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?
Page 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.
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?
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.
Page 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…!