That's a lot of pamphlets.

*Good Stuff Dept: Say what you will about all the self-hype and his tendency to oversell his projects’ intent and meaning, but Grant Morrison is always a damned entertaining interview subject:

[Interviewer:] “Your use of Metaphor has confounded numerous "Joe Six-pack" readers and thrilled many critics. Is metaphor the domain of higher levels of thought? If so, does that thereby threaten to alienate those readers who are unable to think upon those planes?

[Morrison]: “I hope so! God help me, I don't want to be responsible for a small but noisy group of morons busting neurons they can't afford to lose… So Joe Six-Pack? He can f*** off for a start. I don't know anyone who fits that description. I like to write comics for the sort of people I wouldn't mind having a conversation with. Simple as that.”

All sorts of amusement here, including an exhausting list of autobiographical elements running through The Invisibles, high praise for Dan Clowes’ Eightball #23, and an explanation of how Seaguy is, in fact, far more of a realist work than most books on the stands; Morrison’s palpable exasperation as to the endless confusion surrounding that latter work (I agree with his analysis of the themes, though I think he’s deliberately underplaying the book's parallel track of industry satire) is particularly amusing, though it can’t quite top his excellent one-sentence summary of the Xorn plotline in New X-Men. Good reading! (Found at Fanboy Rampage)

*Bad Stuff Dept: Straight from Fantagraphics VP Kim Thompson’s mouth - the outré European and Japanese comics anthology Bete Noire (itself a revision of the four-issue Blood Orange anthology) has been cancelled after only one issue. Sales, it seems, were not pretty.

*Vacation’s over! Back to your labors!


The Clouds Above: A new release from writer/artist Jordan Crane, published by Fantagraphics. Crane is the man responsible for the much-respected design-heavy comics anthology NON, which unfortunately vanished in 2001 after the publication of its jumbo, multi-packaged fifth edition. But Crane’s taste for beauty is not limited to book design; his recent piece in Kramers Ergot 5 featured some truly exquisite use of color, if a rather familiar story, and his lines are as smooth and attractive as ever. This is something different: a square (6x6), fat (200+ pages, though estimates on how big the thing really is run all the way up to 456), full-color all-ages hardcover book. It’s sure to be pretty.

Fell #1: These days, Warren Ellis seems to be gunning for the coveted Most Prolific Man in Comics seat, until you realize that a lot of his current releases actually stem from scripts completed years ago, coincidently reaching sequential completion around the same time. Not so with Fell, a brand-new ongoing series from Image, and an interesting experiment with form, content, and pricing. Each pamphlet-format issue will see its story pages cut back to 16, with additional space given to text back-ups and other accoutrements, for a total page count of only 24. The price has also been slashed to $1.99. And every issue will provide a complete story, with tight grids compressing information onto each page. The premise involves a police detective being transferred to a strange new town, wherein he cracks some cases. Ben Templesmith is doing the art, and it looks like he’s lightened up a lot on the murk and smearing that usually marks his style; the preview pages reveal a clearer, more straightforward style than usual, with a winsome use of caricature. This will probably be worth checking out. Not a huge financial risk, at least.

Garth Ennis’ 303 #5 (of 6): Ah, it looks like this thing is starting up again. I believe its delays were at least partially caused by a sudden change in colorist (and possibly artist Jacen Burrows’ diversion to that Texas Chainsaw Massacre one-shot), so hopefully such matters have been smoothed out for the remainder of the series. This has been one of Ennis’ more compelling recent series, starting out as a crushingly unsubtle but not ineffective look at dirty military games in Afghanistan, and then transitioning to the US, with Ennis’ pet concerns as to the nature of America taking the fore, and honest soldiers preparing to face off. It’s quintessential Ennis, and yet I’m still not entirely sure where it will all wind up, which is good. Looking forward to it.

Ghost Rider #1 (of 6): On the other hand, here’s Ennis writing Ghost Rider. Under the Marvel Knights editing standard of ‘Mature Readers (but not too mature, mind you).’ The character does have a movie coming out, which ably handles the natural query as to why our planet needs a new Ghost Rider miniseries, but the real question is how Ennis will choose to approach it, knowing that he can’t get too down and dirty. Will he shoot for the broad humor of his pre-MAX issues of The Punisher? No, judging from Marvel’s solicitations, it’s going to be something dealing with angels and hell and the like. I don’t think artist Clayton Crain’s style really loans itself to humor anyway; he’s the one who provided the odd semi-3D visuals for Peter Milligan’s Venom Vs. Carnage miniseries, and his work here seems even more thoroughly lacquered. Might be worth a look anyway. Be sure to buy the variant cover too, or nobody will love you.

The Punisher MAX #25: The hell? It’s like Ennis was resting up for Labor Day week. This’ll make for a nice comparison with Ghost Rider though, as The Punisher remains ever unrestrained. This time we've got a new storyline beginning, as Frank battles the slave trade at the behest of a young Moldavian girl. But a crack team of NYPD vigilantes, doubtlessly annoyed with Frank’s antics in the last ix issues, is also on his tail. In a first for this title, the penciler for the prior storyline (Leo Fernandez) sticks around for a second run in a row, though a new inker (Scott Koblish) is brought in. This is a consistently entertaining, compulsively readable title, and I believe it’s the only ongoing Marvel book that I‘m still buying month in and month out at this point.

The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin #1 (of 5): Ok, seriously. What the fuck? Ennis again, this time with the third Kev storyline, which all the fans know is only tangentially related to The Authority and can easily be read with no prior knowledge of Wildstorm’s once-mighty superteam. The original Kev one-shot was pieced together from an aborted storyline that Ennis had intended for the first ongoing Authority series before it croaked; it was a total pisstake on the ‘unstoppable super team’ concept (really, any similarly-powered bunch of metahumans could have played The Authority’s role), with a typical (human) Ennis bastard protagonist given the power to slaughter the team. It was funny, and the joke continued in a proper miniseries, More Kev, which tried with some success to imbue the Kev-specific cast with backgrounds and character traits, only really faltering when shooting for pathos at the very end. Of course, half the fun sprang from the gloriously vulgar, scratchy art of Glenn Fabry, who’s unfortunately busy with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere over at Vertigo, so Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd co-creator and veteran of many an Ennis romp) steps in, to what looks like slightly lesser effect. At least Wildstorm had some fun blacking out the many obscenities that’ll be presented in all their glory upon the printed page.

The Intimates #11: Next-to-last issue. Waiting on the end.

City of Tomorrow! #6 (of 6): Ah, now I can read the whole thing at once, which will be the first time I see anything after issue #3.

XIII #2: I wasn’t too impressed story-wise with the first issue of this vintage European series (mega-popular on the continent), now squished down to pamphlet format, each album sliced in half, with the naked bits covered up for the sake of our sensitive American eyes. It seemed awfully rote; then again, I only saw half the story. This issue apparently completes the first album, so maybe things will pick up.

Seven Soldiers - Guardian #4 (of 4): Well, at least the project is back on schedule now. This is the final book of the first half of the overarching megastory, and last issue’s conclusion promised a wealth of background info as to the communal plot of everything, so I expect Morrison has something interesting planned. And hey - should this particular miniseries actually end with something resembling a conclusion: bonus! I should also say that Guardian has gotten better with each issue, so maybe the trend will continue.