Updated: Liveblogging the April 2010 Previews: Part Two

11:15pm: Oh man, what a day. Honestly I have no idea if I’m going to make it all the way through this, but there are a lot of really great, worthwhile projects in the back half of the catalogue this month and hell if I’m not gonna try and send some readers their way. So on the off chance that I drop out half way through, passed out at my desk: Sorry! I’ll try and pick it up again tomorrow morning.

So, Page 218, and we have Aardvark-Vanaheim’s triumphant(?) return to Previews after going POD a few months back… With “The CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELf PUBLISHING EXPANDED EDITION”, at 120 pages for $18.00. Frankly, that price point sort of implies digital POD, so caveat emptor.

I found the original guide to be hugely informative and helpful back when I was doing minis 15 years ago, so I have a genuine curiosity about just what might be lurking between these pages… Though my.. tolerance… for Dave Sim text-pages has definitely lessened since I first pick this up. “Updated with new material assessing the pros and cons of the computer revolution that continues to rock the comics publishing world from top to bottom”, according to the solicit. Honestly, I’m going to order the minimum on this, and then reorder if it turns out that what Dave Sim has to say about publishing in 2010 is in any way still relevant.

11:20pm: SLG Publishing (amaze ink) has a really interesting new series, and the first issue is only a buck! It’s called THE ROYAL HISTORIAN OF OZ, and the first issue is on page 218. Here’s what SLG has to say about the book:

(W) Tommy Kovac (A) Andy Hirsch
Frank Fizzle wishes his writer father would have just a single original idea, but instead Jasper Fizzle sees himself as the new “Royal Historian of OZ” as he insists on writing new OZ stories. When the failed writer discovers that Oz really exists, he makes an error in judgment that brands him a criminal in two worlds. Can Frank save the day and redeem the Fizzle family name, or will the drizzly ghost of the Wicked Witch of the West destroy them all?
24pgs, B&W SRP: $1.00

I’m gonna read that… As it is I dig Tommy Kovac’s work (though I’m not familiar with Andy Hirsch), and that’s a great high concept.

Also of note on page 218 (and shown in the image to the right there) is SHADOWEYES, a new original graphic novel from the increasingly prolific Ross (WET MOON) Campbell. It sounds like Campbell is branching out a bit into a sort of superhero/sci-fi realm, but with plenty of his trademark contemporary gothic horror. Sounds good. Ross Campbell has a fledgling website for the book here: http://www.shadoweyes.net/.

11:28pm: Ah,page 220 brings us to the Antarctic Press section, which is normally a mess. But honestly? Antarctic turns in their nicest catalogue spread yet. It’s still marred by a few basic design things (learn how to use columns consistently) but really, it’s totally readable with almost no eye-strain. It even has negative space for the eye to rest…! Good stuff. Oh, and a book! David Hutchison returns with another TIME LINCOLN one shot, this time called Fists of Fuhrer. The cover has Lincoln fighting Hitler ON the statue of Lincoln at Mt. Rushmore, which is kind of hilarious. #1 is $3.99 for 32 pages.

11:36pm: You know what’s picking up steam for us? Sonic The Hedgehog Comics. And it’s like a 60/40 split between hardcore nerds and actual children. That’s AWESOME. Archie continues to produce two series featuring the character, Sonic The Hedgehog #214 and Sonic Universe #17, both of which are on page 228, and they’ll set you back $2.99 a piece (30 cents more than a regular Archie book!). If I had to hazard a guess why this is happening? I really think it’s the Sonic Archives trade paperbacks, the much-demanded collections that finally give kids a ‘way in’ to the long, long running series. Glad that they finally published those…!

11:39pm: Speaking of continuing to do well, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s FREAKANGELS gets a fourth collection in June (or later, probably) in softcover, hardcover, and signed hardcover editions. For a series serialized for free, online, it continues to do well for us in sales. It’s slowed a little bit, but honestly? Good stuff, and I’m glad to see the web-serialization to print-sales model actually works. All three versions of volume 4 are available on page 235 from Avatar, and they’ll run you $19.99, $27.99, and $39.99 respectively.

Also from Avatar, a collection of their NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD prequel (p236, 192 pages, colour, $24.99) that took absolutely forever to be released. They put about 200 variant covers of those 8 issues into the market, but a trade paperback collection couldn’t happen for 5+ years. No idea how that works.

12:18am: Here’s something funny; in the Dynamite Entertainment section (p.267), they’re doing the upcoming “Prince of Persia” movie prologue graphic novel as a four issue limited series. We’ve already ordered the graphic novel version of this, and so far as we’re aware it’s going to be out at least a month or two before this four issue mini-series.

Are people really going to pick up a comic book serialization of an already-existing graphic novel? That seems odd.

12:26am: It looks like Del Rey is going to start off their Penny Arcade collections picking up where Dark Horse left off… I was half-convinced they’d do an omnibus or something. Penny Arcade Volume 6: The Halls Below is another 208 pages of material for $15, on page 279.

Also on that page from Del Rey’s manga division comes Avatar: The Last Airbender Film Comic #1 (96 pages, $7.99) which is, funnily enough, a new edition of Tokyopop’s cinemanga from back in the day, hopefully with MUCH better binding. There’s also Dave Roman, Alison Wigus, and Joon Choi on The Last Airbender Movie Adaptation Graphic Novel (176 pages, 10.99), which looks alright from the cover art, and should be getting a preview at FCBD this year. That said, I’m pretty conflicted about the film as a whole, but I’m not sure how far that extends…?

Finally on p.279, Tyler Page takes another run at self-publishing with NOTHING BETTER VOLUME 2: INTO THE WILD, the next 162 pages in the lives of a pair of mismatched college roommates. If you’re curious, you can check out the series at http://www.webcomicsnation.com/tylerpage/nb/series.php.

12:42pm: So I don’t normally mention the porn very much (sorry!) but I did want to note that Eros Comix has a brand new mangarotica title for the first time in a good long while! TOO HOT TO HANDLE is absolutely filthy-sounding, and comes from mangaka Tsukino Jyogi (don’t google that at work), 184 pages for $18.99.  You can find a slug that says “more info in the adult previews” if you turn to page 283, but of course they don’t publish that anymore, so if you wanna find out more I recommend you head to Icarus Publishing’s website. Specifically, every month Simon at Icarus goes through the Previews Adult catalogue, highlighting hentai and yaoi releases for you. Unfortunately he’s not including cover images (which are censored in the catalogue anyway), but he’ll give you links to the mangaka’s websites and more.

Speaking of Icarus, flip ahead to page 294 and you’ll see the fine folks at Icarus soliciting the AREA graphic novel by Tetsu Hagane, 208 pages for $19.99. It sounds similarly filthy, and if you want to sneak a peak the first chapter is available LEGALLY to read in “Comic Ag Digital #5”, available at http://www.icaruscomics.com/wp_web/?page_id=1034.

12:52pm: So the cover to Anders Nilsen’s BIG QUESTIONS #14 is lovely (48 pages, $7.95, Drawn & Quarterly), and I just want to run it here.

Yeah. Awesome. May or may not be the final issue…? Hmm.

Also from D&Q this month is Brecht Evens’ Wrong Place (184 pages, $24.95) about which I know nothing but it seems lovely, and the fifth Moomin book ($19.95, 100 pages), which is guaranteed to be lovely.

1:11am: Wow, the Fantagraphics section is lovely this month, very easy to read and clear as to what’s new, and what isn’t. Bigger font size this month too, cheers all around.

It’s also CHOCK FULL of amazing graphic novels…! So cool! Page 284 has LUCKY IN LOVE: A POOR MAN’S HISTORY, a graphic novel by George Chieffet and the extremely talented illustrator Stephen DeStefano. I really like DeStafano’s work; Fanta compares his cartooning to Milt Gross and classic Disney Animation and comics, and I’d say that’s probably bang on. Destefano’s got an infrequently updated blog at http://stephendestefano.blogspot.com/ which has some examples of his cartooning, but folks with a wide-variety of material in their collections may remember his work from ‘Mazing Man or Instant Piano, from the last several years of CARTOON NETWORK books at DC, or from his animation work on The Venture Bros. (!) (!!!). LUCKY IN LOVE is 120 pages, hardcover, for $19.99 and will be gorgeous.

Similarly gorgeous is Drew Weing’s SET TO SEA, a graphic novel he’s been serializing a panel-at-a-time over at his blog, http://www.drewweing.com/. It’s a beautifully drawn story though I have to admit that I’m going to hold off reading it until the book is in my hands–Drew’s work really seems to LOVE being in print, and all of his minis and comics I’ve bought to date have been better for having been in physical form… Maybe I’m just a paper fetishist? Anyway, SET TO SEA is a 144 page graphic novel, HC, for $16.99.

Moving to page 285, NEW JASON GRAPHIC NOVEL!  Woo hoo! Werewolves of Montpellier is the next ‘monster’ book from Jason, where he uses classic monsters to illuminate the human condition in ways that always surprise. His Zombie epic “The Living and the Dead” is probably my favourite so far, but his “You Can’t Get There From Here” about Frankenstein’s Monster and Bride is also lovely. Both of those were recently collected, btw, in the book ALMOST SILENT and that’s worth tracking down. Anyhow, WEREWOLVES OF MONTPELLIER is a full cover graphic novella, 48 pages for $12.99, and worth every penny I assure you… if every other book he’s released has been any indication.

Wrapping up Fantagraphics’ best month ever (maybe)? 2 new IGNATZ books, SAMMY THE MOUSE #3 from Zak Sally ($7.95, 32 pages) and HOOLIGANS ($7.95, 32 pages), the third in the Wish You Were Here series by Gipi. Ah, new Gipi comics, we’re truly blessed aren’t we?

They have a new Drew Friedman collection, and a new strip collection of very strange stuff too, but I gotta leave something to the imagination, don’t I?

1:18am: Well here’s something you don’t see everyday. “Feral House” publishing presents SIEGEL AND SHUSTER’S FUNNYMAN TP, 240 pages, $24.95, page 286. The solicit describes the project thusly:


(E) Thomas Andrae, Mel Gordon (W) Jerry Siegel (A) Joe Shuster

Here is a kaleidoscopic analysis of Jewish humor as seen through Funnyman, a  little-known super-heroic invention by the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Following the completion of their 10-year-long contract with DC writing and drawing their first creation, Superman, Siegel and Shuster were determined to create a new superhero; one that would prove that justice, fair-play, and zany craftsmanship were the true “American way”, and would lead to their ultimate victory. This book tells the back-story of the unsuccessful strip and Siegel and Shuster’s ambition to have their funny Jewish superhero trump the Man of Steel. Included are complete comic-book stories and daily and Sunday newspaper panels from this lost classic. (C: 0-1-2)

SC, 7×10, 240pgs, FC SRP: $24.95

Does anyone know if the Siegel/Shuster estates are getting any money out of this? Or is it one of those projects that falls between copyrights? At any rate, it sounds fascinating.

1:33am: So! Last year maybe, webcomics creator Tracy J. Butler dropped by a nice little package with her work LACKADAISY, a beautifully illustrated furry comic about the prohibition era, and she did absolutely everything right in promoting her work to us. But sometimes shops… fall down a little, heh, and despite that first burst we haven’t been very good about keeping that work in stock. But with the solicitation for LACKADAISY VOLUME 1 (p.288, 98 pages, colour, $19.95) we’ll have the book back in stock again soon.

Tracy, thanks for all of your hard work getting the word out! And if you reading here have never checked out Lackadaisy, you can find it online at http://www.lackadaisycats.com/.

1:42am: On page 290 now, imagine my surprise to find that Scholastic/Graphix is doing a Doug Tenapel graphic novel? It’s called GHOSTOPOLIS, 272 pages, full colour, for $12.99 (or $24.99 in hardcover).

Also on that page we get a new Keither Knight collection, THE KNIGHT LIFE: CHIVALRY AIN’T DEAD (208 pages, $17.99).

Oh, here we go, page 291? HUMANOIDS IS BACK! After a series of… fairly disastrous publishing partnerships… Humanoids returns to self-publishing and self-distributing in North America. Their first month on the job is a great, surprising range of comics and graphic novels… The comic book thing is a little shocking to me actually, though I guess Archaia and Devil’s Due must have had a measure of success with the individual issues collecting French graphic albums that they’ve been soliciting.

Anyway, the books that they’re debuting with include:

– The Bouncer: One Armed Gunslinger #1 (32 pages, $3.50), alongside an offered again of The Bouncer VOlume 1 HC ($15.95)
– Jodorowski and Gimenez’s Metabarons Volume 4: Ahgora & The Last Metabaron ($17.95, 136 pages) alongside offered agains of the first three volumes of the series
– Unfabulous Five: The Greasers From The Black Lagoon #1, a new edition of the Lucha Libre comics previously released by Image Comics I believe, by Jerry Frissen and Bill… I hadn’t heard about this moving pubs or changing names, I’d hope some journalist out there would get the scoop
– and finally Whispers in the Walls #1 from David Munoz and Tirso, a spooky-sounding Czech horror story.

Good month for those dudes.

1:53am: Thieves & Kings creator Mark Oakley’s been pretty quiet as of late, and I’d guess the brand new 194 page STAR DROP original graphic novel on page 294 would explain why ($9.99, iBox Publishing). The description, about a gentle alien princess escaping intergalactic conflict to try and fit in as a normal girl on earth… It reminds me a little of Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, but then Oakley’s work has always echoed Miyazaki’s, and that girl-out-of-context-riding-a-train-car on the cover doesn’t do much to dissuade comparison. Still, there are faaaaar worse things to be reminded of when looking at someone’s work, you know?

Always nice to see new graphic novels from Oakley, and hopefully this means more Thieves & Kings soon too!

2:04am: My, I do go on don’t I? Man I gotta wrap this up. Okay, only mentioning the most awesome things from now on…

So of course there’s one one page later.

PAGE 295 has Not Quite Dead: Last Gig in SHNAGRLIG, the 48 page graphic album collecting Gilbert Shelton’s recent story serialized in the pages of MOME magazine! This stand-alone edition comes to us from Knockabout Comics, and is now in full colour for just $9.99. I’m a bit behind on Mome, but I liked the first few chapters of this satire piece, and Shelton’s a consistently interesting creator, and has been for the better part of 40 years! Interesting format for this release, as the offered again section reminds us that Knockabout’s two most-recent Gilbert Shelton releases were massive 200+ page omnibus editions.

Page 298 brings us to NBM’s solicitations, and a brand new volume of Rick Geary’s MURDER books. This time it’s A Treasury Of 20th Century Murder Volume 3: The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans HC, at $15.99 for 80 pages.

Page 299 huh, Netcomics is publishing again.

2:13am: ONI PRESS on page 300 with one of the funnest looking original graphic novels in a long, long time. I’m not even a big wrestling guy, but I gotta admit that Super Pro K.O.! Volume 1 by Jarrett Williams ($11.99, 256 pages) looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Here’s PREVIEWS:

So I don’t normally do that, but man, doesn’t this look totally fun, and utterly unlike everything else on the stands? Make sure not to miss that one.

2:23am: Page 312 has a new graphic novel from Roaring Brook Press that sounds like it’s going to be a very big hit. Tracy White’s How I Made it To Eighteen is memoir about a young girl’s mental breakdown and transformation, and this is a book that I’m very happy to see is coming. How rare was it to get a book from the perspective of a teenaged girl even 10 years ago? Let alone one actually for teenaged girls, and that dealt with real issues? I can count the creators on one hand. Anyway, good to see more interesting work, more unique voices, and more work for young women coming out.

2:29am: Page 313 has a new Sunday Press Book, worth buying almost regardless of content and just for their superb presentation. This one happens to be KRAZY KAT: A CELEBRATION OF SUNDAYS, a best-of collection of George herriman’s Krazy Kat Sunday pages produced in colour, and at their original size. Includes a bunch of material not reprinted in other Krazy Kat books. 16.5 inches by 14 inches, 160 pages, full colour, for $100.

Oh my God… the staff pics on page 314 really are something… Let’s just say that of the 5 books picked on this staff picks page, not one of them is one I’ve mentioned in my write-up. Previews: Written by and For people who like PREVIEWS. Iccccccccccccck.

2:35pm: Okay, that last one broke my spirit. Sorry, I’m done. Maybe I’ll pick up tomorrow morning. Sad. Still a hundred pages to go.

Okay, it’s now Thursday, April 15th! I am in a better mood. Let’s finish off the Previews catalogue together.

1:06pm: Top Shelf productions on 318 looks to be having a good month! Their big release is Eddie Campbell and Darren White’s The Playwright, a brand new 160 page, full colour graphic novel for the princely sum of $14.95. It is, and I quote the solicitation here, “a dark comedy about the sex life of a celibate middle-aged man,” and doesn’t that sound like something you don’t read every day? I like both of these fine creators, and I’m looking forward to this release.

The solicit also mentions that the book is co-published between Top Shelf and Knockabout, the same UK publisher that acted as co-publisher of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s A Disease of Language HC, and I wonder if co-publishing would make sense for more independent publishers? Just an idle thought though.

Also from Top Shelf on the same page is the fourth of James Kochalka’s new kids books, JOHNNY BOO AND THE MEAN LITTLE BOY. These are profoundly strange books for kids, and kids seem to love that. The pacing and production and everything, it’s so idiosyncratic and so Kochalka, it’s kind of amazing. The fourth book is another HC, 40 pages, for $10.

Finally, Top Shelf are soliciting a new edition of Nate Powell’s SWALLOW ME WHOLE, a fantastic graphic novel, truly excellent, and I’m chuffed to see that it’s needed a second (or third?) printing. Powell’s an underrated gem of a cartoonist, and this book really shows off his chops. $19.95 in hardcover.

1:24pm: I know I’m not supposed to ‘give away secrets’ here on the blog, about work and things like that… but I honestly can’t believe how successful UDON’s Manga for Kids line has been for us. Finding manga for the under-10 set is difficult at the best of times, and finding series that appeal to girls (rather than ‘for-boys, but equally-for-boys-and-girls’), and UDON’s stuff is great. They’re friends of mine so this is all horribly biased, feel free to disregard, but the numbers don’t lie. Kids _love_ these manga. UDON has the next round of books this month with The Big Adventures of Majoko Volume 5 and Fairy Idol Kanon volume 4 for $7.99 a piece, and the full-colour Swans in Space Volume 3 for $8.99 on page 323.

1:30pm: Do you like adorable pictures of kittens on the internet? If you said yes, you are likely “a person” because if you don’t like pictures of adorable kittens I worry that maybe you’re not real, but also if you said yes then you are the audience for Vertical Inc.’s newest manga CHI’S SWEET HOME VOLUME 1 (Page 324, 176 pages, $12.95). The latest release from Vertical is the second that moved away from their initial publishing plan of ‘classic’ manga into releasing more contemporary manga works, alongside their releases of contemporary fiction. This book is about a kitten that is adopted by a family that isn’t allowed to have pets in their apartment building, it all sounds gentle and funny and worth reading.

Incidentally, the first book in Vertical’s ‘new direction’ is Twin Spica, the second volume of which is solicited this month (page 324, 200 pages, $10.95), and the first volume of which is due in stores any day now, I believe.

1:35pm: Still on page 324 we’ve got Villard Books (imprint of Random House) and the first official collection of Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie Volume 1: There Are No Stars In Brooklyn (240 pages, partial colour, $16.00)! This is one of my favourite webcomics, a funny slice-of-life story about mismatched roommates living together in Brooklyn. It’s really, really well-observed and Gran’s background in animation really gives the art a polish and sheen; the characters feel real, which is about the nicest compliment you can pay a funny slice-of-life comic. I’m buying it… ARE YOU!?

