Dork Volume 2: Circling the Drain

I really like Evan Dorkin.

Dorkin is the creator of the endeering enduring characters Milk & Cheese, perhaps the work he’s best known for. But Dorkin’s had a fairly long and varied career, starting out as a cartoonist in the late 80s/early 90s doing short comics and gag strips for a variety of magazines before his one-man anthology comics DORK and MILK & CHEESE (from SLG Publishing) became comic-shop mainstays throughout the nineties and early ‘aughts. He’s been doing a ton of animation work for the past few years, he’ll put out a new issue of his humour stuff every year or two, and he’s currently writing the upcoming BEASTS OF BURDEN mini-series (with Jill Thompson painting) for Dark Horse. There’s a ton of work out there, check it out.

I actually first encountered Dorkin’s work in Marvel’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures comic book series, which he wrote and drew, featuring the further adventures of the two dudes whose two movies I greatly enjoyed. I didn’t really follow “creators” at that point in my comics career, but I thought that series was hilarious and bought every issue. Years later I discovered Dorkin’s Milk & Cheese and Dork through the vagaries of the direct market distribution system, and I loved the hell out of them right off the bat. All the same manic cartooning energy of the Bill & Ted stuff, but blown up into transgressive subjects like The Murder Family, The Devil Puppet, and those two murderous dairy products.

He also created “FUN”.

Dork Volume 1: Who's Laughing Now?

The “FUN” pages (which ran in Dork) consisted of oten-vicious 3 Panel gag strips that made you feel bad for chuckling, packed 7 to a page to create 21 panels of the funniest stuff in comics. I know, I know, it’s the internet now and the whole www is chock-full of transgressive, violent, sexual comics, and some of them are even funny, but Dorkin was doing that stuff back when the internet generation was playing with their Transformers. What I’m saying is, you should pick up Evan Dorkin’s work: It’s great and I’m gonna prove it to you.

I’ve thought for years now that of all of the “traditional” indy comics guys in the biz (or even out of the biz I guess…), Evan Dorkin was maybe the best-positioned to take advantage of that gleaming spire of promise, the internet. He’s got hundreds and hundreds of strips, gag illustrations, short stories, and general hilarious muck-raking mayhem already done. The net is desparate for content and he’s got tons of it… and he’s all mine, so back the fuck off.

Starting today and until we run out, I’m very pleased to announce that is going to be running one of Mr. Evan Dorkin’s FUN comic strips every weekday, Monday to Friday, for your viewing pleasure. I was happy to be able to put this together with Evan, because despite the fact he’s an Eisner-award winning humour cartoonist with a ton of comics and animation credits under his belt, he maybe hasn’t gotten his due these past few years. Anything I can do to send more eyeballs his way is a very good thing as far as I’m concerned, and for my part the blog will get updated every day for a year…! Everyone wins, hopefully.

A couple things before we’re done here:

1) I’m doing this entirely with Evan Dorkin’s permission.
2) This is going to run for more-or-less a year, barring incident, and even then this will only equal about 40 pages out of the more than 300 pages of material that you can find in Evan Dorkin’s Dork Volume 1: Who’s Laughing Now?, Dork Volume 2: Circiling The Drain, and Fun with Milk & Cheese trade paperback collections, so this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick them up.
3) For more Evan Dorkin, you can check out Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer’s HOUSE OF FUNEvan Dorkin’s always entertaining and acerbic LiveJournal, and SLG Publishing–Fine Publishers of DORK, MILK & CHEESE, and more.
4) I know I have timeliness issues; I’m saying daily cuz I mean daily but fingers crossed. If you gotta send hate-mail if I miss a day, go right ahead.

So! Thanks to Evan Dorkin for allowing this to happen, for Sarah Dyer for the majority of the strip scans, and to you for reading the site. And now as The Devil Puppet said in Dork #5


- Christopher

“What kind of person constantly demands something new and yet always wants the same thing? A child of course.”
- A. O. Scott, New York Times

Perhaps superhero comic books were ahead of the curve afterall…?

- Christopher
Link via

The most hilarious thing I’d seen solicited in months was the “Marvel Bromance” trade paperback.

39950712I remember it being solidly mocked amongst my blogging peers, as is anything Marvel tries to do that is hip, because Marvel is not hip. They are at best occasionally ironically hip. But they seemed to at least understand that, on this trade, because the solicitation text is a winking, knowing, funny piece of writing:

If This Be Bromance–! Marvel’s greatest buddies take the spotlight in this one-of-a-kind collection, and it’s male bonding like you’ve never seen — as Cable and Deadpool swap stories, Wonder Man and the Beast share a plane ride, Spidey and the Human Torch battle back-to-back, Wolverine makes a bet with Nightcrawler, Black Panther and Everett Ross lay their feelings on the line…and the Warriors Three set sail for fun! Plus: Captain America and the Falcon, Iron Man and Jim Rhodes, and more! Be here as Marvel says, “I love you, man!”

But it did get some… coverage… in the larger not-just-wonks blogosphere as well, as MTV’s Splash Page ran a pretty straight-up piece on it.

Alas, it appears that the Bromance is over.

Just moments ago I got a press-release about a very familiar sounding project, with a more conventional title and solicitation text with all of the winks and knowing edited right-the-fuck-out.

The Buddies of Marvel Take Center Stage in Marvel Super Hero Team-Up
The best buds of the Marvel Universe come together in the explosive Marvel Super Hero Team-Up collection featuring an all new cover by Jorge Molina as featured on MTV!  An all-star list of creators including the likes of Stan Lee and Chris Claremont deliver the mighty men of Marvel uniting to battle evil, save the day and…win some bets?! Captain America, Iron Man, Jim Rhodes, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Cable, Nightcrawler and more get the spotlight as their friendships are put to the test!
Marvel urges retailers to check their orders on Marvel Super Hero Team-Up, as the collection generates mainstream press and significant buzz.  Which guys get along best in the Marvel U?  How do super heroes really hang out when not fighting crime?  Check out all the answers in the testosterone-filled Marvel Super Hero Team-Up!

