Oh look, we’re liveblogging the Previews again this month! It’s actually not due for 5 whole days, so expect a slightly less-manic, but hopefully no-less enjoyable look at all of the comics and graphic novels being solicited by Diamond Comics Distributors, scheduled to begin arriving in stores in July 2009. I’ll be updating this every few minutes as I get to the next thing I wanna talk about… and I really will try and mention page numbers this month, if you wanna play along at home…!
4:09pm: FWIW, these aren’t awful covers this month, just sort of meh. But we have more unsold copies of Previews this month than in the last 12, both actual copies and percentage ordered. Apparently Spider-Man versus Doctor Octopus and a random skull just aren’t that interesting?
4:18pm: Page FS-1 has an article with the title EXTREME MOMS. Italics in the original title. What? Ah, I see, I have opened this to the wrong side. That is my fault.
4:19pm: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! IS OVER! I guess this is the final month of Diamond advertising their big event. I guess there’s no way anyone in comic industry could say they didn’t KNOW about it, anyway…
On to page 2… Wow, those Final Fantasy IX figures are hideous. Like, I know they’re in the sort of “Chibi” style that the game was in, and this is all about accuracy, but I even like the character designs and I would definitely not buy these. Awful… The Chibi versions of the FF VII, X, and XII figures on the opposite page look much cooler.
4:36pm: Whoa, rush of customers. Sorry about the delay there. So this month’s Editor’s Note (p7) from Marty Grosser is all about… Mom. Geez, what a bunch of momma’s boys. I love my mom (but not as much as I love your mom), but it is weird to see the editor of Previews telling my to make sure to call my mom on Mother’s Day.
Anyway, the editor breaks down every mother in the world to one of two types, either “The Terminatrix”, who is “the stereotypical mother” who threw out all of your comics, or “The Source”, who got you started on comic books. VIRGIN OR WHORE! CHOOSE, READERS OF PREVIEWS! VIRGIN OR WHORE!?
Actually, I got one better for you Marty. “There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces.” There’s your reductionist argument, courtesy of The Last Temptation of Christ. They’re both Virgins AND Whores. Or Source Terminatrixes. Terminatricies? Either way, lame editorial Marty.
4:55pm: Shit we’re not even to any of the actual books yet. Anyway, Page 9 is an interview with ROMAN DIRGE, the “Featured Creator” of the month. For all of you industry watchers wondering about the Lenore creator leaving SLG for, of all places, Titan Publishing (in the U.K.), here’s a fun quote from the interview with Mr. Dirge.
“I’m excited to be working with Titan. It tugged on the heart-strings to leave SLG Publishing after having such a long relationship with them. I have nothing but love for them, especially their founder, Dan Vado. He gave me my start in the industry and it was like family. I regret how we parted ways. Without SLG, I’d rpobably be asking you what kind of cheese you want on your sandwich and if you want the combo meal. Titan has a lot of things planned for me.” – Roman Dirge
Huh, so apparently the parting was not pleasant. Kudos to Dan Vado for keeping it under his hat, if that’s the case. I haven’t heard a bad word about Mr. Dirge. I’m in support of creators going for the best deal, and if Titan offered Dirge a good one, then sure, what the hell. But it seems like the first part of Dirge’s statement, and the second part, they’re a little incongruous? Like “These guys at SLG are family and I owe them everything! Can’t wait to start working with my new pub!” Is that a platitude? Is that the dictionary definition of a platitude? Hmm.
It’s not an either/or proposition, I’m aware, and I know these guys are friends and I’ll likely take some heat for this, but: I was a huge Jhonen Vasquez fan a few years ago, and I still appreciate his work a great deal, but I have never… ever… understood the appeal of any of Dirge’s work. It seems fantastically lazy. It seems like you start with Vasquez’s JTHM or SQUEE, which are literally bursting at the seams with creativity and ideas, tons and tons of them, and then you take an issue of that and stretch it out into 13 issues of Lenore. But to be fair, you take a single panel of a children’s book and put it on 10,000 stickers and you end up with the utterly-vacant Emily the Strange, so. It’s sort of like the Matterhorn of talent, with Vasquez perched on top and everything else sliding rapidly into the abyss.
At any rate, this month Titan is offering a full-colour edition of Dirge’s Lenore: Noogies. I’m certainly not complaining about the money we’ve made off of Dirge’s work; it sells. But I wonder if exactly the same stuff will sell, to the same audience, again (his work just isn’t that colourful even with ‘full colour’). And hearing that the ‘breakup’ was full of regret and it’s only been… what, a year? That doesn’t make me say “I CAN’T WAIT TO SUPPORT THIS DUDE’S WORK!”
