I feel better.

*Been sick all weekend, including one night of trying not to move under the blankets so the winter wraiths couldn't get into my pores. That is a medical condition and those are terms of art.


Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days: Being the first-ever bookshelf ready comics-related item by Al Columbia, a blinking presence on the comics scene for years now. Chris Mautner has some background on the guy's work, although this new 240-page hardcover project is (appropriately) different from anything else he's done. It's an arrangement of drawings -- sometimes preparations for drawings -- generally honed in on the journey of two old-timey animation-looking kids. Sometimes there's dialogue, sometimes there's 'scenes,' but most of the work's interest comes from wrenching you though time and space as the narrative stretches just thin enough to part in spots, only to gum together again for a little while, until it's pulled again. Not an easy work in the slightest; some will dismiss it as just a hodgepodge of frustrated impulses. And some have already declared that part of the appeal. Have a look. From Fantagraphics; $28.99.

Hot Potatoe: Elsewhere in collected images, Drawn and Quarterly brings 276 pages of work from Marc Bell, the elusive talent behind the excellent 2003 Highwater Books production Shrimpy and Paul and Friends and Fantagraphics' 2004 pamphlet Worn Tuff Elbow #1. Since then, Bell's ultra-tactile '60s underground stylings -- already so layered and intense to seem more like the memory of an sunny-soaked acid funnybook -- have mostly leaked out into illustration and sculpture and found stuff made his. The best of it (and it before it), 2001-08, including anthology comics never before collected, is featured here as a $39.95 color hardcover.

Luna Park: Meanwhile, Vertigo continues its line of original hardcovers with a 160-page color tale of Coney Island, a Russian gangster and relevant events of 100 years ago, from journalist and historical fiction novelist Kevin Baker. Art by Danijel Zezelj & Dave Stewart, which locks this in as probably the most interesting project I've seen from the line in a while. Tiny lil' preview here. It's $24.99.

Beast: A 152-page solo work from Marian Churchland, whose lithe, manga-informed art got some attention in a few recent issues of Elephantmen. This one's about a sculptor who's tasked with carving the likeness of an uncanny client. Preview. From Image, $15.99.

The Year of Loving Dangerously: A 128-page collaborative work from writer Ted Rall and artist Pablo G. Callejo, chock-full of all-real 1980s suicidal turmoil and economic desperation as in fucking-to-keep-a-roof-over-your-head, as lived by the writer. Just look. From NBM, $18.95.

Insomnia Café: I'm aware that Turkish-born cartoonist M.K. Perker has a body of solo comics work behind his Vertigo collaborations with writer G. Willow Wilson (Cairo, Air), but I don't think any of it's available in English. So, I'm not sure what to expect from this all-new project from Dark Horse, an 80-page b&w hardcover telling the allegorical story of a troubled rare books expert granted access to an Archive full of volumes still being written. Perker's art seems a good deal more lively and caricature-prone here than in his Vertigo stuff, and it could be worth checking out how his storytelling operates. It's $14.95.

Sky Doll: Doll Factory #1 (of 2): This, on the other hand, is a translation of a foreign work, specifically a pamphlet-format miniseries version of a 96-page art book from 2003 concerning the ongoing Sky Doll religious-satire/Disney-anime fusion series from Alessandro Barbucci & Barbara Canepa, the three extant volumes of which Heavy Metal published as an all-in-one magazine in 2006 and Marvel re-published (with a new translation) as its own pamphlet miniseries in 2008. Why a process-heavy 'making of' album is getting transformed into a pair of $5.99 comic books is beyond me, although there's a short bonus story included, and this does mark the first entirely new material to see English release since the Heavy Metal publication, so...

The Authority: The Lost Year Reader: Oh, here's a $2.99 reprint of Grant Morrison's & Gene Ha's abortive revival of The Authority from 2006. Or, one issue came out in 2006 and then another one arrived in 2007, and that was pretty much that, although it did get one more issue out there than Morrison's contemporaneous WildC.A.T.s project with Jim Lee (supposedly to see completion as an original graphic novel one of these days) - this all went down while Morrison was on the writing staff of 52, you'll recall. Now it's years later, a totally different Authority series has over a dozen issues out, and Wildstorm has retained fellow 52 veteran Keith Giffen to script out 10 new issues from Morrison's plotting so as to fill in the gaps between series; the effort begins next week (with issue #3), with artists Darick Robertson & Trevor Scott, although Jonathan Wayshak is listed as artist for issue #4.

