A goddamned banner week.

*Oh wow. This is one humongous bloody week. Just look at all these neat comics. I mean, when was the last time D&Q released two major hardcover books in one day? Lots of choices to make…


The Push Man & Other Stories: But here’s my choice. I’ve read Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s other two US releases: the 1987 Catalan Communications collection Good-Bye and Other Stories, and D&Q’s own Drawn and Quarterly Vol. 5 (which featured a single Tatsumi story), and you can bet your ass I’ll be there for number three, even if there’s apparently some overlap with the Catalan book - I have full confidence in editor/designer Adrian Tomine’s abilities to cook up a superior quality presentation of Tatsumi’s work (nice interview with the two here). And as for that work, well, Tatsumi was one of the pioneers of adult-oriented comics in Japan, coining the term gekiga (drama pictures) and holding a mirror up to what he saw as a grasping, exhausted society. Hence, this tumultuous tome is a collection of gritty, sexualized tales of hard living in late ’60s Japan; there’s definitely some melodrama, and Tatsumi isn’t one for subtlety with the visuals (get ready for stuff like birdcage shadows drifting across characters who feel trapped), but it’s intense, searching work nonetheless, and a gripping portrait of an era. Great comics.

Krazy & Ignatz 1935-1936: A Wild Warmth of Chromatic Gravy: Man, it’s one hell of a week where the new Krazy Kat kollection has to settle for second, but here we are. Two more years of magnificent Sundays, and the first ones in glorious color to boot. The top of 1935 saw a half-year hiatus for the strip, so this volume is more bonus-heavy than usual, packed with watercolor art, rare memorabilia, period tribute strips, and (in keeping with the ‘color’ theme) an essay from Jeet Heer on creator George Herriman’s tangled racial lineage. I’ll have to pick this one up later.

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea: D&Q’s other big release of the day (provided that you haven't already picked it up from a chain bookstore, where I've seen it happily stacked next to Identity Crisis on the New Releases table) is Guy Delisle’s chronicle of two months in 2001 spent in North Korea, supervising grunt work done for a French animated film; much seriocomic culture shock ensues, though the experience is ultimately quite a disturbing one, as the sheer extent to which control is exerted over the populace becomes almost too much to bear. Folks with good taste have told me that this is quite an eye-opener of a book, and it’d be an easy purchase in just about any other week (both this and The Push Man are only $19.95, despite being deluxe hardcovers both - actually, that’s the same price as the new Krazy Kat too). Huh, I’m suddenly thinking that D&Q probably aren’t thrilled over this little accident of scheduling…

True Porn Vol. 2: But if grimy, hardscrabble tales of urban decay and journeys into the heart of dictatorial absurdity aren’t ringing your bell this week, there’s always porn. Nothing is more pure and wondrous than porn, yes, but you know what can make even porn just a little bit better? Today’s brightest alternative cartoonists, of course! Here’s the full contributors list, 244 pages of eros-related autobiographical comics in sum. Sure, themed anthologies (and autobio-centric at that) aren’t always a great idea, but sex is potentially a more diverting theme than most, and there’s some interesting talents involved. Oh, and the price? $19.95, this week’s lucky number.

Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?: This one, Liz Prince’s first full-length book (published by Top Shelf), has been getting a fair amount of buzz out of SPX, where it even won the Ignatz award for Outstanding Debut. Also, it’s only seven bucks (as opposed to $19.95) for close to 80 pages. I’ve read the book and, unfortunately, I didn’t like it much at all. It’s as if someone had isolated the cutie-pie bits (and only the cutie-pie bits) from assorted American Elf and Jeffrey Brown books, stripped them of the context of an ongoing diary or an overarching relationship chronicle, and dropped them at random into a sort of amorphous mass of autobiographical giggling and snuggling and erection jokes. Not recommended, unless you happen to find the above description appealing. I’ll have a full review on Thursday.

Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards: Hey, I remember the preview for this thing from Free Comic Book Day - I remember it being quite good, actually, so maybe you should buy it (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, FCBD!). It’s a $22.95, 168-page original historical fiction graphic novel from GT Labs (short preview here), written by Jim Ottaviani with art by Big Time Attic (a studio consisting of Top Ten’s Zander Cannon, along with Shad Petosky and Kevin Cannon). It looked like a lot of fun from that FCBD book, with scientists and historical personalities running around and birthing modern paleontology. Quite neat.

