Jack Chick is spinning in his grave.

as4.jpgNone of us is, sadly, unfamiliar with the many attempts to use comic books to attract the unwitting into organised religion. While the scare-tactics of the Jack T. Chick organisation and the “Chick Tracts” sought to force unbelievers into sacred submission under threat of damnation for all eternity, apparently you really can catch more flies with honey than with threats of never-ending torture. Witness a new kind of religious tract, the really gay one.

A product of the WeHo Church in Los Angeles, Adam & Steve: The Comic Book features the longest conversation I’ve ever seen at closing time at a gay bar. Espescially the longest conversation about Jesus. Apparently the WeHo (“West Hollywood”) Church was “created to be a place for you to celebrate God’s love and make new friends in a safe and non-religious setting.” Huh. That philosophy does extend to the comic, in which one dude trades Jesus for sex. Which is kind of amazing.

Anyway, rather than a comment on religion or… you know… whatever, I just wanted to catalogue this new step on comics’ path into ‘the mainstream’. How nice of the nerd diapsora to worm their way into the irreverant churches of Hollywood. 🙂

– Christopher
(Thanks to Anthony Easton for the heads-up, and I’m sorry I left this thanks off of the initial post.)

Shipping January 31st, 2007

The End #1

The following is a list of books scheduled to ship to The Beguiling Books & Art in Toronto next week. This doesn’t mean they’re shipping to every store, but it’s probably at least worth asking about if these books don’t show up in your local shoppe.

…finally, a big week for comics. It seems like the last couple of weeks saw a lot of ‘oddball’ titles that made our subscribers happy, but very few of the broad-ranging, broad-interest titles that drive customers into the store. What are those titles? Well, because of the handy-dandy ‘read more’ function on WordPress, I’m going to put the list as a whole behind a cut and just list my picks for the week. Lemmie know what you think of the format…

Chris’s Picks of the Week:

NOV063549 CALVARIO HILLS #1 7.95
NOV063560 REFLECTIONS #2 7.95
NOV063562 THE END #1 7.95
The new IGNATZ books are shipping this week, for reals. Fantagraphics is always a little eager to announce their book releases, counting “it’s in stores” as “It’s in our store, Diamond will get it 2-4 weeks from now.” It’s a little frustrating explaining this to our customers, but I can understand their enthusiasm: there’s no line of books out right now as consistantly attractive both aesthetically and authorially as the Ignatz line. By no means is every book a success, but I certainly enjoy the successes a great deal. This selection of books features the debut titles from American Anders Nilsen and Spanish creator Marti, and the second installment of Italian Marco Corona’s Reflections. Cool beans.

NOV062292 DAREDEVIL #93 2.99
OCT060273 EX MACHINA #26  2.99
SEP061832 WALKING DEAD #34  2.99
A bunch of ongoing genre comics that I enjoy reading, though primarily in trade paperback (or in hardcover as Walking Dead goes…). Still, if I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the collection, these are three titles I’d be picking up every week thanks to the visceral and immediate satisfaction they provide… I guess it’s no surprise that Brubaker, Vaughan, and Kirkman are have die-hard fans; they write comics that people want to read, not feel that they have to read because they tie into 300 other titles…

I’ll give this a shot, it feels like more Garth Ennis Hellblazer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to once again commend Dark Horse for bringing these trade paperbacks back into print to celebrate the anniversary of this great series. It makes this issue considerably less shameful than just a few short months ago. Congrats to Stan Sakai on an amazing run!

Beasts!JUN063099 BEASTS HC 28.95
Well, the Fanta blog has been talking up this collection of illustrations by top artists for so long that I’m genuinely curious to see if it can live up to the hype. Looking at the list of participants, it’s not hard to imagine that it’ll be excellent. For the record, that includes: Craig Thompson, Souther Salazar, Jeff Soto, Glenn Barr, Dave Cooper, Tim Biskup, Seonna Hong, Anders Nilsen, Art Chantry, Brian Chippendale, Brian Ralph, Bwana Spoons, Colleen Coover, Jason Miles, Jesse LeDoux, Johnny Ryan, Jordan Crane, Keith Shore, Kevin Scalzo, Marc Bell, Martin Cendreda, Mat Brinkman, R. Kikuo Johnson, Richard Sala, Sammy Harkham, Stan Sakai, S. Britt, Steven Weissman, Ted Jouflas, Tom Gauld (and many more…).

