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:

Logicomix
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.”

bart-simpsons-treehouse-of-horror-20090622-205933

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?

DC COMICS

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:

transmet_vol_4

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)


It can be a little difficult to keep on top of Viz Media LLC’s various imprints and sub-imprints. The old PULP line became Editor’s Choice, Editor’s Choice became the Signature line, and now that’s just VIZ SIG. Unless a title being published in the line also made its debut in the pages of the Japanese alt-comix anthology IKKI, then it’s now part of the Brand New SIG-IKKI sub-imprint. And as fun as all of that was to type out, it’s really besides the point because all of those imprints and sub-imprints are just indicators of where the good comics are.

Now they’ve got a website where you can view a bunch of great comics for free. It’s http://sigikki.com/ and it’s a blog and culture website to promote alternative and unique styles of manga (that happen to be published by Viz), and to act as an online version of IKKI magazine, serializing manga series–for free!–to try and develop audiences for the books before they show up on store shelves. It’s also kind of unprecedented within the manga industry, an online version of a manga anthology complete with serialized manga, designed to develop a whole new audience. Hey Viz, THANKS.

So what were my initial impressions of their launch series? Why, I’m glad you asked and I’d be happy to tell you. Only thing is, I think the action of launching an online, alternative manga magazine is perhaps more important than almost any one (or 5) stories, so I strongly encourage you to go read all of these series and make up your own opinions. But here’s what I thought anyway… perhaps you will disagree with me.

children_of_the_seaChildren of the Sea, by Daisuke Igarshi: I’ve read three or four chapters of Children of the Sea and it’s great though I have to admit, knowing that there was a print version on the way (now available) I waited for that; I’m just a print guy. Sadly I forgot my English-language edition of the first volume at home so it didn’t end up being one of my read-on-the-plane books for my trip to Japan. Speaking of, that book is gorgeous, go buy it.

Oh yeah, Japan. Igarashi was everywhere in Japanese bookstores, with lots of particular focus on Children of the Sea. I assume there’s an other-media adaptation coming down the pipe, but it was strange and heartening to see something popular and highly touted and knowing that it was just about to be released in North America… rather than 2 or 3 years down the road.

bokurano_oursBokurano: Ours, by Mohiro Kitoh: Reminds me a hell of a lot of the creator’s previous English-language manga series Shadow Star (Dark Horse). It’s an interesting premise, at least from the first chapter, but it’s a little awkardly executed. Artless, maybe? Like “oh, here are all of you children, I will explain the plot to you! GIANT ROBOT!” If I remember correctly, Shadow Star also had to be heavily edited (and eventually discountinued?) due to sexual content and ultraviolence in its similar-looking pubescent young cast… This should be a fascinating series to watch.

It’s perhaps the weakest first chapter of the ones released so far on the side, but despite that I do want to see where it’s going in the second installment.

dorohedoroDorohedoro, by Q Hayashida: And now for something completely different: Insane Ultraviolence! If you like to see a dude with a lizard head bite another dude in the face before carving him–midair with a machete–into component chunks, while a sexy chick looks on? This is the manga for you. I’m willing to see if the story develops into anything… perhaps that’s missing the point though.

icangiveitmyall_tomorrowI’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow, by Shunju Aono: While travelling through Japan, in the “alternative” manga section of whichever bookstore I happened to be in at the time, this book had a prominent place with shelftalkers and even a floor-display at one place. It has a charming, lo-fi art style that was immediately appealing to me, and I would pick up the book, flip through it, chuckle, and then put it down… because so much of it seemed dependent on the language (which I could not read).  And then Viz went and translated it for me as soon as I got back from Japan (thanks again Viz!), so you could say I was predisposed to like it.

