Lotsa Points

*Publishing Note Dept (#1): As Brian Nicholson noted in yesterday's comments, the PictureBox online store now has Brian Chippendale's Galactikrap #2 and the newspaper-format Cold Heat Special from co-creator Frank Santoro & guest artist Jon Vermilyea. The former book will be of interest to anyone looking to see Chippendale explore a (thus far) straightforward adventure fantasy, while the latter will appeal mainly to Cold Heat readers who'd like to see some of the characters run around in a roomy, slick, almost Jeff Smith-like visual style.

*Publishing Note Dept (#2): Holy shit, Vertical seems to have licensed Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack. The fun begins in the fall of 2008. In case anyone doesn't know, Black Jack is one of Tezuka's signature characters, an outlaw surgeon who performs the toughest operations for big money -- he's basically the anti-Golgo 13 -- and his 1973-83 series remains one of Tezuka's most beloved works in Japan. VIZ put out two volumes' worth of the pulpy stuff in the late '90s, but it's long been considered one of those series that everyone seems to want, though not many think it'll sell.

Unless I'm totally off, this will be Vertical's biggest manga project ever, and a noteworthy plunge into longform pop comics from an artist they've had some success with on 'prestige' projects (whether that label even fits Buddha or not, that's how it was sold) and carefully-handled one-off books. Tezuka's probably never gonna sell like gangbusters in North America, but it will be interesting to see if the connoisseur audience that Vertical tends to court will offer them some measure of the success the general manga readership has denied other publishers working with Tezuka's lighter books. Heaven knows my money's down.

Mineshaft #20

The newest issue of this small magazine, 56 pages for $6.95. I don't have much to say about Mineshaft that I haven't said before; it's a charming hodgepodge, built on the strength of contributions from many underground-era cartoonists and fellow travelers, all of whom appear to be sending in basically whatever they want. I like the letters column, where Robert Crumb ruminates briefly (and with many ellipses) on the value of collecting, and Kim Deitch details his reading of a dime novel serial published over the course of 16 years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But really, the whole publication feels like an extended letters section, words and drawings and comics sent in with no cohesion beyond a desire to greet. Crumb also has five sketchbook pages, and Deitch a pair of full-page illustrations (one from his upcoming Deitch's Pictorama words-and-pictures project with his brothers). Mary Fleener reviews Aline Kominsky Crumb's Need More Love, and sends in some autobiographical Mary-Land strips. Frank Stack has his usual spicy adventure serial. A two-page strip on religious terrorism by Spain Rodriguez. A Jay Lynch illustation. An Art Spiegelman sketch, and a Jay Lynch/Ed Piskor strip about Jay Lynch and Art Spiegelman. Biographical drawings by Fly and an essay about the nation of Turkey by Jay Kinney.

It's very cozy, low-key to the extreme, and its relaxed tone will probably send admirers of these artists plucking out the interesting bits. It probably won't entice the merely curious, and certainly can't appeal to those interested in sustained works, or simply not interested in this area of comics art. I tend to find some pleasure in every issue, even as I look over this issue's special 2003-07 contributer index, and think less of pouring through pages in old magazines as sifting through a big stack of correspondence I happen to have around, even though none of it's addressed to me. Still, it can be endearing, even relaxing for those on the wavelength. If you think that's you, give it a try.