The Buddies of Marvel Take Center Stage in Marvel Super Hero Team-Up

The best buds of the Marvel Universe come together in the explosive Marvel Super Hero Team-Up collection featuring an all new cover by Jorge Molina as featured on MTV!  An all-star list of creators including the likes of Stan Lee and Chris Claremont deliver the mighty men of Marvel uniting to battle evil, save the day and…win some bets?! Captain America, Iron Man, Jim Rhodes, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Cable, Nightcrawler and more get the spotlight as their friendships are put to the test!

Marvel urges retailers to check their orders on Marvel Super Hero Team-Up, as the collection generates mainstream press and significant buzz.  Which guys get along best in the Marvel U?  How do super heroes really hang out when not fighting crime?  Check out all the answers in the testosterone-filled Marvel Super Hero Team-Up!

MARVEL SUPER HERO TEAM-UP TPB (JUN090651) [solicit info removed]

A quick check reveals that yes, in fact “JUN090651″ is the item formerly known as “Marvel Bromance”. Apparently the word… and concept… of Bromance was just a little to hip for the room and we get a “team-up” collection. We also get all the kitsch taken out of the solicit, and the phrase “testosterone-filled” added in. Maybe that was the copy-writer’s revenge for having to dull-down the original solicit?

Here’s the thing that I find the most intriguing about all of this though, the press release I received doesn’t mention anywhere that this thing used to be Marvel Bromance. I mean, they’re mentioning that the book got coverage “on MTV”, but the reason it got any coverage at all is because it was called Marvel Bromance. Seriously. Here’s the quote from MTV:

Given MTV’s history with covering great moments in “Bromance” history, Marvel wanted to give Splash Page readers the first look at the never-before-seen Jorge Molina cover to “Marvel Bromance.”

Marvel tried something different, got some decent press coverage for it, and then… totally balked and tried to pretend it never happened. They did implore retailers to “check their orders” on the book though, without mentioning that they never ordered a book with this title, or why it got all of the “buzz” that they’re touting. It’s almost like Marvel panicked or something.

I hesitate to draw any conclusions from this, I mean publishers change the titles and descriptions of already-solicited books that have received good media coverage all the time. This  could just be Standard Operating Procedure, right? But the more I look at these decisions, the more I feel like the whole thing feels a little bit… queer?

- Christopher

Look, it’s Underdog and the creepiest child in comics. Go check out the full, terrifying story at Mister Kitty’s Stupid Comics.

- Chris

So, here’s Wizardworld Chicago The Chicago Comic-Con’s promotion for this year’s show, taking the top spot every day this week in comics/nerdculture news-site ICv2′s daily newsletter:

600+ Guests including Twilight Saga Actors, former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei “THE PITBULL” Arlovski, scores of Star Wars guests, wrestling legends and some of the HOTTEST actresses including Michelle Rodriguez, Emma Caulfield, Orli Shoshan and Rhona Mitra.  Get a premier weekend pass or VIP Package and get into the show 1 hour early each day.  Advance tickets start at $25, more at the door.  Get your tickets now at [redacted].
A Paid Advertisement from Wizard Entertainment

Did… did you notice the lack of comics? At the Comic-Con? I mean it’s Wizard, I think enough has been said about Wizard’s relationship to comics to put them into the ground by now (and yet…), but still. They went through all that trouble to rename the convention and everything add “Comic-Con” back in, and their promotion seems to be downplaying, or ignoring completely, comic books. In favour of “hottest”ness. It’s a little strange?

Or maybe not, if you look at San Diego.

One of my biggest criticisms of The New York Comic-Con is that, in its early years, it showed enormous potential to be the sort of comics & publishing-oriented show that this industry needs and deserves. It’s not like it hasn’t been more-or-less sold out every year, particularly the early years that were all about New York Publishing (including and especially comics!). Yet every year the show becomes more and more about movies, toys, and tie-ins. They’re pushing the show closer and closer to the San Diego model and it makes for a weaker show each year. What is the San Diego model btw? Simple: A gateway to nerds. Comic Con International: San Diego is selling floor-space (and advertising space and mind-space) sure, but what they’re really selling is access to mouthy nerds with blogs, tastemakers, half-comprised of the people that make up their audiences and the people that will incite the rest of the country to be their audiences. Comic-Con is all about access, and who’s willing to pay the most for it.

Let’s get this out of the way: I love comics. I think comics are awesome. And I think comics as an industry and a medium needs big events like NYCC and SDCC and hundreds of other regional comics shows: they act as ambassadors for the medium. And so the question for the organizers of these events should be “does any of what we’re doing serve comics as a medium? or an industry? or is it just about the value of the access to mouthy nerds with blogs?”

Now I’m not an idiot, I know the preceeding sentence is naive as fuck. Seriously, Microsoft shows up with a suitcase of cash and they should ask them “but how does what you’re doing serve comics?” Of course not. But there’s that idealism of mine: why not? Something like SDCC but just for the entertainment industry? It doesn’t exist. The movie studios, the video game producers, the TV Shows and toys and Bud Bundy and all that, they’re coming to the comic book show. SDCC has got all the power, because nothing else like that event exists anywhere (Gareb Shamus tried and clearly failed; Reed is travelling the same road Shamus took). Imagine if SDCC really did take the ideological position of “how does what you do help comics?” with their exhibitors, and charged them accordingly? What if they used ideology as the wedge to expand the show into the parks, into the stadium, into the giant parking lot that’s as big as half the convention centre? Here I Drew A Map. Imagine the best possible things happened! Wouldn’t that be great? Why not work towards the best?

Pipe dream, sure. But I like having comics at a comic-con, and if it’s a zero-sum game with attendence: 150,000 people each year, and more and more of the people attending have little-to-no interest in anything other than their specific blinkered fandom (which tends to exclude comics), that means less money for the folks doing and selling and bringing comics to the show. Which tends to mean less comics at the show.