Yeah, I like it. Love it maybe. It’s clever, with a strange but relatable plot (middle-aged salaryman feels aimless in his day-to-day, tries to escape but has no real plan to do so…), and some truly what-the-fuck moments that push this one into “When are they going to upload the next chapter?!” territory. It’s also easily the most conventionally uncommercial release to date, so I hope y’all like it as much as I do. :)

saturn_apartments_headerSaturn Apartments, by Hisae Iwaoka: From the description I was worried about this one being maybe a little overly-cute or overly sentimental. I can deal with both in turn, but in my alternative manga anthology I was hoping for something more? Anyway, it turns out this is just really good, solid. A great introductory chapter, strong enough that it felt like a solid Sci-Fi short-story all on its own, but is full of promise for a longer series. The art too is quite nice, with scratchy lines and squat character designs, and beautifully rendered backgrounds and a strong sense of storytelling.

But like I said up top, don’t just take my word for it, the first chapters of all of these manga (and in the case of Children of the Sea, the whole volume!) are free at http://sigikki.com. Check’em out, tell your friends, and lets keep building an audience in North America for more mature manga.

Parting IKKI Fun Fact: I learned from a friend in Japan that IKKI the magazine was actually started as a creative showcase for one of my favourite creators, Taiyo Matsumoto. He launched the magazine with his awesome BD Sci-Fi-inspired series NO.5, which saw print briefly here in North America. Knowing that now, it does account for the varying art styles in these works, and also for the heavy predilection towards Sci-Fi storylines. Maybe the SIGIKKI site can serialize that great series sometime soon?

- Christopher


boycotthyattposterHey there,

Just remember that if you’re in San Diego for the big Comic-Con, and you’re on your way out to have a bit to eat or a drink later in the evening? Fuck the Hyatt.

http://www.boycottmanchesterhotels.com/

San Diego hotel magnate Doug Manchester gave$125,000 to Yes on Prop 8, the initiative constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in California.

If you believe in equality, it’s time to fight back.

Please join Californians Against Hate in boycotting Manchester’s three hotels:

Please tell your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to boycott Manchester hotels. We do not want to spend our hard earned money at Doug Manchester’s hotels only to have him use it to take away our rights.

Together, we can stand for equality — and against hate.

Seriously, just don’t go. Quit rationalizing, quit pretending that writing something pro-gay on your $20 bill while you put it in his pocket does anything, just don’t go. There are hundreds of other bars, restaurants, and hotels not owned by a homophobe. Go to one of those instead.

Or, as my good friend Andrew Wheeler recently summed up it up at his blog:

“Most people don’t have what it takes to be a hero, and stand up when it’s difficult to do so – not when there are beers on the table and the company is buying. But these people don’t have to be villains.”
- Andrew Wheeler, The Post Game Show

There’s really no excuse.

- Christopher


So Heidi wrote this:

“From the other side, many con vets are just wondering when the Hollywood contingent of San Diego Comic-Con is going to do an “E3? and try to scale back. Our own concept of one possible course is that in a few years, Hollywood is going to wake up and wonder why they are spending so much money on giving fans tchatchkes and try to scale down to a press-only event, just like E3 tried to do.” – Heidi MacDonald

In case you’re not familiar, E3 is the electronic entertainment expo, and it’s been going on for 20+ years now, and it eventually grew to insane, mythological proportions. And then scaled back to a bland trade show that no one liked. And has in recent years started to ‘recapture’ a little of the old spend-like-money-is-going out-of-style glitz.

And, from everything I’ve heard from everyone who’s attended, Comic-Con already is the scaled-down, no one likes it that much version of E3. Seriously. It’s small-potatoes compared to the elevendy billion dollar a year video game business, in a convention centre it outgrew 4, maybe 5 years ago. In a city that fucking hates it. For the most part.

Go read this, it’s Jim Zubkavich’s (UDON) stunned reaction to his first visit to E3 a few years ago, which I believe is the last of the “big” E3 events. Jim is a guy who had been to San Diego, as well as tons of other big cons across North America, and E3 still blew him away:

http://zubkavich.livejournal.com/99785.html
http://zubkavich.livejournal.com/99931.html
http://zubkavich.livejournal.com/100132.html

Here’s a taste, for those of you reticent to click outgoing links:

“After hearing about how good the Sony party was each year at E3, I was eager to see it first hand. As it turned out, luck worked its magic and my boss had arranged a meeting for me with a Sony executive after a mutual friend recommended our studio for an upcoming video game based project. … The meeting went well. Feeling good about our interaction, I stuck my neck out a bit and mentioned the party. She had one invite left she could give me. She made me promise not to sell the invite or to try and bring extra people along. I agreed and she handed me a wristband. At that moment I wondered what the heck I’d gotten myself into.

