Not until Thursday, remember.

*Short Attention Span Dept: The ‘dvd magazine’ is always a dicey thing in action; the marriage of chapter-happy video technology to the natural compartmentalization of the magazine would seem to be a logical, even inevitable one, though none of the past attempts I’ve witnessed have ever caught on for very long, at least not without a print magazine to back it up. And yet, the idea is just so damn perfect that every new attempt sees like a fresh innovation. Into the fray this time comes the estimable McSweeney’s, with their new quarterly disc project Wholphin, a collection of short films and fragments of interesting things from across the globe. As guilty as I feel asking you to endure the toxically twee trailer at the above link, I think it’s worth the agony to catch glimpses of the neat things included in the debut issue (which is smartly being included with the Dec/Jan issue of The Believer and McSweeney’s Vol. 18), including that film on Al Gore that Spike Jonze made a while back, bits and pieces from a David O. Russell documentary on the Iraq war, plus contributions from Patton Oswald and Miranda July, various cartoons and industrial films, Turkish sitcom footage, and more. Probably worth a watch, and here’s hoping it manages to survive on its own starting with issue #2.

*It’s late, but it might be great


We All Die Alone: This will probably be one of last really gorgeously produced books of 2005; even the cover texture has been gathering plaudits. It’s a 224-page collection of work by Mark Newgarden, RAW alum and co-creator of the infamous Garbage Pail Kids, though it’s his syndicated strips that make up the bulk of this material. Everyone’s taken a dip in the Garbage Pail at some time or another, although that might not prepare you for the often avant garde melding of ‘low’ culture with medium-bursting formal acrobatics, such as his famous Nancy homage Love’s Savage Fury (which is included). Your best shot at getting familiar with this fascinating artist.

The Times of Botchan Vol. 2 (of 10): Ah, another release by Fanfare/Ponent Mon, those specialists in gorgeous presentations of smart, sophisticated manga (and manga-influenced European tomes). This is the latest entry in their magnum opus of translation - a dense work of historical fiction, a survey of early 20th century Japanese living and thinking, incorporating characters real and fictional, young and old, westernized and traditional, always drifting back to author Soseki Natsume and the creation of his novel Botchan. Writer Natsuo Sekikawa leaned somewhat heavily on background-dispensing captions in the first volume, though there are many characters to introduce and many scenes to set, and such verbiage is at least interesting. And artist Jiro Taniguchi is at the top of his game, lavishly detailing period setting and costumes yet retaining an appealing pliability in character faces, despite the heaviness of his designs - for all its studious accuracy in place and being, there are some memorable human exaggerations, like an epic, heavily moistened kissing scene. This volume will bring the English translation up to the end of the first Japanese collection, which perhaps raises a key qualm for domestic readers: these aren’t thick books, and at $19.99 a pop they’re well above the current manga pricing average. But they’re also well above average quality, and there’s probably going to be some nice historical information included. I’d make a joke about this story not being done until 2010 at the rate it’s coming, but then again the work took a decade to complete in the first place (1987-1997), so it’s not so bad a wait.

Buddha Vol. 7 (of 8): Prince Ajatasattu: On the other hand this one is almost done, after a little over two years’ wait total. It’s also a lavish (hardcover, even) presentation of a lengthy, relatively highbrow manga, this time by the beloved Osamu Tezuka himself. My personal history with this book extends only to Book 2, after which I stopped pursuing the hardcovers to wait for the promised low-priced softcover printings, which then never materialized, leaving me quite far behind. One of these days I’ll catch up, seeing as how I love Tezuka’s stuff (including his mature works’ oft jarring blend of violence, slapstick, and philosophy) and this heavily fictional look at the spiritual figure is often considered to be among his best projects.

Solo #8: Teddy Kristiansen. It’ll probably look good.

A1 BoJeffries Terror Tomes #1 (of 3): Wow, this was first announced roughly forever ago, but I’m still interested. The feature presentation is obviously the reprints of Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse’s The BoJeffries Saga, a strange, compelling series of comedic short stories surrounding the Addams-like BoJeffries clan, though the real appeal comes from the working-class English atmosphere that saturates every panel. There’s plenty of other features, new and old, including a reprint of Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli’s animal rights-themed horror short Baby Cakes, some Mr. Monster material from Michael Gilbert and Dave Dorman, the long-delayed short story debut of the Warren Ellis/Steve Pugh creation Alice Hotwire (sans Ellis - Pugh is writing the story himself), a Ramsey Campbell story with art by David Lloyd, and much more. Newsarama has a huge 24-page preview of the issue; looks really nice.

Lady Snowblood Vol. 2: The Deep-Seated Grudge: Killings.

Malinky Robot: Bicycle: I enjoyed the fast-reading, Xeric-fueled predecessor to this, Malinky Robot: Stinky Fish Blues, which writer/artist Sonny Liew (also of Flight and the Vertigo miniseries My Faith in Frankie) self-published a while back. This is the follow up, released by Slave Labor Graphics, a digest-sized 48-page book, in b&w and color for only $2.95. If it’s anything like the last story, there’ll be plenty of light antics and gentle messages, with some utterly gorgeous visuals. Scads of pages from the new work here and here.

The Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue: As mentioned yesterday on this very site. But starting this Thursday you won’t have to head off to a big bookstore to pick up this $29.95 omnibus, collecting the three works cleverly contained by this tome’s lengthy title - A Contract With God, A Life Force, and Dropsie Avenue. Probably the favored way to pick up this material, if you don’t have it.

All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #3: Oh, this book!

Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!: Ha ha, boy I hope your shop’s already got this puppy ordered, since there was apparently only 150 loose copies left for sale as of last week (the second printing is due in March). Still, all you pre-ordering Direct Market denizens will now finally get your allotment of this hugely-lauded (and just plain huge) best-of compilation of Winsor McCay’s classic, with freshly restored colors and deluxe printing and general sheen. Apparently just staring at this thing is experience enough to justify the $120 tag, though (armed with my big red Little Nemo 1905-1914 book from Taschen) I haven’t quite had the urge, not the spare cash to foster said urge. Maybe I just need to lay my eyes on the thing.