P.S.: Meredith Gran will be appearing at the 2010 TORONTO COMIC ARTS FESTIVAL, May 8th to 9th in Toronto, Canada. More info at http://torontocomics.com.

P.P.S.: You can check out Octopus Pie online at http://www.octopuspie.com/.

1:41pm: Still on page 324, and it looks like ONI isn’t the only pub doing wrestling comics this month. Viper Comics is releasing Battle Smash vs. Saucer Men From Venus ($3.25, 32 pages), a group of non-superpowered luchadores that defend their neighborhood from threats. This fullcolour one shot comes your way from Dale Mettam and artist ‘Zanker’. So.

Meanwhile, finally flipping the page to 325(!) we get to Viz’s section. The first release is Gente Volume 1 (176 pages, $12.99) by Natsume Ono. This is the ongoing series follow-up to Ono’s recently released one-shot Ristorante Paradiso, which I greatly enjoyed. It’s about a young woman coming to confront her mother about years of abandonment, and finding herself coming to understand her mother and the choices she made. It’s all set in a restaurant run by attractive older men…! It’s like, a whole thing. Anyway, it was a lovely way to spend an hour or two, and I imagine Gente will be similarly enjoyable. 🙂

Actually in getting to the Viz section, I noticed I accidentally skipped over Tokyopop. I’m too lazy to go back and write about that, but I will say that it’s great to see new volumes of Sgt. Frog and Suppli in there.

Moving forward, not much else in the Viz section was worth noting for me. Following that, apparently Zenescope is producing a CHARMED comic, based on the long-finished TV Show. And hey, it’s about the original three characters, and not the crappy fill-ins that they secured when Alyssa Milano and Shannon Doherty wanted off the show. Heh.

Geezus, I just admitted to knowing something about Charmed, didn’t I? Does that mean that people are going to by this? Or does it mean that, like me, they’re going to feel a deep sense of shame when they realize they know about Charmed? Developing.

Moving on, not a whole heck of a lot jumping out at me in the books & magazines section… and that’s it. Just the wasteland of products beyond.

Well, while it took… 5 days this month, I want to thank everyone who read. I hope you found something cool in the Previews, and I hope you’ll tell your local comic book store to make sure to bring it in for you and other folks at the shop, and I hope the industry doesn’t collapse between now and when it’s supposed to ship…! 🙂

– Christopher

Liveblogging The Previews: April 2010 Part One

April 2010 Previews - Front Cover

So usually I liveblog my initial reactions to The PREVIEWS catalogue — the main ordering catalogue through which most retailers order most of their comics and graphic novels product from Diamond Comics Distributors — on the day before or day that the order that has to be placed from that catalogue is due. It’s just the way it goes at the store, a thousand other things going on.

But not this time. You see this time, The Previews is due during the week of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a big comics event in Toronto that I happen to be in charge of putting together. And you know what I’m not gonna have time for? 18 hours of going through Previews. So I figured that since I’m supposed to be working anyway today, I’d just do that whole order now. It does take a considerable ammount of the… urgency… out of my responses to do it with basically an open deadline, but I wanna be done this whole thing by midnight, tonight, and that should be incentive enough to tear through… And hey, since I’m actually doing this weeks before the Previews is due, it might actually be of use to someone trying to figure out what to buy…! It’s nice to be helpful.

Alright, ready? Let’s go through the Previews catalogue.

April 2010 Previews Back Cover

2:20pm: The front cover image this month is that Green Arrow piece, a character subject to some of the worst writing over the past few months. Awful, implausibly bad stuff. And now the series is getting it’s third relaunch in 3 or 4 years…? Terrible. The back cover is for another novel-to-comics adaptation, this time from Dark Horse. Didn’t we have one of those last month…? Or is this the same thing…? Either way, it’s nice to see something a)not superheroes and b) intended for a female audience on the cover of The Previews… That’s a VERY rare thing.

2:24pm: Page 1 has a WHAT MAKES A HERO ad featuring the BPRD… Dark Horse has been running these all-purpose BPRD ads for a few months now, I suppose trying to push the (large) superhero audience to read a slightly different sort of Superhero book. By all accounts this is very good stuff, it’s one of our best-selling monthly comics at The Beguiling, so I feel like it has a wide crossover…

2:27pm: Who is Previews for? Previews is for people who read Previews. Check this out from page 4’s “Previews Art Gallery” section:

Bad Girls Forever, my friends.

2:38pm: Uh… Adrian Brody and Samuel L. Jackson are in a new PREDATOR movie? And that movie is called PREDATORS? I’m sorry, that’s ridiculous, particularly because now all I can think of is To Catch A Predator which turns this whole exercise into a Robot Chicken sketch. Meanwhile, if’n you’re looking for a 4 issue prequel mini-series (that will be collected in trade imminently) to all of this, Dark Horse has got you covered on page 27, for $2.99 a pop.

2:42pm: Okay, I’m losing my mind because I swear I ordered Troublemaker Book One (Dark Horse, $17.99, Page 32) last month… Lemmie check this.

Hah! Yeah, I knew I did:

GEM	MAR10 0015	JANET EVANOVICH TROUBLEMAKER HC BOOK 01 (C: 0-1-2)	$17.99	07/20/10 06/10/10

So why is this in here again? Especially with nothing telling folks it’s solicited a second time?

It’s clearer in the order-form, that we can order it under last month’s code if we want to, but… I dunno, I just feel like there should be a slug or burst or something in the actual previews catalog that spells it out, “Hey, this has a final order date of June 10th, order by then!”. Common courtesy.

2:48pm: So on page 37 we’ve got GROO: THE HOGS OF HORDER trade paperback, collecting the recent mini-series rather pricely at 120 pages for $17.99. That’s almost IDW pricing. Meanwhile, pages 38-39 have a plethora of Usagi Yojimbo, with new “remastered artwork and new story notes” in brand new editions of Usagi Yojimbo Volume 8, 9, and 10. These are great books… It never occurs to me to really get out there and mention it because Usagi and Stan Sakai are such an industry institution, but these really are fantastic books. If you’ve never read Usagi pick up a book, you won’t be disappointed.

2:53pm: I almost feel like I shouldn’t bother mentioning it because it’ll probably get cancelled and resolicited again, but Dark Horse has CAGES by Dave McKean in a brand new softcover edition for $29.99, incredibly affordable for a long out-of-print book. It’s another classic, and a must read for both its visual and narrative ingenuity. That’s on page 40.

Meanwhile, on page 41 comes “MOGWORLD”, a novel from Yahtzee, the fella who does those fantastic ZERO PUNCTUATION video game reviews. Normally we stay away from novels at the store, but I’d say that this one has all the makings of a genuine hit, and I’m looking forward to having a copy for myself… $7.99 for 350 pages.

I should point out here that though both of these books are being solicited in The April 2010 Previews Catalog for items beginning to ship in June 2010, they both have August in-store dates. And CAGES has already missed it’s first in-store and needed to be resolicited. So… Grain of salt, folks. Grain of salt.

3:14pm: Sinful admission time: I am glad they are being produced, but I generally don’t care about classic comic strip reprints. Like… at all. I’ve even been told (repeatedly) that I would really like a couple of them, but I have no enthusiasm for them at all. I promise one day to at least commit to reading a whole tome of unfunny 70 year old ‘gags’ just out of spite. But that day is not today.

3:15pm: Check out this cover on from ABE SAPIEN: THE ABYSSAL PLAIN #1 (page 44):

Dave Johnson did that one, it’s quite nice. It’s also the exact opposite of a BPRD cover, which tend to have very rigid cover treatments, and have for more than 11 volumes of material now. Interesting to see how this one goes over, or if they just cram it into the existing cover style.

3:20pm: Okay, I’m too much of a nerd to let this one go, but: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: CAMPUS APOCALYPSE VOLUME 1 is a shoujo manga (girls’ comic) reimagining of the giant robot anime as a boarding school secrets sort of thing, and it all sounds ludicrous and kind of fun, too. Like, way too serious and angsty, but that’s the point? Anyway I’m going to have to at least try to read it.

3:55pm: Back! So now we’re at page 64 and DC Comics. A tale of two properties here, with Superman #700 weighing in at 56 pages and $4.99 on the left page, and Batman #700 weighing in at 56 pages and $4.99 on the right page. Honestly? Our sales on Batman are roughly FIVE TIMES AS HIGH as they are on Superman, and ordering responsibly (and that means ignoring rounding-up the numbers to get extra variant covers–a 1:25 and 1:75 on each book) means that I wouldn’t qualify for any variants at all on the Superman book. I know there are a hundred and one excuses as to why Superman is in the toilet, but the buck stops at Dan DiDio and I kinda wish he’d just step up and say “hey, i totally fucked up. Sorry.” because the last 2 years of superman comics have been DOA, sales-wise.

4:03pm: I didn’t really talk about the books, there, just bitched, but I’m relatively happy to see Morrison back on the main BATMAN book, and Straczynski taking over Superman will be interesting. I mention that because page 66 has the news that JMS is also taking over Wonder Woman with the anniversary issue #600. I remember the hype and fanfare around the series when Gail Simone took over as writer–“For the first time ever, a woman writing the ongoing Wonder Woman book!” Though that announcement had its caveats, I do think it was a noteworthy event, and Simone is doing some good stuff on the series. Kinda sucks to get bumped off the book like that.

4:15pm: I’m still here, I just don’t have a lot to say about the DC stuff so far. “Brightest Day” Flash #3 has a blood-splattered hero on the cover, with a chalk-outline being drawn around him… Like… I wonder if these people even read their own press releases any more? That doesn’t seem very Brightest Day to me, you know? Seems like Exactly The Same As The Last 10 Years.

4:21pm: Now that’s a pretty nice cover:

That’s the cover to Batman Beyond #1, by Dustin Nguyen. Interior art is by Ryan Benjamin, whom I also dig. See, that looks like a sharp, stylish, contemporary comic book. That looks like something I can sell… I have no idea if it will sell.

4:24pm: Page 80. So I know I kind of ‘knew’ this, but I was surprised flipping the page here to see BATMAN & ROBIN #13, with art by the awesome Frazier Irving and still written by Grant Morrison. That makes 3 Morrison Batman books coming out this month, which… you’d think that’s overkill, but really, it’s all been selling great. Actually, issues 4-6 of B&R aside, it’s been selling great too. But yeah, I had thought that with Morrison’s return to the main series, and the Bruce Wayne book, that this was the end of B&R. I’m very glad indeed that it is not. 🙂

Just below that on page 80 is a Dennis O’Neil done-in-one story with art by Dustin Nguyen in Detective Comics #866, which should help soften the blow of a Rucka-less Detective… at least for a month or so.

4:36pm: So the Legion can’t seem to support itself for more than 12 issues at a go before needing a team reboot or a creative team reboot, but now there are two ongoing Legion books? Adventures Comics and The Legion of Superheroes? Both written by Paul Levitz? That seems… well not “Overkill” exactly, as both Marvel and DC have gone way past overkill into a whole new territory of making-the-Lorax-weep-at-the-waste-of-trees, but it seems like throwing money away doesn’t it? Why have one Legion book that not-enough people want to read when we can have two?


4:41pm: Hah! Here’s how to do a bloody and bruised hero without it seeming grim and stupid:

Left: Booster Gold #32, solicited last month. Right: Booster Gold #33, solicited this month (page 90, $2.99). Art by Kevin Maguire. Click for larger.

So, yeah, there you go, that’s kind of amazing actually.

4:49pm: Huh, last issues for the two Archie books… Sorry “The Red Circle” books, the shield and the web. I am… unsurprised. I didn’t really see DC needing yet another bunch of superheroes. I only hope they don’t waste our time and shelf-space producing trade paperbacks of these awful, pointless, failed series. Page 95 though if you’re curious.

4:56pm: Since I did not do this last month, I missed the chance to express shock and amazement that Paul Dini had been allowed to write an ongoing ZATANNA mini-series! That’s pretty exciting, actually, as Morrison’s Seven Soldiers mini was really great reading (with gorgeous Ryan Sook art…) and Dini has an affection for the character that comes through in the writing, it makes for a fun time. I’m expecting good things out of this one. Zatanna #2 is on page 96, features lovely art by Stephane Roux, and is $2.99.

5:01pm: I know that it’s a clever writers’ trick to say, ask DC not to publish an unsellable piece of trash and then see that piece of trash 5 pages later in the catalogue, but I swear I did not employ that here. I am _genuinely mystified_ as to why DC would publish THE SHIELD: KICKING DOWN THE DOOR containing the relaunch of the character, on page 99. $14.99 for 160 pages that could have been better served by just donating money to the homeless. Seriously, the series isn’t that bad, it’s not a crime against humanity or anything, but it’s an abject and undeniable sales and creative failure. Why is DC committing that material to a ‘permanent’ edition, when it’s pretty clear that there’s NO audience for it? Why are they wasting my time as a retailer asking me to order this, when 5 pages earlier they cancelled the series and told me ‘no one wants this’. Is tricking JMS’ fanbase into buying bad comics in the book-trade their new sales tactic?

Mind-boggling. Seriously.

Oh and that Red Tornado trade paperback on the same page ain’t no prize either.

Gaaah... How did ANYONE think that was a good idea?

5:11pm: Superman: Secret Origin Deluxe Edition HC. Well, this is just-about the last time I’m going to have to see the creepy-child-with-Christopher-Reeve-Death-Mask drawn by Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal, so that’s good. This is a pretty enjoyable series (plagued with delays… I think the last issue is still-to-come) but man, drawing a young Clark Kent like an adult Christopher Reeve? I cannot stress how bad an idea that is, that should have occurred to everyone early on. Page 101 for the $30, 240 page HC.

5:31pm: A highly-demanded reprint volume, though the cover price of $40 for the 80-page “facsimile edition” is out to lunch… DC’s last round of Treasury-sized books were the Dini/Ross collaborations and they were 10 bucks a pop! The smaller “Deluxe” edition is a slightly more reasonable $20, and 96 pages with a bunch of extra material and a new cover by Neal Adams.

I’m not trying to talk anyone in-to or out-of a purchasing decision here, if you want this in the big size then that’s how you want it, no problems. I just wish DC could’ve been a bit more reasonable with the pricing.

5:40pm: Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #1, featuring the return of Alan Moore’s pulp-novel pastiche character in a story by Peter Hogan, whose writing I’ve been pretty ambivalent about, and Chris Sprouse and Karl Story, who I’m very excited to see return to the character…! Honestly I’m pretty surprised to see any new ABC comics at all… Though they could hardly fare worse than the red circle stuff. Page 107, six issue mini-series at $3.99 a pop, from Wildstorm.

6:11pm: Sorry, got a little distracted there.

So! Andersen Gabrych and Brad Rader, two out gay comics creators who’ve done work for DC in the past, are the newest creative team to tackle one of the Vertigo Crime graphic novels. According to our official reader of these books, Jason Azzopardi, “Milligan’s is the first one that was readable,” referring to Peter Milligan’s Bronx Kill released a month-or-so back, and the fifth or sixth in the line…! This is not a line that has been getting good reviews. So when I hear that two out gay comics creators are going to tell a story about a deeply-closted private investigator in 1950s San Francisco, my feelings switch back and forth between anticipation and apprehension so fast it’d make other, weaker men a little dizzy. I want this one to be good, but I don’t have high hopes given its contemporaries. Still, come August 4th I will be checking out Fogtown, 176 pages, $19.99, Page 114. I’ve got my fingers crossed…

Actually, here’s something. In the Previews, Fogtown is listed as a hard cover. But at the DC/Vertigo site it’s listed as a softcover. Here’s hoping that it’s the ‘official’ site that’s in error, because dropping this down to a sc (the only one in the line) with no reduction in price would be pretty lame.

6:22pm: And speaking of original Vertigo hard covers, the facing page (115) has DARK RAIN: A NEW ORLEANS STORY. Seems like a straight-ahead crime/caper story set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, by the creative team of Incognegro. Except this one is full-size, and $24.99 instead of being smaller and $19.99. Doesn’t make much sense to me…

6:25pm: Huh, well I lost that bet.

Fables: Covers by James Jean – New Printing HC
Written by JAMES JEAN • Afterword by BILL WILLINGHAM • Art and cover by JAMES JEAN

Due to popular demand, this collection of James Jean’s FABLES covers is back in print! The deluxe, oversized hardcover includes 10 vellum sleeve inserts, an embossed case and commentary from Jean, making it as elegantly unique as the FABLES covers themselves.

Vertigo 208pg. Color Oversized Hardcover $49.99 US Mature Readers
On Sale October 6, 2010

So, I know it’s only their job to make this clear and easy to understand in the solicitations, but it would have been nice if they could have actually done that. As far as I can piece together, the “new printing” of this book actually isn’t just a new printing. It’s now going to come with a slipcase (which the first one did not have), and 10 vellum inserts (which the first one did not have), and it’s going to cost $10 more. Considering the market for this book is collectors, it would have been nice if the solicits in Previews, the catalog for collectors, were presented in such a way as to imply DC gives a shit about this book, because currently, it is not presented in that way. The new information is just sort of lain there on the page with no extra info.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the new ‘vellum inserts’ will contain the FABLES cover images that were not collected in the book, thereby wrapping up all of Jean’s work on the series. I would also hazard a guess that the slipcase & images will be made available separately at some point in the future, for the thousands of people who bought the book the first time it came out and didn’t get the bonus material.

All in all though, an EXCEPTIONALLY poorly written solicitation. Shameful, really.

I don’t generally mention series that are still ongoing, but I did want to give a nod to Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe The Barbarian, which I am really enjoying. The 6th issue hits in June, and I liked this cover. I think the final colours will be nice too. That’s all 🙂 Page 121, $2.99.

6:53pm: And that takes us to Im… no, it takes us to IDW! That’s right, April 2010 is the first month that IDW books gets to sit at the grown-up table at the front of the catalogue. Congrats to everyone there for their hard work.

Unfortunately for retailers, literally nothing changes for us. Same discount (lower than the rest of the premier publishers), same reorder penalty, same everything. Kinda disappointing, as I think whatever benefits that IDW would have gained by the move will be somewhat tempered by the similar terms… Here’s hoping I’m wrong though.

Meanwhile, IDW starts their move off with… a licensed book based on a movie. Not personally thrilling, but the writer is Bob Schreck in his first post-DC outing, and it comes witha variant cover by Frank Miller? That’s kind of a big deal. The interior art shown on the page honestly doesn’t thrill me, but with Jurassic Park being one of the best-selling books and movies of all time, and this being a direct sequel to the first film, Jurassic Park: Redemption #1 (it’s official title) will definitely have its fans. Page 140, $3.99.

7:02pm: James Patterson continues to sell very well in the states while remaining virtually unknown in Canada, it’s kind of amazing. This month debuts another of his many comics projects, The Murder of King Tut #1, $3.99, page 148. Nice Darwyn Cooke cover there, working in a style similar to his Shuster Awards poster from a couple years back.