You know Grant Morrison is cursed when even his trade paperbacks are delayed. Poor guy. I hope 2007 is much kinder to him. It’s already going to be kind to us though, with the publication of this classic and acclaimed series, and the conclusion to the most interesting (and successful…) superhero project of 2006. It’s all out in trade paperback now folks, no messing about. Make sure to pick it up!

Apparently this is a post-9/11 journal comic about rediscovering America, by Thor Jensen. I have so many conflicting ideas about what this could be like… I’m curious to read it though. It’s apparently got a blurb from Perez Hilton of all people too. Just… wierd. Worth flipping through in the store I think.

NOV063863 HEAVEN!! VOL 1 GN (OF 3) 9.99
This is the first of Tokyopop’s “Direct Market Exclusive” titles… I’m curious if that affected sales at all. I know we’re gonna do a little thing in store to help promote it and track the sales pretty closely, but… yeah. If you happen to be curious about it though… it sounds like stereotypical manga. Seriously, if I was going to describe popular manga to someone who had never heard of it, I’d say “Well, it’s a bit like… a girl who can see and exorcise ghosts, right? The school punk saves her from getting hit by a truck, but ends up in a coma himself, and so she, and his disembodied spirit must defend his prone body from being possessed by this, that and the other local spirits. Unfortunately, she fails in her task, and an ancient playboy takes over the punk’s body, leaving him to inhabit a pink stuffed monkey. Hilarity ensues.”

I’m gonna get in trouble for this…

Mushishi Vol 1 Cover

NOV063489 MUSHISHI VOL 1 GN  12.95
I was really curious about this one myself, but then Jog went and saved me the trouble of wondering and wrote up an extensive, glowing review of this first volume.

“If it’s really the author’s wish that fabulous creatures do exist, her greatest success is in prompting the same feeling in her readers, despite the horror that understandably courses through the thoughtful author’s world. She manipulates the senses, like a Mushi herself. She’s got me hooked, and I’m not going to be the last.” – Jog, http://joglikescomics.blogspot.com/

It sounds almost like manga-as-magical-realism, actually, which I can’t really think of too many examples of in manga.

Apparently, Dark Horse and/or Diamond put this stupid fucking book on a shipping list before Christmas some time, and we’re JUST getting it this week. Lots of angry, annoyed customers that don’t understand how both Dark Horse and Diamond are both saying this book is out, BUT IT ISN’T AT THEIR LOCAL STORE. I only ordered like 15 of these things, but thanks for making me look like an asshole anyway guys, really appreciated.

So, alright, let’s see if I can work the “more” feature. The complete shipping list is behind the cut…

– Chris

Continue reading “Shipping January 31st, 2007”

I <3 Comics...

You know what I love? Comics.

Granted, the comics-related phrase I utter most often in a week is “fuck’n comics,” but then no one can break your heart like the one you love. Yeah, I totally love comics, and the schizophrenic state of my bookshelves will explain that it is not a certain genre, style, or delivery format that I love, but comics as a medium.

Starting at P, my bookshelf reads Palestine by Joe Sacco, Pazzo di te by Giovanni and Accardi, Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa, Past Lies by De Phillipes, Weir, and Mitten, Peng by Corey Lewis, Pedigree Girls by Sherwin Tija, Perfect Example by John Porcillino, Persepolis by Marjane Satarapi, Pervert Club by Will Allison, Perverso by Rich Tommasi, Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka, Pip & Norton by Dave Cooper, Le Piquer d’Etoiles by Shizuka Nakano, Pizzeria Kamikaze by Karef and Hanuka, Placebo Man by Tomer Hanuka, Planetary by Ellis, Cassaday, and Martin, Planetes by Makoto Yuklimura, Pokemon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, Pop Gun War by Farel Dalrymple, Powers by Bendis and Oeming, Preacher by Ennis and Dillon, Pride of Baghdad by Vaughan and Henrichon, Princess of Darkness by Yuichiro Tanuma, Project’s Romance, Superior, and Telstar by various, Project X: Cup Noodles and Seven Eleven by various, Promethea by Moore, Williams, and Gray, Pussey! By Dan Clowes, and Put The Book Back On The Shelf by Various.