That night, my media buddies who had invites of their own and I made our way to Dodgers Stadium. When we arrived, security checked our wristbands and gave us each a glass of champagne while they lead us to shuttle buses. We rode up the hill to a beautiful open field area decked out with giant colored circus-like tents. Our wristbands were checked again as we entered and they double-checked that we’d brought no recording devices or cameras. Once inside the grounds I got a real sense of the scope of this thing.

6 or 7 giant tents surrounding a large music area and stage made up the party grounds…

- Jim Zubkavich

The Sony Party rented Dogers Stadium and filled it with tents. And acrobats and performers. And grunge rockers too… go read the posts. It’s insane.

Even on it’s best day, the con parties at San Diego don’t compare to this.

And sure, that’s “just” the parties, that doesn’t say anything about the hall or guests or attractions or whatever. But really, what I’m trying to point out here is MONEY. How much do you think it costs to throw that party in a rented Dogers Stadium? 500 grand? A million? 2? Do… do you think people care? Do you think Sony cares? No, it’s 2 million dolars, Sony made a lot of fucking money last year. And as elaborate as the booths at Comic-Con get, not a one of them is even close to the cost of what companies spent on booths at E3. Those video game booths are almost a million bucks a pop at Comic-Con, and BIGGER at E3. What if the DC booth was 4 times the size it currently is, would it seem so fucking crowded all the time? What if Marvel actually put together a real booth one year? What if Sony spent the same on their Comic-Con booth as they spent on their E3 booth? HOLY SHIT.

I got news for you, for a major media conglomerate having a bunch of model/actors standing around handing out tchochkes for 5 days IS the chump-change. These people go to lunch and it costs $900. If no one drinks.

300,000 people show up over 3 days for COMIKET at Tokyo Big Sight, a fan-run and fan-oriented convention on an island floating in the middle of Tokyo bay. ONLY 150,000 people show up, over 5 days for Comic-Con, the biggest consumer pop-culture event in a country with over twice the population.

The reason San Diego is a crowded, sweaty, overpopulated mess is because they’re thinking small. In my ever-humble opinion, they really oughtta realize that they stopped being a Comic-Con a long, long time ago,  and move to accommodate the show that they’ve become. Because I can’t imagine ANYONE is happy with how things are going now? Fuck, where’s the grandeur, the innovation, the VISION? Make it happen people!

probably_insane

So yeah, book that bullshit baseball stadium next door for the weekend for the nerds, figure out a way to put up tents and carpetting in their giant parking lot. There’s a park behind the Convention Centre that’s at least as big as the convention centre itself. TENT THAT SHIT. Run a ferry between the two points.

And if you think for a second, for a moment, that this is too expensive? Remember the Sony Party at E3 4 years ago.  And remember that someone, somewhere, is paying $2.2 Million for a private concert by George Michael. Those people HAVE MONEY, you just need to learn where they are and get them hooked on comics or video games. I can personally recommend Scott Pilgrim.

- Christopher
Seriously: Microsoft & NBC Present: COMIC-CON AT PETCO PARK! Featuring X-Box 360 and the casts of THE OFFICE and 30 ROCK. That’d fill a baseball stadium.


supergirl36

So a few smart people at DC Comics figured out that a female character flying around in a skirt might develop a sense of modesty at some point, and now Supergirl’s costume has red spandex-looking bike shorts on underneath her skirt. Seems practical, logical, and like a tiny little change right? Not so much. Apparently it was much-discussed. I’ll stay away from characterizing the discussion as “APESHIT” but really, some folks got very upset. Heh.