7:13pm: Going through the catalogue here, it ocurrs to me that a) there are a _lot_ of second issues in here, for series’ whose launches would’ve been better served in this catalogue than in the last, and b) there are no relists/offered agains for a lot of this product, where something like Love & Capes Volume 2: Going to the Chapel (p.159, 192 pages, $19.99) is probably being seen by a LOT of retailers for the very first time (yes, despite FCBD and everything else), and being able to conveniently order v1 at the same time would’ve been a boon… Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Meanwhile,  TRIBES: THE DOG YEARS ($24.99, 200 pages, page 159) looks like the sort of weird/neat sci fi graphic novel we’d get if we lived in France or something, about a world where adults have been wiped out and only tribes of kids remain in a sort of bloody series of battles. It also sounds exactly like the late-90s tv series THE TRIBE, about exactly the same thing, though the solicit info doesn’t mention anything to do with any of that. I certainly hope this is a licensed product, or there’ll be one hell of a lawsuit coming down the pipe…

7:22pm: it’s been quite a while since there’ve been Felix The Cat comics in print, and it looks like IDW will be bringing bat the classic Otto Messmer Dell/Harvey stories in Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails (p164, $34.99, 224 pages, hardcover). Edited by Craig Yoe.

5:35am: Well hello there! So right around 7:30 I went for dinner, came home, had a nap, and woke up about 20 minutes ago. So, hopefully you weren’t waiting up all night for me. Or if you were: I’m starting to update again, you can head to bed now if you want. 🙂

So we’re on page 167, which is the announcement of creator-owned book HACK/SLASH debuting at Image. To announce this, the lead character has a baseball bat pointing directly at her vajayjay, and one of her combat boots improbably pointed inwards and upwards to do the same.  Also “Kiss It” is written ON the bat, which is hovering over her vajayjay. Don’t believe me?


Now the question becomes: Did the artist do that on purpose, or is it all subconscious?

5:45am: That’s the thing about Image, the first page is… well, the above… and then you flip the page and it’s like you’re in a whole ‘nother publisher’s section. The Bulletproof Coffin #1 has a sort of a lovely Geoff Darrow, late-80s/early 90s alternative comics thing going on, courtesy of David Hine and Shaky Kane. I’m not familiar with Mr. Kane’s ouevre of alt-brit comics, but he certainly seems to be well regarded on the net and the whole thing owes a debt to utterly bizarre… well, Wikipedia says Silver Age but the whole thing has a sort of an anything-goes Golden Age quality to it, at least from the description. Here’s the solicit:

ALL NEW SIX-ISSUE SERIES! Relive the Golden Age of comics! The Legendary Kane and Hine return to their greatest creations! SEE! Coffin Fly Vs. Zombie Nam Vets! The Shield of Justice walks the Dead Beat! The Unforgiving Eye sees all, forgives nothing! Red Wraith: He’s red! He’s dead! Ramona: Buxom, Beautiful and Bound! Big 2 Publishing, eat your heart out!

See, sounds like fun, right? And it looks like Geof Darrow! Win-win. And it comes on page 168, for $3.99, just after HackSlash. America, what a country!

5:59am: I don’t want to make this the month where Chris Talks About Sexism In The Previews Catalogue, and I know mags like Heavy Metal have a long and proud history of doing exactly, this, but… The bad-ass chick with a gun that is otherwise heavily clothed for a cold, outdoor mission, has her flight suit unzipped to her ribcage to show off her tits, and a come-hither look.

I get it, I get it, sex sells, etc., but does stupidity also sell? This book takes place on the equivalent of the ice planet of Hoth, according to the preview pages… All of the dudes are covered head-to-toes, and it is freezing and snowy with steam rising out of their wounds… And this chick is like “Hey boys, look at this!”

It’s just fucking dumb.

That’s Dust Wars #1 (Seriously, I think it was supposed to be like Dust: Wars but yeah, even the title is dumb) on page 176. $2.99, 1 of 3.

6:05am: And again, washing the unplesant taste out of my mouth, page 178 has META 4, a brand new 5 issue series from Ted McKeever for $3.50 an issue.  It sounds really, really Ted McKeevery. But the preview art looks lovely, I gotta say. There’s a page with a Ferris Wheel on fire. Nifty.

Oh, and then on page 181 is SEA BEAR AND GRIZZLY SHARK by Ryan Ottley and Jason Howard, which I feel is some sort of in-joke that I heard about and cannot remember, but it’s about a shark who stalks his prey on land and a bear who roams the seas, what else do you really need to know? $4.99 for 48 b&w pages.

6:12am: It looks like Image is comitted to keeping Garth Ennis, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti’s THE PRO in print, as that book gets another edition on page 182, 72 pages for $7.99. Speaking of new editions, Doug Tenapel’s CREATURE TECH gets its first Image edition (produced many moons ago by Top Shelf) for $17.99 on page 183.

6:17am: The Walking Dead Volume 12 is solicited on page 185, due out on June 2nd. That’s good news. 🙂

6:33am: Ah, the Marvel section of the catalogue. I have to say that I’m actually getting a little sleepy here, I’m not normally up at 6:34am and my post-dinner sleep could best be described as ‘restless’. I think maybe I’ll finish off this section and then go back for a nap before it’s time to go to work… in 4 hours. :-/

So whaddawegot? p4 Marvelman Primer, a stop-gap nothing of a release, 26 pages of text, 6 illustrations, almost no creative costs and they’re charging 4 bucks for it. ARE people so desperate to get Marvelman/Miracleman anything that they’re willing to pay $4 for advertising material? Or no. I’m betting on no, orders-wise.

p13. At least when that pale vampire dude in Anita Blake unbuttons his shirt to show off his tits, he’s safely indoors where they won’t get frostbitten. Also, he’s a vampire so he probably doesn’t feel cold.

p.16. X-Campus is… a reimagining of the X-Men mythos as if they were all in highschool at the same time. It’s a neat idea, one I’ve had myself, a bit like the movies too actually. It’s Marvel’s version of the European graphic album, but for some reason they stuck a Todd Nauck cover on it… Anyway, looks interesting. 2 issues, 28 pages and $4.99 each.

… sorry, was reading. Kinda lost interest in the Marvel section. It’s all a bit rote, isn’t it? Anyway, thanks for reading! I’ll be back with part two –the back of the catalogue — at some point soon.

– Chris

Liveblogging The Feb 2010 Previews – Part 2

3:00pm: Continuing on from yesterday.

Sorry i got a late start, I was actually finishing my Marvel numbers. Did you know that, not counting posters, Marvel has 215 line items of product this month? Lots of variant covers in there, but it all takes time to count, and rack. I checked the previews order from 3 years ago and there were only 113 line items. They’ve doubled their output in 3 years, which is… well, it explains why there’s so little space on our shelves. But, and here’s the kicker, we’re only ordering about 15% more Marvel books total. A 90% increase in line items for a 15% increase in sales. That’s fucked-up.

3:02pm: Actually, speaking of continuing on from yesterday, I was pretty gung-ho about the Adam Hughes artbook COVER RUN from DC yesterday, but a commenter pointed out the ‘fine print’ of the solicit, that the book isn’t complete but is instead a ‘best of’, AND it’s printed at regular comic book size. At 208 pages for $40 for an incomplete book, my estimation of the project has dropped considerably… as have my sales. So, sorry I got that one wrong, I’ll go back and ammend after I get this done.

3:05pm: Okay, so here we are on page 186! It’s good to see GROWING UP ENCHANTED in print again, as it was an early for-kids series that maybe was ahead of the graphic novel curve. Luckily AAM Markosia is bringing the work back as a graphic novel, $9.95, 112 pages. Hopefully we can get it locally as well (I think the creators are in Ottawa) because Diamond’s discount on Markosia is pretty awful. :-/

Meanwhile, same page, TERRY MOORE’S ECHO continues with a fourth collection, COLLIDER, for $16. Moore’s quick, non-arc oriented 5 issue collections are really handy at keeping the series in print for both audiences, I kind of wish more serial comics guys were following his model. I guess Jeff Smith is with his collections every 3 issues, but those aren’t coming out at quite the same pace as Moore’s new series.

And a couple of reprints (same page)! SLG has a new printing of perennial favourite JONNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC: DIRECTOR’S CUT for $21.95, and Phil Foglio’s Airship Entertainment has a long-awaited new printing of GIRL GENIUS VOLUME 2 for $22.95. Oh, and I mis-read. GIRL GENIUS VOLUME 9: AGATHA HETERODYNE AND THE HEIRS OF THE STORM is in fact all new, and comes in a $22.95 softcover or a $48.95 hardcover.

3:23pm: And here we are, page 192 and Avatar seems to have just-about their cleanest layout ever. It’s still not… good. Like I still don’t think their guys have any design training (inconsistent margins are the obvious giveaway), but, yeah, at least I can tell which solicit refers to which book. On that note, book of the month from them is THE LITTLEST ZOMBIE #1, because zombies still sell and it’s written and drawn by Fred perry (Gold Digger), and his fans will buy anything he does (as long as he does the whole thing).  Ben Dunn’s… tightly… photo ref’d Robin Hood is just weird.

3:27pm: So, I don’t know how to say this because… well, I have a lot of friends doing licensed books. But seriously? Archaia’s FRAGGLE ROCK #1 may be one of the nicest-looking licensed books of ALL TIME. The image in the previews catalogue is pretty shitty, it doesn’t look even half as good as the preview art I saw, so i went and grabbed the cover from the website. Check this out:

Like, where do you even start with that? They’re photo-reference digital painting fraggles. That’s fucking gorgeous. Those are some pretty, pretty Fraggles. Oh, and you can click for larger.


Anyway, FRAGGLE ROCK #1 is $3.95, 32 pages, and follows on the free comic book day preview story.

3:46pm: The “Tasty” cover of Crossed #7 features baby-eating.  But more fucked up than that.

3:57pm: Just realized I haven’t really had a lot to say about the last few pages. I do think that it’s neat that Page 230 has STAN DRAKE’S THE HEART OF JULIET JONES VOL 1 from Classic Comics Press. That should make a few of our customers very happy indeed… And who would’ve thought that Mary Perkins On Stage would’ve gone for 7 volumes now?

4:37pm: Jeez, sorry folks. I do this while working at the store, and sometimes I gotta stop typing and stop ordering comics and help some customers out. It makes my job a little harder, but at least I am helping the customers out… Oh, and we’re also putting in tons of new shelving at the moment, so it’s noisy as fuck in here. Ah well.

So where were we?

Page 235 has KEVIN SMITH’S GREEN HORNET #2, though the first issue actually drops tomorrow and I’m really anxious about how it’s going to sell. I kinda wish I could set my numbers after seeing the actual in-shop reaction. What makes me doubly anxious is that this month D.E. launch two more Green Hornet Ongoing Series, YEAR ONE and KATO. I hear next month they launch two more.

Remember what I said up top about Marvel Comics releasing twice as many series for an extremely marginal increase in sales? These are the lessons that the industry is learning, and it’s a fucking nightmare… particularly if you’re trying to figure out how to order this shit.

5:08pm: Fuck, it is busy today.

So we’re on page 258, Gestalt publishing has “Changing Ways” by a fella named Justin Randall. It looks alright, but I almost 0’d out my order for it. Why? Because the solicit information is a plot synopsis. It doesn’t tell me anything about why I should order a 120 page book for $18. I’d never heard of it before page 258 of the previews catalogue. I googled the author, and his homepage is the first search result for his name (good for him). It’s a photo-ref’d work, looks a little Ben Templesmithy in a good way. It turns out this creator has pro credits on: “30 Days of Night, Silent Hill, The Executioner, Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday, 24Seven, Popgun, and Flinch” amongst other stuff, and he’s a University lecturer and commercial illustrator. All of that would’ve been a lot more helpful to me, when it came to ordering this book, than a sort-of interesting plot synopsis. That “volume 1” on the cover is a piss-off too, because it implies that this 120 pages for $18 isn’t even a complete story.

So, yeah. I am an open-minded retailer, but even I’m not ordering everything in the catalogue. Pubs, creators, SELL ME on your work, on your book as a project. Don’t just pitch me on the story, because that’s just not enough. I need to know if your stuff is gonna sell.

More on Changing Ways at http://www.changingwaysbook.com/.

5:17pm: Meanwhile:

SQUEEEEEE. LAST UNICORN COMICS. IDW, page 259, 4 issue mini-series for $3.99 each. I’m likely going to wait for the trade on this one, but man, does this thing look pretty. That’s the Variant cover by Frank Stockton, the regular cover is lovely too.

EDIT: 8:39pm: The writer of KILL SHAKESPEARE #1 (page 263, IDW, 32 pages for 3.99) showed up to remind me that his book exists. Seriously, I am very sorry for having forgotten it. We’re ordering like a hundred copies. We’re doing a special signing with the entire creative team, including writers mcCreery and Del Col, Artist Andy Belanger, and Cover Artist Kagan McLeod, to celebrate the release of the first issue. It’s basically Shakespeare’s characters meets Marvel’s SECRET WARS, where they all end up on an island together and fight. It sounds great, we’re totally excited about it, and my excuse for having missed it on the first pass is that it was my 400th consecutive page of solicits (counting Marvel’s book) without a break.

Anyway! Seriously, check it out, it should be really neat. Website at http://killshakespeare.com/

5:23pm: Page 264? Sorry IDW, you heard mommy. No more Wire Hangers.

5:24pm: “I am shocked by the world’s appetite for Ashley Wood,” says my co-worker, and I may agree with him but I’m still looking forward to ASHLEY WOOD’S FUCK IT! #1, a 12×12 inch magazine assembled by Wood and co. I am expecting to sell quite a few of this one, as it’s about all kinds of artists (including Wood), and we haven’t really hit the ceiling yet for cool art magazines. I’m sure it’s coming though. 48 pages, $9.99, page 264.

5:35pm: Holy shit a Danger Girl HC. Coming in between Absolute Danger Girl ($75 360 pages, 8.5×13), and the softcover Danger Girl Ultimate Collection ($20, 256 pages, 7×10) is IDW’s new edition, DANGER GIRL: THE DELUXE EDITION HC ($50, 262 pages, 8×12). With a cheap softcover still in print from DC and 10,000 copies of the Absolute out there with another 100 pages of bonus material… I have no idea who the audience for this is supposed to be. And I’m actually a Danger Girl fan (secret shame, I know I know).

5:46pm: And IDW closes out their section with one of my picks for book-of-the-month with SWORD OF MY MOUTH, the new graphic novel from Jim Munroe and Shanon Gerard. Set in the same world as Munroe’s hit graphic novel THEREFORE, REPENT! the book follows survivors of what some people believe to be “The Rapture” to the burned out hollow of Detroit. Munroe’s first graphic novel (with Salgood Sam on art duties) is a great read, and I’m expecting similarly great things from this new sci-fi/fantasy entry. Don’t let the religious tagline of the series, A POST-RAPTURE GRAPHIC NOVEL, fool you. This isn’t about religion so much as it’s about humanity and belief, and it’s great.

Full disclosure: Jim has become a friend over the years of working here at The Beguiling, and SWORD OF MY MOUTH is likely to debut at or around TCAF this year. I’d buy it anyway though 🙂

6:11pm: Actually, I forgot to type anything this time, and got ahead of myself. Speaking of TCAF dudes, Dash Shaw’s BODYWORLD HC is on page 283, and it’s gonna run $27.95 for 384 pages. It’s going to collect Shaw’s outstanding webcomic, and by all accounts the package is going to be as fascinating as the contents. Good stuff.

Same page, RAW Jr has the third Benny & Penny kids book, THE TOY BREAKER, which sounds kind of hilarious and amazing. $12.95 in HC.

6:16pm: Top Shelf has got a whole bunch of Swedish cartoonists with new work this month, which is really exciting! A bunch of pro-level guys with interesting artistic styles. I’m pretty excited about these books. For more on all of them, head over to Top Shelf’s recently re-designed website at http://www.topshelfcomix.com/news/521.

6:19pm: Because of the way I order manga (months and months in advance), my immense enthuiasm for the new SigIkki solicitations in this issue of Previews has dulled somewhat. But that said, I’ve greatly enjoyed all I’ve read of I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL TOMORROW by Shunju Aono and SATURN APARTMENTS VOLUME 1 by Hisae Iwaoka ($12.99 each, about 200 pages, page 301) and I strongly recommend you check them both out. Actually, rather than wait for the books in a few months, here’s yet another reminder to head over to http://sigikki.com and read a bunch of chapters of these, and other series, for free.

6:28pm: As we reach the end of the Comics section, we happen upon the nice folks at Vertical who are bringing Osaum Tezuka’s ODE TO KIRIHITO back into print in two volumes ($14.95, about 400 pages each), which is lovely.

But for hardcore fans, the real news this month is the release of TWIN SPICA VOLUME 1, at 192 pages for just $10.95.  So far as I can tell, TWIN SPICA is the spiritual successor, at least for more mature manga fans, to PLANETES the critically accclaimed (though low-selling) sci-fi series from Tokyopop. TWIN SPICA follows a group of teenagers in Japan’s Astronaut vocational school, and sets their everyday lives against the larger concerns of manned interplanetary spaceflight, politics, and social commentary. It’s supposed to be very good, and I have to admit I’m pretty stoked about it now myself… and I really had no interest initially when I saw the cover. I have a feeling this is going to fly under the radars of some sci-fi and manga fans who might otherwise write it off as yet another ‘cute girl’ series, and that would be a shame. Looking forward to the first volume.

Edit: The previews lists this first volume as being 480 pages. That is incorrect.

6:40pm: What the hell, I’m making good time. Let’s go through the books section.

Page 313 & 314 have the first two books in the NATE BANKS novel/comics hybrid series from Scholastic, with art by mini-Marvels creator Chris Giarusso (who apparently doesn’t get cover credit at Scholastic: Lame.)

Page 314 sees the soliciation of ART IN TIME: UNKNOWN COMIC ADVENTURES 1940-1980 HC by Dan Nadel, a sequel to the groundbreaking ART OUT OF TIME collection, which explores a bevvy of pre- and post-code comics that will blow your mind! That’s $40 in hardcover for 300 pages or so, from Abrams. Dan’s going to be at TCAF hyping this one too, which is pretty exciting for me. 🙂

Page 314 also has the new COMIC HEROES MAGAZINE #1, a movie-oriented magazine from the SFXmagazine people out of the UK. Apparently it comes with free Watchmen 1″ pins, which, if you know about Alan Moore and Watchmen, is kind of hilarious and ironic. 132 page magazine for… whoa! $19.99! Holy shit. How much is that on newstands I wonder?

Page 322 has INSTRUCTIONS, the new children’s book from Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, following up on the spectacular success of their BLUEBERRY GIRL collaboration last year. Instructions will set you back fifteen bucks for 40 pages of beautiful art and what is sure to be a charming story. Oh, and Previews has f’d this one up too, claiming it to be 160 pages. Oh, Previews.

6:59pm: And we’re done.

Well, we’re not done. I still have to go through and add in the customer special orders, then do the data entry and upload. I’ll be here late! But the hard work is over.

Thanks to everyone for reading. Peace out!

– Chris

Liveblogging The Feb 2010 Previews – Part 1

I am a comic book retailer in Toronto, Canada. I do lots of my ordering from Diamond Comics Distributors’ PREVIEWS catalogue, which solicits products coming 2 months (or more) down the road. This month’s order, the February catalogue for items beginning to ship in April, is due in a little more than 24 hours. I have not yet cracked the spine of the catalogue, despite my orders being due. Join me now for my rushed, off-the-cuff reactions to what the comics industry has to offer this April.

6:55pm: The Covers this month are… well the Iron Man one is nice, the Brightest Day one is meh, but at least they’re both tied to salable product. And have no doubt, both of those products will sell well.