As an aside, the 10,000 TWILIGHT fans at the con really were a problem for the show, but a lot of the reasons that got floated came from a sexist, xenophobic, bullshit fanboy place. I actually feel bad even writing this, but truly, legitimately, 6,000 people at the show JUST for Twilight means 6,000 people that weren’t spending money at the show means 6,000 people that might’ve wanted to go that had an interest in dropping a few bucks at the various vendors? Shut out. Twilight is just the biggest, most concentrated fandom in years–maybe ever, so it puts the problem of Hollywood “stuff” into the clearest relief against the traditional convention crowd. I don’t begrudge anyone taking a road-trip and having a great time for the weekend; I hope the fans had fun. But with a very tight, closed economy at the show (due to space limitations) and little-to-no crossover with the rest of the event, what did having those fans and that event bring to the show? To comics? Why was Comic-Con the best place for that event to happen? And if it wasn’t the best place, and space is at a premium at Comic-Con, then why was it held there?

Two last things:

1. Anime Cons. The big buzz in anime conventions right now is that prices have gone up, and the recessionary economy means that attendees have less pocket-money. Anime Expo, typically one of biggest shows of the year, was reportedly a very poor sales show for most-if-not-all exhibitors. No one had any money. They did have costumes, they did come to hang out with their friends, and they did spend a not-inconsiderable ammount of money on a 3-day pass. They just didn’t have any left-over, afterwards. This wasn’t isolated either, not trying to pick an AX, this is the buzz from most anime shows I’ve been hearing. When a show becomes primarily a place to participate in fandom, a closed circuit, it tends to decline… rapidly. Sci-Fi cons are the biggest examples of this. If your convention is a place to break-out your Klingon costume, hang out in a hotel for three days and go to room-parties, then your convention is not long for this world. Or rather, it’ll be around forever, it’ll just shrink and be sad. No one wants that. Imagine 20 years from now, 40 year old dudes breaking out their Naruto costumes and drinking schnapps out of a bottle in their Holiday Inn 2 dbl bds room with 10 other similarly dressed people. That’s the difference between a vibrant, thriving medium, industry, and fandom, and one that has started to eat itself.

2. PAX: The Penny-Arcade Expo. From nothing to the second-biggest nerd-culture convention (for the public) in just under 5 years. Anyone who follows convention planning/news/whatever is in awe of what they’ve accomplished, and they’ve done it in a smart, controlled way–with an iron fist. First rule of exhibting at PAX? PAX IS A VIDEOGAME SHOW. If what you “do” isn’t directly about video games? You can’t exhibit. Period. 5 years, second-biggest nerd-culture event in North America, accomplished by sticking to their guns. Cooooooool.

Alright. That’s 1200 words of nonsense. Time to go.

- Christopher

Hey I just read The Goon vs. Dethklok , so I’m in a great mood. Let’s look at the rest of the PREVIEWS catalogue, shall we?

johnnycashPage 182: Abrams Comicarts has moved up quite a bit in the catalogue, hasn’t it? I remember at one point there were so many publishers trying to jame their way into the front of the section that Terry Moore’s Abstract Studios was on the third or fourth page. But I digress: JOHNNY CASH: I SEE A DARKNESS is the English language edition of a European release by creator Reinhard Kleist. The likeness on the cover is both accurate and… disturbing at the same time. Not “giving superboy dead Christopher Reeves’ face” disturbing, but it’s not quite ‘on’ either. Check and see what I mean on the right there. Odd choice for a cover?

Also on page 182 is the STRANGERS IN PARADISE OMNIBUS LIMITED EDITION, which is a box set of every fucking page of strangers in paradise. Three hardcovers, 2 of them over a thousand pages each and the third with all of the colour art from the series. Signed, numbered, limited to 1250 copies, and $160. I wonder… are people stil so passionate about the series that they need to rebuy it in this format? Besides that though, $160 for 2200+ pages of comics is actually a pretty good deal, all things considered. Huh, not sure where I weigh in on this one.

Hah, with the constant downsizing (of the back half of previews) the density of projects worth talking about has gone up considerably. Also on Page 182 is DRIVEN BY LEMONS, a sketchbook collection by Skyscrapers of the Midwest author Joshua Cotter from Adhouse, and PINOCCHIO: VAMPIRE SLAYER by Van Jensen and Dustin Higgins from SLG. I think that the idea of a boy made of wood going around and staking vampires is surprisingly apt; how has no one thought of this before? In the popular digest format for $10.95.

Wow the Antarctic Press section is still just a total clusterfuck.

On page 206, Avatar is soliciting the next mini-series of Garth Ennis’ Chronicles of Wormwood series, featuring art by Oscar Jimenez of all people. Looks good. We’ve actually been trying to reorder the one-shot that takes place between the first mini-series and this one for a few months now, LAST ENEMY, but either it’s out of print or Diamond’s just not shipping them. Luckily it’s being offered again this month (alongside a bunch of other Avatar trades of note, so hopefully that means it’ll actually get around to showing up at our store. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to be a comics retailer.

Page 210:

By Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie De Donna
7×9, 336 pages, $22.95
Published by Bloomsbury

This exceptional graphic novel recounts the spiritual odyssey of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his agonized search for absolute truth, Russell crosses paths with legendary thinkers while his most ambitious goal, to establish unshakable logical foundations of mathematics, continues to loom before him. Russell persits in the quest that threatens to claim both his career and his personal happiness, finally driving him to the bring of insanity. Logicomix is a story about the conflict between an ideal rationality and the unchanging, flawed fabric of reality.

Sometimes you really can’t say anything that the solicitation doesn’t already say… other than “I hope this is good.”


Page 212: The annual Halloween issues of The Simpsons comics are always pretty neat, as we get to see our favourite characters go off-model and out-of-continuity, but this year takes the cake. Bart Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #15 is guest-edited by Sammy Harkham, editor of the Kramers Ergot anthologies. And much like Kramers this issue will feature a cavalcade of top indy/alt/art comix talent, inclding Harkham, Kevin Huizenga, Matthew Thurber, Jeffrey Brown, Ted May, Ben Jones, CF, Jordan Crane, Tim Hensley, John Kershbaum, Will Sweeney, Jon Vermilyea, and Dan Zettwoch. If that ain’t amazing I don’t know what is.