There's some irony in seeing two different art teams pegged for the first two issues, actually - out of all of Morrison's superhero projects from 2006 or so, The Authority was maybe the farthest he ventured outside of his comfort zone, and part of that was from how artist Gene Ha (cover artist on the 10 new issues) seemed so in synch with Morrison's concept for the revival, a none-too-original planting of the Authority cast in the 'real' non-superhero world. It was all in the execution, how Morrison struggled to give his human characters unaffected, dispassionate dialogue, while Ha spent nearly all of issue #1 keeping everyone's face somehow obscured from view, bodies slumped and lumpy, and then humbled more by the literal vastness of the Authority and their technology, a witty variant on the bigger! bolder! Widescreen stylings that made the stuff popular under Ellis & Hitch. For a writer often accused of paying little mind to visual qualities, it seemed like an interesting use of a franchise revival for aesthetic adventuring.

But it was also a thing of potential, of word-picture linkages that needed space to play out. Just from the solicitations it looks like the mission is different now, with the writer acting as plotter to another writer and artists coming in to draw the storylines. So: it's more like 52. Ah, just more like a superhero comic, a continuity comic, although it'd be great if Giffen's mean streak would show; maybe that's the best to hope for now.

Batman and Robin #6: And here's your new Morrison, ending the Red Hood storyline and the much-remarked-upon tenure of penciller Philip Tan. Sneak peek. Note that series is taking a break until the end of January so that its upcoming Blackest Night tie-in story (drawn by Cameron Stewart) won't get ahead of the Event itself.

PunisherMax #1: You might complain about these $3.99 price tags, but times are so tight at Marvel they can't even afford title spacing. God, what the fuck kind of joke is that? I don't have the fucking money for that. Is Diablo Cody sitting on my couch? Do I have a band? What the hell have you done to me, Frank Castle? That's million-dollar talk show humor. Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon re-launch the Punisher. I blame them.

Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 (of 4): No, this isn't an IDW series, although writer/co-creator Alan Martin and artist Rufus Dayglo are involved; it's a pamphlet miniseries from Titan Publishing, reprinting a serial from the Judge Dredd Megazine, newly colorized. Samples here.

Phonogram 2: The Singles Club #5 (of 7): Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie return to that one club, and those songs, and the people. Backup drawn by Dan Boultwood. Gillen also has a Marvel debut this week, S.W.O.R.D. #1 with penciller Steven Sanders.

SuperGod #1 (of 5): Another superhero take from writer Warren Ellis and publisher Avatar, drawn by one Garrie Gastonny. The topic is superhumans as divine, as far as it relates to humans. Preview here. Ellis & Avatar also have Gravel #15 this week.

Chronicles of Wormwood: The Last Battle #2 (of 6): Also Avatar, also divine; Garth Ennis & Oscar Jiminez.

Citizen Rex #5 (of 6): Hernandez, Gilbert & Mario. Here.

B.P.R.D.: 1947 #5 (of 5): Ending the current Mike Mignola/Joshua Dysart/Fábio Moon/Gabriel Bá miniseries. Like so. Co-writer John Arcudi and artist Guy Davis return in January for the next present day storyline, King of Fear.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8 (of 8): Ending the current Mike Mignola/Duncan Fegredo miniseries, although you probably don't want to count on much of an ending-ending; the Mignolaverse letters page is the glue that binds all the many Hellboy series, frequently addressing totally different stories and artists than whoever's in a given comic at a time, and recently (in the Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy one-off) it's been referring to The Wild Hunt as guilty of "the sin of setup," perhaps better taken as the first 1/3 or so of an especially long story than as a self-contained unit (even by Hellboy standards, I guess), which will continue at some point in 2010, certainly after the next Mignola project with Richard Corben, the one-issue Hellboy: The Bride of Hell, due in a month and a half. Still, I'm sure some added origin-related info will appear to mark the border between storylines. Preview.

Frank Frazetta's Dark Kingdom #2: I am required by law to disclose all Tim Vigil comics, including this $3.99 item from Image, although the art actually serves as illustration to a prose story by Mark Kidwell. I am a man of liberal construction.

Batman/Doc Savage Special: Sure, sure, it may be a $4.99, 56-page introduction to yet another DC universe-among-universes, complete with a big miniseries yet to come, but writer/mastermind Brian Azzarello seems to have a pretty great concept brewing: a matured, shared universe of pulp magazine fixtures, upset by the arrival of the gun-toting early Batman cast as the young hotshot in town, thus neatly linking the early notion of the superhero to the costumed magazine characters that certainly provided some of the concept's lineage. So yeah: Doc Savage and Batman-with-a-gun, drawn by Phil Noto. I think the Spirit's gonna show up too? Later?