It is nice when the ordering catalogue I order my comics from is interested in helping me sell comics…

7:01pm: Man, I’m not even going to pretend to read those front pages of the previews catalogue this month. I can’t deal. I will just jump right into Page 25: Dark Horse!

Page 26 actually. We got an original series from DH called “HELLCYON” which is… a dude in an orange Kaneda-from-Akira jumpsuit on a bitchin motorcycle that ALSO turns into a robot. Looks like a sort of “sum of its parts” thing for people that are livid that there isn’t a volume 7 of Akira. I am not against this, but it doesn’t look like it’s bringing a lot to the party.

Meanwhile, Page 33 sees a resolicit for THE END LEAGUE VOLUME 2, which now collects the entire last half of the series. I have no idea if this series ended well, or if it even ends rather than just… stops… due to lack of sales? Ihope it’s a good conclusion, I really liked the first half.

7:09pm: Still on DH, page 35: 600 page omnibus featuring ALL of Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’ MARTHA WASHINGTON? For $30? Sounds like a plan. THE LIFE TIMES OF MARTHA WASHINGTON IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY drops June 30th.

Hahaha… oh shit, I totally just laughed out loud. Apparently on page 36 they are, in fact, re-soliciting Jim Steranko’s RED TIDE, which may have been solicited during the very first month I worked as a comics retailer…. in like 1997 or something? Hey, I hope it comes out, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.

7:19pm: Page 44 has a brand new HELLBOY collection! VOL 10: THE CROOKEDMAN AND OTHERS collects the Mignola/Corben mini-series, and a couple of short stories and one shots not previously collected. All for $18, June 23rd.

7:21pm: Flipping the page reveals one of my favourite books of the month…! BEASTS OF BURDEN HC collects the recent 4-issue mini-series from Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, one of my favourite minis of 2009 and a gripping, funny, beautiful adventure story on the whole. It also includes all of the “Dark Horse Book Of…” prequel short stories and maybe some extras. 168 pages for 20 bucks in hardcover, coming June 16th.

Seriously, one of the best books in the catalogue this month! Pick this one up, or at check out the single issues still available from better comic book stores everywhere…

7:27pm: In the category of delightful extravagances comes THE ART OF BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL on page 50, a 160 page hardcover for $29.99. BotI creator Hiroaki Samura is an amazing illustrator as well as being a great comics guy, should be a lovely book…

7:30pm: And now we’re onto the DC COMICS section, page 63. I don’t really have a lot to add about the Brightest Day stuff. It’s gonna sell to fans of the material, we’ve got really good tracking on it thanks to 9 or 10 months of BLACKEST NIGHT. I will say that I appreciate DC offering full-returnability (with a small penalty) on the first 6 issues to build up interest, that’s definitely the right way to launch a series like this… and That recentlyannounced white ring dealy isn’t going to hurt either. Ultimately, it looks like a successfully-positioned launch. Good for them. (Likewise, I have little to add about Flash or JLA, though at least they managed to get some cover art for JLA this month…)

7:37pm: Meanwhile, I do think it’s very interesting that they’re putting out BLACKEST NIGHT DIRECTOR’S CUT (page 68), which seems to be a bunch of the trade paperback bonus material in its own book. I actually can’t figure out how much to order, because it seems like all the secret-reveals it promises are gonna end up on the internet within hours of being printed… Still, there are a lot of completists out there. I’ll order low and bump it up if we’ve got a lot of pullfile customers who want it.

On page 69 comes the original Joker graphic novel ARKHAM ASYLUM: MADNESS by Sam Kieth. Given how well Arkham Asylum-anything stuff is selling thanks to the game, and with the JOKER ogn firmly in mind, we’ll be doing a solid initial order on this one.

7:46pm: So the FIRST WAVE stuff. I dug that Batman/Doc Savage crossover from a while back, I thought Phil Noto’s art was a nice fit for Azzarello’s script. It updated the characters but didn’t pull things too far away from what people like about them… But the cover for DOC SAVAGE #1 by JG Jones just looks… Stiff? Old? I dunno. I think about how John Cassaday updated the character in Planetary, and that really worked. This… I’m not feeling it.

That said though, THE SPIRIT #1 with a cover by Ladronn? That looks great, really contemporary but still gritty and energetic, and I absolutely love what Tony Harris did for the variant cover on FIRST WAVE #2. I think paying homage to the pulp past but updating the books is the way to go… I’m just not convinced that Jones’ look suits the new direction. Got my fingers crossed though.

8:02pm: I haven’t forgotten about you guys, there was just a whole-lotta nothing in the middle section there. Well, nothing worth pulling out and noting, I guess.

All of that changes on page 87, with the long, long-awaited COVER RUN: THE DC COMICS ART OF ADAM HUGHES. In work for a very long time I believe, this will collect all of Hughes covers in one place, alongside prep-work, commentary, and more. Should basically sell-itself, so long as the presentation and printing are up to snuff. $40 for 208 pages, page 87, HC.

Also on Page 87 is the Deluxe HC collection BATWOMAN: ELEGY, collecting the first 8 issues of Rucka and Williams’ Detective Comics run. The oversized HC will show off Williams’ art very nicely, and at onl $24.95 for 192 pages it’s actually pretty reasonably priced. I’m not usually one for HCs, but given the size and price-point (and Williams being awesome) I might just pick this one up.

8:10pm: Huh, page 90, it looks like starting with the Willingham run onJustice Society, they’re going to skip the ridiculous premiere HCs and go straight to the trade paperback. Our sagging shelves thank you, DC. JUSTICE SOCIETY: BAD SEED is the first out of the gate.

Meanwhile, on the opposite page [91] comes the oversized HC collection of Grant Morrison & Co’s SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY VOLUME 1, weighing in at $40 and 400 pages. Collecting the first half of the series. I’ll be picking that one up.

Ooo, and on page 94 it looks like DC are doing a whole new round of WHAT’S NEXT samplers to introduce people to their trade paperback lines. Anything with a media-tie in it looks like. Check out $1 introductory issues of BATMAN & ROBIN, HUMAN TARGET, GREEN LANTERN, THE LOSERS, and EX MACHINA.

8:19pm: Well that certainly took long enough. Now on issue #15, BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM finally gets a trade paperback collection of the first six issues. 144 pages for $12.99. DC, guys, step it up a little if you can eh?

And while I am speaking to DC’s kids collected editions dept (heh), where are the rest of the themed collections from CARTOON NETWORK ACTION PACK? You guys must’ve done 2 or 3 hundred pages of BEN10 by now. Do you think you could manage a trade paperback collection? Or a new Looney Tunes maybe? It’s a little depressing, given your wealth of material and your vast resources how few kid-oriented collections are coming out. I know the digests didn’t pan out the way that you wanted, but… still…

8:29pm: Apparently it’s THE month for long, long delayed projects! NEIL YOUNG’S GREENDALE HC has been in the works since at least 2007, although the rumours extended back even further. While originally Joe The Barbarian artist Sean Murphy was on board for the book, in between concept and execution the art chores were handed to Cliff Chiang, one of my favourite mainstream comics illustrators. As for the book itself, there’s no previews up online anywhere I could see, but I trust Chiang to deliver a pretty-looking book. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed Dysart’s work, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Either way, it’s going to make a hell of a media splash, particularly here in Canada. We’ll be invested in it. 160 pages of original graphic novel for 20 bucks, drops June 9th.

8:43pm: Page 112, does anyone else think it’s wierd that CODENAME KNOCKOUT VOLUME 1 is getting collected? Did it get optioned somewhere and I missed it? Still, big ups to Robert Rodi for the royalties that’ll get sent his way. 🙂 160 pages, $19.99, ships May 19th.

Stuck Rubber Baby - New HC edition art by Howard Cruise

8:47pm: Wow, very good month for Vertigo…! On page 118 they’ve got SWEET TOOTH v1: OUT OF THE WOODS, collecting the first 5 issues of Jeff Lemire’s new ongoing series for just $10. Same page has Lemire’s original graphic novel THE NOBODY in softcover for $15. I’m just going to insert a little plug here, and mention that Jeff Lemire will be one of our featured guests at The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, may 8-9 in Toronto Canada. For more visit http://torontocomics.com.

Ahem, that out of the way, let’s look at the opposite page (119) and see a brand new edition of Howard Cruise’s STUCK RUBBER BABY, an incredibly, visceral semi-autobio account of the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, and women’s librartion in 1960s America. It’s a great, great graphic novel and deserves considerably more acclaim than it’s ever gotten. I certainly hope that this new edition (with an introduction by Alison Bechdel!) will draw it some deserved acclaim.

8:53pm: Well how about that! It’s the long-awaited sixth volume of Fred Gallagher’s hit webcomic MEGATOKYO! This one collects chapters 9 and 10 of the online series 240 pages for 11 bucks. Not that I’m DC or Fred Gallagher, but if I WERE DC or Fred Gallagher I’d maybe do more frequent, thinner collections of this series so it isn’t 3 years between new collections. Just a friendly bit of free advice… (Page 122)

9:09pm: Okay! We’re back and on page 138, THE IMAGE COMICS SECTION! What wonderful stuff as Image got for us this month? Why, it’s TURF #1, the first issue of the mini-series by UK television presenter, documentarian, and comics-uberfan Jonathan Ross. Showing excellent taste, Mr. Ross has brough Tomy Lee Edwards along for the ride, in this cross between 1920s gangsters, vampires, and a crashed spaceship. I came across a preview of this one in last week’s THE WALKING DEAD #70 and I dug it, and it turns out the same preview is duplicated here in the Previews starting on page 140. It’s really solid, and then a spaceship lands (which is a little jarring) but, all-in-all, it’s a pretty compelling first few pages (a little dense though…). Definitely going to be a neat first issue.

9:14pm: Wow, it looks like everyone’s getting on the dollar-comic bandwagon, and Image Comics is releasing 10 different first issues for just a buck a pop (p144-145). I… I don’t think I’m down with most of’em, to be honest. I’d say we’re going to do really big orders on The Walking Dead, Chew, and Invincible, solid orders on Age of Bronze, Girls, and Proof, and… well, it’s nice that the Image-founder superhero books are there, I just don’t see their usefullness to me and my store. Of course, maybe those are the four that are going to net the highest sales. Diff’rent strokes.

9:39pm:THE LIGHT #1 is… it reminds me a lot of the current apocalyptic road trip fiction that’s going down right now, with The Road and Book of Eli and Blindness and all that. I can’t tell if it’s too close, and it’s not going to appeal, or if it’s just into that niche of contemporary fiction and will, instead, do awesome. Then again, maybe it’s more of a trade paperback book anyway? Hmm. Conservative order, hope for reorders.

9:42pm: So, let’s play a little game where we look at the last few issues of in-store dates for Spawn, in honour of the Due-April-2010 solicitation for SPAWN #202.

Spawn #191 – Due April 09, Shipped April 29th (so far, so good)
Spawn #192 – Due May 09, Shipped June 3rd (oops, slipped a week or two)
Spawn #193 – Due June 09, Shipped July 1st (almost picked up the slack!)
Spawn #194 – Due July 09, Shipped July 29th (way to go, back on schedule!)
Spawn #195 – Due August 09, Shipped October 21st (Uh oh).
Spawn #196 – Due September 09, Shipping March 3rd, 2010 (oh noes…)

There’s just a tiny peek into my world.

Now, ask me how many times I’ve been asked for WALKING DEAD VOLUME 5 HC in the last week, due out before Christmas (seven).

9:53pm: Meanwhile, in happier news, Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber have hit every on-sale date for their new mini-series UNDERGROUND, a spelunking adventure comic with great characterization and art. If you somehow passed on the mini-series (the final issue ships this week), definitely don’t miss out on the UNDERGROUND TP, coming this April. 126 pages, $15, fine fine adventure comics. (page 158)

10:00pm: Okay, and we’ve just finished out the Image section and we’re on to MARVEL! Kids, switch over to your Marvel Previews.

Page 1 and… Dude, I’d really like to be on-board for “Leonardo Da Vinci, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” but I do not think I am. I’m sorry. Though kudos to Dustin Weaver for doing a bang-up Traves Charest impression with that cover. Really, bravo, that’s some very good Charesting.

10:04pm: Page… 4. “Iron Man by Design Variants”. Every issue this month will have a variant cover with artists doing their take on the Iron Man armour. I’m not really blown away by any of the art on display, sad-to-say.

Flipping the page and we get to the actual comics. SIEGE #4 wraps up the mini-series with the return of Iron Man. The following pages seem like epilogue after epilogue, which makes me wonder if they’re going to make any attempt to collect this in a way that makes sense to the story, or if they’re going to go the normal route of a half-dozen inter-related collections that add up to “what happened”. Because, it would be nice if they could just put out “stories” every once in a while.

10:08pm: Ultron looks fun to draw. (page 10)

10:09pm: I can’t be the first person to say this, but here goes:

“Bryan Hitch is drawing NEW AVENGERS FINALE? Here’s hoping that that the first issue of that new Avengers series doesn’t give away what happens in it. Or the second issue. Or the third issue.”


10:14pm: Huh, Marvel’s adapting Philip K. Dick’s ELECTRIC ANT with a five issue mini-series. That’s pretty cool.  I think I’d seen reference to that, but didn’t realize it was coming so soon. Written by David Mack, cover by Mr. Paul Pope, though I’m not familiar with interior artist Pascal Alixe.

10:18pm: So… Marvel is solciting the second printing of “Deadpool Corps #1” alongside the first printing of that issue. That’s… well, whatever.

10:20pm: Oooo! Page 34 has the first issue of Brendan McCarthy’s three-issue Dr. Strange story, cleverly called SPIDER-MAN: FEVER #1 so that people that think they don’t like Dr. Strange will pick it up. McCarthy’s a great artist and has a truly unique voice in comics, it’s frig’n bizarre to see him doing a mainstream marvel book but shit, why not right? Awesome days. Another one of my picks of the month.

Oh, 32 pages, $3.99.

10:26pm: So FALL OF THE HULKS leads into WORLD WAR HULKS? But FALL OF THE HULKS: SHE HULKS is still going on when the WWH book starts. Poor planning, or just a mini-series redundant to the main ‘through’ of the series?

10:30pm: Page 56 and 57 have Marvel relaunching their young-readers line, with SPIDER-MAN #1 and SUPER HEROES #1, both with a “Marvel Adventures” tag on the cover, but seemingly not in the solicit description. Still, that cover by Karl Kerschl is lovely on Spidey #1, and the books sell consistentlyhere at the store. Here’s hoping that the relaunch will see a boost in sales.

10:37pm: I know it’s for a good cause and all, but the fact that NEMESIS #2 by Mark Millar, solicited for April, wasn’t so far along in the production schedule that Millar could auction off the name of the character? It does not fill me with confidence that this series will come out on a schedule any different than Kick-Ass, which is to say a sort-of pathetic schedule.

10:47pm: Okay, that’s it folks! Thanks for reading! We’ll pick it up tomorrow morning with the back-half of the catalogue, and all of the wonderous new books sure to be contained within!

– Chris

Liveblogging the December 2009 Previews – Part 2

And so it begins… or continues, I suppose. Here’s everything after Marvel.

1:43pm: Actually, scratch “everything” cuz I skipped Wizard. Less said the better.

P184 greets us with some interesting stuff, including new printings of Phil and Kaja Foglio’s GIRL GENIUS volume 1 and volume 3, with volume 1 now in full colour! This will certainly appeal to completists looking to get the whole series, but really I’d just been looking forward to having the series back in stock for a while now. Good news.

Actually, I was just writing my numbers in, and I was ordering like 2 or 3 copies of each, to get them back on the shelf, and I realized that given Diamond’s order minimums and low, low, low stocking levels, this is probably my only kick-at-the-can on these titles without ordering direct. I bumped my order up some.

1:51pm: Amaze Ink / SLG has an interesting new graphic novel, Birdhouse by Vernon White. The premise, a classic fairy-tale evoking modern themes of loneliness and isolation, is effective right in the solicit text. SLG has done up a promo trailer for it as well, which shows off a bunch of the rather nice art:

Original graphic novel, 136 pages for $#10.95. I’d read that.

Also on p186 SLG has the second HAUNTED MANSION collection, which has tons of material that has not seen print yet (or didn’t see print in the Disney version). 128 pages for $10.95.

1:55pm: I rip on Antarctic a lot, like every single month, and their design is only marginally better this time around. But seriously? They are publishing a comic this month called TIME LINCOLN #1, by Gold Digger creator Fred Perry, about the time-travelling adventures of Abraham Lincoln in the hour before his death. Having him meet Obama is vaguely cash-grabby, which puts me off, but the idea is fun and good. The cover’s pretty slick too.

Oo, was just googling for Time Lincoln and apparently the lincoln character on Aqua Teen Hunger Force refered to himself that way… Here’s hoping no one gets sued, eh?

2:01pm: so they’re really milking this Archie-gets-married thing eh? Epilogue issue? What’s really historic here is this is the first time any Archie story has had an epilogue, usually they just end on bad jokes or Christian moralizing.

Wait, it’s the epilogue and 2 other stories… meaning, what? Like 4 pages of epilogue? “How will Archie deal with the events of the last six issues?” We’ll wrap that fucker up just in time to cram 18 pages of status quo back in there.

I can’t wait for the trade!

2:07pm: Meanwhile in the Avatar section, IGNITION CITY, possibly the earliest-announced, longest-gestating of any Warren Ellis series (I seriously remember him talking about it in the early days of the WEF… 10 years ago? More?) gets a collection on p198, with simultaneous SC, HC, and Signed HC released. Thanks Avatar, that is exactly what I want as a retailer, the ability to choose my formats and order accordingly.

Then on p200, we launch into Ellis’ new comic, the Steampunkily named CAPTAIN SWING AND THE ELECTRICAL PIRATES OF CINDERY ISLAND! I’m not one for variants normally, but this one comes with a “Penny Dreadfuls” style variant cover, which is kinda cool, I gotta say. 4 issues, $3.99 each.

2:14pm: Somehow I had missed/forgotten that Bluewater Comics picked up the “Rock & Roll Comics” license. Huh.

2:22pm: Did not get a Christmas Card from Boom this year, so I can only assume I was annoying when I called them out last month for doing $25 hardcovers of 112 pages of Uncle scrooge comics (seriously.). This month they go back to the well on that a couple of times with a Valentine’s Day book and another Uncle Scrooge Book, but on the Uncle Scrooge at least (The Hunt for Old Number One, by Erik Hedman and Wanda Gattino, p210) they’re also offering a simultaneously released $9.99 SC edition, which is really excellent. A big part of the criticism of the Gladstone books is that they were unattractive as children’s entertainment because of the price, at $8 for a slim volume. $25 for a volume double-the-size isn’t any better, and I’m glad to see them doing something about it. We’ll be supporting the soft cover in a big way, to show our preference as a retailer (and put our money where our mouths are).

2:30pm: Sometimes if I don’t have anything nice OR constructive to say I just won’t say anything. Not all the time, but sometimes.

2:32pm: Still love that costume design on DE’s Buck Rogers. Speaking of, I completely forgot to get my dad the first omnibus collection of Garth Ennis’ BATTLEFIELDS stuff. We both really enjoyed Ennis’ WAR STORIES at Vertigo back in the day, and this seems to be a pretty direct continuation of those. I can’t remember if I’ve read any of them or not, or if I’ve just read reviews of them. Weird. Does that happen to anybody else?