Perhaps I am in the minority.
5:20pm: Alright! Comics! P.24 has STAR WARS: INVASION, which features a bunch of characters that look exactly like a cross between Aliens and Predators attacking the post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars Universe! Luke Skywalker using crazy Force-Powers to take on hybrid Aliens/Predators (but not really)? I can see some nerds definitely being into that.
Jo Chen cover too. Nice.
5:24pm: The new BPRD series featuring art by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba drops this month. Lovely. Not sure if I’ve entirely forgiven them for their Casanova April Fool’s Day prank. Also “The Witchfinder #1”, a new Hellboy spinoff series.
5:29pm: So I guess I understand why the solicitation for Guy Davis’ The Marquis: Inferno trade paperback doesn’t mention anywhere that it’s a collection of all of the perviously-published material, i.e.: The trade paperbacks “Danse Macabre” and “Intermezzo,” but it’s still pretty crappy of them not to mention that. It’s a great deal, a 336 page trade of very strong comics material by Davis, who’s really found an audience for his work thanks to BPRD. And it’s got a new sketchbook and Mignola intro. It’s a great, worthwhile book. But hiding the solicit info is amateur hour, seriously. I had to track down an interview with Davis at CBR to figure that out. It should be in the solicit, period.
5:34pm: THE GOON versus DETHKLOK from Metalpocalypse. Alright, 37 pages into the Previews, I’m calling it: This will be the most under-ordered comic book of the month. Oh and they’re relaunching Creepy too, which is weird. I have no idea if there’s an audience for a black and white horror anthology, but hey, new Bernie Wrightson art.
5:45pm: DH has got a brand new black and white crime-fiction anthology called NOIR (p41), dropping… September 30th. Well, at least they’ll have plenty of time to hype it up. I think it’ll need some hype too, It’s not the kind of thing that generally sells gangbusters (I think FLIGHT is probably the exception), but look at the list of creators on this thing… Azzarello, Brubaker, Grist, Lapham, Moon & Ba, Phillips, maybe a dozen or two more. Everyone doing any critically acclaimed crime/noir fiction stuff, except maybe Darwyn Cooke, in one book. It should sell itself, but I feel like it’ll be an uphill battle… I hope they promote the hell out of this.
5:52pm: New Gilbert and Mario Hernandez series! Citizen Rex #1 coming monthly, starting the first week of July. Nice.
5:55pm: Conan drops “The Cimmerian” as the subtitle this issue. Or at least the solicit does, hopefully that’s just for the solicit.
5:56pm: Here on page 47 we’ve got a solicitation for “3 STORY: SECRET HISTORY OF THE GIANT MAN” by Pistolwhip and Super Spy creator Matt Kindt. I totally had not heard that Kindt was doing a graphic novel for DH. I guess it makes sense, it’s a full-colour book and Top Shelf’s full colour stuff is pretty rare in general. Hmm. Anyway, this one will be out September 23rd. If Matt (or anyone really) is reading, send me a preview, I’d love to see what this is all about.
6:00pm: Awwwwwwwwwwwesome. Dark Horse is reprinting the fairly-hard-to-find PICTURES THAT TICK, a collection of Dave McKean’s short comics stories. I suppose this comes alongside their reprinting of pretty-much every other comic he’s done save Mr. Punch, including the resolicit of CAGES a month or two back. V. Cool. I never owned this one–a friend had it and I read it 2 or 3 times–and am looking at adding it to my collection this September. I can only imagine a few dozen of my customers feel the same way. And it’s only $20 too, what a steal. We’re going to order a ton.
6:23pm: DC Comics! Alright. Geez, that took kinda forever, didn’t it? Sorry, it’s a busy comic day. I just spent 25 minutes helping the cutest guy ever. Like Seth Rogan but cuter (and taller). Good day at the comic store. Yessss.
So what do we have? Another 1 in 250 copy variant on Blackest Night #1. I appreciate that DC is getting behind this one in a big way… Free Comic Book Day, two years of build-up, all of that. But again, this is a program that rewards large retailers and encourages small retailers to take potentially very unhealthy positions on books. Man, if I’ve heard the rumours about Diamond being in a cash-crunch because of the number of comic stores closing (and not paying their bills…) then SURELY DC has heard the same thing… and yet they’re encouraging stores to drop an extra 500-600 bucks to nab an “incentive” cover. Or they’re just shutting those customers out entirely. This is the worst thing in the comics industry right now. The Worst.