Also on page 212, Boom Studios relaunches the venerable Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories with #699, and Mickey Mouse and Friends with #296. Both of the series feature a pretty dramatic overhaul, with much, much more contemporary stories filling the pages of the books. Disney Publishing is still a worldwide concern, and the Don Rosa classic duck/character stories that defined the Gemstone reprints (not to mention that were originally solicited for these issues under the Gemstone banner) have been replaced with contemporary stories by all new international creative teams. That and they’re now only 24 pages and three bucks a pop. I’m really curious to see if this contemporary take on Disney’s classic characters is any more successful than the classic comics previously being published. Only the sales charts will know for sure…!

Hmm. Donald Duck with a blue mask on (and without the tuft of… feathers… on the back of his head) looks an awful lot like Daffy.

Page 226: Buried in the fold on page 226 is a quaint-looking graphic novel from Montreal’s Conundrum Press called Hipless Boy, about a guy who isn’t a hipster living in a hipster neighborhood. He’s ‘hipless’ but perhaps a better term would be ‘in denial’? Hah, anyway. It’s a semi-fictional story about encountering new people in a cool Montreal neighborhood, and the whole thing apparently ran weekly for a number of years in McGill University’s newspaper. It’s by a dude named “Sully” (which isn’t hipsterish at all… :-/ ) but seriously, it sounds really interesting and better than the demon chick flashin her tits at me on the facing page, so I’m in. Give it a shot.

Page 241: DMP is publishing a book called “La Satanica”. One dude is licking another dude on the cover. Here’s to publishers knowing what their fans want, eh?

selfishmrmermaind2Page 242: Selfish Mr. Mermaid 2: “I swear your honour, I thought he was 18! I mean, just look at h… oh, wait. Uh, nevermind.”

Page 244: I’ve been hearing great things about MOYASIMON, an agricultural manga about tiny adorable creatures? Or something? The original Japanese title is Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture which sounds as exciting as watching wheat grow, but the buzz on this series is loud. It won the Tezuka prize last year (Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life won this year) and it’s already got a strong fanbase due to relentless pirating. Here’s hoping all those mouthy kids who swear that by stealing manga they’re ACTUALLY HELPING pony up the dough and pick this one up.

Page 247: Drawn and Quarterly offers up the third volume of Abouet and Ouberie’s charming AYA series, AYA: THE SECRETS COME OUT. This is an absolutely wonderful series of books, gorgeous and humanistic with lead characters of colour and a female writer to boot. This is everything people who complain about mainstream comics want in a comic book; you guys owe it to yourselves to check this out.

Also from D&Q this month is MASTERPIECE COMICS by R. Sikoryak, featuring the artistic chameleon retelling classic works of literature using the art styles of classic comics, and a brand new gekiga manga called RED SNOW by Susumu Karasumata. I don’t know much about the latter, but I did pick up a copy of it in Japanese while I was in Japan completely by accident, just because it looked good. D&Q hasn’t disappointed with a manga pick yet, I can’t imagine they’ll start now.

Page 252: Just a quick heads-up to note that Jiro Tanguchi and Yumemakura Baku’s The Summit of the Gods Volume 2 is solicited this month by Fanfare/Ponent Mon. I think the first volume just made an advance appearance at Comic-Con this past weekend, haven’t seen any reviews yet but I can only assume it’s as strong as the rest of his catalogue.

Page 254: Despite being more-or-less spattered in blood, the Fantagraphics section is actually much less ugly than it has been for the past few months. 8 point courier on a splattery background is not the easiest thing to read though…. I also would have thought that the long, long awaited release of Jacques Tardi in North America would merit a little more attention, but no. Hm. Guys, I love you but maybe you need to rethink your approach to Previews…?

Anyway, this month we’ve got an archive of Steve Ditko work from the 50s and 60s, two different Jaques Tardi collections (WEST COAST BLUES and YOU ARE THERE) which have a lovely trade dress. A collection of previously-uncollected shorts by Paul Hornschemeier (ALL AND SUNDRY) looks good, as does the 300th issue spectacular of THE COMICS JOURNAL, which seems to be entirely comprised of comics creators whose work I admire (Huizenga, Shaw, Ho Che Anderson) interviewing other comics creators whose work I admire (Spiegelman, Mazzucchelli, Chaykin), so that’ll be a great issue. Solid month for Fanta, tiny little solicitations, 1/4 of a page blury image of someone having their head exploded.

Page 256: First Second has a new collection of Tiny Tyrant stories called THE LUCKY WINNER and a bizarre-sounding sci-fi story called BALL PEEN HAMMER, but it’s the graphic novel REFRESH, REFRESH that I’m most interested in. It’s about three kids waiting for their dads to come home from war, afraid to enter adulthood, and finding their options slowly disappearing. Admittedly First Second’s Gina Gagliano sold me on it a few months back, but despite not really seeming like my thing at all, she made it sound incredibly compelling, I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Page 259: IDW’s got some notable releases this month with the second collection of the popular LOCKE & KEY series by Joe Hill and company, HEAD GAMES. The first one was really strong and I haven’t read the second yet, but I’m expecting good things. Mike Oeming and Mark Wheatley’s HAMMER OF THE GODS graphic novel finds a new home, making IDW either the third or fourth publisher to take on the project in some form.

Page 268: Still on IDW here, and it’s kind of… shocking… how diverse their offerings are. It looks like they’re doing Alex Raymond’s RIP KIRBY in big omnibus editions like the rest of their classic-strips line, and another surprising reprint series is Abuli, Bernet, and Toth’s TORPEDO VOLUME 1, collecting some very long out-of-print material. Apparently Darwyn Cooke is going to provide a cover and design the series as well.