2:37pm: Speaking of, on p222 D.E. has an Army Of Darkness Omnibus, collecting 488 pages of comics (including the original adaptation and first 18 issues of the ongoing) for just $30. That’s a steal of a price, and the story still has plenty of fans…

2:41pm: On p224 from Del Rey, we’ve got CLAMP IN AMERICA, featuring the popular manga quartet in a career-history by Shaenon Garrity. Looks like it’s going to be bursting-at-the-seems with illustrations, and Garrity is a great writer so this should be a really solid read for fans of CLAMP but also, really, for anyone looking at getting an inside look at the world of manga. 368 pages, Partial Colour, $24.99.

Also from Del Rey, apparently Peter David and Dan Hipp (Amazing Joy Buzzards) are doing original Ben 10: Alien Force comics? Or are these adaptations of the episodes? Huh. Either way, 176 pages of full colour comics for $7.99 on a can’t-miss, hugely successful kids property? Sign me up!

2:49pm: Monthly Fantagraphics Designwatch: I’m having drouble reading the orange book titles on the blue background on p235, cuz the font is too small.

Monthly Fantagraphics Bookwatch: Wow, some good stuff this month. A sequel to Ho Che Anderson’s SCREAM QUEEN, and Gilbert Hernandez collects a bunch of Fritz strips into one graphic novel: High Soft Lisp. Nice. Oh, and “The Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century” which is… well, I can’t wait to see it, anyway.

2:54pm: I realized just after finishing it a few months ago that I neglected to include Graphix’s COPPER by Kazu Kibuishi and MISSILE MOUSE by Jake Parker in this little Previews wrap-up. Let me correct that, if I can, by taking time out to mention that they’re both great books, available now some places (and out soon from Diamond).

Which brings us to p236 and Scholastic Graphix’ SMILE, by Raina Telegemeier. Raina’s a fixture of the small press and indy con circuit, and everyone probably has one of her SMILE mini-comics in their mini-comics box (I assume people keep their minis in boxes…). SMILE is about more than dentistry mishaps (although it’s about that too), it’s also about being young and new schools and earthquakes and growing up and making mistakes. It’s a great coming-of-age story about middle school and dental drama, and y’all should give it a look. 224 pages, Full Colour, $10.99 in softcover, $21.99 in hardcover.

Cute cover too.

3:04pm: So it looks like IDW has picked up the license to Patrica Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, and they’re doing the follow-up to the first collection. I don’t remember that being reported in the BIG NEWS that D.E. had picked up The Dabel Brothers. In fact I specifically remember reading that everything was going to D.E. I guess press releases don’t dwell on the negative, but wouldn’t this Previews have been OUT at the time? Shouldn’t someone have made a note somewhere in their reportage? Sloppy.

Anyway, Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson: Moon Called #1, $3.99, probably 4 issue miniseries, full colour, p241.

3:11pm: And now courtesy of IDW, here’s the Ghostbusters proton-streaming Cupid:

Heh. From: Ghostbusters Holiday Special: Tainted Love, $3.99, 32 pages, p245.

Hey, look, drawn by Canada’s own Salgood Sam too, how about that. Actually, that cover isn’t, but the book itself is.

3:19pm: NBM is releasing the third in the series of graphic novels produced to celebrate the birthday of the louvre. The next is ON THE ODD HOURS by Eric liberge ($14.95, 72 pags, Full Colour, p256). I thought the first 2 were great stuff, and am looking forward to this one (though I’m not familiar with Liberge’s work, I have to say).

3:21pm: Oh, Canada!

If you somehow missed out on reading Scott Chantler’s epic fable about burly, hairy frontiersmen living in little wood houses together, fuck, GET IT NOW.

Heh, seriously, THE ANNOTATED NORTHWEST PASSAGE great stuff, and the collection features tons of annotations and a bibliography, making it both fun AND educational, but mostly fun. Now in softcover for $15.99, 272 pages, black and white, p257.

3:26pm: Speaking of Oni Press, they have an AWESOME double-page “Valentine’s Day” backlist spread, with a key to which books you should read. A little pink heart “for lovers”. A cracked red heart “for the broken hearted”. A heart behind jail-cell bars “For the truly jilted…”. They recommend Queen & Country for the truly jilted. Brilliant. 🙂

3:34pm: Um… so I skipped to the end. The end of the catalogue is really easy for me to do, because we get Yen and Viz and TOkyopop from other sources with better lead times and comperable/better discounts. So, uh, skip skip skip! But I talk enough about manga anyway, right? You don’t need me telling you to get RESTAURANTE PARADISO by Natsume Ono. Besides I’ll probably tell you that again, later. 🙂

Anyway, that’s it for this month! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the blogosphere soon enough…!

– Chris

Liveblogging The December 2009 Previews

The Previews order, made from the big Previews catalogue book that most comics retailers order most of their product out of, is due tomorrow. I have not yet opened this month’s Previews, or been exposed to its 376 pages of comicy goodness. Or badness. I guess we’ll find out?

4:21: Cover: Well, the covers for the Decemember Previews are both centered around ‘toys’, which is to say a high-end Iron Man 2 action figure, and some True Blood “BUSTS” that cut the characters off mid-thigh.

Fun-fact: Statues and busts often have a very strict approvals process, with the showrunners and actors wanting to ensure that anything that is supposed to be that character actually looks like that character. But because the manufacturing lead time on a statue is so long, and the approvals process is so long, and the solicitation has to come so early, often things will wind up in the Previews with “not final version” or “approval pending” warnings, with photos of the mock-up toys (or sometimes no photo at all). But what do you do when you want to put something like that on the cover of a catalog, but you can’t (or aren’t legally allowed to) show unapproved likenesses? Why, you take approved likenesses, say photos of the cast members, and you photoshop them onto the bodies of the statues, which don’t need likeness approvals.

What I’m perhaps… perturbed… about, is the ethical question of putting this product on the cover of a catalogue and saying BUY IT and then not mentioning that the product isn’t going to look like this, that these are Photographs Photoshopped onto Statues, and that’s just a wee bit dishonest, isn’t it? I mean, inside the catalogue they’ve got a little slug of text that says “Images are not final. Watch the website for updates.” But you’d think you’d run that disclaimer every time you ran that image, wouldn’t you?

4:38pm: So moving through the catalogue, the inside cover is an advertisement for FATHOM: BLUE DESCENT which is another mini-series from Aspen that won’t come out on time from an artist that may or may not finish the series. Also: Holy shit what is wrong with her arms? I thought the whole reason this book existed was to give Witchblade fans something else to spank to…? Who wants to jerk off to THAT? Actually, scratch that, I’m sure it’s someone and I probably don’t wanna know them.

Meanwhile, Page 1 is a toy ad, pages 2-3 are toy ads. Pages 4-5 are the contents…which seem fairly laid out, if boring. The note from Our Pal @ Previews, Marty, is pretty short this month. He wishes us well but it’s empty and perfunctory, and 2 short sentences at that. The rest of the space for his “Editor’s Note” is taken up by a picture of Santa Claus in a motor-car, badly cropped, with YOU’D BETTER WATCH OUT as the accompanying text. Santa will mow you down, with his half-cropped carload of presents.

What exactly is the message here, Marty?

4:47pm: So on page 10, there’s a full page article describing Jeph Loeb and Art Adams’ new ongoing series, ULTIMATE COMICS X, where a pouty kid with wolverine claws is… emo. This is the ‘series’ (and really, who’s got money that says the second issue will be late?) that follows up on the Ultimatum stuff that Loeb did, that everyone would be better-served ignoring. Who writes this? It reads like it’s written by and for fanboys. Like it’s literally 4 paragraphs of plot-recap, and a sentence about who might enjoy reading this specific comic book. Nothing about how rare it is that Art Adams is doing a regular series (or irregular as the case may be), nothing not in the actual solicit for the book, nothing even about the variant covers. Nothing of use to me as a retailer. Trees died for that.

4:56pm: OKAY, DARK HORSE! First up on page 22 is… holy shit, Madhouse is doing a comic? I have no idea how I missed the memo on this. It’s called DEVIL. The dude who does the fun and porny colour manga series MAKA MAKA and animation studio Madhouse (Trigun, Paprika, Ninja Scroll) have teamed up to do a full colour 4-issue miniseries exclusive to America. That’s… pretty awesome. Apparently it involves a new take on vampires, wicked looking guns, and disaffected badasses. For people who like this sort of thing, this is the single best thing of the year.

My big questions as a retailer:

1) Are most manga fans going to buy this as a 4-issue mini-series, or wait until a collection comes out?
2) Are manga fans going to buy this, or is it going to appeal to the sort of older, non-hardcore audience that loves stuff like NINJA SCROLL or whatever?
3) Are manga fans going to buy this at all, or will piracy kill it?

I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, because I’m kind of at a loss. I’ll put down a temporary number for now.

5:10pm: Incidentally, it looks like Dark Horse is doing original graphic novels featuring the ALIENS license, which is very different for them. John Arcudi, Zach Howard, 96 pages in full colour for $16. Aliens: More Than Human on page 25.

5:16pm: Another surprising entry from Dark Horse is a reprint of the Tale of One Bad Rat in hardcover, from Bryan Talbot. $19.99, HC, 136 pages, page 31. A quick check at Diamond confirms my suspicions that this was allowed to fall out of print for a while. I’ve done my fair share of criticizing Dark Horse for how they maintain their backlist, and I realize it is both incredibly costly and not terribly effective to keep everything you’ve ever printed in print, indefinitely, but TTOOBR is the kind of book that, because of both its subject matter and skillful execution, becomes recommended far and wide by any number of booklists and organizations. It’s one of the earliest graphic novels to receive a YALSA recommendation, for example. Allowing a book like this to go out of print, even for a short while, is truly unfortunate. I’d love it if Dark Horse could re-prioritize their backlist policy, to ensure that titles that can easily be called “Modern Classics” are available without interruption, particularly in the single-largest boom time for works of this type in the history of the medium in North America.

5:24pm: Hoo-rah! ACHEWOOD VOLUME 3: A Home For Scared People, and WONDERMARK VOLUME 3: Dapper Caps & Pedal Copters, both debut this April. Both will contain wonderful extras not available elsewhere, both of them are excellent comics which have seen print online, both of them are worth your attention.

5:26pm: And we flip the page to page 36, and see that the lovely and talented Graham Annable has a collection of his GRICKLE comics and shorts collected with an introduction by Jeff Smith! Annable is the fabulously talented fellow behind Youtube video sensations like:

Which slays me every time. Click on that to see the rest of his videos btw, they’re all awesome.

Anyway, Dark Horse is doing a 200 page collection of his hilarious short comics, and it is worth every penny at $17.99 for 200 pages. Get it April 7th!

5:37pm: Man the cover for that Jerry Robinson comic strip book is awful. Anyway, new Hellboy-universe collection, WITCHFINDER, collecting the recent mini-series (page 39). I’ve only read about 100 pages, total, of anything to do with Hellboy, ever. I just have no desire to read more.

Meanwhile, Buffy seems to be flying on the cover of the new issue of Buffy, written by… Brad Metzler! Is this his first arc on Buffy Season 8? Also, it just occurs to me now that the villain, the Big Bad, of Buffy Season 8 is called “Twilight”, which… heh, which works so incredibly well on a metaphorical level that I can’t believe it. Buffy vs. Twilight. Bravo.

5:42pm: Holy shit, 10th volume of HELLSING. I totally thought that had ended. According to the solicit text (page 42) this is The Final Volume of Hellsing. I don’t really follow this series, honestly, but seeing how volume 9 came out… October 22nd 2008, this is shocking.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is ending with issue #50 (p47), and while it tied into the very popular video game, it still sold the same few copies that almost all the Star Wars stuff does. Still, big-ups for 50 issues of a video-game tie-in series, that’s almost unheard of.

5:49pm: Speaking of trees dying for no reason, the first 3 pages of the DC section are just big black boxes that say “TOP SECRET” in reference to Blackest Night tie-in comics. So… yeah. Thanks, that’s… awesome.

5:53pm: Batman & Robin gets TWO issues in February, courtesy of Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart. Looks like they’re trying to make up for that skip-month a little while back. Good on Cameron for being able to get the work out that quickly, and the previews he’s shown so far have been quite nice looking too. (p71).

6:06pm: Sorry, bit of an interuption there with a customer. 🙂 So anyway, we’re just paging through the DC section here and it all looks… exactly like contemporary DC comics. You know what stands out for me? Phil Noto’s cover on Batgirl, which this month features Batgirl and Roxy Rocket from Batman:TAS. There, I just posted it in. It’s actually kinda nicely drawn, well-designed, the colours are attractive, it doesn’t have that vaguely-washed-out look that Noto’s stuff can sometimes have. good job Noto.

Oh, and just going through the numbers here, our Azrael sales have dipped to… zero. Yikes.

6:17pm: Holy shit, new Human Target mini-series? Apparently the character is returning to television from Fox at some point, and so we got a new Human Target tpb last month, and this new mini-series (by Len Wein…!) this month. Nice cover by Lee Bermejo as well, whose work I’ve liked since the very beginning. I’ll order heavy on the first issue of this one, it has a lot of potential. (p76)

And on the facing page, MILESTONE FOREVER, a 2 issue wrap-up of the original Milestone universe. Art by John Paul Leon, MD Bright, and Chris Cross too, which is cool. Tying into the recent Justice League appearance I’d think that the sales potential for this 2-issue crossover is definitely there, but I guess it’ll depend on how closely it ties into the JLA book because as a wrap-up of a 16-year-old superhero universe, I’m not sure how many I’d order. That’s an impressive creative roster though, I’ll give it a shot.

6:25pm: It looks like on the non-feature pages DC has dropped their font size a couple points. p78-79 have tiny little fonts. The layout of the creative info has also been tweaked a little. I guess everything got smaller because adding ‘co-features’ to each comic also doubled the number of creative staff per issue? Hm. Nice Ladronn cover on Green Arrow & Black Canary #29, btw. Oh, and big-ups to DC for finally doing this double-page splash in alphabetical order… The first time I can remember this happening in the last couple of years.

6:29pm: The solicit image for Justice Society of America #36 has a big swastika in it… Does that make this issue of Previews banned in Germany? Meanwhile in the JSA spinoffs, I’ve actually read the solicitations for this stuff, and… this is pretty tightly plotted isn’t it, all of these JSA books? Three of the solicits reference each other, and Power Girl and Magog are the centers of attention for 3 of the book covers. Is it just doubling up content or do they tie together or what? Also, I kind of thought everyone hated Magog… we’re certainly selling almost no issues of his comic. Why is he the star of these stories? I don’t really get it.

6:38pm: Things that contribute to internet pundits like myself saying things like “I really don’t think DC has any idea what the hell they’re doing, at this point. They are literally just throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks”:

Last month DC relaunched Justice League of America with issue #41, with the new creative team of James Robins and Mark Bagley, with an advertisement in the front of the section, a half-page advertisement in full colour, interlocking variant covers, and a promise that this would tie right into the DCU. This month, we get a 1/4 page, 25 words of solicit, and a black and white image shot from pencils that has NOT FINAL COVER written on it. So DC has basically stopped supporting this big relaunch with the second issue solicitation, a month before the first issue comes out. This book used to be the flagship of their WHOLE LINE, and it gets 25 words of solicit and they couldn’t even pull the cover together for the catalogue. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

6:50pm: On p85, the first deluxe hardcover of Grant Morrison’s BATMAN & ROBIN series arrives, and as assumed it pairs the 3 gorgeous issues of Frank Quitely art with 3 issues of nigh-unreadable Philip Tan art. Ah, well. We’ll probably still do just fine with it.

Perhaps more interesting is that there’s another Frank Quitely collection slipped into the DC Solicits this month… BATMAN INTERNATIONAL collects the recent one-shot by Mark Waid, but also the hard-to-find Batman: The Scottish Connection by Alan Grant and Quitely! Very nice indeed. $17.99 for 168 pages of comics.

7:00pm: So, earlier on, you may remember that I took DC to task for wasting 3 pages of paper with big black boxes that said CLASSIFIED. Those 3 pages promoted 3 different $4 comics, each given a full page, for no real reason (even less cuz they didn’t put anything on them). Flipping ahead to page 91, we see that the collection of Wednesday Comics, their second-most talked about project of the year and weighing in at a 200 page hardcover with a $50 price tag? Well that merits a big fat half-a-page.

Let me repeat: $4 comic with no art and vague solicitation text? Full page! $50 comic with tons of info and art and critical acclaim? Half page, shrunken text.

So, yeah. I have no idea what to say about that.

Meanwhile, the Wednesday Comics collection is going to measure 11 inches by 17.5 inches, smaller than the newspaper broadsheets but bigger than Absolute editions. And unlike an absolute, it’s only going to clock in at $50 (seriously, how they can sleep at night having charged $100 for Absolute Death or Absolute LOEG3 is beyond me). Oh, and in addition to all of the content from the series, they’re going to include the two fill-in pages that never saw print!: The Creeper by Keith Giffen and Eric Canete, and Plastic Man by Evan Dorkin and Stephen DeStefano, which is very good news!

7:25pm: Speaking of Absolute Editions, DC is eaking out Absolute Planetary Book Two with as little fanfare as humanly possible, on p97. Collects #13-27, apparently no bonus material at all, and that cover design (right) looks… well let’s just hope they forgot to stamp “Not Final Cover” on it? Still, at least it’s only $75 for the 384 page collection. Also available, they’re doing a new printing of Absolute Planetary Book One, which is nice as I was incredibly poor the first time it came around.

It’d have been nice if Warren Ellis and DC could’ve worked things out a little on this one to spruce up the final collection. I’m not privy to that much inside info, but it’s pretty clear that things are awfully sour between the two, and it does highlight the very real differences between a “Creator Participation” deal and a real creator ownership deal… and the difference between working with Wildstorm before and after they were acquired by DC…! I still remember when the first Planetary Tpb came out, and it was printed on what was basically toilet paper; an awful muddy stock of paper that ruined Laura Dupuy (Martin)’s colours and made the whole thing look awful. Warren Ellis seemed fairly surprised himself. It took a whole print-run to get it fixed, but even now the trades are printed on worse paper than the single issues, which must be maddening considering the high degree of craft that all parties invested in this series… It didn’t surprise me at all that all of Ellis’ colour Avatar work has shown up on the shiniest, thickest paper they could find. 🙂

Anyhow, Planetary is a great series, and the Absolute format is far-and-away the best format in which to enjoy it. If you’ve got the scratch, pick it up.

7:42pm: I can only assume people are kinda done with zombies for a while, because we just cannot sell Victorian Undead, and we do great business with other zombie comics. It’s essentially ZOMBIE SHERLOCK HOLMES, and what isn’t awesome about that? And yet, sales are poor. I’ll have to give it another push or something. (p98)

Also on page 98 is the collected edition of Mysterius The Unfathomable, a really fun take on a ‘sorcerer supreme’ type character from Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler. It’s a great looking series, and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m biased, we had Mr. Fowler in for a signing to launch the first issue, but seriously? Make sure to give the collection a go…! You’ll probably love it.

7:49pm: Vertigo’s publishing an original graphic novel by Peter Bagge! I had heard about it, but didn’t know it was finally on its way. It’s called OTHER LIVES and it’s about people creating different identities for themselves online and how those identities begin to get confused and conflated. That sounds really, really good actually. 136 pages, $25, B&W, p107. Coming out April 14th, apparently.

Northlanders Vol 3 Cover by Massimo Carnivale. Click for much larger version.