6:34pm: … and it’s weird because WEDNESDAY COMICS might just be one of the neatest things in the industry right now. Get top talent to do the stories they’ve always wanted with their favourite characters. Pope, Allred, Azzarello & Risso, Gaiman, Dave Bullock, Kyle Baker, Gibbons and Sook. Tons and tons more. That’s just cool, you know? I feel like this one will be a little underordered as well, but I appreciate them taking a risk on format, and on great creators and off-beat stories. We’re going to be supporting this one, at least for the first month or two of issues (it’s a weekly), and hopefully it lives up to all of its promise.
7:02pm: So I’m actually at page 81 and haven’t had anything else to say. Still busy (I swear it’s attractive-man day here at the store…) but also the DC solicits are pretty boring! Actually!
7:05pm: I heard from a customer, I think? I think it was a customer. Anyway, I heard from someone today that McDuffie was finally let go from Justice League. No disrespect intended to McDuffie, he seems like a nice guy, but it was pretty clear he fucking hated that job. I mean, whatever, people don’t like their jobs, but you can only complain about how fucking broken the book is and how your hands are tied, in public, for so long, before Dan DiDio reads his e-mail. You know what I’m saying? That dude seems like a biiiiiiiiiiiit of a control freak, I can’t imagine he’s reading McDuffie complaining about a scene needing to be re-written at the last minute and the scene being clumsy because of it, and DiDio steps back and goes “Yeah, shit, good point man. We really gotta get our act together here at DC!”
Dan DiDio doesn’t seem like that kind of guy is all I’m saying.
To The Extreme.
7:10pm: So… JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #1. The James Robinson Justice League series that is now a mini-series. Well… sure, why not, whatever. Maybe it’ll be good? I like James Robinson, and Batwoman, and the blue-skinned Starman dude. Sounds like a winner to me. Has he given the interview where he says that his creativity was brutally compromised on this series so I shouldn’t bother? Or is he gonna give that interview AFTER the series has come out, so we understand why we were unhappy? I guess I know why people wait for the trade.
7:27pm: Happy to see a new printing of Absolute New Frontier.
7:29pm: Alright, here we are, page 105. NORTH 40 #1 by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples. Really lovely, understated piece of cover art. Sort of a mysterious premise. Tentacle monster on the cover (tasteful!). Looks good. I’ll check this out.
7:37pm: So it looks like DC is doing a hardcover collecting the first two Tom Strong collections (p111). I actually liked those first 12 issues a lot, some often-lovely art from Chris Sprouse in there, great big pulp concepts, very human stories. I never bought the collections for this (I used to have the issues), but I can see adding this to the shelf, the whole series in 3 hardcover volumes. Cool.
7:42pm: Huh, how about that. A gay lead character on the first page of the preview for GREEK STREET #1, from Peter Milligan. I’m sure there’s an obvious joke there but I ain’t gonna make it, I’m just happy to see any gay character in a comic book, they’re so underrepresented (and poorly represented when they do make an appearance!). GREEK STREET #1 is also one of Vertigo’s $1.00 first issues. I really dug THE UNWRITTEN #1, and the $1 promotion made me more inclined to give it a read, so cool beans. I’ll give this one a heavy order too, hopefully get a whole bunch of people hooked on it.
As for what it’s about? Apparently it’s a gritty-crime-update of Greek Mythology. Done and done.
7:49pm: So my friend Paul was so repulsed by the cover of Hellblazer #257 (p119) that he appeared to be flustered with anger. It’s… it’s not good, he’s totally right. I like Bisley, but. Yeah. At any rate, I think I said at the time “Well maybe they’re going for a lurid pulp-novel thing. It’ll work in context, once you get like, the right cover elements up there. Make it look like an old pulp-novel!” But as the date approaches, I grow more unsure. I guess we’ll know on July 22nd, but until then… Yeah. Not the best Hellblazer cover, that’s for sure.
8:02pm: As I skim quickly, so quickly, over the terrible DC Direct section, I just want to give props to all-around lovely guy Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin, who takes the time to mock the most egregious bits of nerd ephemera solicited in the PREVIEWS catalogue every month. He calls his recaps THE END OF CIVILIZATION, which I think is an incredibly appropriate title, actually. Unfortunately he doesn’t tag or categorize his site, so far as I can tell, so linking to those posts is a little tough. But here’s a few workarounds:
The May ’09 End Of Civilization (The Previews you’re reading about now!)