This all-encompassing love of comics is not universally shared; I’ve known this for a very long time. I try not to let the clique-ism and self-consciousness bother me when it comes to people dismissing work out of hand, but honestly? I think about the same of someone who writes off manga as a whole as someone who writes off comics as a whole: not much. And it’s not just manga, but any genre/format/style/country’s work. It seems so completely limited in scope, and more often than not those words seem spoken from a position of ignorance rather than any considered or researched position.

Every once in a while I’ll come across an essay, blog post, or even snarky comment from someone who’s been through a fandom and come out the other side, and when they have grievances I tend to give them a bit more weight… as in any weight… and really listen to what they have to say. I stumbled over a discussion about “Moe” a few months back that was like that, and it was really interesting because of it… I learned something, it was great. But coming across a series of columns like Bob Holt’s ‘I Love Comics’ at comicsnob.com? Not so much. I can’t even pull out a quote to illustrate why I think the column is weak, so much as the columns just belie a shallowness of experience and thought on the subject. Rather than write on the subject I was just going to be content to leave a comment, but according to Bob:

“I guess it comes down to this. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion (I think someone once remarked that they’re kind of like a certain body part). I’d like to think that we encourage discussion from people of all levels of experience here. If someone’s inexperience is a factor, all we can do is recommend something for them to check out. I think limiting the discussion to those select few that can be universally ordained as “experts” is dangerous and narrow-minded, especially if we’re interested in how neophytes to the world of comics perceive our little world here.” – Bob Holt, ComicSnob.com

Really? I’m more of a “I’d rather here what people who know what they’re talking about” kind of a guy, than a “people making pronouncements based on their under-informed opinions” kind of a guy, but then this is the internet. In the end, we’ll just agree to disagree that basing your opinions of manga on 15 different books and hear-say picked up on the internet constitutes something worthwhile.

In a related, though not entirely dissimilar situation, I personally think Jacob Covey is one of the most talented designers working in the comics industry at the moment. He’s probably best known for his stunning design on the recently released Popeye Volume 1 Collection from Fantagraphics books, but he’s probably second-best known for the following comment, posted to the Fantagraphics blog:

“I said Manga is crap. The only reason I said this is that Manga is crap. As David notes, however, “The general dismissal of manga’s artistic merit isn’t anything new, but the added doses of cynicism and condescension made it seem somehow special.” True. I AM cynical and condescending to a special degree but I am uncomfortable with an entire genre of comics being dominated by a single “look” that, furthermore, relies heavily on a masked fixation with adolescence. Perhaps that’s too psychological of me but, friends, it’s gross.” – Jacob Covey, Fantagraphics.com/blog (archived by John Jakala)

Jacob, where to start? Is it with all of the manga porn that your employer publishes? I guess that could still be ‘crap’ though… How about the non-porn manga that Fantagraphics has published, including Anywhere But Here by Tori Miki, or Screw Style by Yoshiharu Tsuge in Comics Journal #250? Crap as well? I think the art-comics establishment might disagree with you there, sir. To say nothing of the “artcomix-friendly” manga published by D&Q, Fanfare/Ponent-Mon, or Vertical… I dunno about you but I won’t be the one standing up to loudly proclaim Abandon The Old In Tokyo as crap.

But I guess what I take the biggest issue with in Mr. Covey’s blog entry is the ridiculous assertion that manga “relies heavily on a masked fixation with adolescence.” Mr Covey?


Defend Western Civilization in 100,000 words or less. Use graphs.

So, those are my thoughts on cultural and artistic elitism, at the moment anyway. If Frederick L. Schodt, or hell, even Toren Smith, would care to show up in the comments section and debate the relative merits of manga versus other forms of artistic expression in comics, or even declare it all crap, by all means, I’m willing to listen. Everyone else has got to qualify their positions a little bit better than they have been for me to pay any attention from now on…

– Christopher