And now, to the dulcet tones and beeps of Underworld’s Rez/Cowgirl, we shall commence liveblogging the second half of the Previews Catalogue. What does this mean, by the by? Well as I flip through the pages of the May 2009 Previews catalogue (for items scheduled to start shipping in July), I’m reading descriptions of the books, checking our order history and our sell-through of previous issues, and then figuring out how many copies I’m going to order. What you’re seeing are my honest, off-the-cuff reactions to the books (and attitudes…) found in your average issue of Previews. Ready, let’s read!
12:44pm: Page 178 features this month’s WIZARD solicit, which, again, looks like it’s being designed by the Previews staff rather than at Wizard. I really do think they’ve finally fired everyone at that magazine that they could…? Anyway. This page is notable because one of the features of this issue of WIZARD is: HOW TO GET YOUR GIRL TO READ COMICS, which is delightful in a late-90s internet article sort of way. The best, BEST part? The afformentioned “girl” in the little photo accompanying the article is carrying copies of: 6 Superhero books, Sin City, Y The Last Man, and… can’t quite make out the top one. Against a wall of high-priced back issues. So, yeah, this photo is not doing the article any favours. I’ve long-since grown past the need to read Wizard just to be offended or upset at bad content, but I’m really kind of anxious to read this one, just to see if it “lives up” to the photo.
Of course, I’m actually cutting orders on this issue as sales are sliding badly on the magazine…
12:52pm: We are continuing to sell out of Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss, which is kind of surprising… We’re also continuing to do the same with Terry Moore’s ECHO, which is less surprising, but I’m going to be honest, I really thought the first trade paperback would’ve killed the issue sales. Nope! It seems people want to read Terry Moore as soon as they can get him. Good for him.
12:59pm: PROCESS RECESS 3. The 3rd in AdHouse’s release of James Jean art-books. The first two have sold right-the-fuck-out and are going for ludicrous prices online. This third one apparently collects sketchbook work, new paintings and illustrations, all kinds of cool stuff by M. Jean. We’ll be ordering a bunch.
Cover Image to the right, click for (much) larger.
EDIT: Oh yeah, check out James Jean’s blog for more info on this, it’s nifty: http://www.processrecess.com/?uid=FA8BCD
1:20pm: So, Page 188 shows us that Antarctic is now designing their own section of the Previews catalogue… With, I think, utterly disastrous results. I appreciate that it’s good to be able to control the size and presentation of your books–good for you, seriously. But? This is a jumbled mess. No center-of-interest, doesn’t lead the eye, and the blue hackground makes it basically-impossible for me to write my little numbers for what I want to order next to the solicit. :-/
As you can see, the only thing that really stands-out is the PRESIDENT EVIL title treatment, and even then, it’s a little difficult to make-out as Barack Obama (although really what else could it be…).
Yeah, guys, seriously this is not doing you any favours whatsoever. Look at like… catalogue layout sometime or something. Or figure out some way to layout your info better, because this is terrible.
1:36pm: I’m kind of having guilt pangs about not ordering this terrible fucking Obama/Resident Evil ‘parody’, because I know it will sell off the rack, but it’s just conceptually awful, like the terrible Barbarian comics probably will too. But no one has preordered them so I just don’t want them on the rack, I’d like to stand for something, you know?
Anyway, I am conflicted. But I am not ordering them. If someone really wants one they can do a special order.
1:39pm: So APE Entertainment’s The Trouble With Katie Rogers (p190) looks kind of neat. A contemporary romantic comedy in graphic novel format. We have a healthy balance of men and women shopping at the store, I’m curious if something like this will do well for us, or if it really is a bookstore thing. I’ll give it a go. (Nice MySpace page too, actually).
Oh, also on this page is Zeke Deadwood: Zombie Lawman from SLG. I’m actually not “sick” of the Zombie thing yet, and this looks pretty good, played for laughs. Looks like a sort of Westerns versions of Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse. We’ll give this a solid order, hopefully it works out.
1:45pm: So all of my questioning is for naught, it looks very much like the Mouse Guard series has finished, and at Archaia to boot. Now here comes the second graphic novel collection, Mouse Guard Volume 2: Winter 1152. I imagine it will do well for us.
I think I saw someone, maybe Mike Sterling, wondering aloud on his blog as to why the sales on the single-issues of the MOUSE GUARD series had dropped through the floor at his store. I think one reason why might be that the solicit for this collection promises “a new epilogue”, which, considering the series just ended this past week, is kind of unfortunate. I don’t subscribe to the idea that putting new content is “screwing” people who bought the singles–I did when I was a little younger but now I realize that you get what you pay for. You paid four bucks and issue for 6 issues of a comic, and you didn’t mind doing so at the time, you probably got $4 of enjoyment out of that book, epilogue or no. But seeing stuff like this happen? It does make customers less likely to support serialization, it does erode customers faith and interest in a series, and when you make it a selling feature that the pretty new hardcover contains a bunch of stuff not in the smelly-old issues, it makes me as a retailer reconsider my approach to ordering your single issue comics. Not just from this creator, but from this whole publisher.
So, you know, as a publisher you can do whatever the hell you want, it’s your business. Just know that there are reprecussions.
1:56pm: The ASPEN MLT INC. publisher pages look an awful lot like advertisements, but it turns out those are the solicitations, and the only ones at that. Meanwhile, flipping along, the AVATAR solicits look a lot more like solicits than advertisements (although the Anna Mercury 2 #2 spread was a little confusing at first). Still, one looks like it is imparting information, the other is drowning in graphic elements, headlines, logos, and tiny tiny text. It’s pretty easy to figure out which is more successful.
2:17pm: I know they’re “just” licensed books, but I’m kind of shocked to see that the first wave of trade paperback collections of Boom’s THE MUPPET SHOW, THE INCREDIBLES, and THE WORLD OF CARS got almost no play at all in the catalogue. We’ve done very well with the single issues of all of these books, Very Well, and the treade paperback collections (at a friendly $10 price point) are going to do gangbusters for us, I think? Maybe I’m wrong on this, but we’re definitely investing in them at the store… We’re doing progressively better with kids material and this is really solid looking stuff.