Speaking of “Blasts from the past” (though not quite so far back), Sean McKeever’s THE WAITING PLACE is getting a giant omnibus collection with a new story by McKeever and Mike Norton. 300 pages for $30. I have a sentimental spot for The Waiting Place, it was one of the first ‘indy’ comics I really got behind, and McKeever one of the first comics professionals I ever chatted with online. I kind of lost track of the series during it’s occasional publishing hiatus’, I think maybe I’ll pick this up and see how the story ended after all.

page 269: Oh yeah and ZOMNIBUS, a collection of IDW-publsihed zombie stories including the complete Zombies vs. Robots.

Page 274: Hey, no Previews-love for Larry Gonick’s THE CARTOON HISTORY OF THE MODERN WORLD PART 2: FROM THE BASTILLE TO BAGHDAD? No Diamond, Feature Item, Spotlight, nothing? That’s some great cartooning right there! Ah well, as long as YOU don’t miss it dear reader…!

I was just gonna rip on a book that I don’t like, but I realized that there’s almost no point whatsoever, it probably isn’t going to sell a thousand copies anyway and the last thing the creator(s) need(s) to read is me talking shit about it on the internet. I do have a heart you know.

Page 278: J. Torres has a very long-awaited new graphic novel in the catalogue this month. LOLA: A GHOST STORY is a stand-alone teen-oriented fable, based on (I believe) Filipino ghost stories. It sounds neat and the art looks really nice, but the cover looks really young (and POWDER YELLOW?) for a book aimed at teenagers. Actually I can’t think of many powder-yellow books that even tweens read. Guys, you might want to change the colours on the cover? Butch it up a little bit?

(Which is hilarious coming from me, I know).

Page 296: Top Shelf have the long-awaited ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS by Eddie Campbell. As autobiography is a fluid and personal thing, Campbell expressed his ongoing life story under the guise of alter-ego Alex MacGarry through many short stories, numerous trade paperback collections, and anthology pieces. This one collects everything that Campbell created featuring “Alec”, including a new 35 page story. As I have only borrowed these books from friends over the years (and quite enjoyed them), it’ll be a treat to own them all in one lovely omnibus, at a still-managable size of 640 pages or so.

Ah, from The Top Shelf website, a little more info:

…collects the previous Alec books THE KING CANUTE CROWD, GRAFFITI KITCHEN, HOW TO BE AN ARTIST, LITTLE ITALY, THE DEAD MUSE, THE DANCE OF LIFEY DEATH, AFTER THE SNOOTER, as well as an all-new 35 page book, THE YEARS HAVE PANTS, and some other short stories rarely or never before seen.”

Interestingly, I believe AFTER THE SNOOTER, the story of the adaptation of FROM HELL into a film, was where Campbell made the transition from alter-ego to… ego? Heh. It’s a fascinating insight into the man, warts and all. Don’t overlook this one (in a catalogue stuffed to the gills with sold work…).

Page 299: I can’t help it, I just fucking love video game artbooks. UDON has got MEGAMAN: OFFICIAL COMPLETE WORKS and SF20: THE ART OF STREET FIGHTER and fuck, yeah. Must own.

Disclaimer: UDON buys me dinner sometimes.

Page 300: I knew if I waited long enough Vanguard would eventually put out something I cared about…! THE LEGENDARY ART OF N.C. WYETH is a 128 page book weighing in at $24.95, and should be a total treat. I’m not as big into classic illustration as a lot of our customers, I’ve got my favourites though and I’ve always loved Wyeth’s work. Seems like a solid, inexpensive buy. If it comes out on time…

Page 305: VIZ MEDIA! What have you got for me this month? Why, it’s a short story collection by SOLANIN creator Inio Asano! Holy shit that’s great! Viz describes the two-volume WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD (both shipping on the same day, btw!) as a “series of intersecting vignettes,” “[exploring] the ways in which modern life can be ridiculous and sublime, terrible precious, waste and celebrated. And GIANT ROBOTS!”

Actually I made that last part up. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Even without the Giant Robots?

Page 311: Geez, you get to the end of the Viz section and you think you’re done and two of the biggest books of the month are there. Alright, WW Norton, let’s do this shit.

FIRST UP is the long, long-awaited hardcover collection THE BOOK OF GENESIS: ILLUSTRATED BY ROBERT CRUMB in which Crumb illustrates the text of the first book of the Bible, word for word. I can’t see anyone getting upset about this in any way, it should be great. Also available in $500 slipcased signed edition. :-P

NEXT we’ve got what some folks are already calling the graphic novel of the year, STITCHES by David Small. I’ve gotten about 1/3 of the way through the galley and it has all of the hallmarks of being the sort of graphic memoir that makes it on to critics lists and best-of-year lists alike. The art is really something too, I was turned off by the scribbliness of the cover but in the context of the story the emotional line is very evocative, particularly once you add in the grey washes. I don’t know about book of the year ( I mean, ASTERIOS POLYP?!) but I do feel like people will be talking about this one this fall.

SAME PAGE: Watson Guptil is doing three collections of Antonio Profias SPY vs SPY cartoons. Twelve bucks a pop too, which is a total steal! How’s anyone gonna pass these up, I ask you?

SAME PAGE: It’s the only other thing on the page so I may as well mention it: MAGIC THE GATHERING: PATH OF THE PLANESWALKER features a bunch of dudes who write the text on magic cards telling stories set in the gameworld. That’s pretty meh, honestly, but the reason I mentioned it is that Wizards of the Coast employs some of the finest fantasy illustrators working today, and many of them are supposed to be in this book. It should be very pretty. 200 pages for 20 bucks.

yotsuba volume 6Page 312: YOTSUBA&! I totally forgot that this was the month with the new Yotsuba. Yen Press is reoffering new printings of YOTSUBA Volume 1-5 in all-new editions, now for their standard price of $10.99 a volume. Better still, this month marks the debut of the first new English-language volume in years, YOTSUBA VOLUME 6. Cool beans, I hope these sell gangbusters.

Page 331: Normally I stop after the end of the comics section, but there are a couple of great, important books that I wanted to make sure got some attention here at the blog.

