primer, a stop-gap nothing of a release, 26 pages of text, 6 illustrations, almost no creative costs and they’re charging 4 bucks for it. ARE people so desperate to get Marvelman/Miracleman anything that they’re willing to pay $4 for advertising material? Or no. I’m betting on no, orders-wise.
p13. At least when that pale vampire dude in Anita Blake unbuttons his shirt to show off his tits, he’s safely indoors where they won’t get frostbitten. Also, he’s a vampire so he probably doesn’t feel cold.
p.16. X-Campus is… a reimagining of the X-Men mythos as if they were all in highschool at the same time. It’s a neat idea, one I’ve had myself, a bit like the movies too actually. It’s Marvel’s version of the European graphic album, but for some reason they stuck a Todd Nauck cover on it… Anyway, looks interesting. 2 issues, 28 pages and $4.99 each.
… sorry, was reading. Kinda lost interest in the Marvel section. It’s all a bit rote, isn’t it? Anyway, thanks for reading! I’ll be back with part two –the back of the catalogue — at some point soon.