2:41pm: Similarly surprising? No special-attention paid to Cartoon Books’ solicitation of the limited-edition RASL HC (P222). Limited edition oversized HC of Jeff Smith material… you’d think that Diamond would be all over that. I mean, I know it’s not going to sell BONE HC numbers, but we’ve been doing really well with RASL. Again, I’m all over this collection, particularly for the long-haul collectors that are going to want this (very) limited collection, but might not have the pocket-money on hand to do so now.
2:46pm: Also on page 222 is Jack Moriarty’s THE COMPLETE JACK SURVIVES from Buenaventura Press. Originally published in the venerable RAW magazine, this collects every Jack Survives strip in a lovely 11×14 package, in full colour. I’m only very casually familiar with the material, but it’s spoken-of very reverently amongst my artcomix friends, and anything out of RAW is obviously work at least a look.
3:20pm: I know this is going a little slower than usual today, but man, things are a little intense at work here today. Lots of stuff in the air. Sorry.
DMP BOOKS is changing the size of some of their manga? I think I missed this announcement, but going through their solicitations today (starting on P237) it looks like they’re doing some of their books at B6 (a format more-or-less unknown in North America), which measure 5 1/8″ x 7 3/16″, or thereabouts… which is a little smaller than the current “TOKYOPOP SIZE” favoured by the majority of the comics industry. They’re doing the rest of their books in the A5 size, which measure 5.875″ x 8.25″, or slightly smaller than their current size of manga. Basically their entire line is changing size over the next few months. I… assume this is to cut costs? But I’ve got no idea.
I hope that the effect of this is minimized when it comes to changes in size between volumes of the same series, because comics fans of all ages, genders, and sexual proviclivities, FUCKING HATE IT when the spines don’t match up on their manga.
3:29pm: I had kind of thought that Big Questions #12 by Anders Nilsen (P243) was the last issue of the series, but the solicit makes no mention either way. I am greatly, greatly looking forward to a collection of this series… though these individual issues are just gorgeous too. Hopefully any collection will include all of the colour paintings and things. But of course, it’s D&Q, so that’s probably very likely…
Speaking of D&Q, THE JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY: NANCY VOL 1 is also solicited this week. I have to say I kinda dug the old-school repro on their recent Melvin The Monster collection… The feel of reading old comics is a much nicer one, to me, than the feel of reading badly-computer-recoloured comics with digitally altered linework. I hope I’m not in the minority? I’d much rather see this kind of reprint, when good-quality copies exist to shoot from (or be fixed with minor tweaks).
6:15pm: Okay, let’s try and power through to the end of the Previews, shall we?
Page 245: I’m always pretty excited about new work from Fanfare/Ponent-Mon. Their new graphic novel YEARS OF THE ELEPHANT is something of a departure for them, a European work with no Japanese connection. I got to see a preview of this one at the New York Comicon this past winter, and it’s a really unique work. It’s nicely drawn, in pencils mostly, though a bit sketchy sloppy at times. The solicit calls it “rudimentary” but it has a classical cartooning kind of feel. And the nature of the story, about a many who’s sort of slowly and humourously losing his mind after his son committs suicide, it takes a while but it definitely grows on you as you flip the pages. I have no idea how something like this will be received in North America, quite honestly. As far as I can tell it’s at least partly autobiographical, and personal tragedy memoirs tend to find their audiences more often than not. But it really is a strange book… One that I’m personally looking forward to, particularly considering that Editor Stephen Robson has the foresight to pick up strange-tale-of-personal-tragedy Hideo Azuma’s DISAPPEARANCE DIARY and it was fantastic. I figure this one is at least worth a shot.
Page 246-247: Fantagraphics’ acid-trip orange-and-purple spread is certainly eye-catching, and the info is laid out in a professional, easy-to-read way. It’s just that the overall effect is sort of hideous. But anyway, good books in here. The one I’m most immediately interested in is the TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE hardcover collection, collecting the first four issues of the series, and now in full colour. THRIZZLE has been an easy single-issue sale for us since its debut, I imagine this handsome new hardcover will do similarly well.
For the classic strips guys, there’s another volume of POPEYE. For the art guys, there’s a third JIM FLORA art book. For nerds, there’s THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS CRITICISM OF THE 21ST CENTURY. Pretty solid month for Fanta.
Page 252: It’s not often that authors tend to really get behind the graphic novel adaptations of their work, but Tim Hamilton’s graphic adaptation of FARENHEIT 451 features an introduction by Bradbury himself, quite a coup. The $30 price tag is surprisingly high, but then so are the expectations on this one if the advance press I’ve seen is anything to go by.
Also on this page, Kevin Eastman releases his (competing? complimentary?) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Anniversary collection. the TMNT 25TH ANNIVERSARY BY KEVIN EASTMAN (kind of a fuck-you-title, isn’t that?) features Eastman’s fav Turtles stories, some of them in colour for the first time. That’s kind of interesting? But the big turtles release is a few pages away still.
Page 253: RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE HUNTER adapted by Darwyn Cooke. What can I say? This looks pretty darned amazing. IDW let me know that they sent me a preview of this one a few days ago, but it hasn’t shown up yet unfortunately. I was hoping to have read it before I could just unequivocally recommend it, but since I can’t I’ll have to just say that it’s PROBABLY the best new book in the Previews this month and you should pick it up. If you’re not sure, there’s tons of great preview/interview stuff online, and if just reading the first 20 pages doesn’t convince you I dunno what will.
Hey IDW guys: Maybe I’m blind here, but why isn’t that PARKER preview linked off of your frontpage? I actually couldn’t find it on your site, had to google it.
Page 270: Alright, here you go. It’s the first 540 pages of Eastman and Laird’s TMNT from the 80s, in black and white (11 issues plus the four ‘micro-series’ issues) for $30. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COLLECTED BOOK VOLUME 1 SC. I am definitely going to take one of these home with me. I’ve read a bunch of these through random reprints and stuff, but I think I’d really dig reading these all at once. Hell, SOMEBODY did… And it’s been one of our most-demanded trade paperback collections for years…!