First up is THE ART OF OSAMU TEZUKA, GOD OF MANGA HC by Helen McCarthy (HC, 9×12, 272 pages, $40.00) which is touted as the first authorized biography of Tezuka in English, and featuring over 300 images. Tezuka’s colour-work doesn’t really get the play it deserves, and his art in general is often as breathtaking as his storytelling. I’m really hoping this book delivers the goods because with Tezuka there really is a ton of ground to cover.

Next is MANGA KAMISHIBAI: THE ART OF JAPANESE PAPER THEATRE by Eric P. Nash and Frederik L. Schodt (HC, 8×9, 304 pages, $35.00). This is the first book on the precursor to manga, the Kamishibai storyteller’s art of acting out stories using illustrated accompaniment on the streets of post-war Japan. Many of the first manga books were adaptations of these stories, and this material has never really been explored in any North American writings on manga. I got to experience a little of it on my last trip to Japan and it’s really neat, I’d love to learn more. This should be a very cool book.

AND FINALLY, that’s it for this month. Remember that I like a lot of great, esoteric books, and unless you’re shopping at the store I do all of the ordering for chances are you aren’t going to find all of these on the shelves of your favourite comic book store. That’s why it’s important to tell your comic book retailer what YOU want to read (and buy from them), so that they can order it in and we can all benefit from higher orders on good comic books.

Until next month, thanks for reading…!

- Christopher

july 2009 previews coversSo my orders for the July 2009 Previews Catalogue (for items scheduled to begin shipping in September) is due tomorrow at 11pm… but I won’t be at work tomorrow. I will, however, be at work tonight until this thing is finished. That’s right, we’re liveblogging the Previews, start to finish. I’ve been in Japan for nearly a month and I have almost no idea what’s in this thing–let’s be surprised together!

Ready… Go!

Cover: I have to say that these are the most visually interesting covers in recent memory. The front cover features a comic by one of the members of the band fall-out boy. I feel like I should be making fun of this fact, but I actually don’t think I know even one Fall-Out Boy song. Let’s go to this generation’s MTV (Youtube) and cue up a song. Oh, I Don’t Care, I actually have heard this song. It’s inoffensive radio-rock where the members of the band are assholes in the music video. Right.  The cover features a hot robot chick… are hot robot chicks the innoffensive radio-rock of the comic book industry? Probably. Oh man, that means corporate superhero comics are all “Jero”, the hip young dude who sings songs from two or three generations ago. Hahahaha…

Still, nice-enough illustration.

Back Cover: There we go. Jill Thompson and Evan Dorkin doing a beautifully painted creator owned series for Dark Horse. Beasts of Burden, formerly of the “Dark Horse Book of…” series. This is great, I’m so happy to see this coming out. Cool stuff, everyone make sure to give this one a look, maybe drop some money on it.

Page 17: I don’t know how many people know this, but every year Diamond puts together bundles of comics samplers that folks can buy and give away for halloween. Unlike the heavily monitored Free Comic Book Day program, this one seems to be pretty loosey-goosey affair–as long as you’ve got a recognizable/marketable character, you’re in. I was disappointed beacause last year’s comics (with the exception of the PEANUTS book) all seemed to be excerpts of longer works. I get that you want to send kids into the stores to get the conclusion, but it’s still a bit like getting a mini-chocolate bar with a bite taken out of it. Hopefully this year particpants give kids something with a beginning, middle, and end.

Dark Horse

Page 22: Here’s the actual solicit for Beasts of Burden, which previews tells me is a 4 issue mini-series for just $3 an issue. I will say that writer Evan Dorkin really knows how to use the single-issue format well, so I doubt this one will read like a graphic novel arbitrarily split into four parts. Really looking forward to this.

Page 23: Buffy continues to be our best-selling floppy comic, month-in and month-out, with only the barest hint of a slow-down. Even the one-shot from a few months back by the awesome-but-not-regular-creative-team of Becky Cloonan and Vasilis Lolos didn’t experience too much drop-off, which is cool.  And hey, Oz and Giles return for this story-arc. It’s got everything!

Page 25: I kinda feel like all of the pages with Hellboy solicitations should have a black background, instead of the standard white for DH’s section.  The covers are daaaaaaaaaaarrrk.

Page 28: It looks like Dark Horse will be releasing a full-colour original graphic novel featuring Usagi Yojimbo. Neat! It’s called Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai and it seems to be entirely watercolour painted by Sakai. I wonder if this is a trial-balloon to see about moving the series entirely to original trade paperbacks/graphic novels? It’s nice, as a retailer, to see a creator-owned series hit the shelves 10 out of 12 months of the year (Usagi Yojimbo #123 is also solicited this month) but I can’t imagine it’s setting any sales records. We actually order more of the trades than of the single issues here at the store, but we do have a regular clientelle for the singles, with our numbers staying fairly consistant (plus or minus a copy) for the last 4 or 5 years…! Can’t say that about literally any other book we carry. Either way, this should be an excellent introduction for anyone who’s ever wondered about the series.

Page 32: Looks like Dark Horse has got a new edition of Eric Drooker’s Blood Song wordless graphic novel out. Oh they’re also doing a new book of Carol Swain comics, Crossing The Empty Quarter and Other Stories. Looks like a dude with a giraffe head on the cover. That either seems a very strange choice for Dark Horse, or following up on Usagi Yojimbo, perfectly suited. Feel free to tell me which in the comment section.

Page 44: New Blade of the Immortal trade paperback entitled “Legend of the Sword Demon”, which sounds fairly badass, doesn’t it?


Page 45: “Superstar Writer J. Michael Straczynski takes over The Brave and the Bold”. Well, I hope that none of you Brave and the Bold fans actually liked that comic coming out.

No, seriously, what the fuck is this? This bullshit blame game? Marvel’s “The Twelve”. Chris Weston is too busy to draw the script so Strazcynski just doesn’t bother writing it? You know what, JMS fucks up his schedule and Weston’s gotta pay the rent so he takes on another gig, fine, but that doesn’t excuse JMS–who caused the problem in the first place(!)–from actually delivering the scripts. You know, so that when Weston finishes up his rent paying gig, he can go back to the work he was hoping to all along. I’m kind of sick of this attitude amongst contemporary writers that if the artist isn’t immediately available to draw the script pages they have ready, they’re off the hook, they can take as long as they want. I try really hard not to get up and tell creators how to do their jobs, but why haven’t any of the editors at Marvel in particular figured out that this strategy doesn’t work? That every book JMS or Millar work on is chronically, painfully late because of this?