Raisin Pie #4: Probably destined to get lost in the rush this week, we’ve also got the latest issue of Rick Altergott and Ariel Bordeaux’s pamphlet-format series (only $3.50!). It’s usually good stuff, and I’d hate to let it go unnoticed, so keep it in mind. Any new Altergott material in particular is a boon.

Blab! Vol. 16: Oh my god. It’s never gonna end. Er, I haven’t even gotten around to buying Vol. 15 of this always well-mounted anthology series; I’m sure it’ll be very nice looking, and it’ll tilt more toward visual impact and pure design than storytelling, though I know Spain will pick up some of the slack on that end. It’s $19.95, just to get us back on track.

The Quitter: Harvey Pekar will take your lousy $19.95 and raise ya four cents! Oh yeah, it’s a $19.99 premium for this new book from the creator of American Splendor, with lovely art by Dean Haspiel. It covers the formative years of our crusty hero, who must be pretty annoyed that the damn thing is coming out on the single biggest release day for hardcover comics projects in recent memory. Still, Pekar fans won’t want to miss it, and I suspect that the might of DC will get this thing into a lot more Direct Market shops than any other comparatively priced item on this week’s list, so there’s one stroke of luck for old Harv.

Escape of the Living Dead #1 (of 5): Haw haw haw - those crazy scamps at Avatar! Obviously not willing to let the zombie trend (or perhaps IDW’s own five-issue sequential adaptation of George Romero’s recent Land of the Dead film) pass without comment, they’ve gone and teamed with Return of the Living Dead source (and Night of the Living Dead co-writer) John Russo to cook up their own damn five-issue Living Dead miniseries. I like that spirit! Apparently featuring a script assist by Strange Killings artist Mike Wolfer and definitely sporting art by Indian comics vet Dheeraj Verma (also of assorted stories in Avatar’s Joe R. Lansdale anthology series By Bizarre Hands). Read the hype here. It’s Avatar, so there’ll probably be a different cover for every copy in the print run (hey - there‘s an idea).

The Fog: In other spookytime movies-to-comics news, here’s an 88-page Dark Horse one-shot from writer Scott Allie and artist Todd Herman, a tie-in to the upcoming remake of the John Carpenter classic by Rupert Wainwright, also director of the remarkably stupid Stigmata. I sure hope there’s lots of deep colors and slow motion! Um, the comic might be good, though.

Marvel Monsters: Devil Dinosaur #1: Oooh, Eric Powell of The Goon (teamed with co-writer Tom Sniegoski) tackles Devil Dino, with the Hulk along for the ride. This will probably be a lot of fun, especially with a vintage Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers monster back-up from 1960’s Journey Into Mystery #62. Four bucks, though, and I bet there‘s gonna be a lot of ads in those 48 pages if recent Marvel books have been any indication (hey there, Ghost Rider).

Fell #2: Hey, this thing’s less than two bucks, and there’s almost no ads, and it’s actually good! A standout in such a week.

The Punisher MAX #26: Shootings.

Albion #3 (of 6): Hmmm, this is back. Pretty decent stuff. Apropos of nothing, it looks like Zatanna has fallen behind schedule again…

Watchmen: The Absolute Edition: Nope. I like ya, Watchmen, but not this week. Oh, there’s also a new V For Vendetta hardcover and a softcover version of the Arkham Asylum Anniversary Edition (with sparse Morrison commentary) for you big(ger) spenders.

Jeez… could anything else possibly be…

Keith Giffen’s Trencher: Wh… what the fuck?! Am I hallucinating now? Trencher?? Yikes… well, y’know, why the hell not? C’mon in, Trencher! It’s gonna be quite a week. If you’re like me, and you wasted too much of your comics-reading youth pouring over early Image stuff, you must have run into Trencher, star of creator/writer/artist Giffen’s 1993 four-issue miniseries, now collected into trade form by Boom! Studios. I recall enjoying this series, a ridiculous, violent thing. Too bad his legendary crossovers with Shadowhawk apparently aren’t included.

Ok… anything else?!

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes: Oh, ha ha, well that caps it off nicely. In case you haven’t sold off your home and children and at least one kidney yet, there’s always this $150 hardcover set to lug around. Hope it doesn’t break your lap while you’re trying to read it!