The June ’09 End Of Civilization
Mike also has a fairly-regularly updated list of his END OF CIVILIZATION posts on his right-sidebar, you can check those out for hours of hilarity. It’s the sort of hilarity where you cry a little.
8:16pm: IMAGE! Okay, new Mice Templar series (p139), Savage Dragon hits 150 issues (p141), and… here we go! ARMAGEDDON NOW: THE BEAST #1 (p142) featuring some dude desparately digitally painting over top of Rob Liefeld’s pencils, to try and make them look better. This is great. You know why? Because when you put A REALISTIC SHEEN on top of CRAP, it brings out EVERY FLAW. Liefeld’s stiffly-posed action characters on a sliding background, leaping in the air? It’s bold and graphic and, whatever, it looks like “comic book” art. It’s got a lot of energy and not much else. But when you render the fuck out of that, and colour it all brown and put it on top of a painted background and make it “realistic”? That’s when you notice OMG THE CHARATERS ARE ALL HOVERING 6-12 INCHES OFF THE GROUND. Like he can’t draw a character running, fine, everyone knows that, but when it’s “superheroey” it doesn’t matter, it’s just a cool pose. But when you try and make it REAL, then we get into distressing Uncanny Valley territory. Oh, snap, I got it. Rob Liefeld’s ARMAGEDDON NOW is the uncanny valley of comic books. AWESOME. Someone put that on the book jacket please. Here’s a shitty photo with my phone camera, so you can understand what EXACTLY I am talking about:
Seriously. That panel.. (actually, shit, that’s a FULL PAGE SPLASH of those two dudes, hahaha). “RARGH! LET’S FLOAT SLOWLY TOWARDS THE ENEMY WHILE SHOOTING DUDES IN THE HEAD!” If the actual dialogue was “RARGH! LET’S FLOAT SLOWLY TOWARDS THE ENEMIES WHILE SHOOTING THEM IN THE HEAD!!!” I’d be way more inclined to be charitable.
As it is, I am ordering zeh-ro of this clunker.
Oh, and, just so you don’t think I’m being totally vicious, we did order the similarly-awful Armageddon Now original hard cover, and have yet to sell it. But I’m still being totally vicious.
8:37pm: So I guess I officially don’t understand Dan Brereton. After pulling his NOCTURNALS books from Oni (…and I think Dark Horse too? No?), then self-publishing a nice omnibus collection of some of his older work, he is now at Image with the second collection of his work, meaning that there’s an orphan self-pub’d vol-1 HC floating around out there… and about 75% of all comics retailers are seeing this omnibus collection NOCTURNALS VOLUME 2 (p150) for the first time, cuz now it’s in the Image section. With no accompanying relist of volume 1. Which means 75% of retailers are just gonna skip this, because they “can’t get the first volume”. It’s tough out there for creator-owned work, I know that. I’ve got ENORMOUS sympathy for Mr. Brereton, and I really like NOCTURNALS too. But I look at something like this and just shake my head. I don’t get these decisions at all.
(I just checked Diamond and the first HC omnibus is “Out Of Stock, No Back Orders”).
8:47pm: New printing of Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders’ FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE this month. That’s nice. (p152). Oh, also a new volume of INVINCIBLE, which was solicited BEFORE the previous volume had come out. And! AND! All of the issues contained in this trade? Totally already printed. Will actually ship on time! Thanks for living up to your promise Mr. Kirkman, we’re selling a shitload of your books.
9:00pm: I’ll give Kevin Smith this: I can’t see the word BERSERKER (p168) without singing Would You Like Some Making Fuck BERSERKER quietly to myself. So, score one for him?
9:12pm: Hey, Marvel’s got a new HALO series! (p.4) I actually laughed at that. Good for them! Keep running up that hill, Marvel.
(That was for you, Naudi.)
9:15pm: Looks like The Previews Pages in the Marvel Previews are a little out of order this month… At any rate, nice cover on Wonderful Wizard of Oz #8 (p.17).
Actually, I did want to say that I think that Marvel’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of their most thoroughly-conceived, well-executed stories in a very long time. Eric Shanower and Skottie Young have done a great job at adapting the story for new audiences, and it’s sold very well here at the store. Good job all-around.
9:21pm: I’m gonna be honest, I’m still pretty out-of-the-loop on the superhero front because of TCAF and Anime North and all that. So Dark X-Men: The Beginning (p.21) has this header that says UTOPIA TIE-IN! and I have no idea what the hell that’s about. Cloak and Dagger are in this and Dagger has an X-Men logo over top her va-jay-jay.