Or do they not care?

Maybe people really don’t care, maybe it’s all about the eventual collected edition. But it seems absolutely ass-backwards, a poor way of doing business and incredibly unprofessional to boot.

Hah, there is a customer in the store who just asked for the Kick-Ass trade paperback. I tried not to smile when I told him that Millar hadn’t gotten the single issues finished yet. There’s your lost sales right there.

That couldn’t have worked better if I’d planned it.

Paage 64-65: I really wasn’t that into the first few pages of the DC section, it all looks a bit samey although I guess if you’re really into Blackest Night and all that, Donna troy’s undead demon baby is probably at least amusing. It took the one-two punch of Morrison’s Batman & Robin #4 and JH Williams on Detective Comics #857 to get me to stop. I have to say that following up Frank Quitely on Batman and Robin with ex-Top Cow penciler Philip Tan is… a pretty brutal choice. I dunno, maybe he’ll raise his game, or maybe he’ll be another Tony Daniel, utterly obliterating Morrison’s script with awful, awful pencils. OH THE FUN OF ORDERING COMICS TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE. I shall be cutting my orders, somewhat, on this one.  Meanwhile, JH Williams always delivers, bless him.

Page 67: I’m actually going through our sales history and checking sell-through, orders, etc., as I do this, which is why some of the updates take longer than others. I was surprised to see that the sell-through on the Paul Dini Batman: Streets of Gotham has dropped through the floor, less than half of what the first issue sold and way lower than Detective before the big shake-up. Is it not good or something? It looks strong, and Dini’s got a lot of fans… maybe it’s just bat-fatigue?

… whoa, same drop on Gotham City Sirens #2. That’s strange, I thought the first issue of that was pretty good, considering. Maybe it’s just the summertime thing, not every customer is coming in every week due to holidays/poor weather/good weather/etc. Hopefully they’ll all catch back up the last week of August…!?

creepy_reeve_superboyPage 69: I know nerds are really angry at Geoff Johns remaking the Superman Universe into his own personal playground, but enh. It’s actually the best superhero-comics he’s written, the Action Comics and Legion stuff, and DC’s gonna reboot this stuff every 10 years from now on anyway, why not let Johns have a turn? So, just to clarify everything, DC is launching Superman: Secret Origin #1 with the Action Comics team of Johns and Gary Frank. The definitive 6 issue mini-series retelling Superman’s origin, now with creepy Christopher-Reeve looking kid-Superman.

Seriously, the likeness stuff they’re doing there really weirds me out.

Page 70-71: Meanwhile sales continue to slide on “a year of Superman comics without Superman in them…” ugh. Talk about pissing away the momentum you gained with the New Krypton arc.

Page 82: Ah, the doldrums have set in. Red Tornado gets an ongoing series and suddenly I have no interest in liveblogging the Previews anymore. Ah well, let’s all just soldier on past the shelf-fillers.

Page 85: I know I shouldn’t think it’s a big deal, but I was surprised to see that the new writer of Teen Titans is a woman. Because that sort of thing is surprising in superhero comics.

page 90: MEANWHILE! Sorry for the delay on that one, it got busy here at the store. SO! It looks like Gail Simone’s newest Wonder Woman Arc Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian will be getting a simultaneous hardcover and trade paperback release on November 4th. That’s surprising, I guess that if I were more up on comics news I would know that (or the reasons why). I’m personally ‘done’ with the standard-format hardcover releases of stuff, I hope that the tp sales blow the hardcovers out of the water. That’s selfish, admittedly, but the space required to double-rack the majority of the DC Universe in softcover and hardcover is getting ridiculous.

Page 93: This image is a little unsettling. I don’t like that Shaggy has nipples but that Scooby doesn’t… And they’re both sumo-wrestling in bluejeans. Yeah. I don’t get it…

Page 94: It looks like the second(?) Zuda comic to get a collection, High Moon by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis gets a collection this month. I hope it’s got better production than Bayou, despite the acclain that trade has received I thought the production values were really shoddy, and didn’t really serve the story at all. I hope future editions are treated a little more respectfully by DC… and that High Moon doesn’t suffer a similar fate.

Page 97: The solicitation for ExMachina #45 mentions that the series is due to finish at #50. I knew the end was coming, but I didn’t think that it was so near. Although at the current rate of production those six issues could take us well into 2010… (rimshot..!). Seriously though, love this series, wish it could get back on a stable schedule. Here’s hoping that we’re monthly right through to the end eh?

Page 99: Although I didn’t do a Previews Liveblog last month, I did actually do all of the ordering and one of the new series I was most interested in was Red Herring, by David Tischman and Philip Bond (and David Hahn too, I think). A new Philip Bond-drawn series is always cause for celebration, but the premise sounded neat too. The second issue is solicited without much fanfare this month, but I do think it might be one worth reading.

Page 107: Even if we weren’t doing a launch/book signing for Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth #1, we’d probably still order really heavily on it. Post-apocalyptic stories tend to do very well here at the store anyway, and Lemire’s work is a proven seller for us (being a hometown store doesn’t hurt…). The last few Vertigo #1 issues that debuted at a buck did really well for us too, so this is all leading to a confluence of massive sales on this one. Fingers crossed…

Page 112: Whoa! There’s a blast from the past. Judd Winick and Tomm Coker’s Blood and Water miniseries is finally being collected into a trade paperback. Slightly goofy vampire stories, very pre-superhero Winnicky stuff. I was really surprised at the time that this never got collected, and 3 or 4 years later I’m even more surprised that it is. Did someone option this for a movie or something? Or is it just that anything remotely “Twilighty” might have a chance?

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I read it, but I really love Tomm Coker’s artwork in general and I remember this looking pretty good indeed. I’ll keep an eye out for this, see if it holds up.