I had heard a little about the change a month or two back, but didn’t really think much of it. So when a reporter for The Toronto Star contacted me last week while I was in Japan, I actually hopped online to check out the hullabaloo. Wow! People are nuts! When she asked to interview me? Sure, why not, this would be great.

The story by reporter Paola Loriggio went live yesterday, and it’s a good one. Sadly because I got my comments on the story in about 4 hours before she had to file (stupid flight delay…!) there’s only one tiny, pithy quote from me in there, when I sent her a few hundred words FULL of pithy material. So first, go read the well-written, balanced story on this change (followed by one awesome bent-out-of-shape comment) and then come back here to read the full text of my answers about this epic non-story, which I have provided for you behind the cut. :)

Keep reading…


Hello!

I am back from Japan. It was awesome. I actually woke up this morning and missed Japan, which matches my past record of it taking two days to miss Japan after I got back. Speaking of, the flight back was kind of fucked up. There were electrical problems with our plane (before take-off, thankfully) and so we ended up staying overnight at a mediocre hotel near the airport. We got a direct flight home the next day, which was a small consolation, but we lost a full day and it made us crazy-tired.

Which brings me to: Not going to San Diego. I’m skipping this year, for the first time in maybe 5 or 6 I think, because I’ve just been away for a month and I need to get some fucking work done. The guys did a good job of keeping the store from catching on fire while I was away, but I’ve definitely fallen behind on stuff, and another week away in a fantasy land isn’t gonna Get Shit Done here at home.

I’m a little sad to be missing it, the content of the show looks pretty amazing this year, but I have reconciled myself to the fact that it is all for the best.

…sigh…

Annnnnnnnnnyway. I think I’m going to hold off on blogging any more Japan stuff until after San Diego, lest my posts get lost in the maelstrom of S A N D I E G O B R E A K I N G N E W S ! ! ! ! I’ve got a few other surprises up my sleeve too, let’s say we’ll start on August 1st with that again? Give everyone a chance to chew on the big industry news for a while, and for me to actually stockpile some content. Until then I’ll just bitch about the comics industry and respond to the news of the day here at the blog.

Speaking of which! I gave a fantastically scathing interview to The Toronto Star the other day about Supergirl’s new costume. I’m pretty excited to see it in print. I’ll blog it when it does.

Until then, you can find me in this article that also ran in The Star about Viz’s sublime cooking/food/drama manga Oishinbo, Food For Thought In Comic Form by Corey Mintz. It is not as effusive about the series as I personally am, but it is hard for people to be as effusive about things as I am. Corey: I don’t hold it against you.

I really oughtta review Oishinbo, eh?

Hmm.

Anyway, content soon as I have 10 minutes to rub together!

- Chris


kinokuniya_manga_floor
So it looks like I went and disappeared for the better part of two weeks… Whoops! Hah, it turns out that being in Japan is just a great time, and walking around Tokyo for 14 hours a day (no exaggeration) takes a lot out of a guy. Ah well, if I wasn’t out having fun, then I wouldn’t be able to write about it… Eventually…

On that note, we ended up travelling within Japan for the very first part of our trip, and I ended up with a different “feeling” for this trip. Andrew was much happier–we saw nothing but sacred, irreplaceable things and places for like 10 straight days (occasionally stopping in at the Tezuka Museum or whatever), but I felt a little bit like I was waiting “for the good part”… despite the fact that everything I was doing was fantastic, interesting, and amazing. I can’t help it, I just really like otaku shit. :)

Because of that, I didn’t really take a ton of photos for the first part of the trip, and so rather than organize chronologically I’m gonna end up doing posts on places, people, or concepts, rather than a chronological recap. And I’ll probably start working on the first one on the plane, hopefully that means I post it in 24 hours or so. We’ll see how tired I am when we finally board.

On that note, I’m just about to board my flight at Narita. Gotta run, see you soon, Toronto.

- Chris
Photo: Kinokuniya Bookstores Flagship Store, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.