OUCH! The force!

*Powerful energies are laying me low! It’s


Bringing Home the Sushi: An Inside Look at Japanese Business Through Japanese Comics (eye-opening 1995 anthology of business-themed manga, worth hunting down)

Desolation Jones #5

Daydreams and Nightmares: The Fantastic Visions of Winsor McCay (Fantagraphics reprint of a classic sampler of McCay works, nice and big)

Malinky Robot: Bicycle (youthful reverie on the sci-fi streets, from Sonny Liew - worth checking out)

Man, I'm so tuckered it looks like I’ll have to rely on other people’s interesting writings.

*Ragnell is on a Seven Soldiers roll; I already linked to her piece on Bulleteer once before, but now over the weekend she’s added two more equally fascinating examinations - Zatanna and motherhood, and Shining Knight as an allegory for the experience of puberty for a young girl. I think the latter provides especially good food for thought, as it provides quite an intriguing perspective on a segment of the project I frankly didn’t care for - go read them all, though.

*Foreign Language Fun Dept: I spied this AnimeOnDvd thread the other day, with a great link to a big list of 2004 circulation figures for Japanese magazines, including a whole mess of manga anthologies (it’s not comprehensive, though). Sure it was entirely in Japanese, but it was worth sorting through just to realize that a bunch of anthologies are still hanging in above the one million mark (Weekly Shounen Jump just barely dipped below the three million mark), while others like the alternative-flavored IKKI are sporting numbers about on par with the average X-Men spin-off miniseries. Fortunately, Adam Stephanides has now provided a full translation/analysis on his blog - categorized, in descending order, and complete with 2003-04 comparisons. Lots of downward trends, it looks like, plus a ever-widening gulf in sales between the big publishers (Koudansha, Shuueisha, and Shogakukan) and smaller entities. Wait a minute - which country are we talking about?

*Oh heavens, it’s a really rather awful-looking preview of Marvel’s Mark Millar-written fotofunnies extravaganza 1985. Let me be only the latest soul to remark that the whole thing looks sort of reminiscent of Goosebumps, either the show or the book covers. I’ve heard a bunch of people make that comment so far - maybe this visual style just strikes a chord with observers of a certain age? I’m thinking of the Hulk and zombie shots in particular, the rubbery clean look and slightly glowing figures, coupled with the actors all agog or consternated. Abhay Khosla offers additional commentary for your pleasure (scroll down to the big images). “Doughy Hulk SMASH Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle!”

*Wait. I’m better now.


Meow, Baby!: Oh boy, it’s Jason - Book 7! Yes, Norway’s finest is back again, this time with a 144-page collection of short humor strips and gags. No, it probably won’t carry the ferocious comics punch of Hey, Wait… or You Can’t Get There From Here, but it’s kind of a big moment in any case; I do think this is the last of Jason’s back-catalog to appear in an English-language format (discounting his two early ‘realist’ books, done without his instantly-recognizable animal characters), with the upcoming The Left Bank Gang poised to bring us right up to speed with his European output. Tom Spurgeon has a preview, for those interested; honestly, Jason is one of the very few talents on my ‘buy everything, sight-unseen’ list, and that’s saying a lot.

Schizo #4: Good god! Issue #3 of this thing, Ivan Brunetti’s intermittent (to put it mildly) solo series, came out in 1998. But now it’s back in a big way, a titanic 11” x 15” billboard of a book, 32 pages for $9.95. A lot of this material has appeared elsewhere in its eight year journey to publication, but Brunetti’s fans will obviously not want to pass this up, nor will any fan of visually polished comedic nihilism.

Planetary #24: And no discussion of delay is complete without this pretty little kitty. Supposedly, here’s where the book suddenly snaps back into a monthly release schedule for at least two issues, as writer Warren Ellis strives to tie up many of the hanging plot threads; we’re in conclusion territory at last, it seems. “And if the last pages of this story don't leave you gasping for breath and begging for more, nothing will!” Oh you tease.