7:54pm: I’ve been informed by Mr. Brian Wood that February is, in fact, Brian Wood Month (of sorts) at Vertigo. The front page of the DC section mentions the big project of the month, DEMO 2 #1, by Wood and Becky Cloonan.  The two return to the series which should be released in exactly the same format as the first series, on lush shiny paper, with no interior advertisements! Six issues of monthly done-in-one stories about ordinary people forced to confornt the extraordinary in their lives. Also from Brian Wood this month is the oversized anniversary issue DMZ #50 with a ton of great artists, in a short-illustrated-stories format perfect for new readers. Meanwhile, Wood’s other Vertigo series gets a trade and an anniversary issue with Northlanders #25 and Northlanders Volume 3: Blood in the Snow. Congrats to Wood on launching projects and surviving in a pretty hostile direct market, here’s the 25 more issues of everything you’re working on.

Allright! It’s 8:11pm and we have finally finished the DC section. Man, that felt like it took forever, and according to my little timestamps it took over 2 hours. Bruuuutal. Apologies to everyone reading along with this. It’s slow-going this month, lots of one-shots and numbers to check and lots to write about. Ah well. We are at Image now.

Image: Their big book this month is a six issue mini-series by Ben Templesmith and Ben McCool, called CHOKER. They kick off the promotion for this one with a six-page preview of the first issue, which is pretty-much unprecidented for Image; I think HAUNT only got 5 pages and that was from 2 Image partners. So, right off the bat, kudos to the Bens. Speaking of Mr. Templesmith, he is the artist for the currently-in-limbo series FELL, which was a great idea and a solid seller that just sort of petered out and nothing has been heard of it since, and neither creator has really said WHY. I sincerely hope the same thing does not happen to this series, which I think is a pretty fair hope (particularly as this is being billed as a six-issue series, rather than a series of oneshots). At the very least, this issue will make a very easy recommendation to fans of FELL.

The preview looks good, and reads very modern-age pulp. A bit Ellisy. Should be a popular one on the stands.

8:21pm: SPAWN 200! It’s got I think 10 different covers? SPAWN 200!

8:25pm: Skipped out on mentioning the Invicible one-shot where het gets his original cover back to point out that the dude who does Hack Slash has a webcomic where he’s just ripping off He-Man but “has put a modern sense of humour” into it. He calls it Colt Noble and the Megalords. And apparently Image is going to publish it as a one-shot. Really? Sexy He-Man? Alright, I’m gonna check this out online.

…and we’re back. I got 3 pages in. It’s fucking He-Man fan-fiction with the costumes drawn a little differently. What an incredible paucity of creativity. I’m a worse person for knowing this exists. And Image? You should be embarrassed for publishing Tim Seely’s He-Man fanfic. Seriously. Embarrassed.

8:42pm: Hey, Brandon Graham’s KING CITY hits #7… which is Coincidentally the first issue that contains the stuff that would’ve made up the second trade paperback. If you’ve been holding off buying the series in the new format, first off, shame on you cuz it’s great and it’s got new stuff in it as backups and new comics and stuff and it’s only 3 bucks anyway, but secondly, now you should start picking up these issues! Exciting!

(Gotta take a little computer-reboot-break. Back in 10.)

9:01pm: Possibly the most disturbing Walking Dead cover image yet:

9:09pm: MARVEL! Let’s see what Marvel has to offer this month:

p4 has the solicit for SIEGE #2, which promises AN AVENGER WILL DIE! I’ve lost track, is this the crossover where we kill a racial minority, or the crossover where we kill a woman?

p7 I was just about to compliment the cover design for the SIEGE books, when I realized why I liked it: It’s just a modified version of the FINAL CRISIS cover design. For all the crowing that Marvel does about DC stealing their ideas for big ‘event’ comics, they’re branding their entire crossover with a rework of a DC / Chip Kidd design from over a year ago. Just sayin’.

p14 Just a shout out to the consistent quality of the DARK TOWER series. It’s everything a Stephen King fan could want in a comic.

p21 Man I hope someone buys all these Deadpool comics.

p27 Hey neat. I totally love David Lafuente’s turn on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, but I’m happy to see my pal Takeshi Miyazawa doing the art chores on a 2-part story. Nifty. Nice cover on that too.

p28 Damn Marcos Martin is just so, so good. Check out this cover for Amazing Spider-Man #620:

Amazing Spider-Man #620 - Art by Marcos Martin, click for much larger version
Amazing Spider-Man #620 - Art by Marcos Martin, click for much larger version

That dude can draw. I would honestly buy a collection of just his work, regardless of the context of whether it appears in the middle of story-arcs or whatever. Niced.

p40 Apparently Doom conquered Wakanda and is killing people? Totally missed that. I guess this is why Marvel publishes reading chronologies eh?

p42 I was pretty disappointed that Marvel put a no-way-to-opt-out 50/50 variant on Matt Fractions INVINCIBLE IRON MAN with the sharp new cover designs by Rian Hughes. Instead of getting a full order of gorgeous designy and attractive covers, we get this mediocre “conventional” thing not even drawn by the interior artist. Who the hell is Patrick Zircher? It would’ve been nice if they’d had the courage of their convictions and just put out a nice looking product.

p46 Marvel Heartbreakers is a one shot featuring “the fabulous femmes of Marvel” which… There’s an easy joke there I shant be making. Anyway, it seems like a weird one-off book for Valentine’s Day, and the less continuity-heavy Marvel shorts are generally pretty decent. Worth a look.

p54 Looks like Ms. Marvel is ending. 50 issues, respectable, though I’m mystified it lasted that long, our sales had entirely bottomed out for over a year.

p57 I still can’t believe they killed The Punisher and replaced him with Frankenstein. But hey, sales are up. Not quite as high as when they killed The Punisher and turned him into an angel with holy weaponry, drawn by Pat Lee, but, you know. Up.

p69 Though they’re a total pain in the ass to order, because who knows how many people reading the main book are going to read the spin-off, I will say that these little spin-off mini-series will occasionally have some really neat stories in them. Nation X #3 features a Cannonball story by Corey Lewis, for example. That’s pretty neat.

p77: Apparently in this issue of Uncanny X-Men: First Class, Banshee must save a leprechaun from imps or gnomes or something. I am not making this up.

p80/81 CRIMINAL #5 and POWERS #4. Good, good stuff. Oh and on p82 it looks like they’re taking another stab at releasing that KICK-ASS collection, so maybe the 8th issue will eventually come out…?

p86-89 Here’s something, Marvel kicks off their trades/graphic novels section with 4 pages of IRON MAN backlist relists, just in time for the new movie, which is really rather smart. Then we get 2 pages of new Iron Man collected edition solicits, including an oversized Fraction/Iron Man collection of #1-19. Oh, then 2 more pages of new Iron Man movie tie-in stuff. I’ve never seen Marvel capitalize on a movie tie-in better in their solicits. Good on them.

p96-97 There’s a second Brubaker/Lark DAREDEVIL OMNIBUS collection, finishing up their run on the title. But most exciting? The HC collection of Marvel’s recent STRANGE TALES mini-series. Oversized, 200 pages for $30, and with tons of content that hit way, way more often than it missed. Apparently this one is going to have a cover design by Chip Kidd…! interesting. Oh, shit, I should read the solicits closer. This will include Strange Tales #1-3, the Peter Bagge Megalomaniacal Spider-Man one-shot, and “material” from All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special. Nice.

p111 All 12 issues of NEXTWAVE are collected in one big omnibus, the NEXTWAVE ULTIMATE COLLECTION. Easily in the top 10 things Marvel has published this decade.

p116 It looks like they’re going to start collecting the Ann Nocenti / John Romita JR Daredevil stuff! Neat. I’ve always wanted to read this stuff… It’s what was coming out when I first started reading superhero comics, and it was always around, it just seemed utterly insane.

Oh, and they’re making a poster out of LADY DEADPOOL. That’s fucked up.

Okay, that wraps-up the front half of the previews. Stay tuned for part 2, coming later tonight (probably)!

– Chris

Liveblogging the November 2009 Previews – Part 2

Continuing to scour the November Previews for all of the best stuff, and cataloging my off-the-cuff, immediate reactions to it.

4:58pm: I missed this in the front half of the catalogue, hope you’ll forgive the indulgence, but: Let me point out that Marvel’s $25, 128 page “premiere hardcover” collection of Geoff Johns’ Avengers run AVENGERS: WORLD TRUST is ridiculous (Marvel Previews page 100). It is nearly 20 cents per page for that collection, which makes it the most expensive collected edition that Marvel is publishing in the month of November on a price-per-page basis, for work from the most popular writer in superhero comics right now. I wouldn’t have even noticed it either, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s on a facing page with the IRON MAN: DEADLY SOLUTIONS HC by Kurt Busiek from the same time period, with 70 more pages, for the same price. So if I might offer a piece of advice? If you want the early Geoff Johns AVENGERS issues…? Wait for the trade.

meanwhilepickanypath5:06pm: The back half of the catalogue brings out more extreme emotions in me. There’s a more consistent level of mediocrity in the front-half of the catalogue that just forces my eyes half-closed, and fills me with sighs. But the back half inspires joy! And Terror! And Bewilderment! It’s pretty neat. It started on the first page of the section (178) with MEANWHILE: PICK ANY PATH. 3856 STORY POSSIBILITIES, the new graphic novel from Jason Shiga! Known for his awesome mini-comics and his first “major” release BOOKHUNTER from Sparkplug, this new graphic novel is a tabbed-story, a mathematically complex Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type book in full colour from ABRAMS/Amulet! I had no idea at all this was coming, or coming so soon! I kinda feel like it’s flown under a lot of radars, actually. We’ll be ordering a bunch, good stuff!

5:13pm: Staying on page 178 for a moment, we’ve got Accent UK’s WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE WORLD’S FASTEST MAN? ONE-SHOT, which I got a preview copy of and didn’t grab me at all. It wasn’t bad exactly, but it was kind of unremarkable.

animalcrackersWhat I did like much more, particularly for being as weird as they are, are Gene Yang’s two graphic novels Gordon Yamamoto and The King of the Geeks and Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order. Two short graphic novels about Asian-American teenagers that interact with one another, and paint a larger picture of strange happenings in their young lives. If you liked American Born Chinese or Eternal Smile, then I recommend the new omnibus collection that contains both of these graphic novels under a brand new cover from Yang. ANIMAL CRACKERS: A GENE LUEN YANG COLLECTION drops this January, 216 pages for $14.95, from SLG Publishing/Amaze Ink. Oh, and according to the SLG website it includes a new 12 page story and an introduction by Derek Kirk Kim as well. Neat!

5:35pm: Forgot to mention, one more from this page: CHIMICHANGA #2, Eric Powell’s new comic for fans of Eric Powell and “All Ages”. But mostly fans of Eric Powell. Looks weird as hell.

5:39pm: I kinda like APE Entertainment above and beyond their product line, but why are they doing novels (page 180)? Novels by people I’ve never heard of, and with no particular sales features for a direct market comics store to latch into. Hm. I don’t get it.

5:43pm: Oh Antarctic Press. I do love ripping on your Previews section (p182), but it seems like this might be the cleanest design you’ve offered up in months. It’s still bad though, I wonder if any of your designers are actually formally trained? You seem to have no idea how to design on a grid. This month you even screwed the margins, so that your solicit text is bleeding off the bottom of the page. It’s all a little embarassing, and that’s before we get to the OBAMA/MCCAIN ELECTION 2008 TPB, which weighs in at a massive 48 pages for $10 of black and white… something. Hrm.

5:54pm: Canadian publishers Arcana are putting out a brand new quarterly comics magazine, ARCANA MAGAZINE, 96 pages, full colour, $3.50 (p184). Seems like a hell of a deal if the writing is any good. I haven’t seen it yet, but with lots of big bright colour art we’ll give the first issue a go. I just did a quick Google search and it looks like they’ve got a blog for the magazine at http://arcanaquarterly.com/. I’m gonna spend 15 minutes eating dinner and reading the blog, see what the skinny is. See you at quarter-after-six.

6:15pm: Update! So apparently this is the print-version of an online ‘zine that I’d never heard of, and whose aesthetic could charitably described as ‘underdeveloped’. I can only hope there is a heretofore unseen heavily editorial and artistic hand reigning in the excesses of these guys… cuz… well, yeah. After seeing the previous product I will be adjusting my orders down considerably.

6:20pm: Big-ups to friend-of-The-Beguiling Noel Tuazon, returning to work with his ELK’S RUN partner Josha Hale Fialkov on the new original graphic novel TUMOR, $14.95, 224pages, Full Colour, p184. $15 for an original colour hardcover…  I don’t know how Archaia is doing it (taking ownership?) but they’re doing it. ELK’S RUN did well for us, and Noel is a good guy who will hopefully agree to a signing, so I’ll give this one a solid initial order.

6:26pm: So Archie ends the What If marriage storyline with Betty giving birth to twins as well! Apparently Archie is pretty virile, must come from having blue-balls for the last 70 years.

6:36pm: meanwhile, pn page 187, we have THE KIDS OF WIDNEY HIGH one-shot, a feel-good comic with art by folks like Jim Mahfood and Chuck BB. According to the solicit it’s about the titular group, a rock-act comprised of graduates of a special-ed high school in LA. The stories are written by the band members. Sounds like an utterly weird thing to show up as a comic book, but pretty cool nonetheless. $4.99, 36 pages.

noherotpb6:41pm: So it looks like Warren Ellis’s recent take on superheroes NO HERO gets collected editions, with a simultaneous release of the softcover, hardcover, and signed-hardcover editions. According to Diamond they all ship the same day too. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thanks to Avatar for having a sane and sensible collected editions program. Much appreciated. As for NO HERO, I enjoyed the first 4 issues quite a bit, but the shipping schedule went wildly off track and I never caught up with the series as it finished. I suppose that’s what trade paperbacks are for though, aren’t they? Good stuff.

7:08pm: So it looks like I found something that tops the Geoff Johns Avengers book for awful mark-up. BOOM! is charging $24.99 for a 112 page, 6×9 hardcover of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories issues, DISNEY’S HERO SQUAD VOLUME 1. The thing that kills me about this is that the issues are so reasonable priced at $3 a pop, and the softcover collections they’ve been doing of the kids material have only run $9.99 each. Why are they charging an extra $15 for two pieces of cardboard? Why is this collection more than twice the price of the issues it contains? On kids material?

Really, I don’t want to go through the catalog yelling about books being too expensive, but unless this is a glued-and-sewn, library-quality hardcover collection that is gonna last forever, $25 for this book is… unreasonable. I know the BOOM guys read the blog: you’re welcome to respond in the comments.

7:20pm: Whoa, this Stephen Segovia guy seems to have learned to draw from tracing Lenil Francis Yu drawings with the sort of devotion that only monks can usually muster. Granted, that doesn’t mean that the cover to Dynamite Entertainment’s ROBOCOP #1 (p214) isn’t good, it’s actually a striking image. It just looks like a composite of 3 or 4 different Yu drawings. Anyway, I have no strong feelings about Robocop returning to comics. I liked Robocop a lot as a kid, seeing the movie when I was FAR too young to have done so, and then participating whole-heartedly in the toy/cartoon/comics for kids that followed. But… yeah. Unless this in some way rises far above Dynamite’s littany of other licensed properties, it’s not for me. But if you want to see a cyborg shoot a lot of people, bu all means, I am excited for you.

7:35pm: Page 222 gives us THE SPLENDID MAGIC OF PENNY ARCADE, a 208-page “best of” and celebration of the comic strip from the team’s new publishers, Del Rey/Random House. A career retrospective from their 11 1/2 year careers as webcomics creators, and a savvy move to introduce the creators to the wider world rather than starting with the oldest (and weakest) material like they did with their first few collections at Dark Horse. Should be good.

7:38pm: Oh lovely, Drawn & Quarterly is bringing Dylan Horrocks’ HICKSVILLE back into print in a “New Definitive Edition” (260 pages, $19.95, p223). This one has a new cover and a new 16-page drawn introduction by Horrocks, which will be a lovely edition to an already phenomenal book. HICKSVILLE is a classic as far as I’m concerned, and it belongs on every serious comics reader’s shelves, regardless of the sorts of comics that they like.

7:43pm: Ah.. ahahaha. Page 230-231. If you’ve been reading these little Liveblogging rants for any length of time you’ll know that I haven’t been particularly kind to Fantagraphics’ eye-catching-but-also-eye-searing Previews spreads. Well this month, they have put together a lovely, readable, straight-forward solicit page, so ordered and organized I almost feel like they’re poking fun at me for my complaints. Sure, it’s enormous hubris to assume that Fanta is altering their Previews ads to suit my tastes, but I can tell you that’s exactly how it feels. Hah. Here’s a picture:


I mean, wow.

So as a reward, here’s me talking about all of their new books:

KING OF THE FLIES VOL 1: HALLORAVE is an English translation of a European album by two fairly popular prolific creators, Mezzo & Pirus. I’m not familiar with these guys but the 5 page preview at TFAW looks good, and the art is genuinely unsettling. Go check it out.

MOME VOLUME 17 continues the quarterly anthology with the last installment of Paul Hornschemeier’s Life With Mr. Dangerous, and new work from Dash Shaw and Tom K, Oliver Schrauwen, Derek Van Gieson, Renee French, Ted Stearn, T. Edward Bak, Kurt Wolfgang, Laura Park, and Rick Froberg. MOME’s generally a good investment and great exposure to talented young creators, worth checking out.

Oh and hey, yeah! It’s a new omnibus collection of the out of print Jason graphic novels You Can’t Get There From Here, Meow Baby, The living and the Dead, and Tell Me Something in one omnibus hardcover. ALMOST SILENT weighs in at 292 pages for $25, and his a hell of a deal and full of great stuff. Jason’s stuff is an amazing read and a particularly solid recommendation for folks who’ve never read comics before at all. Highly recommended.

Finally, there’s the third HOTWIRE COMICS anthology of weirdo short comics without a thematic link that recalls alternative anthologies of yesteryear, and the second UNLOVABLE collection from Esther Pearl Watson.

So, good, readable month for Fantagraphics. Nice!

townofeveningcalm.jpg8:19pm: I am running out of caffeine here, that’s not good. Maybe there’s a short break in my future. Anyhow, we’ve got a bunch of neat comics here. First up, the fantastic and underrated manga TOWN OF EVENING CALM, COUNTRY OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS by Fumiyo Kouno and published by Last Gasp gets an all-new hardcover edition (p248). It’s got a great binding and is actually available from Last Gasp now, for retailers that wanna jump on it. This is a wonderful graphic novel, I highly recommend it.

On the facing page (p249) is LITTLE NOTHINGS VOLUME 3: UNEASY HAPPINESS by Lewis Trondheim, published by NBM. I’ve previously blogged about this new release so go read that for a full description of why I love it, but if you’re too lazy to click over let me just tell you that these collections of Trondheim’s diary comics are wonderful reading, and lovely, and you should be reading them.

Also on page 249, I had no idea that the incredibly talented Les McClaine (Jonny Crossbones, tons of other stuff) was drawing THE TICK NEW SERIES. McClaine’s great, and the first issue is available now with issue #2 in Previews. I’m totally going to go pull that first issue off of the racks and read it tonight. Awesome. Check out Les’ stuff at http://www.evilspacerobot.com/ if you’re not familiar with him.

Okay, I’m running to the convenience store for energy drinks. Back in a bit.

8:43pm: And we’re back. I got a Guru and a V8 Fusion and some bananas. Should provide me with the energy to get through the rest of the catalogue. And hey, POTASSIUM!