Page 278: The long-anticipated Jeff Smith TOON BOOKS entry drops in July. LITTLE MOUSE GETS READY seems to be in the format of their youngest-reader stuff, like the Silly Lily books, and it looks great. I kind of felt like the Silly Lily books had a lower vocabulary for the 4-6 year old set, and this one seems like a book that you read-to a child, rather than one they can read on their own? I’m not an expert or anything, but I’d be curious to know who the age group is for this one. Either way, it’s lovely looking.
Page 280: The kids comic series THE STUFF OF LEGEND got a bit of buzz following Free Comic Book Day, so I’ll give the first issue a decent order, see if it will pick up a following in our store. It seems to be in Mouse Guard format, so I guess they know who they’re going-after audience-wise.
Page 282: Long awaited D.N. ANGEL VOLUME 12 from Tokyopop, and no a whole hell of a lot else. BISENGHAST VOLUME 6, possible the last “OEL” title that TP is physically publishing, actually, that’s kind of news too.
Page 284: For those of you who read my earlier bitching, the LENORE: NOOGIES color edition is here. 128 pages for $24.95. Also this page is the second collection of Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s SURROGATES, FLESH AND BONE, a prequel to the first trade and, conveniently enough, the upcoming movie. Also from Top Shelf on the following page is a new printing of SURROGATES VOLUME ONE, and an omnibus HC collecting one and 2, for people that need to own things in HC.
Page 286: Speaking of Darwyn Cooke, Twomorrows solicits MODERN MASTERS VOLUME 23: DARWYN COOKE to coincide with THE HUNTER. A 120 page collection of sketches, rare art, and illustration. Generally the Modern Masters series of books are snapped-up by the fans of the creators they cover, this one will be no different. Actually, that’s not true; thanks to his huge fanbase and a hometown crowd, we’ll probably just add a zero to the end of whatever number we ordered on volume 22 for this one.
Page 292: So this year Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A DRIFTING LIFE shared the top prize for the Tezuka Cultural Prize for manga. It shared it with Fumi Yoshinaga’s series OOKU: THE INNER CHAMBERS, and the first volume of that series drops this month from Viz. If it’s half as interesting or well-done as A DRIFTING LIFE, it’ll be a must-buy for sure. Yoshinaga is the author of ANTIQUE BAKERY and FLOWER OF LIFE amongst many other fan-fav almost-yaoi titles, and more of her work will certainly be appreciated.
Okay then, I think we’re done for this month. Thanks for reading, hopefully next month will go a little more smoothly.
Oh look, we’re liveblogging the Previews again this month! It’s actually not due for 5 whole days, so expect a slightly less-manic, but hopefully no-less enjoyable look at all of the comics and graphic novels being solicited by Diamond Comics Distributors, scheduled to begin arriving in stores in July 2009. I’ll be updating this every few minutes as I get to the next thing I wanna talk about… and I really will try and mention page numbers this month, if you wanna play along at home…!
4:09pm: FWIW, these aren’t awful covers this month, just sort of meh. But we have more unsold copies of Previews this month than in the last 12, both actual copies and percentage ordered. Apparently Spider-Man versus Doctor Octopus and a random skull just aren’t that interesting?
4:18pm: Page FS-1 has an article with the title EXTREME MOMS. Italics in the original title. What? Ah, I see, I have opened this to the wrong side. That is my fault.
4:19pm: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! IS OVER! I guess this is the final month of Diamond advertising their big event. I guess there’s no way anyone in comic industry could say they didn’t KNOW about it, anyway…
On to page 2… Wow, those Final Fantasy IX figures are hideous. Like, I know they’re in the sort of “Chibi” style that the game was in, and this is all about accuracy, but I even like the character designs and I would definitely not buy these. Awful… The Chibi versions of the FF VII, X, and XII figures on the opposite page look much cooler.
4:36pm: Whoa, rush of customers. Sorry about the delay there. So this month’s Editor’s Note (p7) from Marty Grosser is all about… Mom. Geez, what a bunch of momma’s boys. I love my mom (but not as much as I love your mom), but it is weird to see the editor of Previews telling my to make sure to call my mom on Mother’s Day.
Anyway, the editor breaks down every mother in the world to one of two types, either “The Terminatrix”, who is “the stereotypical mother” who threw out all of your comics, or “The Source”, who got you started on comic books. VIRGIN OR WHORE! CHOOSE, READERS OF PREVIEWS! VIRGIN OR WHORE!?
Actually, I got one better for you Marty. “There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces.” There’s your reductionist argument, courtesy of The Last Temptation of Christ. They’re both Virgins AND Whores. Or Source Terminatrixes. Terminatricies? Either way, lame editorial Marty.
4:55pm: Shit we’re not even to any of the actual books yet. Anyway, Page 9 is an interview with ROMAN DIRGE, the “Featured Creator” of the month. For all of you industry watchers wondering about the Lenore creator leaving SLG for, of all places, Titan Publishing (in the U.K.), here’s a fun quote from the interview with Mr. Dirge.
“I’m excited to be working with Titan. It tugged on the heart-strings to leave SLG Publishing after having such a long relationship with them. I have nothing but love for them, especially their founder, Dan Vado. He gave me my start in the industry and it was like family. I regret how we parted ways. Without SLG, I’d rpobably be asking you what kind of cheese you want on your sandwich and if you want the combo meal. Titan has a lot of things planned for me.” – Roman Dirge
Huh, so apparently the parting was not pleasant. Kudos to Dan Vado for keeping it under his hat, if that’s the case. I haven’t heard a bad word about Mr. Dirge. I’m in support of creators going for the best deal, and if Titan offered Dirge a good one, then sure, what the hell. But it seems like the first part of Dirge’s statement, and the second part, they’re a little incongruous? Like “These guys at SLG are family and I owe them everything! Can’t wait to start working with my new pub!” Is that a platitude? Is that the dictionary definition of a platitude? Hmm.