Page 114: You know, I always really liked the covers that Geof Darrow did for Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. No disrespect to Robertson, but I always felt that Darrow’s vision of Ellis’ future was the most fully realized. Spider’s costume is entirely negative space, black on black with solid black tattoos and a little bit of tech for visual interest on the face (glasses). He should always be set against absolute cacophony. Of course, absolute cacophony is fucking nuts to try and draw on a monthly book, and I think Robertson did a great job considering. But look at this, tell me this isn’t just amazing:


That’s the cover for the new edition of Transmetropolitan Volume 4: The New Scum. Lovely isn’t it?

Image Comics

Page 132: Hey, look! Jeff Parker and Steve Leiber are doing a new creator owned book! About spelunking and intrigue! Now, I don’t want to throw this back in your faces or anything, but I was TOTALLY right about John Layman’s CHEW #1 and how you should have given that a read, and now here’s another new series from Image that might be underordered and will almost certainly get amazing reviews, tons of hype, and then you might not be able to find it and you’ll have to pay EBAY prices. So get to your retailer this week and tell them you want one, so that they can bump their order or put in an increase or something.

Or just shop at The Beguiling, we’re ordering tons. :-D

Page 134: Shitting on a new Image #1 is a little bit like kicking a baby, but a manga-looking series from a creator with a big manga-following based on a video game and it’s coming out as a five-issue miniseries? It just seems like it’s missing the point a little, you know? Like maybe this should be a nice 6×9″ book for $20? Serialize a preview issue on IGN to get the fans interested and then have the whole thing done-in-one? No? I dunno. The art is pretty, here’s hoping it doesn’t crash and burn. :-/

Page 136: Speaking of, Beast OGN by Marian Churchland is an interesting looking project, a horror/mystery graphic novel with a surprising art style, half way between contemporary illustration and comics realism. The cover looks lovely too, I hope Image doesn’t… do… anything to the trade dress.

Page 152: I’m happy to hear that Invincible co-creator Cory Walker is returning to Invincible #66, I always thought his work looked best on the series. Hopefully that doesn’t leave previous penciller Ryan Ottley out in the cold, his art is really strong as well, and I feel like he draws “ugly” better than Walker does…which is important when someone is getting their face literally caved in. What is Ottley up to anyway? I almost wish I followed the daily comics news more closely, now. Almost.

Page 153: I was away last month so I didn’t get to really recommend Brandon Graham’s King City series now on its way from Image. #2 is offered this month, and I hope that stores ordered lots of shelf copies on this one, I think it’s really gonna surprise people. Oh and I’m not totally crazy, this one IS being solicited as Full Colour in the catalogue, even though it’s B&W.

Marvel Comics

Marvel P4: So the big “Reborn” hubub came and went, it was what everyone was expecting, and while it was a fairly strong comic I just don’t think it waranted all of the nonsense. I guess it’s the difference between being in the entertainment business and being in the business of telling good stories? I’m not trying to take anything away from Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice, or any of the creative team here, but…? Really? A solid black page in the catalogue with REBORN on it? You look at the other great works in the comics industry, the stuff that really catches media or critical attention, and it’s based on quality or noteworthiness, not… big empty solicitations.

I just thought of another “Chris uses Achewood to describe the comics industry” post. Let’s do that later.

Anyway, just saying. I kinda dug Reborn #1, particularly as it’s a total extension of Brubaker’s run on Captain America with literally no breaks whatsoever… But the hype is more offputting than anything.

Mp6: Ditto Marvels Project.

Mp23: “You’ve been asking for it… and now it’s here: THE CLONE SAGA!!!” Really? Who has been asking for this? I had no idea. $4 an issue for Todd Nauck art and a story reviled by Marvel fans? No thank you.

Mp25: I’m actually not convinced that any of our readers are following the Dark Reign stuff. There are a lot of random, frequently awful books with DARK REIGN! on top. I’m paid to keep on top of this sort of stuff and I’m just barely following it, I can’t imagine most of our regulars are going out of their way to collect go-nowhere mini-series and one shots that “CAN’T BE MISSED”. I think Spurgeon is probably right, that these big crossovers are the equivilent of the company screaming at you all the time, and if they never turn down the volume eventually everyone just goes deaf to what they’re saying…

Mp28: …and it doesn’t help that the company doesn’t seem to have a handle on this stuff either. Page 28 here. The conclusion to the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men Crossover, which until this point has been called UTOPIA and all of the books have the word UTOPIA on the cover larger than the regular logos? The conclusion is called something completely different. And it’s got another epilgoue issue written by two other writers totally uninvolved with the main story, with the artist “To Be Determined”. Like… come on, at what point do you just sit down and admit this has all gotten away from you? You need 2 mis-titled bookends, 6 issues, a 3-issue mini-series, 4 tie-in issues, and an epilgoue, involving 6+ writers and a dozen artists to tell this story? Oh and another one-shot in October?

Who exactly are you expecting to read all this?

Mp42: So let I get this straight. Incredible Hercules, Incredible Hulk (featuring Skarr, son of hulk), Son Of Hulk (also… featuring… Skarr son of hulk? ), and Hulk, are all ongoing series now all spinning out of, what was two years ago, Incredible Hulk. Oh, and because there’s not enough stuff this month there’s a Hulk Team-Up one-shot as well.

Wow. That’s almost as ballsy as two Deadpool ongoing series AND a mini-series. Oh, wait.

Mp49: Ah, Pat Lee covering Spider-Man Magazine #8. It’s good to know that no matter how bad you fuck people over, how unethically you behave as an artist OR a businessman, someone at Marvel or DC will give you some work. See, Wheeler? There’s no moral compass at all, it’s not just about staying at the Hyatt to support a known homophobe.

Actually, I just realized seeing Marvel run Pat Lee art has put me in such a foul mood that anything else I say about them is going to be fairly negative, deserving or otherwise. So, fuck it. I’ll be back in an hour with Part 2 and the rest of the Previews.

- Chris (Edited for some spelling)