So we’re at page 251 and the Oni Press section. This month Oni’s leading off with RESURRECTION VOLUME 1, the collection of Marc (Amazing Spider-Man, Hollywood) Guggenheim’s monthly genre fiction series. Oni’s really been throwing a ton of promotional weight behind this series, like offering the first b&w mini-series as a tpb for just $6 to promote the launch of the colour ongoing series. Well it seems like they’re upping the ante, with this collection containing the complete “volume 0” trade AS WELL AS the first 7 issues of the colour series, 368 pages in total, for just $25. Granted, there’s no hardcover on it, but that’s still a hell of a deal. RESURRECTION is an enjoyable, straight-forward genre action series about the aftermath of a worldwide apocalypse. It guest-stars Bill Clinton, apparently. It’s been a hoot so far, if you were thinking of giving it a shot this would be a hell of a way to do so.

Also from Oni, Stumptown #4 from Rucka and Southworth, and a new printing of that gorgeous oversized HC edition of Local. We’ve sold over 50 copies of that, btw. Did you know that? Over 50. That’s an evergreen product, just saying.

haunted_joshuasmeaton8:55pm: HAUNTED is the graphic novel collection of the YA webcomic series about a group of junior high kids who sneak into a Halloween party at a haunted house. It’s a full colour graphic novel with really great art, 104 pages, for $12.95. It’s also self-published with assistance from the Xeric Grant. So not only is it a great-looking book that’s more-or-less exclusive to the direct market, it’s also one of the most commercial projects The Xeric has ever supported. It looks GREAT. You can read either a preview or an earlier incarnation of the story (I can’t tell which) online at http://www.joshuasmeaton.com/Haunted/HauntedHomePage.htm.

Congrats to author Joshua Smeaton, we’re really looking forward to your book

9:03pm: Because of Diamond’s ADULT PREVIEWS ghetto (which is now virtual, with no print-version of Adult Previews being produced), you’d be forgiven for missing Radio Comix’s GENUS #92, the first version in the new 48 page squarebound format. It’s a bit steep at $9.99, but with higher quality paper, top-notch contributors, and it being the longest-running adult publication out there, fans will be very happy to see it return.

9:09pm: One day I’m gonna go through here and count just how many pages of Diamond house-ads are in Previews, because it’s just short of ridiculous. I’m in the “S” comics section and there are full-page ads for Ghostbusters mini-mates and Star Trek replica toys. I have a feeling there are 20-30 pages of house ads in this thing, and I dunno about you but I would _love_ another 30 pages taken out of this catalogue.

Also, big-ups to TANK GIRL: SKIDMARKS #3 from Titan on page 260. The new series looks great, Tank Girl fans should be thrilled with it…!

9:13pm: You know I’m getting tired when I just start quoting whole swaths of solicit text, but read this, it sounds great:

Ten years have passed since the Great Tokyo Earthquake, and the people’s memories of the disaster have faded. Ganta Igarashi, a middle school evacuee, has fi nally begun to live a normal life…That is, until the day “Red Man” appears at his school and Ganta’s fate is changed forever. His entire class is brutally murdered, and although innocent of the crime, Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the bizarre prison known as “Deadman Wonderland.” An insane and brutal game of prison survival begins!

Ten years have passed since the Great Tokyo Earthquake, and the people’s memories of the disaster have faded. Ganta Igarashi, a middle school evacuee, has finally begun to live a normal life…That is, until the day “Red Man” appears at his school and Ganta’s fate is changed forever. His entire class is brutally murdered, and although innocent of the crime, Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the bizarre prison known as “Deadman Wonderland.” An insane and brutal game of prison survival begins!

That’s for DEADMAN WONDERLAND VOLUME 1, a new manga series from Tokyopop (p263) by writer Jinsei Katoaka and artist Kazuma Kondou. That sounds surprisingly excellent for a random Tokyopop series. I hope the first volume lives up to the hype, I’m gonna check it out.

9:16pm: Also from Tokyopop on p265 is REMEMBER, an original graphic novel by the digital painter “Benjamin”, and the first colour graphic novel from Tokyopop’s much-touted colour line I’ve seen in quite some time. Unfortunately Benjamin’s first book for the line, ORANGE, has been unavailable since shortly after it was released, with no reprint announced by Tokyopop (and none solicited this month alongside the new book). If you want this one, pre-order it, as it seems TP has no intention of keeping this material in print, sadly.

9:21pm: I don’t remember UDON ever officially announcing it, but they’ve scored the license to a bunch of Mega Man manga, based on the popular video game character. Viz was releasing one of the more recent, cartoon-based series called MEGA MAN NT, but this series will appeal to older readers and non-manga fans alike, I think. MEGA MAN MEAGMIX VOL. 1 is $12.95 for 220pages, on page 270.

9:24pm: Hey, Vertical’s got BLACK JACK VOL 9 by Osamu Tezuka. Nice.

9:27pm: Hey we’re at VIZ (p273)! Oo and look, they’ve got the first trade paperback collection from the SIGIKKI website, BOKURANO: OURS VOLUME 1 by Mohiro Kitoh! 15 kids pilot a giant mecha, but the whole thing is hyper-intense and creepy. I’m not caught up on the series at SIGIKKI (I am so behind on comics reading I need a week off just to read…) but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. I was also really digging Kitoh’s series SHADOW STAR, which was published by Dark Horse who just… stopped… knowing what to do with it. Like, entirely. Until they stopped publishing it in the middle, leaving tons of people hanging. Lame. Still: BOKURANO OURS!

It’s a good month for “new works by creators previously published by other companies”, as BLAME! and NOISE! creator Tsutomi Nahei (ex-Tokyopop) comes to Viz with BIOMEGA VOLUME 1. It’s like an even tighter, more-intense version of his art on BLAME! by all accounts, and definitely for mature readers. Nihei should have some traction with North American comics fans, as he illustrated a 5-part Wolverine mini-series called WOLVERINE: SNKIT! that had his signature art-style and setting, and went out of print pretty-darned-quickly as far as I can remember.

Oh, also: NAOKI URASAWA’S 20TH CENTURY BOYS VOLUME 7, one of the best serialized comics being released.

9:36pm: None of the books at Yen look particularly inspiring, and as always I’ll be visiting their website at http://yenpress.com to find out what they’re actually releasing in January. I generally don’t comment on the Zenescope pages either, as I find the layout to be really unplesant to read, but I will say that they seem to understand how columns and grids work, which is more than I can say for Antarctic… but these pages are usually the most colour-saturated in the entire catalogue. There’s nowhere to rest your eyes, and as such I want to flip past these pages as quickly as possible.

…and that completes the comics section. Le’s see if there’s anything good in the rest of the catalogue.

Page 284 has two dinosaur books by acclaimed illustrator William Stout, which seem to be new/newish. WILLIAM STOUT DINOSAUR DISCOVERIES (144 pages, 8×11, $24.95 SC /$39.95 HC) is a collection of all new drawings of ‘specimens discovered in the last 20 years’, and WILLIAM STOUT NEW DINOSAUR DISCOVERIES A-Z (64 pages, 6×9, $14.95) seems to be a kid-friendly edition using the same batch of images. Fans will eat that up.

Page 286 has a Previews-Exclusive edition of the forthcoming WONDER WOMAN ENCYCLOPEDIA, in hardcover with a different Adam Hughes cover. Huh, it’s co-written by Phil Jimenez, which is kind of neat, and at $35.95 this hardcover is only 6 bucks more than the softcover. Sounds like a pretty good deal for Wonder Woman fans, though be warned, the book isn’t actually coming out until May 11th, despite being in the January catalogue. Also on this page is the new DK guide to Iron Man, IRON MAN: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE ARMORED HERO ($24.99), and a comics academia book on Russian comic books called KOMIKS: COMIC ART IN RUSSIA ($38.00).


Page 288 features RAMAYANA: DIVINE LOOPHOLE ($29.99, 100 pages, HC), an illustrated artbook by Pixar animator Sanjay Patel. He’s the fella behind the awesome “Little Book of Hindu Deities” from a few years back. RAMAYANA is a gorgeous looking vector-illustrated version of the story of Vishnu and other Hindu Gods, and it looks pretty cool. That price tag is a little steep though, particularly for a book that’s going to measure 4″ x 6″. I’m going to want to see this one first before picking it up. The fine folks at Chronicle can feel free to send me a copy, of course…

Actually, I just checked the Chronicle Books site, and it looks like it’s actually going to measure 8 3/4″ wide by 8″ tall, much bigger than the “4×6” that Previews lists. That’s still pricey, but it’s back down into the range of “extravagant” rather than “ridiculous”.

Okay, I think that does it. I’m knee-deep in the Toy Section here, so I think it’s time to call it a night. Thanks to everyone who read-along or linked the first part of this. Hope you enjoyed it, and we’ll be back again next time… Here’s hoping, anyway!

Jeez that’s long, like 3600 words.

– Chris

Liveblogging The November 2009 Previews – Part 1

Hello! And welcome to Liveblogging The Previews. My name is Christopher Butcher, and I’m a comics retailer, managing The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada. At The Beguiling we do a significant portion of our ordering of new comics and graphic novels through Diamond Comics Distributors’ monthly PREVIEWS catalogue, a 400+ page beast. That order is due this Tuesday, December 1st, by 11:59pm, and as of today I haven’t really so much as opened the thing up. What follows are my time-stamped reactions to the catalogue, as they occur. Keep refreshing this page to see the insanity that is sure to follow.

3:37pm: Cover. This month our cover options are “Sexy Blue Chick” from the comic book adaptation of the video game “Mass Effect”, or heavily shadowed and poorly drawn Superman characters in, and I’m not fucking with you here, “a new era of excitement!” from Dan DiDio and Philip Tan. Poor month for PREVIEWS covers when sexy blue lesbian alien based on a video game is the less embarrassing comic book cover, artistically.

3:42pm: Dark Horse: Congratulations to the fine folks at DH for putting back into print BLACKSAD, the only furry comic most “normal” comic fans aren’t embarrassed to have on their bookshelves. Sexy jungle-cat Blacksad P.I. is tracking down murders and kidnappers and the like, getting into trouble, and having sex with sexy cat ladies. It’s 1930s and 40s pulp noir streaming through the hand of an extraordinarily talented Disney animator. It’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it is hard-boiled kitty cats. DH’s edition collects all three Blacksad stories released to date in one hardcover. Previously the first two stories were available from iBooks and those out-of-print volumes were fetching 60 and 70 bucks a pop on the aftermarket, so this will probably do quite well upon release.

3:49pm: The new BPRD series starts up with KING OF FEAR #1 and the return of Guy Davis. Meanwhile, the most recent Hellboy Arc gets a collection in HELLBOY VOLUME 9: THE WILD HUNT . Artist Duncan Fegredo is an amazing match for this series, the pages are just gorgeous and it’s selling more-or-less as well as anything Mignola drew.

3:55pm: On page 41 we’ve got Rafael Grampa’s MESMO DELIVERY, in a brand new edition from Dark Horse, and at a reduced price of just $10. Here’s the problem: We sold a BUTLOAD of the AdHouse edition of this. So I’m not quite sure how many to order of this new edition… I mean it’s gorgeous, has a terrifying little story, and I do think moving from Adhouse to DH will raise its profile. Do I just order a lot, or another BUTLOAD? It’s so tough doing the Previews some months.

3:58pm: Pages 42 and 43 bring us two interesting new books. SHINJUKU is an original project by Yoshitaka Amano and someone named “Mink” join forces to release an original prose project in the vein of Amano and Gaiaman’s SANDMAN: DREAM HUNTERS, with a story and over 100 original paintings to go along with it. It’ll be interesting to see Amano tackle more contemporary images, as his primary art style seems ideally suited to historical works. Speaking of, Dark Horse releases OKIMONO KIMONO, an art book collecting the intricate kimono designs and art of CLAMP member Mokona. It’s coming in a little small for an artbook at the Tokyopop trim size, but that also means we get it for just $12.99.

4:16pm: DC Comics: We get a skip-month for Blackest Night as the creative team catches up, but hey, we get the oversized anniversary issue GREEN LANTERN #50 (page 57). But the biggest and weirdest news of the month are the Blackest Night “Rebirth” books, featuring additional issues of cancelled (dead) series like Catwoman, Phantom Stranger, and James Robinson’s Starman. That’s actually one of the most clever tie-ins I’ve ever heard of, good on you DC.

4:30pm: Grant Morrison’s BATMAN AND ROBIN returns after a skip-month with #7, and Morrison’s SEAGUY collaborator Cameron Stewart in tow. I think more-or-less everyone is happy to see anyone other than Phillip Tan on the book (we seriously had returns), and the promo art I’ve seen from Stewart  looks really sharp. Here’s hoping for a return to form!

4:50pm: Gary Frank draws a kind of a terrifying Superman, even without the Christopher Reeve Death Mask:


I wouldn’t want to be locked in a room with his Adam Strange either.

5:02pm: Man, whole lotta nothing in the mainstream DCU section. Nice cover on Wonder Woman #40, murder of crows, that whole thing. But… yeah. Anyway. Quick dinner break and then I’ll be back.

5:16pm: The collected editions section is looking pretty good this month, with the too-long-awaited All Star Superman Volume 2 finally getting a softcover. A new printing of the second HITMAN book, and a trade paperback collecting all of the ‘origins’ backups from 52 and COUNTDOWN, the best part of either of those series (though 52 has its fans).

Actually, let me expand on the first part of this: I’m kind of sick of DC’s and Marvel’s hardcover programs. While I appreciate the short-term $$$ that comes from charging an extra $10 for a hardcover on a book, I think they’re really hurting long-term sales. I know that the whole superhero section of the industry seems to be predicated on short-term thinking, but I think that if it was about giving consumers choice simultaneous releases would be the way to go. This is a bit of a bigger problem than I have time to give it right now, but DC and Marvel mandating hardcover exclusives for 4-6 months means that their biggest, newest, ‘hottest’ storylines remain considerably more inaccessible until well after the heat has entirely dissipated on the series. The Justice Society relaunch is the hardest-hit series I can think of, but Green Lantern and Spider-Man and Runaways from Marvel are also suffering, from my POV, for having long gaps between HC and SC collections.  Maybe if I’ve got time I’ll follow it up with a longer post.

5:31pm: Speaking of, the 4th and final PLANETARY collection is solicited this issue. HC only. For MARCH. Talk about striking while the iron is cooled, the cord is wrapped up, and the whole thing’s been put back in the closet. Soooo unfortunate.

5:34pm: What If Alan Moore WAS Swamp Thing? Check out Astro City: The Dark Age Book 4 #1.


Meanwhile, over on page 105 we have the next book in DC’s little hardcover crime line, THE BRONX HILL by Peter Milligan and old-timey Vertigo artist (can we say that? are they old enough?) James Romberger, whose last work I can remember is the excellent Seven Miles a Second. Actually, heh, DC has this thing where when they’re mentioning artist credits they include other DC credits in allcaps, and work for other publishers as italics. So author Peter Milligan is Peter Milligan (GREEK STREET, HUMAN TARGET), and James Romberger is James Romberger (Seven miles a Second). Funny thing is, DC Vertigo were the publishers of Seven Miles a Second, at least initially. It’s the graphic biography of gay artist David Wojnarowicz, and Vertigo pub’d it in 1996. I know a new edition was planned but so far as I can tell it never came out. So there’s a history lesson for whomever writes the Previews solicitations at DC: Look, it’s a book you published!

Edit: Mystery solved! See the 8:15pm entry.

joethebarbarian15:55pm: There we go, it’s a new creator-owned series from Grant Morrison. JOE THE BARBARIAN #1 sees Morrison team with relative newcomer Sean Murphy to do a pretty-looking mini-series about a boy who falls into his childhood fantasy world.  The preview looks good, and the price is hard to beat: It’s just a dollar! I think we’re going to give the first issue away for free, too… really build up a readership for this one, and give people a reason to come to the comic shop every month. It’s somewhat tough, particularly when Morrison’s fans have largely converted to collected editions, to get them in regularly to see all the great new stuff that’s come out. I think we can make a pretty-good go of it with a new #1. Fingers crossed!

6:14pm: Speaking of Vertigo, Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon continues to have lovely understated painted covers, it kind of makes everything else on the solicit pages look obscene by comparison. But that’s art for you.

6:21pm: We’ve got a very rare thing from DC, a bind-up. That’s a publishing industry term for taking 2 or more books and putting them under one cover… Most comic book trade paperbacks are essentially bind-ups, but with THE LOSERS VOL 1 & 2 TP ($19.99, January 27) we’ve got the first two collections in one book. Usually when this happens, one retail outlet has agreed to order a lot of copies of a book if they can get it in a more shelf-friendly format. With THE LOSERS film dropping in April, this inexpensive new collection will hopefully lead new people to the series.

Quite honestly, I kind of wish most of DC’s backlist would get bind-ups like this, and that they’d stop re-releasing things like HITMAN or whatever by story-arc… One trade on the shelf, one book to keep in stock instead of two. Make my job a lot easier.

6:30pm: Just gonna pretend DC Direct doesn’t exist. Moving on…

6:36pm: Image Comics! And on page 132 we’ve got ORC STAIN #1, the new ongoing series from WONTON SOUP (Oni) creator James Stokoe. It’s a full-colour Orc-straveganza, a fantasy epic for the console video game generation with a one-eyed orc character who’s kinda like Karnak from The Inhumans. Really nice art on this one, and apparently it’s an ongoing series! I am very-much inclined to support this one with strong orders, and with Brandon Graham’s KING CITY also appearing monthly it should be an easy book to cross-promote. Check out an article and promo art from the series at http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=23260.

6:44pm: Okay, 3 things:


1. I’m actually pretty cool about comics that have their heroes covered in cum. You know, live and let live. Granted, those comics tend to come from CLASS COMICS and not Image, but different strokes and all that. It’s just that they don’t usually get a full-page in previews. Surely one of those retailers in the bible belt that’s bemoaning the state of comics, surely one of them has been wounded by this? Has anyone called the CBLDF yet?

2. Look at those legs. Ugggh. At least the character’s left leg has the excuse of ‘foreshortening”. But the right leg? The section from the knee to the foor is 2/3s the length of his massive thighs… He’d look ridiculous standing up. I thought they had a talented artist doing the layouts for McFarlane?Actually while I’m at it that right hand seems to have three or four joints on the thumb. Though I’ve only read the first issue, so perhaps that is one of Haunt’s powers.

3. HELP. Seriously, if you saw a dude in this outfit and covered in cum in this alley, would you help him? I don’t think I would, and I’m the open-minded sort. I’d definitely call the cops though.

7:39pm: Just had to take a short work-break there, sorry. In the interim, I realize that I needed to give props to Image Comics for having the single-best section in the catalogue. Clean design, nice colours, a layout of info that makes sense (for a change). Important projects in front, graphic novels (alphabetical!) in the middle, single-issue comics in the back (alphabetical!). Easy as hell to find stuff month-to-month. Bravo, Image Comics! Your Previews section is magnificent.

8:15pm: And Calvin Reid, former editor of the Reed Publishing graphic novel line, popped up on Twitter to say that yes, it was his imprint that was going to put David Wojnarowicz’s Seven Miles a Second back into print:

@calreid: I think I Can answer. Reid & Reed planned a new revised edition of Seven Miles A Second, which was completed but has never been published. Reed pulled the plug on the imprint before we could pub. The new edition has about 20 new pages. I hope someone publishes it.
I think Seven Miles a Second is one of the great comics memoirs and an important record of David W. & of a seminal time in NY.