It’s not an either/or proposition, I’m aware, and I know these guys are friends and I’ll likely take some heat for this, but: I was a huge Jhonen Vasquez fan a few years ago, and I still appreciate his work a great deal, but I have never… ever… understood the appeal of any of Dirge’s work. It seems fantastically lazy. It seems like you start with Vasquez’s JTHM or SQUEE, which are literally bursting at the seams with creativity and ideas, tons and tons of them, and then you take an issue of that and stretch it out into 13 issues of Lenore. But to be fair, you take a single panel of a children’s book and put it on 10,000 stickers and you end up with the utterly-vacant Emily the Strange, so. It’s sort of like the Matterhorn of talent, with Vasquez perched on top and everything else sliding rapidly into the abyss.
At any rate, this month Titan is offering a full-colour edition of Dirge’s Lenore: Noogies. I’m certainly not complaining about the money we’ve made off of Dirge’s work; it sells. But I wonder if exactly the same stuff will sell, to the same audience, again (his work just isn’t that colourful even with ‘full colour’). And hearing that the ‘breakup’ was full of regret and it’s only been… what, a year? That doesn’t make me say “I CAN’T WAIT TO SUPPORT THIS DUDE’S WORK!”
Perhaps I am in the minority.
5:20pm: Alright! Comics! P.24 has STAR WARS: INVASION, which features a bunch of characters that look exactly like a cross between Aliens and Predators attacking the post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars Universe! Luke Skywalker using crazy Force-Powers to take on hybrid Aliens/Predators (but not really)? I can see some nerds definitely being into that.
Jo Chen cover too. Nice.
5:24pm: The new BPRD series featuring art by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba drops this month. Lovely. Not sure if I’ve entirely forgiven them for their Casanova April Fool’s Day prank. Also “The Witchfinder #1″, a new Hellboy spinoff series.
5:29pm: So I guess I understand why the solicitation for Guy Davis’ The Marquis: Inferno trade paperback doesn’t mention anywhere that it’s a collection of all of the perviously-published material, i.e.: The trade paperbacks ”Danse Macabre” and “Intermezzo,” but it’s still pretty crappy of them not to mention that. It’s a great deal, a 336 page trade of very strong comics material by Davis, who’s really found an audience for his work thanks to BPRD. And it’s got a new sketchbook and Mignola intro. It’s a great, worthwhile book. But hiding the solicit info is amateur hour, seriously. I had to track down an interview with Davis at CBR to figure that out. It should be in the solicit, period.
5:34pm: THE GOON versus DETHKLOK from Metalpocalypse. Alright, 37 pages into the Previews, I’m calling it: This will be the most under-ordered comic book of the month. Oh and they’re relaunching Creepy too, which is weird. I have no idea if there’s an audience for a black and white horror anthology, but hey, new Bernie Wrightson art.
5:45pm: DH has got a brand new black and white crime-fiction anthology called NOIR (p41), dropping… September 30th. Well, at least they’ll have plenty of time to hype it up. I think it’ll need some hype too, It’s not the kind of thing that generally sells gangbusters (I think FLIGHT is probably the exception), but look at the list of creators on this thing… Azzarello, Brubaker, Grist, Lapham, Moon & Ba, Phillips, maybe a dozen or two more. Everyone doing any critically acclaimed crime/noir fiction stuff, except maybe Darwyn Cooke, in one book. It should sell itself, but I feel like it’ll be an uphill battle… I hope they promote the hell out of this.
5:52pm: New Gilbert and Mario Hernandez series! Citizen Rex #1 coming monthly, starting the first week of July. Nice.
5:55pm: Conan drops “The Cimmerian” as the subtitle this issue. Or at least the solicit does, hopefully that’s just for the solicit.
5:56pm: Here on page 47 we’ve got a solicitation for “3 STORY: SECRET HISTORY OF THE GIANT MAN” by Pistolwhip and Super Spy creator Matt Kindt. I totally had not heard that Kindt was doing a graphic novel for DH. I guess it makes sense, it’s a full-colour book and Top Shelf’s full colour stuff is pretty rare in general. Hmm. Anyway, this one will be out September 23rd. If Matt (or anyone really) is reading, send me a preview, I’d love to see what this is all about.
6:00pm: Awwwwwwwwwwwesome. Dark Horse is reprinting the fairly-hard-to-find PICTURES THAT TICK, a collection of Dave McKean’s short comics stories. I suppose this comes alongside their reprinting of pretty-much every other comic he’s done save Mr. Punch, including the resolicit of CAGES a month or two back. V. Cool. I never owned this one–a friend had it and I read it 2 or 3 times–and am looking at adding it to my collection this September. I can only imagine a few dozen of my customers feel the same way. And it’s only $20 too, what a steal. We’re going to order a ton.
6:23pm: DC Comics! Alright. Geez, that took kinda forever, didn’t it? Sorry, it’s a busy comic day. I just spent 25 minutes helping the cutest guy ever. Like Seth Rogan but cuter (and taller). Good day at the comic store. Yessss.
So what do we have? Another 1 in 250 copy variant on Blackest Night #1. I appreciate that DC is getting behind this one in a big way… Free Comic Book Day, two years of build-up, all of that. But again, this is a program that rewards large retailers and encourages small retailers to take potentially very unhealthy positions on books. Man, if I’ve heard the rumours about Diamond being in a cash-crunch because of the number of comic stores closing (and not paying their bills…) then SURELY DC has heard the same thing… and yet they’re encouraging stores to drop an extra 500-600 bucks to nab an “incentive” cover. Or they’re just shutting those customers out entirely. This is the worst thing in the comics industry right now. The Worst.
6:34pm: … and it’s weird because WEDNESDAY COMICS might just be one of the neatest things in the industry right now. Get top talent to do the stories they’ve always wanted with their favourite characters. Pope, Allred, Azzarello & Risso, Gaiman, Dave Bullock, Kyle Baker, Gibbons and Sook. Tons and tons more. That’s just cool, you know? I feel like this one will be a little underordered as well, but I appreciate them taking a risk on format, and on great creators and off-beat stories. We’re going to be supporting this one, at least for the first month or two of issues (it’s a weekly), and hopefully it lives up to all of its promise.
