Lots of Collections

*It's like we flushed out the packrats, and they'd packed their stuff into attractive, bookshelf-ready items.


Black Jack Vol. 1 (of 17)

The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard


All Star Superman #12

at The Savage Critics!



Tamara Drewe: I've heard a lot of good things about this one - it's a new Houghton Mifflin US paperback collection ($16.95 for 136 pages) of veteran cartoonist and illustrator Posy Simmonds' modern reworking of Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd, a tale of lust and fame and disquiet originally serialized in the pages of the Guardian in 2005 and 2006. Sample here. Found in the Merchandise section of Diamond's weekly list, because it does have a lot in common with an official High School Musical singing pen.

Sublife Vol. 1: This is a new, ongoing squarebound one-man anthology series from artist John Pham and publisher Fantagraphics, an 8.25" x 6.75" two-color home for his 221 Sycamore St. serial (last seen in early volumes of MOME, although I don't know if it's being reworked), along with various other projects. Your $8.99 gets you 64 pages. Those with long memories will recall Pham's three-issue Epoxy series from half a decade or so ago, which showed off some impressive manga-informed work; his newer material seems more subdued although the main serial has some visually interesting, seemingly David B.-influenced fantasy sequences. Slideshow here, interview with Tom Spurgeon here.

Che: A Graphic Biography: The newest project by underground noteworthy Spain Rodriguez, a 120-page softcover from Verso, presenting just what you think. The price is $16.95.

Garry Trudeau: Doonesbury and the Aesthetics of Satire: A critical study by Kerry D. Soper of the story mechanics of the venerable newspaper strip, wedding longform narrative continuity to a particularized political commentary. From the University Press of Mississippi, $22.00 for a 186-page softcover.

The Best American Comics 2008: The third opening for the comics wing of Houghton Mifflin's long-running Best American series, this time debuting new series editors Jessica Abel & Matt Madden, with Lynda Barry serving as guest editor. The late David Foster Wallace once put together an in-depth (and rather funny) look at what the hell those titles (and really anything Best American) mean(s), if you want to know, but the short version is that the 'series editor' is a fixed position whereby someone culls a big list of works from everything deemed eligible, while the 'guest editor' picks and chooses from that list (with maybe a few added personal suggestions) to form a particular year's tome. Chris Ware was the guest editor last year, and there was some consternation when, in a disturbing twist, he chose works that someone like Chris Ware would probably like. Barry's tenure has already been marked with the mini-controversy of DC disallowing the inclusion of an excerpt from Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100, but the list of included folks (fifth bullet) looks decent, as does Eleanor Davis' cover; expect lots of excerpts, though, and probably a bunch of stuff you've seen, if you're as far outside of the target audience as me. It's $22.00 for 416 pages.

(and for your added pleasure, Diamond is also offering again 2006's Ivan Brunetti-edited An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories -- still a $28.00 hardcover -- which fills its 400 pages with samples from a much broader temporal range of comics, although if you're like me you've probably been in that canon before)

Spaghetti Bros. Vol. 1 (of 2?): Being the initial English-language hardcover collection of an Italian-American familial crime saga that seasoned Argentine comics team Carlos Trillo & Domingo Mandrafina began in 1992. It's 204 pages for $24.99, and it looks like this; I do wonder why it's only two volumes, though, since the French intégrale edition is 784 pages, and the preview link above mentions a similar-looking four-volume release. Hmmm. From IDW, which didn't stop it from being banished to Diamond's cellar-like Merchandise section. Wait, does that mean it's as acclaimed as Tamara Drewe? (EDIT 9/23: As per Seth Hurley in the comments, note that Amazon is listing a Vol. 3 for 2009; as such, contrary to IDW's solicitation, it's probably safe to presume the series is actually four books long)

Black Jack Deluxe Hardcover Vol. 1 (of '3'): Ok Matthew, I've got your answer - this Wednesday is when the first Direct Market-exclusive $24.95 limited edition hardcover volume of Osamu Tezuka's medical adventure series hits the shelves, complete with an exclusive bonus story culled from material the artist otherwise didn't deem necessary to collect at all. Note that publisher Vertical only has three of these special editions planned, to match up with the first three volumes of its 17-book Black Jack translation effort. Review of the plain ol' softcover here (it's not yet out from Diamond, no).

Wild Animals Vol. 1 (of 2): Key Trafficker: Meanwhile, over in the world of Chinese manhua, Yen Press presents a tale of youth and longing in the midst of the Cultural Revolution. It's a comic by the very popular Song Yang, based on a novel by the very popular Wang Shuo (which also formed the basis of the 1994 Jiang Wen film In the Heat of the Sun). It's $10.99 for 240 pages.

