Finally back home.

*Not a lot of action on this site recently; that'll change soon. Tomorrow I'll probably (finally!) have up my review of Synecdoche, New York, once my analysis is somewhat less convoluted than the movie itself. I liked it a lot, though, even if it's probably not quite my favorite Charlie Kaufman - that's still a dead heat between 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 2005's Hope Leaves the Theater (his radio drama thing).

Which is pretty funny, since Eternal Sunshine is probably his most tightly collaborative thing -- you can totally read the film with either Kaufman or Michel Gondry as auteur; it fits in perfectly with both bodies of work -- while Hope is maybe his most direct (pure?) work. Certainly his most stripped-down, with the confines of the radio forcing his usual fascination with artifice into some worthwhile boundaries while knocking down some others. It's also his funniest piece, probably; any bit with Meryl Streep screaming profanities into the audience is pretty much gold. It's still a little overreaching, falling apart a teeny bit in the end, and a bit chummy in its celebrity bemusement for my taste.

Still worth tracking down, though - there shouldn't be any way a woman having cybersex with her late father through the fabric of time (if only allusively) should somehow land as heartbreaking, but the guy pulls it off.

What am I talking about?


Final Crisis #6 (of 7) (at The Savage Critics)

Gus and His Gang (at Bookforum)


Robot 6 asked people what they were reading last week, and I wound up talking about Milestone Media comics and Ryoichi Ikegami; good times.

*Deal$ Dept: Hey, remember that gigantic two-volume slipcased Gary Panter monograph that PictureBox put out? The 688-page monster I dragged all over NYC as per the unforgettable comedy triumph of my MacArthur Genius Grant-winning 2008 New York Comic-Con report? Half of it's a huge honking sketchbook?

Go buy it now for $30.00 (thirty bucks).

Cheap! (as they say in the magazines)

*I don't recall seeing The Comics Journal #295 on Diamond's list last week -- and I don't see it this week either -- but it apparently hit stores? I have a review of Dark Horse's Herbie Archives project in there. Plus: Sean Collins interviews Brian K. Vaughan, Rob Clough interviews John Kerschbaum, and Paul Karasik interviews (the awesome) Gipi. Look around for it while scanning -


Oishinbo Vol. 1: Japanese Cuisine: I think almost everyone reading this site is aware by now that the North American impression of manga is pretty limited, going by the stuff that's been published in English. Lots and lots of shōnen and shōjo series, with a smattering of action-heavy pieces aimed at older guys and the occasional arty project or women-targeted piece. Yet there so much more out there - gambling manga and business manga and television documentary tie-in manga and newspaper gag manga and biographical manga and a hundred other things. Like food manga. Hence, in an effort to close the gap a small ways, VIZ is proud to present Tetsu Kariya's & Akira Hanasaki's very, very, very long-lived saga of a newspaper reporter's neverending quest to track down the greatest tastes in Japan and prepare the Ultimate Menu. It's been ongoing since 1983, and is currently up to a hale and hearty vol. 102; consequently, this $12.99, 272-page debut volume will pick and choose stories covering the basics of Japanese cooking (rice, green tea, etc.), while future volumes will compile segments relating to certain themes (vol. 2: sake; vol. 3: noodles). I am unreasonably excited to read this.

Miss Don't Touch Me: A two-in-one NBM edition from an ongoing French series by writer 'Hubert' and artist(s) 'Kerascoet' (Marie Pommepuy & Sebastien Cosset), a frothy suspense thing involving a maid-turned-chaste-prostitute on the hunt for her sister's killer. I think this one covers an entire storyline? It's $14.95 for 96 pages. Sneak peek.

Never As Bad As You Think: A 64-page color hardcover, collecting Kathryn & Stuart Immonen's 2006 webcomic, following various human and non-human relationship troubles in a freewheeling manner. From Boom! Studios; $15.99. Preview here.

Ted McKeever Library Book 2: Eddy Current: The Complete Series + Lost Tales: The newest in Image's line of deluxe reprints for the popular artist, this time crunching the entirety of his 12-issue, 1987-88 series from Mad Dog Graphics into a $34.99, 358-page hardcover, with a bunch of added bonuses that I presume weren't in the old 1991 Dark Horse hardcover. It's the story of a mental patient and his 12-hour adventure to save the world, all before bed-check. Have a look.

Flaming Carrot Collected Vol. 1: And in other '80s reprints updates, here's a spanking new 128-page limited edition signed hardcover (850 copies only) from Bob Burden Productions, putting together early issues of the famous Flaming Carrot Comics with a new 10-page story, an introduction by Dave Sim (the series' original publisher, you'll recall) and a special surprise just for you. It's $49.95.

Mysterius: The Unfathomable #1 (of 6): Maybe it's noteworthy enough that WildStorm appears to be releasing a new miniseries that has nothing to do with shared-universe superheroes or properties from some other medium, but a new Jeff Parker project requires a mention. Tom Fowler draws this set of stories surrounding a boorish master of weird magic who returns to enchant the present day. Preview here.