7:02pm: So I’m actually at page 81 and haven’t had anything else to say. Still busy (I swear it’s attractive-man day here at the store…) but also the DC solicits are pretty boring! Actually!
7:05pm: I heard from a customer, I think? I think it was a customer. Anyway, I heard from someone today that McDuffie was finally let go from Justice League. No disrespect intended to McDuffie, he seems like a nice guy, but it was pretty clear he fucking hated that job. I mean, whatever, people don’t like their jobs, but you can only complain about how fucking broken the book is and how your hands are tied, in public, for so long, before Dan DiDio reads his e-mail. You know what I’m saying? That dude seems like a biiiiiiiiiiiit of a control freak, I can’t imagine he’s reading McDuffie complaining about a scene needing to be re-written at the last minute and the scene being clumsy because of it, and DiDio steps back and goes “Yeah, shit, good point man. We really gotta get our act together here at DC!”
Dan DiDio doesn’t seem like that kind of guy is all I’m saying.
To The Extreme.
7:10pm: So… JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #1. The James Robinson Justice League series that is now a mini-series. Well… sure, why not, whatever. Maybe it’ll be good? I like James Robinson, and Batwoman, and the blue-skinned Starman dude. Sounds like a winner to me. Has he given the interview where he says that his creativity was brutally compromised on this series so I shouldn’t bother? Or is he gonna give that interview AFTER the series has come out, so we understand why we were unhappy? I guess I know why people wait for the trade.
7:27pm: Happy to see a new printing of Absolute New Frontier.
7:29pm: Alright, here we are, page 105. NORTH 40 #1 by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples. Really lovely, understated piece of cover art. Sort of a mysterious premise. Tentacle monster on the cover (tasteful!). Looks good. I’ll check this out.
7:37pm: So it looks like DC is doing a hardcover collecting the first two Tom Strong collections (p111). I actually liked those first 12 issues a lot, some often-lovely art from Chris Sprouse in there, great big pulp concepts, very human stories. I never bought the collections for this (I used to have the issues), but I can see adding this to the shelf, the whole series in 3 hardcover volumes. Cool.
7:42pm: Huh, how about that. A gay lead character on the first page of the preview for GREEK STREET #1, from Peter Milligan. I’m sure there’s an obvious joke there but I ain’t gonna make it, I’m just happy to see any gay character in a comic book, they’re so underrepresented (and poorly represented when they do make an appearance!). GREEK STREET #1 is also one of Vertigo’s $1.00 first issues. I really dug THE UNWRITTEN #1, and the $1 promotion made me more inclined to give it a read, so cool beans. I’ll give this one a heavy order too, hopefully get a whole bunch of people hooked on it.
As for what it’s about? Apparently it’s a gritty-crime-update of Greek Mythology. Done and done.
7:49pm: So my friend Paul was so repulsed by the cover of Hellblazer #257 (p119) that he appeared to be flustered with anger. It’s… it’s not good, he’s totally right. I like Bisley, but. Yeah. At any rate, I think I said at the time “Well maybe they’re going for a lurid pulp-novel thing. It’ll work in context, once you get like, the right cover elements up there. Make it look like an old pulp-novel!” But as the date approaches, I grow more unsure. I guess we’ll know on July 22nd, but until then… Yeah. Not the best Hellblazer cover, that’s for sure.
8:02pm: As I skim quickly, so quickly, over the terrible DC Direct section, I just want to give props to all-around lovely guy Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin, who takes the time to mock the most egregious bits of nerd ephemera solicited in the PREVIEWS catalogue every month. He calls his recaps THE END OF CIVILIZATION, which I think is an incredibly appropriate title, actually. Unfortunately he doesn’t tag or categorize his site, so far as I can tell, so linking to those posts is a little tough. But here’s a few workarounds:
Mike also has a fairly-regularly updated list of his END OF CIVILIZATION posts on his right-sidebar, you can check those out for hours of hilarity. It’s the sort of hilarity where you cry a little.
8:16pm: IMAGE! Okay, new Mice Templar series (p139), Savage Dragon hits 150 issues (p141), and… here we go! ARMAGEDDON NOW: THE BEAST #1 (p142) featuring some dude desparately digitally painting over top of Rob Liefeld’s pencils, to try and make them look better. This is great. You know why? Because when you put A REALISTIC SHEEN on top of CRAP, it brings out EVERY FLAW. Liefeld’s stiffly-posed action characters on a sliding background, leaping in the air? It’s bold and graphic and, whatever, it looks like “comic book” art. It’s got a lot of energy and not much else. But when you render the fuck out of that, and colour it all brown and put it on top of a painted background and make it “realistic”? That’s when you notice OMG THE CHARATERS ARE ALL HOVERING 6-12 INCHES OFF THE GROUND. Like he can’t draw a character running, fine, everyone knows that, but when it’s “superheroey” it doesn’t matter, it’s just a cool pose. But when you try and make it REAL, then we get into distressing Uncanny Valley territory. Oh, snap, I got it. Rob Liefeld’s ARMAGEDDON NOW is the uncanny valley of comic books. AWESOME. Someone put that on the book jacket please. Here’s a shitty photo with my phone camera, so you can understand what EXACTLY I am talking about:
Seriously. That panel.. (actually, shit, that’s a FULL PAGE SPLASH of those two dudes, hahaha). “RARGH! LET’S FLOAT SLOWLY TOWARDS THE ENEMY WHILE SHOOTING DUDES IN THE HEAD!” If the actual dialogue was “RARGH! LET’S FLOAT SLOWLY TOWARDS THE ENEMIES WHILE SHOOTING THEM IN THE HEAD!!!” I’d be way more inclined to be charitable.
As it is, I am ordering zeh-ro of this clunker.
