A better, more comics-related post.

*It may look like a pretty weak Wednesday at the old comics shop, initially. I see Marvel is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Age of Apocalypse, a worthy feast by anyone's standard. But there’s quite a mint of fine books coming out as seen in the plain old ‘Comics’ section of the Diamond list, where they put the pornography and other stuff.


Comics Journal 2005 Special: The final one too, from what’s been said around town, which is pretty sad. This was a handsome series, all five volumes of it mixing criticism and original comics by great creators, and while the Journal’s regular issues have now incorporated color and comics and other deluxe elements, it’s too bad to see these deluxe oversized volumes leave us. The comics section’s theme this time is ‘Seduction’, and the promise of new Gerald Jablonski material alone is making me quiver. Up in the front sections, we’ve got a whole lot of manga, including an interview with artist/filmmaker/genial crackpot Hideshi Hino, and profiles of Yoshiharu Tsuge (whose work previously appeared in the Journal’s 250th issue gala) and the great Osamu Tezuka, and more. Plus, a ton of stuff on Vaughn Bode! Check out a detailed list of contents, contributors, and cartoonists here. This will be a good one.

Angry Youth Comix #8: You know what never fails to get attention on the Comics Journal board? Posts of Johnny Ryan’s work. He’s been doing a series of parodies of independent comics legends for a while now, perhaps to eventually collect into another limited-edition book, along the lines of his superhero and newspaper strip parody compilations (uh oh, the latter is all sold out). These things drift over to the Journal board and… well, the most recent one is up to six pages of responses now. This book up there in the bold print, however, is the latest issue of Ryan’s ongoing series from Fantagraphics, and the art is sure to be a lot tighter than what you see in the linked thread above; Ryan’s developed a really attractive style for this book, although the always shock-heavy, iconoclastic humor tends to be hit and miss with me, despite Ryan‘s genuinely keen sense of satire (boiling "Blankets" down to a daily newspaper strip-sized comic last issue was particularly excellent, as was an earlier bit where the cast encounters a pair of aliens whose language employs extremely racist and offensive terms to describe benign things like ice cream… good stuff). I’m always willing to give this book a shot.

Teenagers from Mars: I have seen the later loose issues of this much-admired miniseries sitting around in a number of diverse places, including shops that are, shall we say, not always inclined to stock independent comics, evidence of this title’s status as a genuine ‘mainstream’ breakthrough item as far as comics go. I recall enjoying the short story creators Rick Spears and Rob G. (the latter also of “The Couriers” fame with Brian Wood) had in “Metal Hurlant” #12, and I‘m aware of some work they did in “Detective Comics”. They’ve also got a new crime book called “Filler” out in March from AIT/Planet Lar. This one, however, is their self-published baby, having begun serialization way back in 2001, and now finally being collected into trade form under the auspices of Gigantic Graphic Novels, headed by Spears to release this and future publications, like the new “Dead West”, due out in the middle of the year. Plenty of extras are promised, like production art and character info. The plot is something of a fantasy spin on the infamous case of Mike Diana, with bits of 1950’s anti-comics rhetoric tossed in, as a young rebel teen on futuristic Mars puts out a radical comic book that sparks a literal war of culture. And to be honest, I can think of quite a few ways in which this sort of plot can go very very wrong in short order, but quite a few folks liked it a lot in serialization, and it’s a genuine 21st century self-publishing success story, a rare bird to spot indeed.

La Perdida #5 (of 5): Huge gap in my comics education #56,721 - Jessica Abel. Having worked in anthologies and minicomics since the late 1980‘s, Abel scored a Xeric Grant in 1996 to produce the fifth issue of her “Artbabe“ minicomic, catching the eye of Fantagraphics and leading to four subsequent Fanta-published issues “Artbabe”, and two book collections, “Soundtrack”, collecting the best of the minicomics and other early works, and “Mirror, Window”, collecting the Fanta issues. These books were filled with short stories following the lives and loves of hip urban twentysomethings (or at least that’s how Fanta chose to advertise them). Abel then began work on a serialized graphic novel, “La Perdida” in 2001, inspired by a stint living in Mexico City. It eventually ballooned in size from four issues to five, and here at last is the final issue, weighing in at a larger-than-average 64 pages. You can find out plenty more about Abel at her site. I think I’m going to work on getting hold of Abel’s earlier material, then wait for the collected edition of this, whenever it arrives (hey, just like I did with “Black Hole”). Still, if you’ve been following this story, here’s your cue to jump for joy.

The Intimates #5: HEY! How did you kids from the front of the list sneak in here?

Ultimate Iron Man #1: Oh man, this is that one book written by that guy! You know… the one guy who said that stuff. And he’s writing Iron Man! OUR Iron Man (or some Ultimate iteration thereof)! I’m so angry. Don’t you remember the controversy?! It was really heated, but then we started talking about “New Avengers” or “Wolverine” or something, and it all went away. But now it’s back and that guy’s gonna maybe say some stuff, unless he doesn’t! Er, what’s this book about again? Iron Man? Wasn’t he just in some Warren Ellis thing that vanished? Anyway, I’m sure this book will be quite a peach in the Mighty Marvel Manner depending on whatever happens. Or doesn‘t. Is this book even real? Ian?