I wasn't just sleeping, although my four hours a night is indeed precious to me.

*Nope, there was no nothing last week, since I wound up working on several projects that either won't see print for a while or can't be posted yet because they're not large enough for the voices to stop. One of them, however, god willing, should be up in the Savage Land tomorrow or Wednesday, and it's big!

I thought about setting up a Twitter account for a while (Tom Spurgeon's had one since May??), just to get something out, but I can barely keep anything under 1400 words, let alone 140 characters. Moreover, I dunno if the internet is itching for my up-to-the-minute impressions of Herogasm, specifically that it's sort of funny, in that I laughed at the abortion clinic bit even though the whole 'getting high off superhero sex leftovers' routine was done earlier and better in James Kochalka's Super F*ckers. Oh my god, I just wrote that sentence and meant it. Superhero decadence is a hell of a thing.

Plus, you know, the Kochalka series had a really secure visual identity, while the Ennis book... doesn't. It probably needed either an Ian Churchill to hard sell the smutty aspect or a Rick Veitch to make everything as disgusting as possible, and while I thought John McCrea could do the latter, his co-pencilling stuff with Keith Burns seems trapped in some awkward border region between Dicks and a nondescript DCU fill-in arc. And I understand what's happening, that it's supposed to look like middle ground superhero work that's slightly off, the better with which to transmit the filth, you see, but the problem is it never seems so much irreverent as ill at ease. And this ain't comedy of awkwardness; you've gotta have conviction.

Ahhh, look at that. You see what I mean? Fuck it, maybe I should devote a Twitter account to hilarious and thought-provoking Youtube links. They've got the best of cinema up there, and scenes from my own life. Yeah...


Low Moon: New Jason, from Fantagraphics. All I need to know. This one's a 216-page, $24.99 hardcover collecting Norway's finest's New York Times Magazine western serial (online here) along with four all-new short stories. Slideshow; preview. This guy's a treasure.

The Actress and the Bishop: Wasn't expecting this - a $3.99, 32-page b&w Desperado pamphlet collection of Brian Bolland's oddball humor strips from the pages of A1 and elsewhere. A very inexpensive alternative for those who missed/can't afford the 2005 Knockabout hardcover Bolland Strips!, which collected this material along with other funny bits. Yeah, search this out.

Detective Comics #854: Right up top so you don't miss it. Starting the long-awaited Greg Rucka/J.H. Williams III run on the venerable Bat-book, now starring Batwoman for an initial four-issue storyline. It's $3.99, but also 40 pages, and you get a Cully Hamner-drawn back-up story (starring the Question) with the deal. Swoon!

Faust Vol. 2: Being the second of Del Rey's cherry-pickin' compilation editions of the otaku culture-informed Japanese literary magazine (with manga); 2008's domestic vol. 7 ran a brisk 1240 pages, so something tells me there may be enough material out there for a third English edition, should demand warrant. The manga section of this one has some nice-looking stuff, including a new 56-page story by FLCL and Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl artist Ueda Hajime and annotated sketchbook samples from elusive Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo. Words too. It's 432 pages for $17.95; here's my review of vol. 1.

A Treasury of XXth Century Murder Vol. 2: Famous Players: Rick Geary, doing that Rick Geary thing. This one's 80 pages on the unsolved shooting of Silent Era Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor; certainly no lack of players here. From NBM, as always; it's a $15.95 hardcover. Preview here.

Remake: New from AdHouse, and one of the talked-about MoCCA books I didn't manage to pick up. It's a 144-page, $12.95 collection of robot fighting comedy from Lamar Abrams. Enjoy beatings and chuckles via this preview.

Prayer Requested: Hmm, a Drawn and Quarterly debut by illustrator Christian Northeast, from the petit livre line of lil' books of art. This one's a 96-page, $15.95 color collection of 'found' prayers transformed into images. Have a look.

Black Jack Vol. 5 (of 17): Vertical may never tire of Osamu Tezuka, and here's another 320 pages of testimony for your $16.95. You know, I've heard whispers that some episodes of this decade-running series may not be all that great. In fact, some of them are possibly kinda bad! To that I say: THANK FUCKING GOD, POP THE CORK, because that means we're diving deep into Tezuka's insane prolificacy for a closer look at the high-speed creations of a man who couldn't possibly be great every time, like c'mon now. The Astro Boy diehards already carry this burning truth in their hearts, but here we see the contortions of production for the broader audience of the so-called '70s Golden Age. Yes we will know him better; it's part of the fun of these things.

Sayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei Vol. 2: Or, Goodbye, Mr. Despair, with the connotation of teaching on the Mr., a la Goodbye, Mr. Chips. That's a bit of explaining to do as far as manga titles go, but this is a damned internet-popular franchise as far as I can tell, albeit with much focus on the successful, still-running anime adaptation (ooh, they did a Mignola homage). The domestic manga's currently up to vol. 17, and likewise ongoing. It's an ensemble high school comedy with infusions of social satire and surreal antics, headed by a suicidal male teacher and boasting a formidable cast of eccentric girl students. The artist is Koji Kumeta, working in a sleek, iconographic style fit to accommodate his often-dense arrays of info and graphics and charts. Some find it off-putting, but I like it fine. I can't find a preview, so:

Although that one's especially zesty. Here's something more typical:

Tiny signs, footnotes explaining things, manga references, characters addressing the reader, string bean limbs and visual aids - hope you like translation notes, since there's 11 pages of 'em in here in teeny tiny font size, and that's after the five pages of story commentary by Kumeta himself.

Still, even while the Japanese-specific humor has you scratching your head and flipping to the rear, there's some good, visceral laffs tucked away, often stemming from Kumeta's talent for stupid-clever concepts -- Commodore Perry arrives to commemorate the 'opening' of Japan to the West by attempting to open a swimming pool, library books, girls' legs, boys' flies, people's hearts, etc. -- and piling on complications until seemingly banal scenarios climax with, say, gossiping apartment complex housewives revealing the secrets of the cosmos. Don't mind the boys' comics teenage cutie fan service (Kumeta tries to put it in quotes but whoops, it's still there!); this is oddball manga of disarming and possibly wide appeal. From Del Rey; $12.99 for 170 pages.

Mushishi Vol. 7 (of 10): Meanwhile, in sadder Del Rey manga news, it looks like this excellent Yuki Urushibara series about a teacher-doctor-shaman who knows the wild, primal stuff of life in a timeless world has been sent back to the slow boat - vol. 8 apparently isn't due until February 2010 (and it's been forever since vol. 6, if not necessarily forever-from-now since this and Zetsubo-Sensei have been in bookstores for a month and a half now, but... you know what I'm saying). Sure, good things take time and all that, but it'd be a real shame if this translation sputtered to a halt two books from the end. Reminder: we're past the anime, so these are all-exclusive stories. Only $12.99 for 234 pages.

Gantz Vol. 5: Oh well, at least Gantz is clear through vol. 8; even at 228 pages a shot ($12.95), Hiroya Oku needs his room. As in, vol. 26 just hit Japan last week. I'm not even caught up on these Dark Horse editions. Charming as ever.

Empowered Vol. 5: Holy shit, there's five of these? Holy shit. Adam Warren, man. Dark Horse, 208 pages, $14.95, rips, tears. Look.

Cerebus Archive #2: Further nuggets 'n commentary from the house of Sim. The toll is $3.00.

Viking #2: This Image series had a fun, eye-catching first issue, and you gotta love those oversized pamphlet proportions. Only $2.99 for 24 color pages too. From writer Ivan Brandon & artist Nic Klein.

Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 (of 3): This is your Joe Casey alert for the week. I failed shamefully at taking note of Peter Milligan's The Trial of Thor comic last week, so I'm trying to scan these various Marvel things closely. Joe Casey alert, him and Nathan Fox and José Villarrubia. Preview.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat: A Marvel series plenty of people liked, from writer Kathryn Immonen & artist David Lafuente. Plus: a Marvel Comics Presents serial with artist Stuart Immonen. All in softcover for $16.99.

Ultimates by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch Omnibus: Also a Marvel series plenty of people liked, for a while. Scooping up both Millar/Hitch series with the sketch version of Series 2 #1 and that 2005 Annual Steve Dillon drew. A mere $99.99 to relive the very essence of mainline superheroes in the early oughts, for better or worse.

JLA: The Deluxe Edition Vol. 2: More hardcover weight related to the Grant Morrison run, 320 pages for $29.99. This one collects the fan-favorite Rock of Ages (Initial Crisis?) storyline, the virgin misadventures of quintessential oh-my-god-this-new-villain-just-kicked-every-superhero's-ass-HE'S-SO-COOL wonder boy Prometheus, and... JLA/WildC.A.T.s, which I'm sure we'd all miss on principle if it wasn't here. Hey, someone out there likes it, don't let me bring you down.

All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder Vol. 1: I say "might as well throw in the stray issue #10 while you're at it," but hope endures as the American Classic hits softcover for $19.99 at that clean issue #9 break.