Say! There are things to buy!

*No funny comments on federal holidays.


Batman: Year 100 #1 (of 4) (Paul Pope - yes)

Supermarket #1 (of 4) (new Brian Wood-written miniseries; Kristian's art looks real nice)

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #2 (of 5)

Donna Mia #1-2 (of an intended 4) (so, Neil Gaiman and a succubus walk into a diner...)

But are the comments ever funny?

*Well, it’s President’s Day here in the US. Hopefully none of you citizens had to urgently mail things out or go to the bank for business or anything, because then you’d be shit out of luck, courtesy of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, grinding the federal machine to a halt from beyond the grave. Yeah! All you have left now is


Crickets #1: The new ongoing pamphlet-format (32-page, two-color) solo series for Kramers Ergot mastermind Sammy Harkham, from Drawn and Quarterly. Sometimes it seems that Harkham’s involvement with Kramers threatens to overshadow his own accomplishments as a cartoonist; that’s not to insinuate that Kramers somehow isn’t the most vital of contemporary large-scale comics anthologies, but just keep in mind that the actual comics of Harkham are often quite good, and healthily varied in their subject matter from the spacious journeying of Poor Sailor (currently available in a handy single volume) to the misplaced teenage dreaming and dawdling of Somersaulting, Harkham’s contribution to Drawn and Quarterly Showcase Vol. 3. But these works are joined by a concern over the affairs of those with limited resources, the downcast-by-birth, and this book looks to continue the trend, being the first part of an ongoing serial about various wandering folks, like a man who apparently cannot die and a pair of fellows on a journey to bury a child. The preview up at Tom Spurgeon’s site showcases Harkham’s skill with dialogue tenor and pacing, and I expect the full work will warrant close examination on the reader’s part.

Big Questions #8: Theory and Practice: And speaking of Drawn and Quarterly serials, here’s the latest offering by Anders Nilsen of Dogs and Water renown. Originating as a formalist experimentation-oriented Xeroxed minicomic, D&Q took over publication of this series last issue - this one, coming in at 40 pages, will feature a handy synopsis and character guide for new readers. From what I can gather, the current story follows the philosophical queries (see title) surrounding the everyday affairs of birds and the humans they encounter - I may be only skimming the surface here, as I can’t say I’ve read the tale (which began back in issue #3, I believe). Nilsen and Harkham are currently out on a US/Canada tour with Kevin Huizenga (whose own Or Else #4 ought to be arriving soon from D&Q), and it’s interesting to witness all three of these creators focusing their storytelling talents on short-length stories and serializations, here in a time where the longform original graphic novel is supposed to be attaining dominance over this sector of the comics world - do recall a certain artist’s advice to keep one’s views on ‘graphic novel culture’ free of rigid packaging considerations. Obviously, natural reader access problems arise with a serialization of this sort - how many potential readers even knew prior chapters existed, let alone currently have access to such small print run items? At least this particular issue is acting to alleviate such concerns what with the summaries and the like, and Nilsen’s delicate, expressive renderings are attractive.

Golgo 13 Vol. 1 (of 13): Supergun: Finally out in the Direct Market. Review here. Not the greatest introduction to the much-loved character, but good entertainment nonetheless.

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Vol. 1 (of 18): Also finally out in the Direct Market. Review here. More problematic - it’s a really big introduction, and probably not the end of the introduction at that, and you’ll have to wade through some awfully ripe melodramatics. But Urasawa’s suspense instincts are fine, when they have the chance to work, and the story as a whole is much-acclaimed. Not a great volume, but the potential is patent.

Put the Book Back on the Shelf: A Belle & Sebastian Anthology: In celebration (not to mention promotion) of their new album The Life Pursuit, the titular musical outfit becomes the focus of this new Image anthology, 144 full-color pages for $19.99, the stories being inspired by (or adapted from) their songs. Partial contributor list here (and if Image has a complete contributor list packed away on their site and I’ve just been unable to find it, please let me know - if you’re putting out an anthology, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want such a thing available for interested parties to peruse), though you’ll want to know that the tome also sports the comics writing debut of one Mr. Christopher Butcher, of The Beguiling and internet comics commentary fame (he’s switching addresses soon, so I’ll shift this link when the time comes). Reason enough to look into this!

He Done Her Wrong: Oh, this should be neat. It’s a Fantagraphics-released 5 ½” x 8 ½” facsimile edition of a 1930 extended graphic narrative by Milt Gross, a parody of wordless woodcut picture novels, with a heavy cinema silent comedy influence. Gross was a talented columnist and strip/editorial cartoonist in the first half of the 20th century, who also turned his abilities toward animation and writing for radio and the silver screen; from what I’ve seen of his strips (a sample), he’s got an agile and energetic line, and it should be good to see his work without any dialogue. Highly acclaimed by those who’ve read it in various forms over the years - obviously, this $16.95, 256-page softcover intends to lock in the work’s position as an early example of the graphic novel sensibility in comics history. Certainly fans of classic newspaper work will want this.

Zippy: Type “Z” Personality: Zippy Strips 2004-2005: Hey, it’s the new Zippy book, another November-to-November compilation from Fantagraphics. I personally think Zippy reads a lot better in collected form than as an actual daily newspaper strip - not only do the continuing storylines go down better, but the absurdity has a chance to better wash over the reader through the cumulative nature of the book format, divorced from the typical daily breathing room that following a strip requires. Plus, maybe your local papers just don’t carry it. I’m pretty sure there’ll be some nice Bill Griffith annotations too, so you can track the locations of all those architectural oddities.

Solo #9: This time out, the feature artist is Scott Hampton, most recently seen in the Batman: Gotham County Line miniseries, though he’s illustrated everything from The Bible: Eden to the 2003 Wildstorm book The Life Eaters to the early ‘80s pulp-inspired Pacific Comics sci-fi series Silverheels (later an Eclipse graphic novel). I distinctly recall seeing his 1994 Heavy Metal graphic novel The Upturned Stone hyped up a lot in those old Kitchen Sink catalogs - it was collected along with a whole bunch of his other horror stories in the two-volume IDW omnibus series Spookhouse. There’s going to be some horror material in this one too, and hopefully a nice cross-section of Hampton’s visual talents, ranging from sturdy, direct linework to atmospheric paints. Solo is always a great visual showcase, and I don’t expect this one to fall short.

Iron Man: The Inevitable #3 (of 6): More in this very good Joe Casey/Frazer Irving miniseries, a fun, attractive modernization of assorted Iron Man characters and concepts, worth your superhero-reading time. Check out this recent Marc Singer post on this and that other recent Casey-written series, Gødland, for more analysis.

Astonishing X-Men #13: Oh, this is starting back up too. Joss Whedon, John Cassaday, Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants, etc. The first twelve issues rolled along on a steady track from ‘pleasant enough superhero entertainment’ to ‘awful,’ and unfortunately the latter was reached around issue #9, so I can’t say I’m planning to hop back in. Still, here it is, and I’m sure Cassaday’s art will be looking good, especially with that new bi-monthly schedule in place to give him room to breathe.