Warren Ellis’ Apparat Vol. 1: Being a collection of Ellis’ four one-shot titles from Avatar, originally published around the turn of 2004 to 2005. These book were conceived, you’ll recall, as samples from an alternate comics industry where superheroes never became entrenched as the dominant genre, leading to the thriving of other pulp-based styles. The best of them, Frank Ironwine (art by Carla Speed McNeil), will prove especially interesting for fans of Ellis’ current Fell, as it concerns a brilliant detective who bucks the grit and cynicism of the world to solve crimes through empathy (and the occasional well-placed fist). Also present is the quite good if somewhat familiar dangerous futurism piece Angel Stomp Future (chaotic art by Juan Jose Ryp), the perfectly decent Tom Strong-inspired Simon Spector (art by ever-solid Jacen Burrows), and the misconceived personal drama of Quit City (but Laurenn McCubbin’s visuals are nice). Apparently, there’s also 10 pages worth of new essays by Ellis. As you can tell, it’s a nice-looking collection of mostly-good comics, a far more fruitful experiment than Ellis’ ‘pop comics’ initiative from years back. And now it’s all yours for $12.99.

Joe R. Lansdale’s The Drive-In: Wow, two Avatar trades in one week?! I didn’t even know this thing had a collection planned - it’s a 4-issue miniseries from 2003-2004, a comics adaptation of Lansdale’s cult classic 1988 prose novel The Drive-In: A B-Movie With Blood and Popcorn Made in Texas. The art is by Andres Guinaldo (samples here), a strange mix of shaky simplicity and overamped detail; it kind of adds to the appeal, however, making the whole thing look like some temporally-displaced ’80s bargain bin fugitive. And naturally, Lansdale’s material is good fun: a bunch of Texans are trapped in the titular cinema venue by a strange meteor, and much gory social satire ensues as everyone slowly breaks down. Obviously not for everyone, though it might just be for you. Avatar also has issue #3 of Escape of the Living Dead out this week, in case you want more straightforward horror.

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #1 (of 5): Here we go. It was only a matter of time before Marvel hearkened back to one of the prestige items of their recent past - Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s famous X-Force revamp, later re-titled X-Statix. Yeah, the series had already sort of begun to run out of steam around the time of the title change, and it never fully recovered from the Princess Di affair, but when it was good it was one of the best things Marvel was publishing, a witty reversal of the storied ‘mutants as oppressed minority’ theme, with everyone transformed into callow media superstars. Mike Allred is only doing the covers and inking Nick Dragotta’s pencils this time around (Laura Allred remains on colors), but Milligan has already hit on the sort of plot I’ve really been waiting for in a book of this type - a direct examination of the impermanence of death in a superhero universe, featuring an all-star cast of still-deceased characters pissed off that the resurrection train has left them at the station. Preview art here. High hopes for this one.

Iron Man: The Inevitable #2 (of 6): Nice superhero stuff here, from Joe Casey and Frazer Irving. Hard to say anything else about it, but it’s well-done.

Seven Soldiers - Mister Miracle #3 (of 4): I’m gonna keep myself optimistic about this one. Artist Freddie Williams II did some good work on his pages from last issue, and I get the feeling that writer Grant Morrison is going to pull it together. Am I deluding myself? No no, I’m keeping my eyes to the sky here. What does DC have to say about this? Hmmm - “…the most shocking conclusion you will see in a comic this year…” Well that’s it then. I’m going to place this and Planetary #24 side-by-side and see which one thrills me to death first. I hope I can get to the keyboard with my final breaths.

All Star Superman #2: Excuse me friends! Have you heard of this new comic book? I believe it is about a man who can lift large objects and perform other abnormal feats. It is part of a small line of pamphlets regarding fantastic exploits, though the other one is about a fellow who dresses as a hoot owl or something and leers at children, and I have been recommended away from that one! What is the ‘word on the street’ regarding this publication? Positive?