Oh, and, just so you don’t think I’m being totally vicious, we did order the similarly-awful Armageddon Now original hard cover, and have yet to sell it. But I’m still being totally vicious.
8:37pm: So I guess I officially don’t understand Dan Brereton. After pulling his NOCTURNALS books from Oni (…and I think Dark Horse too? No?), then self-publishing a nice omnibus collection of some of his older work, he is now at Image with the second collection of his work, meaning that there’s an orphan self-pub’d vol-1 HC floating around out there… and about 75% of all comics retailers are seeing this omnibus collection NOCTURNALS VOLUME 2 (p150) for the first time, cuz now it’s in the Image section. With no accompanying relist of volume 1. Which means 75% of retailers are just gonna skip this, because they “can’t get the first volume”. It’s tough out there for creator-owned work, I know that. I’ve got ENORMOUS sympathy for Mr. Brereton, and I really like NOCTURNALS too. But I look at something like this and just shake my head. I don’t get these decisions at all.
(I just checked Diamond and the first HC omnibus is “Out Of Stock, No Back Orders”).
8:47pm: New printing of Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders’ FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE this month. That’s nice. (p152). Oh, also a new volume of INVINCIBLE, which was solicited BEFORE the previous volume had come out. And! AND! All of the issues contained in this trade? Totally already printed. Will actually ship on time! Thanks for living up to your promise Mr. Kirkman, we’re selling a shitload of your books.
9:00pm: I’ll give Kevin Smith this: I can’t see the word BERSERKER (p168) without singing Would You Like Some Making Fuck BERSERKER quietly to myself. So, score one for him?
9:12pm: Hey, Marvel’s got a new HALO series! (p.4) I actually laughed at that. Good for them! Keep running up that hill, Marvel.
(That was for you, Naudi.)
Actually, I did want to say that I think that Marvel’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of their most thoroughly-conceived, well-executed stories in a very long time. Eric Shanower and Skottie Young have done a great job at adapting the story for new audiences, and it’s sold very well here at the store. Good job all-around.
9:21pm: I’m gonna be honest, I’m still pretty out-of-the-loop on the superhero front because of TCAF and Anime North and all that. So Dark X-Men: The Beginning (p.21) has this header that says UTOPIA TIE-IN! and I have no idea what the hell that’s about. Cloak and Dagger are in this and Dagger has an X-Men logo over top her va-jay-jay.
Okay, flipping the page, it seems UTOPIA is running through Uncanny X-Men and Dark Avengers, both of which are written by Matt Fraction. That makes me feel a little better I guess. So that Dark X-Men: The Beginning is one of those interminable side-stories that don’t affect the plot in any way that Marvel likes to pump out? Okay, good, I know how to order those at least. And I just assume I order the Fraction stuff as normal, maybe with a little bit of a bump because there isn’t, generally, a 100% overlap between Uncanny X-Men and Avengers readers. See! This is how I figure out how to order everything! This column isn’t just pointless snark, you’re learning how retailers think!
9:26pm: You know it’s 9:30pm on a Friday, we should all be out drinking. Just saying.
9:30pm: So am I reading this right? Spider-Man is getting married in Amazing Spider-Man #600? (p.42) Like I said, I’m out of the loop, but didn’t they undo all that shit like… a year ago? Or is this like how Archie is about to get married, as in, not real?
Also, is it just me or is the anatomy on Spidey’s shoulder in this Quesada cover totally fucked up? It looks like he’s got a shoulder wedged between his bicep and chin, and another on his back where his back and arm meet. Any thoughts on this from any artists reading? Cuz… cuz it looks pretty wonky.
9:45pm: So Incredible Hulk #600 threatens to unleash the secret of who The Red Hulk actually is. That’s pretty cool. We’ve been doing well with that series, and the recent switchover from Thor’s reboot numbering to the new-numbering went alright. Although a big part of that is keeping a strong creative team. Let’s peak ahead and see who’s on Incredible Hulk #601… Van Lente and Pak? Huh, apparently they’re launching this as a new ongoing, not as a replacement for the HULK series (which has issues 13 and 14 next month). That’s… weird. It’s probably difficult to be a Marvel fan and keep your collection in order? I am glad that is not my problem.
9:48pm: Haha… That’s great. Immortal Iron Fist has a spin-off: IMMORTAL WEAPONS (p.53). Sort of like team-Iron Fist. Featuring FAT COBRA in the first issue. Big-ups on Fraction for introducing that character, and for everything he represents.
9:50pm: So this month we see the debut of IRON MAN: IRON ADVENTURES based on the new 3d animated cartoon. I actually caught an episode of that and thought it was alright… Decent animation, engaging-enough story. Good character designs. Unfortunately the writer and artist on this are “To Be Announced”, so I can’t tell if this is comics or just frames from the show blown up and printed. As such, I’ll order low and try to reorder, I guess. The cinemanga-type comics just don’t do well for us.
9:51pm: I’ve got no comment on Marvel Divas #1. I don’t really know who it’s for, and I don’t think IT knows who it’s for either. Low order.
9:53pm: Okay, wait. So they’ve got the HULK series with the Red Hulk, and they’re launching an Incredible Hulk ongoing featuring Skaar, Son of Hulk, but they’re… also going to keep the Son of Hulk series going? Really? Are there really enough fans for this, for 3 ongoing Hulk series’? Cuz I don’t think they shop at my store.
9:57pm: So it looks like it’s the end for INCOGNITO (p.79) with issue #6… and I couldn’t be happier! I’m always happy when stories have endings, that this is going to be a great book for the bookshelf and a strong seller for us. Hopefully it gooses the sales on CRIMINAL as well, which should start up again soon. I kind of wonder if, on some level (not the only level obv.), INCOGNITO was a six-issue advertisement for CRIMINAL… You know, all these guys reading Marvel comics, hanging out on message boards, they probably hear how great CRIMINAL is but, let’s face it, they only ever read the superhero books. So even though it’s published by Marvel, even though it got relaunched with a new #1 issue, they’re probably going to pass. But you take all the bits that make up a great CRIMINAL story-arc, and you put superhero-masks on all of the characters, and maybe that’s enough for them, to meet them half way so they realize “Hey this is pretty good!” I mean, the Marvel: Noir stuff sort of dilutes the brand, but really, our INCOGNITO sales are great, higher even than CRIMINAL, and I’m hoping… not just hoping but banking actually… that when CRIMINAL comes back in a month or two, we’ll see higher sales across the board. And we’ve got 4 trade paperbacks to sell them too.