Ghost World: Special Edition: And getting back to deluxe hardcovers for a minute, here we see Fantagraphcs expand Dan Clowes' 80-page original to 288 pages, thanks to the edition of annotations, promotional materials, production drawings, the entire screenplay to the subsequent motion picture, a few new strips and assorted other things. You already know if it's worth $39.99.

The Complete Terry and the Pirates Vol. 4 (of 6): 1941-1942: More from Milton Caniff, including death. It's the usual $49.99 for 352 pages. This week also sees The Complete Peanuts Vol. 10: 1969-1970, in which Linus' revolutionary dreams collapse before the dragon heroin.

Black Summer: But if nothing above has caught your eye -- or if you're still in the mood for something a little louder -- Avatar has 192 bleeding color pages of superhero mayhem spilling out of the assassination of the President of the United States into an all-out civil war between the US military and the nation's science-powered human guns. Seriously, something like 5/6 of this is explosions and screaming, with b&w flashbacks occasionally popping in so characters can discuss politics and morality, like the arty bits of an arty theatrical porn film, only the porn is superheroes bleeding and fire. Warren Ellis writes, while Juan Jose Ryp provides exactly as much restraint as the material demands. A donation of $24.99 is required. If you really like Ryp, you can also shell out an extra $3.99 for this week's No Hero Sketchbook, containing 16 pages of stuff relating to the next Ellis/Ryp Avatar superhero project.

Dead Ahead #1 (of 3): Any new Alex Niño project is automatically worth looking at, so do look at this Image miniseries, even though it's zombies on the high seas, and I really can do without the living dead. Written by Clark Castillo & Mel Smith (the latter is also publisher of Bob Burden's and Rick Geary's Gumby series), with colors by Moose Baumann.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3 (of 3): Richard Corben. It's like Creepy all over again this week! Note that Dark Horse also has a trade for Abe Sapien: The Drowning.

Back to Brooklyn #1 (of 5): Hey, Garth Ennis has a new series at Image too; it looks to be a fight-for-your-life piece about a guy who gets on the wrong side of his violent gangster brother. Co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Mihailio Vukelic. Have a look.

Marvel Boy Premiere Hardcover: Yep, it had to happen - a new $24.99 hardcover edition of the 2000-01 miniseries by the Final Crisis team of writer Grant Morrison and artist J.G. Jones. Still, it's a pretty great lark if you haven't read it -- maybe the single best thing to come of Morrison's millennial association with Marvel -- sending an ill-tempered Kree lad into an alternate Marvel U to bump heads with a cruel capitalist in a classic Iron Man suit, a violent young lady who's convinced her skimpy mask somehow hides hideous scars, and a certain living corporation with nothing but proliferation on its mind. Very glossy, mildly bratty superhero stuff, something Morrison once characterized as a reaction to the dull, nostalgia-powered veneration of snoozy ideals prevalent in the genre (or: 'DadComics'). And while the promised Vols. 2 and 3 will probably never appear, causing the whole thing to hang perpetually on a cliff, there's still enough of a charge to keep it satisfying...

Red Rocket 7: Wow, this one's a heavier blast from the past. Specifically, Red Rocket 7 was a seven-issue 1997-98 miniseries Mike Allred released through Dark Horse after about a dozen issues of his then-ongoing Madman Comics series. Each issue was a large 10" x 10" in full color, and the story tracked the cultural/spiritual travel of a strange being with a yen for rock 'n roll throughout history. Yep, Elvis, Bowie, etc. But more broadly, the comic was just one part of an ambitious multimedia project of Allred's, including an album of music by 'The Gear' (Son of Red Rocket 7) and a motion picture written & directed by and starring Allred himself (Astroesque, currently on dvd as a bonus feature for the Allred-derived Christopher Coppola film G-Men from Hell). None of those other bits are getting the anniversary treatment, and you can probably guess why (I think 65-70% of Astroesque was Allred and some guys running back and forth in a ditch to fuzzy guitar sounds); still, I'm glad they exist out there as a memorial to the unfettered dreaming of a comic book star. Anyway, Image is the publisher reprinting the comic, a bargain at only $16.99 for 280 color pages (hopefully at the same big size). Intro by Robert Rodriguez, afterword by Gerard Way.

Absolute Ronin: I don't know if I'd want to shell out $99.00 for this 328-page hardcover slipcased edition of Frank Miller's 1983-84 future samurai opus, with all due respect toward the promise of "rarely seen promotional art, fold-out pages and more special features." But this is still my favorite of Miller's works as a writer/artist, a proudly odd melding of Goseki Kojima's gekiga stylings (before most North American readers could even name a comic from Japan) with the crawling matter of totalitarian control, and a story of becoming whatever you want because you simply love what you might be. No borders in this one; it's the kind of book that seems to have always been around, yet you look at it and you kind of can't believe it got willed into being, and you're glad.