Okay, flipping the page, it seems UTOPIA is running through Uncanny X-Men and Dark Avengers, both of which are written by Matt Fraction. That makes me feel a little better I guess. So that Dark X-Men: The Beginning is one of those interminable side-stories that don’t affect the plot in any way that Marvel likes to pump out? Okay, good, I know how to order those at least. And I just assume I order the Fraction stuff as normal, maybe with a little bit of a bump because there isn’t, generally, a 100% overlap between Uncanny X-Men and Avengers readers. See! This is how I figure out how to order everything! This column isn’t just pointless snark, you’re learning how retailers think!
9:26pm: You know it’s 9:30pm on a Friday, we should all be out drinking. Just saying.
9:30pm: So am I reading this right? Spider-Man is getting married in Amazing Spider-Man #600? (p.42) Like I said, I’m out of the loop, but didn’t they undo all that shit like… a year ago? Or is this like how Archie is about to get married, as in, not real?
Also, is it just me or is the anatomy on Spidey’s shoulder in this Quesada cover totally fucked up? It looks like he’s got a shoulder wedged between his bicep and chin, and another on his back where his back and arm meet. Any thoughts on this from any artists reading? Cuz… cuz it looks pretty wonky.
9:45pm: So Incredible Hulk #600 threatens to unleash the secret of who The Red Hulk actually is. That’s pretty cool. We’ve been doing well with that series, and the recent switchover from Thor’s reboot numbering to the new-numbering went alright. Although a big part of that is keeping a strong creative team. Let’s peak ahead and see who’s on Incredible Hulk #601… Van Lente and Pak? Huh, apparently they’re launching this as a new ongoing, not as a replacement for the HULK series (which has issues 13 and 14 next month). That’s… weird. It’s probably difficult to be a Marvel fan and keep your collection in order? I am glad that is not my problem.
9:48pm: Haha… That’s great. Immortal Iron Fist has a spin-off: IMMORTAL WEAPONS (p.53). Sort of like team-Iron Fist. Featuring FAT COBRA in the first issue. Big-ups on Fraction for introducing that character, and for everything he represents.
9:50pm: So this month we see the debut of IRON MAN: IRON ADVENTURES based on the new 3d animated cartoon. I actually caught an episode of that and thought it was alright… Decent animation, engaging-enough story. Good character designs. Unfortunately the writer and artist on this are “To Be Announced”, so I can’t tell if this is comics or just frames from the show blown up and printed. As such, I’ll order low and try to reorder, I guess. The cinemanga-type comics just don’t do well for us.
9:51pm: I’ve got no comment on Marvel Divas #1. I don’t really know who it’s for, and I don’t think IT knows who it’s for either. Low order.
9:53pm: Okay, wait. So they’ve got the HULK series with the Red Hulk, and they’re launching an Incredible Hulk ongoing featuring Skaar, Son of Hulk, but they’re… also going to keep the Son of Hulk series going? Really? Are there really enough fans for this, for 3 ongoing Hulk series’? Cuz I don’t think they shop at my store.
9:57pm: So it looks like it’s the end for INCOGNITO (p.79) with issue #6… and I couldn’t be happier! I’m always happy when stories have endings, that this is going to be a great book for the bookshelf and a strong seller for us. Hopefully it gooses the sales on CRIMINAL as well, which should start up again soon. I kind of wonder if, on some level (not the only level obv.), INCOGNITO was a six-issue advertisement for CRIMINAL… You know, all these guys reading Marvel comics, hanging out on message boards, they probably hear how great CRIMINAL is but, let’s face it, they only ever read the superhero books. So even though it’s published by Marvel, even though it got relaunched with a new #1 issue, they’re probably going to pass. But you take all the bits that make up a great CRIMINAL story-arc, and you put superhero-masks on all of the characters, and maybe that’s enough for them, to meet them half way so they realize “Hey this is pretty good!” I mean, the Marvel: Noir stuff sort of dilutes the brand, but really, our INCOGNITO sales are great, higher even than CRIMINAL, and I’m hoping… not just hoping but banking actually… that when CRIMINAL comes back in a month or two, we’ll see higher sales across the board. And we’ve got 4 trade paperbacks to sell them too.
Here’s hoping, eh?
10:06pm: And we’re done. For tonight.
Not that I’m not enjoying myself, but it really IS 10:00 on a Friday night, so at the very least I’m gonna go and grab a drink. We’ll continue the dissection of the May 2009 Previews catalogue with… THE BACK OF THE CATALOGUE… on Monday morning. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment in the comment section!