Here’s hoping, eh?
10:06pm: And we’re done. For tonight.
Not that I’m not enjoying myself, but it really IS 10:00 on a Friday night, so at the very least I’m gonna go and grab a drink. We’ll continue the dissection of the May 2009 Previews catalogue with… THE BACK OF THE CATALOGUE… on Monday morning. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment in the comment section!
So that’s my immediate reaction to the news that Christopher Handley has pled guilty. It’s an easy way to feel, admittedly. It’s not my ass on the line, either literally or figuratively with this case, if he and his lawyers felt that this was the way to go… fine. It makes me feel ill, but fine.
America, these are your rights and freedoms being eroded. Something that makes you feel squeamish but is entirely legal in other first-world countries might send this guy to jail for 15 years, with a $500,000 fine. Something that you reading this could be guilty of* by google image-searching the wrong Japanese manga-ka’s name with the “safesearch” turned off.
“Mr. Handley now faces the loss of his freedom and his property, all for owning a handful of comic books. It’s chilling. ” – Charles Brownstein, Executive Director, CBLDF
“Personally, I wish the CBLDF had been running the case, and not Mr Handley’s lawyers… it’s a bad outcome all around: bad for him, bad for comics and bad for the First Amendment.” – Neil Gaiman
*Actually, only partially guilty for posession, not the mail-related charges. Point stands.
There is a lot of bad writing about comics.
Here are a few things recently that I read, that I enjoyed.
So, yeah. Tucker’s article does one of my favourite things when talking about comics–it takes an entirely intangible idea, makes it solid, and then explains why you should give a shit. That’s the sort of thing I like writing about, that’s the sort of thing I like reading. On and off I’ll disagree with a point or a conclusion he makes, but the meat of the piece, don’t get complacent about the stature of comics, is a great idea, well expressed.
Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon’s joint interview with Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, and Scott Dunbier, on Cooke’s upcoming PARKER: THE HUNTER graphic novel from IDW? That’s great reading. A good interview is obviously helped along by good interview subjects, and Cooke and Brubaker can talk and talk even on their worst days they’re entertaining. But I’ve read shitty interviews with both creators, where the interviewers just totally let them down. Spurgeon’s a professional and a talented one, he keeps them engaged, focussed, and the annecdotes and jocular back-and-forth are nicely balanced with nuts-and-bolts answers that cover the 5 W’s, the H, and a few more besides.
Finally, D&Q just linked to this interview with Lynda Barry at The Walrus. It was conducted last year in the midst of Lynda! Barry! Fever! which included tons of interviews and coverage of Barry and her graphic novel/creative writing course, WHAT IT IS! I don’t think I mentioned it at the time, but I quite enjoyed it (it and Spurgeon’s stood out to me, actually), so I figured I’d bring it up now. It’s a solid, wide-ranging interview with Barry about her work and life. Good stuff.
So there’s three things to read.
So I was counting up all of the events that The Beguiling either hosted or sponsored in 2008, in order to prepare our TCAF wrap-up. Just info I wanted to have at hand. The results were a little surprising; on average we put together a comics event every two weeks in 2008. The total number of participating comics creators we worked with topped 50, and was probably closer to 80 if we figure in The 2008 Doug Wright Awards. I’m fairly proud of this, for an “off year”, or what we thought would be a “quiet year” between TCAF’s, we probably had the busiest year for comics events since the store opened in 1987.
Anyway, if you want to see what went down in 2008, the list is below. Thanks again to all of the great artists, writers, authors, and organizations we were fortunate enough to work with last year… and this year. 2009 is already off to a pretty solid start, if I do say so!
Author Events at The Beguiling, 2008
Kean Soo (Jellaby Volume 1), Keep Toronto Reading, February 5th
Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet Volume 1), Keep Toronto Reading, February 5th
In Association with Toronto Public Library
Kean Soo (Jellaby Volume 1), The Beguiling, February 6th
Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet Volume 1), The Beguiling, February 6th
R.G. Taylor (Growing Up With Comics), Industry Night, March 26th
Ron Kasman (Growing Up With Comics), Industry Night, March 26th
Mark Innes (Comic Eye), Industry Night, March 26th
Jillian Tamaki Art Show, The Beguiling, April 14th-May 30th
Free Comic Book Day For Kids! @ Palmerston Library, May 3rd
Featuring: Michael Cho (Max Finder Mysteries), Steven Manale (You Crack Me Up!), Brian McLachlan (Owl Magazine), and Jeremy Tankard (Grumpy Bird).
Presented in association with Toronto Public Library, Scholastic Books, and Owlkids. Image shown below, featuring Jeremy Tankard.
Free Comic Book Day at The Beguiling, May 3rd
Featuring J. Korim (Penciler, Atomic Robo FCBD Edition), Jessie Lam (Colorist, Neozoic), Tyrone McCarthy (Creator, Corduroy High), Alana McCarthy (Illustrator), Tara Talan (Galaxion), Willow Dawson (Violet Miranda), Nick Mandaag (Artist and self-publisher), Chip Zdarsky (Monster Cops).
Stuart Immonen, The Beguiling, May 28th
Luminato Arts Festival, June 8th
Featuring Spain Rodriguez (Che: A Graphic Biography), Dan Goldman (Shooting War), and Bernice Eisenstein (I Was A Child Of Holocaust Survivors).
Presented in association with Luminato.
