It's quite unseasonable.

*Sixty-one degrees on a November night?! Crazy. Makes me think of the past...


Will Eisner: A Spirited Life (a fragmented prose bio of the comics great, but there's a ton of interesting viewpoints and some detailed information)

Seven Soldiers - Zatanna #4 (of 4), Seven Soldiers - Frankenstein #1 (of 4)

The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin #4 (of 5)

Jack Cross #4

What times they were!

*We all know what the big news of the day (yesterday, actually) was - Diamond’s new sales standards threatens to bear the fruit of destruction for Claypool Comics. I agree with Warren Ellis’ musings that “[i]t's saddening that the first time a lot of people may hear of Claypool is through what must be a last-ditch plea,” while admitting that the name of the company didn’t quite set off any bells in my head at first, although I think I might have heard of some of their books in passing. As to why such information may have merely flowed through my head without registering, Chris Butcher has some ideas; he also has a nice piece up on the rise and fall of manga localization experts Studio Proteus, and how their striving for the highest-quality presentations of manga ultimately fell from grace.

*Soldier Reserves Dept: Well, most of you have probably already heard this one too, but it bears repeating: Seven Soldiers - Mister Miracle is now getting a third artist. Issue #1, you’ll recall, was handled by Pasqual Ferry, who had to leave the book for contractual reasons. A new artist was named - Billy Dallas Patton, of the upcoming Zoom Suit comic. And now, it seems Patton will only be working on issue #2, with parts of that second issue and all issues thereafter to be completed by Freddie E. Williams III, of Noble Causes. Plenty of art samples at the above link, plus a peek at Patton’s cover art for issue #3 (which will now probably not see print) at Rich Johnston’s. Hey, why break the pattern? Bring in a fourth artist for issue #4! I’d go for Igor Kordey myself.

*Not an awful lot to catch the eye, though still some choice picks,


The Secret Voice #1: Ah, I’ve been waiting for this one, the first issue of this new one-man anthology, a solo series by Zack Soto, published by AdHouse Books. I’ve really enjoyed Soto’s work in the past; you might recall his contributions to AdHouse’s Project: Superior anthology and Superior Showcase #0 (a Free Comic Book Day release). He’s got a nice visual style, and these 64 pages are sure to be packed with tales of the fantastic and dreamlike, or so reliable sources indicate. It’s also only $4.95 - quite an attractive price for a book of its length. Definitely worth seeking out.

Colonia: On Into the Great Lands: The second collection of this humorous adventure series by writer/artist Jeff Nicholson, also author of the excellent, yet largely unknown Taboo serial (and subsequent collection) Through the Habitrails. Advance review tomorrow.

Optic Nerve 10th Anniversary Pack: Damn. I saw the ‘10’ there and became briefly fooled that it was the long-awaited Optic Nerve #10 (which I believe has already drifted into certain sources); actually, this is a special pack of the first seven issues of this well-known series, with a special print by writer/artist Adrian Tomine thrown in to sweeten the deal. Actually, at only $19.95, this is a pretty sweet deal to begin with - probably worth looking into if the series has been catching your eye.

The American: Whoa, Dark Horse really cracks open the vaults for a fat (360 pages), cheap ($14.95) and b&w compilation of this old Mark Verheiden-written series, which ran for eight issues and one special from 1987-90, then received a four-issue miniseries continuation in 1992 (The American: Lost in America), with a few short stories here and there as well. Chris Warner and Grant Miehm were the primary artists, although the likes of Jim Lee, Frank Miller and Mike Mignola provided covers and assorted illustrations at different points. It’s a satire of US culture, with a fallible patriotic superhero featured at its center - it might be interesting to see how the material has aged since its pre-Clinton heyday, and I’m sure fans from back then will want to jump at this compilation.

Image Comics: Yes, that’s the name now for this most infamous of hardcover projects, originally intended to celebrate the title publisher’s 10th anniversary by offering new stories by the remainder of its founding creators. That was in 2002. Unfortunately, the book soon transformed into an all-too apt metaphor for those early ’90s days of big hype and intermittent production, as the project kept getting pushed farther and farther back. But now it’s finally here, sans Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld or Whilce Portacio, and with Jim Valentino’s story having already been released as a San Diego con ashcan (it being a lead-in to the then-upcoming ShadowHawk revival, which is currently up to issue #7). As nostalgic as I tend to get over these things, I’m finding it a little hard to justify the $24.99 price tag for a 128-page book, though I’m sure devoted fans will be itching to discover Erik Larsen’s long-awaited secret origin of the Savage Dragon or to witness Todd McFarlane’s first full-length comics story in the better part of 10 years. Or to see whatever it is that Marc Silvestri did. I don’t know.

Negative Burn Summer Special 2005: Of course, lateness at Image isn’t exclusive to deluxe anniversary books, as you can readily see. New Brian Bolland material, at least, for this newest installment of this recently-revived anthology series, plus work by James A. Owen of Starchild fame. Also out from Image, a somewhat more prompt title - Fell #3.

Ocean: Speaking of writer Warren Ellis, here’s perhaps the week’s most notable Big Two release - a slightly revised collection of the 6-issue miniseries of months past, with art by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story of Tom Strong fame. The final issue of this title featured some rather difficult-to-parse images of things exploding and bright lights and the like - it was actually rather similar to the difficult final pages of another Ellis outer space epic, Switchblade Honey. But apparently this time the barriers to comprehension were enough that Ellis has elected to add some newly-crafted explanatory dialogue to clarify what exactly is happening; it’s far from the first time such collected edition textual tinkering has taken place (right off the top of my head I know Sam Kieth altered some of the word balloon positioning in the collection of his own Wildstorm miniseries, Four Women), but it’s notable nonetheless. Not that it’ll do all that much to aid Ocean, which is about 2/3 of a good book on the whole, its pulp-flavored notions of violence being passed from one generation to the next and its amusing satire of institutionalized groupthink (and yes, the two are connected) ultimately being tossed aside to focus on the same old slam-bang action posturing. Ah well.