Ruins: So it's come to this. An honest-to-god, all-in-one edition of writer Warren Ellis' 1995 pisstake on Marvels, an alternately 'realistic' take on All Your Favorites, charting a doomed photographer's journey through a world where all of these fucking horrible radiation accidents and super-powered crazies and out-of-control military experiments and shit have dragged the world straight into hell. It's a one-joke comic, granted, and badly troubled in production - I think it was first slated as a What If...? back-up, then a four-issue miniseries, then it got cut in half, and then artists Cliff & Terese Nielsen separated, necessating the substitution of Chris Moeller, whose style wasn't even remotely similar. But it's got some oddly affecting moments (some of which later found themselves recycled into Planetary), and you've gotta give Ellis some credit for being way ahead of the pack in putting a thick scratch on the Superheroes! Are! Modern! Myths! gloss of the Alex Ross aesthetic. I always liked the ending too. Only $4.99!

Frank Frazetta's Moon Maid: Another in Image's long line of Frazetta-based comics, this time a Jay Fotos-written $3.99 one-off based oHOLY SHIT IT'S TIM VIGIL!! Oh my gosh, when was the last time he showed up in the front of Previews? Never?! Did you know Faust is still ongoing? Like, the most recent issue (#13) came out in 2005? I think there's two left to come? Tim Vigil? Tim Vigil! Preview!

Tokyo Days, Bangkok Nights: It's not too obvious at first, but this is actually a collection of two of those old Vertigo Pop! miniseries about young folks and pop culture in various lands, 2002's Vertigo Pop! Tokyo and 2003's Vertigo Pop! Bangkok. Both are written by Jonathan Vankin, with art by the late Seth Fisher (Tokyo) and Giuseppe Camuncoli & Shawn Martinbrough (Bangkok). A 192-page color softcover; $19.99. No sign of Peter Milligan's & Philip Bond's Vertigo Pop! London, in case you were curious.

Path of the Assassin Vol. 14 (of 15): Bad Blood Part 1 (of 2): Hell yeah, you know the endgame's here when I'm breaking out double parentheses. The time will soon come when Dark Horse is no longer releasing Kazuo Koike/Goseki Kojima swordplay comics every few months, so press this $9.95, 304-page package to your bosom and whistle thanks down the demon's path. I bet a guy in an awesome hat will address people in a forceful manner this volume. Oh boy, I was right!

Gantz Vol. 3: On the other hand, Gantz will probably run as long as that series with the hungry newpaper guy, unless everyone stops buying it; the sucker's up to vol. 24 in Japan. Still, it's not like we're drowning in hard-edged sci-fi blood 'n grime manga these days - Dark Horse is totally keeping that torch burning. Writer/artist Hiroya Oku presents: should-be-dead assassins in black bend at the whim of a sphere of mystery! I bet there's violence in this one! Witness the tension.

Real Vol. 3: Basketball from Takehiko Inoue can command your week.

Gon Vol. 7 (of 7): Or, you know, a little dinosaur that has cute fights and gets into trouble. No words, no continuity, no fuss. Boy, that Masashi Tanaka can draw. Only $5.99 for 176 pages too; collect 'em all.

Black Jack Vol. 3 (of 17): No, forget everything else. You want another 300+ pages of Osamu Tezuka's medical mayhem for a scant $16.95. Oh my god, this one's got the story with the dingoes!! Just buy it! BUY IT. Big preview here.

Hellblazer #251: Kicking off Peter Milligan's run as the series' new writer; probably the best moment to jump on for the next year and change, at least. John Constantine faces the union-busting of his past. Art by the aforementioned Giuseppe Camuncoli, with Stefano Landini.

100 Bullets #99 (of 100): Anyone need a reload?

Garth Ennis' Battlefields: The Night Witches #3 (of 3): Wrapping up this tale of Soviet flying women in WWII; anticipate pain. Preview.

Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #66: Yeah, they changed the title. Presumably so everyone who missed the last 65 issues and can't locate the huge black MAX logo won't get it confused with the Marvel U-set The Punisher, which is actually the newly relaunched Punisher War Journal. Or is it a Diamond thing? Anyway, this is the start of a new storyline by a new creative team, writer Duane Swierczynski (a writer of crime prose who's been doing a lot of Marvel stuff lately, like Cable and The Immortal Iron Fist) and artist Michel Lacombe (with colorist Val Staples); Frank's been injected with a serum that'll kill him in six hours, so he decides to appreciate the finer shootings in life. Preview.

Conan the Cimmerian #7: Last Richard Corben issue, although regular artist Tomás Giorello's in there too.

Madman Atomic Comics #13: Allred. "WARNING: When you read this issue, prepare to have your brain do a flip in your skull!"

Superman/Batman Annual #3: Huh, another Len Wein script. That's something.

Batman: The Strange Deaths of Batman: Aw jeez, I didn't like Final Crisis #6 very much, but at least DC's showing some good humor: a 160-page, $19.99 softcover collection of various 'deaths' of Batman across the decades. Die and die again, Dark Knight!

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3-D #2 (of 2): Yes yes, this, but - how about something we all can agree on? A release date has now been set for Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #1 (of 3)! April 1st, no less! And it's 40 pages!! Hurry, Seaguy... we need you more than ever. But for now, we've got the conclusion to writer Grant Morrison's Supermen -of-many-universes saga, which might be present to add thematic shading to the Event's whole, although it could always nudge a plot point that's due back later. Art by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy, who'll also be taking on next week's(!) finale to Final Crisis proper.