I hope so too, Calvin. The magic of instant communication!

8:20pm: Marvel. Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic’s “Marvel Women Variant” is a nice piece of art. Or at least, it makes an impression.

Whoa, looks like the folks at PETA got their hands on Siege Embedded #1:


Look, I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals, but I think throwing fake blood at our nation’s heroes is a step too far.

8:36pm: Let I Get This Straight: Captain America Reborn is now six issues, AND it’s finishing AFTER the books in which Cap actually returns to the Marvel Universe? Man, it’s a good thing no one who works for Marvel is ever accountable for their actions. Cuz, haha, I mean, this makes the Civil War problems look quaint in comparison. I kinda wanna work for Marvel now. Seems like a pretty good gig.

8:42pm: I notice the solicit text for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6 contains the following: “Join rockstars Brian Michael Bendis and David Lafuente as we swing into the final chapter of this thrilling arc!” I just wanna say that if I started calling Bendis “rockstar” to his face, he’d take a swing at me before the end of the first day. In fact I invite everyone who knows him to only address him as “rockstar” from now on.

8:46pm: No, wait, this solicit text is better: Spider-Man The Clone Saga #5: “MAXIMUM CLONAGE! It’s Hoo-Ha Time as MJ goes into labor…” Well holy shit. Whoda thunk it would ever be vagina-time in a Marvel comic? Just goes to show.

8:50pm: Huh, apparently Marvel’s launching a movie-continuity Iron man comic. 2 issues only. Weird. I kind of assume this is just to fill out a trade paperback somewhere?

8:54pm: Including the back-up story in Incredible Hercules this month, there are going to be THREE Agents Of Atlas books on the stands in November. Agents of Atlas vs. Avengers, Marvel Boy: The Uranian, and the back-up story. Not bad for a book that was more-or-less cancelled a few months back. Oh shit, AND they’re in Thunderbolts #140. 4 Atlas books.

9:02pm: Nothing really jumped out at me from Marvel’s collected editions. So let’s stop this here for now, and we’ll pick up with the back-half of the catalog some time this weekend… Monday at the latest.

– Chris


4:01pm: The most depressing part of breaking up this review of the Previews is that part 2 invariably starts with WIZARD every time, and it’s always such a crap-fest. This month their advertisement is possibly the worst ever, with a bad airbrush delete tool used to clip a wearwolf photograph, a blurry cosplay photo mocking the poor woman posing (wonder if they got a signed release on that shot…?), and a full page illustration of the Buffy cast that says “EXCLUSIVE COVER BY J. SCOTT CAMPBELL” over a piece of art clearly by Jo Chen, that they don’t credit. And they put the “EXCLUSIVE COVER BY…” blurb right over her signature.

Honestly. Fucking amateur hour.

4:06pm: Oh, good. Toyfare’s gay-baiting on the next page.

4:07pm: Page 185 features an advertisement by The Xeric Foundation (ad space donated by Diamond Comics) promoting their May 2009 grant recipients, including Canadian auto-bio author Adam Bourret. This is a very good thing that they do, thanks Xeric Foundation… and sorry to Peter Laird whom I  gravely (but accidentally) insulted last week.

4:13pm: On page 188 we have “Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen As Comic Strip” I shit you not. Apparently there was a Woody Allen comic strip tht ran for EIGHT YEARS in newspapers. That… that is shocking to me. Written and illustrated by Stuart Hample, this Abrams Comicarts collection collects 220 best-of strips, and retails for $35.00 in HC.

4:21pm: Oh, also on page 188, Terry Moore’s got a third trade paperback collection of ECHO, which has continued to pick up readers in both formats.  $15.95, 104 page, from Abstract Studios.

4:21pm: SLG Publishing (still listed as “Slave Labor Graphics” in the catalogue) has a trio of interesting releases in October. The second issue of CAPTAIN BLOOD drops, and I actually really dug the first one. Nice art, pirate story (a plus), based on a real story. I know “action adventure comic book” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind from SLG, but I dug it. WINCHESTER #1 is a spooky story set in the Winchester House, which I’d never heard of before they started promoing this book but is pretty fascinating. And Jamaica Dyer’s WEIRD FISHES is about weird kids and growing up, and collects her webcomic (available here).

4:36pm: The always entertaining Antarctic Press section on pages 194-195. So, it looks like it’s sliiiiightly better than usual, with some actual effort put into making these pages less hideous. For example, they’re putting the the cover of the book and the text describing the book on the same colour background, for readability! That’s pretty bold considering their last few months of solicitations. Granted, they still don’t seem to know how gutters or margins work, and the page still has a slap-dash feeling that would make a real designer vomit in his mouth a little, but: Definite improvement, Antarctic Press! Keep up the… work!

5:14pm: I had no idea a second collection of HATTER M: LOOKING GLASS WARS was on its way. Adapted from the popular novel series and now with art from a fella named Sami Makkonen. That’ll sell well I think, the first one certainly did and it wasn’t all just Templesmith fans (the artist on the first volume).  Page 208 from Automatic Pictures Publishing, $14.95 for the 200 page SC and $24.99 for the HC.

Also on page 208, the Xeric winning anthology GHOST COMICS from Bare Bones Studios, featuring stories by Jeffrey Brown, Zack Sally, and Lucy Knisely. $10, 176 pages. Oh, and the interesting-looking ODUSSEUS THE REBEL by Steven Grant and Scott Bieser. An adaptation of the Odysseus myth, it certainly looks more interesting than Marvel’s recent attempt, and hey, the whole thing actually ran online at the Big Head Press website. Who doesn’t like Greek myth? Let’s give it a go. 184 pages, $12.95.

Liveblogging the August 2009 Previews – Part 1

You know, I’ve seen comments that ask how someone can “liveblog” a static object. I get it, I’m a pedant too. Instead, you should probably consider this me liveblogging my reaction to The August 2009 Previews Catalogue for items shipping in October 2009. You see, I’m a comic book retailer for The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada. And my Diamond Comics order–ordered through the Previews Catalogue–is due tomorrow at 11pm. And like most months, I haven’t even cracked the catalogue yet. So let’s you and I wander through the Previews Catalogue together, seeing what we think… in the most reactionary and vaguely-informed way possible. Ready!

85472_221041_12:57PM: This month’s covers offer us… THE FINAL ISSUE OF PLANETARY, and Cowboy Ninja Viking. I know where my money’s going.

Actually, I do kind of wonder if the demand for this single issue has maintained since the last issue 2 or 3 years ago. Actually, exactly 3 years ago by the time this appears. I was really hoping for quick collections on this to capitalize on the renewed interest… but that ain’t happening. I don’t know how much has been made public, but seriously? March for the regular hardcover, the rest some time after that.

You’d think they would get those out a bit quicker, eh?

3:06pm: Huh, in the front half of the Previews stuff that I don’t normally read, there’s a feature on Dave McKean. Apparently Dave McKean is reading Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL, BLUE PILLS by Frederik Peeters, and THE SECRET by Andrzej Klimowski (not the creepy self-help book). That actually got me to pause while flipping through this, which is rare indeed.


165233:08: This is a big month at DH for one-shots. They’re calling them “One-shot Wonders” in the catalogue, which has connotations I myself wouldn’t want to be associated with, but who reads Previews anyway? First up is SUGARSHOCK, by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon. This reprints the stories from MySpace Dark Horse Presents, which were recently published in those MSDHP trade collections. Actually, despite appearing in trade and online for free, I still think we’re going to do AMAZING with this one-shot, to hit all those people still coming into the shop, month after month, buying tons of Buffy comics. Thanks DH! Please keep this one in print indefinitely! And bring back Mignola’s AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD while you’re at it.

3:15pm: So I flipped forward a few pages, and this one-shot-wonders program is going to have an incentive signed print by Travis Charest attached.  Ah, here are the details: “retailers ordering 10 each of all one shots from Aug, Sep & Oct Previews get Charest litho signed by creators.” OO, that’s gonna be pretty hard to hit on a couple of those… But to be fair, Travis Charest drawing Dr. Horrible, Conan, Darth Vader, and Hellboy on the same signed print? Probably will pay for the rest.

3:21pm: I was just wondering the other day why the most recent Grendel series, GRENDEL: BEHOLD THE DEVIL written and drawn by Matt Wagner, hadn’t been collected yet. And here we are on page 30. 184 page hc for $19.95 is a steal, and a great place to jump on board for folks who’ve never read the series before. Oh and on page 31, we’ve got a reprise of the naked John & Yoko album cover on RAPTURE #5, complete with naked man-ass. I think this might be a first for Previews? Actually, this momentous occasion deserves a full-size image:


He’s a bit skinny but I’d still tap that.

3:27pm: Speaking of things that have been out of print for too long, uber-hot mainstream writer Brian K. Vaughan’s THE ESCAPISTS has been out of print for over a year. I thought it was a pretty decent graphic novel, and it’s not like Vaughan doesn’t sell well. It’s not a major work, but then DC isn’t letting PRIDE OF BAGDHAD go out of print for a year either, because we all like making money… Anyway, the softcover edition finally puts in an appearance on page 33.

3:31pm: I saw a post entitled 365 SAMURAI AND A FEW BOWLS OF RICE the other day, I thought it was someone talking about samurai manga and not the title of an actual book. But apparently this is an original graphic novel that describes itself as a cross between BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL and BONE. Huh. 400 pages for $16.95 on page 34, I’ll give that one a go.

Oh and Dean Motter’s ELECTROPOLIS gets a collection page 35. Huh.

3:34pm: Good month for DH! Jeez. Charles Vess art book (the first?) on page 36, 200 pages for 40 bucks, and a brand new GROO mini-series, THE HOGS OF HORDER #1, on page 37.  Page 38 has a HC, upscale reprinting of 2 Casper The Friendly Ghost comics, one from 1949 and one from 1952. I have no idea whatsoever if this sort of reprint project will catch on, 80 pages in HC for $10, but it’s at least interesting. Here’s hoping the repro is up-to-snuff.

3:38pm: Title of the month so far is: DR. GRORDBORT PRESENTS: VICTORY–SCIENTIFIC ADVENTURE VIOLENCE FOR YOUNG MEN AND LITERATE WOMEN. It’s basically porn for steampunkers, in that there are no naked bits but lots of rayguns. It seems like there may even be some comics in this… who knew?

3:51pm: Hah, it really is “lost” DH projects this month, as Eric Powell’s GOON: CHINATOWN (which is actually volume 6) finally gets a softcover release, 112 pages for $15.95 (bit pricey there eh) on page 46.


3:56pm: I just can’t help it, I see a rainbow and I think “pride flag”. re: Blackest Night #4.

3:58pm: Man, those FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH one-shots were utterly dead on arrival. Same goes for the RED CIRCLE stuff. Absolutely no interest.

4:00pm: I will say that our minimum-Grant-Morrison-on-a-superhero-number is about 60% of our minimum-Grant-Morrison-and-Frank-Quitely-on-anything number, but I’m still anticipating a bit of a shock-drop on the post-Quitely issues of Batman & Robin. The art shown here by Philip Tan is much stronger (in every way) than Tony Daniel’s run on the last Morrison Batman stuff, but… it’s still no Quitely. I’m hoping to be proven wrong though.

4:03pm: Are you fucking kidding? Azrael? REALLY?

4:04pm: See, shit like this is why I could never take GOTHAM CENTRAL seriously, despite the best efforts of Brubaker and Rucka. According to ARKHAM REBORN #1, “Following the Black Mask’s destruction of Arkham Asylum in Battle For The Cowl, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham has rebuilt the Asylum following the design of his mad Uncle Amadeus.” It “soon mutates into a Torture House.”

Seriously? There are so many things that stretch credability to breaking in that description that when respected writers come in and try actually mature stories that it’s just a fucking joke. There’s some great, great work done on the bat-books every once in a while that’s utterly undermined by adolescent torture porn featuring Batman, just for the sake of filling the racks with as many crossovers and minis as possible… Gross, just gross.

4:35pm: Okay, we’re back! And not a moment too soon, because it looks like Gary Frank has drawn another utterly creepy Christopher Reeve face on SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #2.


It’s just… wrong. Uncanny Valley wrong. I will restate my caveat from last month though that despite these Christopher Reeve caricatures being drawn in, badly, that the Johns/Frank Superman and the Legion stuff has been pretty good reading.

4:42pm: Huh, going through our tracking numbers, it looks like the new DOOM PATROL series by Giffen and Matthew Clark did really well on its first issue. Shocking. I will actually need to bump my orders up on #2 & #3. Unless, of course, everyone abandons the series with the second issue.

4:54pm: Sorry for the slow-down between updates, but a lot of the DC section is pretty perfunctory stuff without much to comment on…

13246_400x600So on page 96 we’ve got DC COMICS CLASSICS LIBRARY: SHAZAM! – THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL. This is the original Binder/Beck story, considered to be one of the first serialized stories with a beginning, middle, and end, right out of 1943. My customers have been waiting for this story arc for a very long time, since about half-way through Jeff Smith’s recent re-do of the story from a few years back. In fact, DC started up a whole new line, the classics library, to accommodate the re-printing of this one. I know I’m sounding like a bit of a broken record here, but the release of Smith’s MONSTER SOCIETY was a really big deal, that generated a lot of interest in Shazam as a character and in the original story-arc, and DC has frittered almost all of that away. Following the completion of Smith’s four-issue series, it took a Full Year for them to get another kid-friendly Shazam series on the stands, all the while the Shazam family was dragged through all kinds of mud in the mainsteam DCU… Now, 2 and a half years past the end of Smith’s series we’re going to get a prestige-format, $40, fanboy-targeted release of these original comics. The whole thing is just a series of truly awful business decisions on DC’s part, and it means less money for all involved.

I wish they’d hire some editors from non-comics publishers every once in a while to just sit in on meetings and say things like “Say, what are you going to do to capitalize on the momentum, sales, and good-will generated by publishing new work from million-selling author Jeff Smith’s book the month after it’s over?” I wonder if that question would get a blank look, or a self-satisfied “Nothing.”

Anyway, it’s 272 pages in the mystifyingly-priced $40 hard cover format.

5:17pm: Hey look, it’s THE WINTER MEN TP (page 107, $19.99, 176pages). The beloved, beautifully drawn mini-series by Lewis and John Paul Leon. We did okay with this mini–it never set any sales records or anything–but really it’s the kind of thing we’re going to do well with in trade paperback, and hopfully for years to come. Let’s order it like a VERTIGO trade and see what happens.

5:20pm: The Wildstorm video game adaptation comics have been pretty hit-or-miss, both sales-wise and quality wise. I think producing comics for people used to downloading shit for free is maybe not the smartest business plan, but they keep making them so somebody must be buying them. GOD OF WAR #1 is particularly notable because none other than Marv Wolfman is adapting the game into comics form, and GOW is a video game that actually has a story (or at least a really good plot), so there’ll be plenty to work with.

5:51pm: Huh, Vertigo is reprinting SHADE: THE CHANGING MAN and releasing a long-awaited volume 2. That’s… kind of surprising. I’ve only read Shade in drips-and-drabs, it’d be nice if they actually followed-through and reprinted the whole series… Looks like that’s the plan anyway. They seem pretty committed with their similarly surprising SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE collections, which have seen 7(!) trade paperbacks released in the last few years.  Here’s hoping, eh?

(P.S.: Anyone who’s enjoying the crime/noir resurgence of the past few years with titles like CRIMINAL and HUNTER, I’d definitely recommend SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE, it’s an amazing series of short noir stories, with only very small touches of the fantastic rooted in surprisingly gritty realism)


5:59pm: HAUNT #1. The new IP from Todd McFarlane.  Story by Robert Kirkman. Why is Robert Kirkman doing work-for-hire for Todd McFarlane? I guess Kirkman is excited about this, but I’ve never read any Work For Hire from him that was even half as good as his creator owned stuff.

Also, Capullo on layouts, Ottley on pencils, and McFarlane on inks? I suppose that’s pretty badass? I dunno. I feel like this might be a big deal but I missed the hype. I hope people are excited about it. I’m not order-100-copies-and-get-a-1in100-variant excited though, but we’ll at least give the first few issues a shot, see if we can turn Kirkman’s enthusiasm into sales.

one-model-nation-cover6:26pm: Well, that’s a disturbing looking solicitation image.

ONE MODEL NATION is a new original graphic novel featuring art by Jim Rugg, a buddy of mine and the amazing artist behind STREET ANGEL. It’s written by Dandy Warhols singer Courtney Taylor, and apparently that’s not the the final cover, but I can’t imagine why they’d use it if it wasn’t… Nazi imagery tends to be pretty divisive. At any rate, I’ve got a lot of faith in the project, and the plot sounds right up my alley. It’s very Rock N Roll.  Check out a preview here.

6:34pm: I even like Steaven T. Seagle, but $30 for the SOUL KISS hard cover seems a bit pricey for the material.


6:47pm: It’s kind of lovely to open up the Marvel section of the Previews, and be greeted by lovely-looking adaptations of classic literature, rather than grit-teeth gun-toating badasses and boobsocks. THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ HC is $30 and 200 pages, still pricier than I’d like to see for an all ages book, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE PREMIERE HC is $20 for 120 pages, and they were good enough to keep that faux-teen-magazine style cover. Just lovely.

6:56pm: Wow, they’re relaunching WEB OF SPIDER-MAN? That’s entirely awful. They’re launching it to tie into the clone nonsense too…. and as an anthologY! Heh. Wow. That is a phenomenally shitty waste of time and paper. No one is going to want this. Well, I mean, people have bought far, far shittier books. But? Web of Spider-Man? No way.

7:03pm: Well, it had to happen. Brother Voodoo is getting his own limited series. DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL #1 spins out of Bendis’ awful depiction of the charcter in New Avengers, and is a true rarity in that it’s an ongoing book being launched by Marvel or DC that features a person of colour in the lead. Fuck, it’s notable for being only the third superhero book currently published with a lead that’s a person-of-colour. And they’re all published by Marvel. Shit, three cheers for Marvel on that one.

7:16pm: I kind of can’t believe that Peter Bagge did a red Hulk variant for STRANGE TALES #2. And hey, it looks like Jim Rugg is listed in the credits for this one. Last I’d heard his Brother Voodoo story wasn’t going to be published. Hopefully the folks in charge changed their minds.

7:18pm: It looks like consumate professional Phil Jimenez is the new artist on Warren Ellis’ ASTONISHING X-MEN run starting with #31, which I had given up for dead. Our numbers have been dropping like a stone on the series since the heights of the Joss Whedon run thanks to the frequent delays. Despite the relaunch I have to wonder how many people are still interested… well, we’ll order the series at the sell-through of issue #30 and I’m sure Marvel will be ready with a second printing, if anyone still cares.

7:30pm: You’re not going to believe this, but in the Marvel Previews catalogue Marvel seems to have flipped the Dave Johnson cover for PUNISHER: FRANK CASTLE MAX #75, including his backwards signature. Check it:

_Media Card_BlackBerry_pictures_IMG00230

They’ve got it right on the website, as in not-flipped, but, yeah. I hope the error was somehow on Johnson’s side, because if it was Marvel that’s pretty not-cool.

7:37pm: Uh, Richard Corben is drawing a STARR THE SLAYER mini-series? How the hell did I miss that?

7:45pm: Alright, that’s all I’ve got for the Marvel part of the catalogue. Unfortunately I’m completely out of time for work stuff today. So Part two: The Rest Of The Catalogue, will have to wait until tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading, for now!

– Christopher