Jason (Low Moon, Pocket Full of Rain), The Beguiling, June 10th
Ray Fawkes (Apocalipstix), Revival Bar, August 6th
Cameron Stewart (Apocalipstix), Revival Bar, August 6th
The Doug Wright Awards, August 10th
Russel Lissau (The Batman Strikes!), The Beguiling, August 29th
Matthew Forsythe (Ojingogo), The Beguiling, September 27th
Pat Shechuk (Pohadky), The Beguiling, September 27th
Marek Colek (Pohadky), The Beguiling, September 27th
The Word On The Street, Graphic Novel Tent Official Sponsor, September 28th
Featuring: D.J. Steinberg, Steve Manale, Brian McLachlan, Jim Zubkavich, Matt Moylan, Jeremy Tankard, Matt Hammill, Steve Murray, Mariko Tamaki, Ray Fawkes, Cameron Stewart, Jim Munroe, Ramon Perez, Ray Fenwick, Susan Hughes, Willow Dawson, Pat Shewchuck, Marek Colek, Matt Forsythe, Andy Bellanger, Joey Comeau, Emily Horne, Matt Forsythe, Ryan North, Kate Beaton, Ramon Perez.
Street Fighter Tribute Launch, The Beguiling, September 28th
Featuring nearly two-dozen different comics creators including Cameron Stewart, Bobby Chiu, Kei Acedera, Scott Hepburn, Alex Milne, Arthur Dela Cruz, Eric Kim, Alvin Lee, Omar Dogan, Joe Ng, Christine Choi, Eric Vedder, Joe Vriens, Matt Moylan, Jim Zubkavich, Saejin Oh, and many more.
Lynda Barry (What It Is!), IFOA/Writing The Unthinkable, October 23rd-26th
Chip Kidd (Bat-Manga), IFOA, October 25th-26th
Shaun Tan (The Arrival), The Beguiling, October 28th
Igort (Baobab, Ignatz Line), The Beguiling, November 15th
David B. (Epileptic, Nocturnal Emissions), The Beguiling, November 15th
Maurice Vellekoop (Pin-Ups), Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, November 25th
Dave Lapp (Drop-In), The Beguiling, December 3rd
Kramers Ergot World Tour, The Beguiling, December 11th
Featuring Sammy Harkham, Seth, Shary Boyle, Souther Salazar, Kevin Huizenga, John Pham
Faith Erin Hicks (The War At Ellsmere), The Beguiling, December 17th
So, yeah. Come to Toronto. We are doing awesome things here, we’d love for you to be a part of it.
So a few months ago when Achewood creator Chris Onstad came to Toronto, I had the pleasure of a sharing a meal with Mr. Onstad and Dinosaur Comics creator Ryan North. They discussed important, world-altering subjects about the future of the internet, and I, for my part, asked “Hey what’s up with Charlie Smuckles? Didn’t he go back in time with Molly’s family after the wedding?”
I’m usually pretty good about not being a nerd around comics people I admire, but Onstad is a bit mythical at the best of times, and he’s the creator of characters that I occasionally forget aren’t real. So yeah, I nerded out, and the reward for my nerditry was a casual brush-off. “He’s fine. I’m sure I’ll get to it,” or something similar, before he returned to his discussion with Mr. North about whether to invest their vast web-fortunes, or instead keep them in their current gold-krugerrand form.
Now, months later, the terrifying story behind a petulant 14 year old caught in the past is being rolled out at Achewood, as we all witness the power of the toilet, nacho chip, and brassiere. Oh, and 1800s freestyle puritan rap.
It’s quite good, I suggest moseying over and reading it. And if you’ve never read Achewood before, you’ve got no real excuse. The whole thing is up online and there’s even a print-version out now, with another on the way soonish.
Bonus: Since Spurgeon likes it when I describe the comics industry using Achewood as a metaphor: In the comic strip above Charlie Smuckles is webcomics and the puritans are every print cartoonist in a Daily Cartoonist comments thread ever, especially Wiley. Only the commenters at the Daily Cartoonist don’t have the excuse of being literally hundreds of years in the past, only metaphorically and only 30-40 years, but that’s why this is a metaphor. And a surprisingly apt one.
So I am a little sleepy still but feel good, TCAF went well. I want to blog though, but starting a post at 1:00am is probably a bad idea, I do actually have to go back to work tomorrow for reelz. Next weekend is Anime North, which, believe it or not, actually takes more out of me than TCAF does… I think it’s because TCAF is ultimately an energizing thing for me, whereas AN is a purely retail experience. Which is fine, but it doesn’t have that community/rally/prostelityzing component that makes me come off of TCAF feeling good.
Speaking of, I think I sort of half mentioned it, but Open Book Toronto (an advocacy group for Canadian/Ontarian/Torontonian Publishing) has declared it “Graphic Novel Month” here in Ontario, and is doing all kinds of coverage of Canadian graphic novelists, publishers, and festivals (heh), through a specially-set-up website called Whazamo! You can find them at http://www.openbooktoronto.com/whazamo.
Today, their TCAF wrap-up video got linked on Boing Boing courtesy of Cory Doctorow (who was at the show this year). So yeah, we got BoingBoing’d, which is lovely and I’m very appreciative to Mr. Doctrow for the coverage and attention. And thanks to Ian Daffern for putting the piece together in the first place–I owe you a beer.
I’m sure I’ll end up doing a more thorough TCAF wrap-up piece, probably this weekend. I also really want to review a bunch of the books I was able to pick up this year. I actually got two pages of art, 3 posters/prints, and like 30-40 books this year, which is amazing considering that in 2007 I walked away with like… nothing. So yeah, tons and tons of great-looking work to talk about too.
Weirdest thing post-TCAF is being back at The Beguiling Wednesday and having a customer ask me for “Blackest Night #0″, which feels like it came out forever ago, now, and it’s a reminder that for two weeks I participated in both a comics medium AND a comics industry that had almost nothing to do with the superhero mainstream. I know that it’ll seem weird to a bunch of my readers, but there are artistically and economically thriving areas of comics that don’t have anything to do with Diamond, Marvel, or DC. It’s weird to be dropped back into that, but it’s good to know, to keep some perspective on the whole thing.
Anyway, barring incident, back up to speed shortly! But until then, everyone go read some good comic books.