Ah, gracious...

*Well, first off, sorry Chris - I was late, and I totally missed you today. Entirely my fault for not getting myself moving more quickly.

Yeah, it always gets to me when the sun goes down at five or so, screws me up. I spent a bunch of time today crafting critiques for various people in the outside world, which was about as fun as it sounds. I did manage to get over to RIOT! for their big event, at which I doubtlessly blew Brian Wood and Dean Haspiel away with the one-on-one charisma that has made me famous throughout the region - all the poise and grace of a sleep-deprived fifth grader en route to the principal’s office, augmented with the muscular patois of a homeless schizophrenic.

It was a nice time. Mr. Wood walked me through the various format incarnations of Channel Zero (which I was entirely ignorant of) and helped me find the smoothest, must unscuffed copy of Local #1 in the stack to buy, while Mr. Haspiel showed me some very nice-looking artwork from his upcoming super-noir project for Speakeasy (he’ll soon be appearing in Beowulf #7). He also pointed out that meeting people from the internet, with all of the usernames and online handles involved, makes it feel like everyone is a superhero, with secret identities and the like. I nodded in agreement, this being the third or so time I was standing in a room full of people where everyone was calling me ‘Jog,’ always a pleasingly surreal experience.

*One Step Away Dept: Apparently, people like to click the ‘Next Blog’ button on the top of their screen whilst reading their favorite Blogger-based sites. And then they arrive at a new site, and the administrator of said site (provided that they’re equipped with something like Site Meter) gets to see which blog they came from. Technology is way rad.

But for some reason, I’ve recently been getting ‘Next Blog’ traffic from a very special brand of Internet wildcat - erotic literature blogs. Yes, you can sit down and savor original porno fiction with all the trimmings, straight from the author’s heart to your monitor. And then, presumably, you click on the ‘Next Blog’ button and… you arrive here. Does my site show up at random?

I wonder what the reactions of these adult prose enthusiasts are. Do they feel gypped by the lack of hot action on this site? Do they expect superhero/alternative comics slash fiction? Do they simply anticipate random blogging experiences as they click and roll with the punches?

Or perhaps I reawaken a different passion inside them - an insatiable desire for comics!

That must be it! Once again, my skills at comics advocacy are unmatched. In the spirit of the moment, I just clicked the ‘Next Blog’ myself, and it led me to this musical place. Pretty catchy.

*February solicitations. Because we can never stop looking ahead.

DC’s were posted for a while, and then they took them down, so I’ll link to them when they’re back up, which is right now:

- Batman: Year One Hundred arrives, courtesy of Paul Pope. It’s caped ‘n cowled antics in the year 2039, a four-issue miniseries at 48 pages per chapter (and $5.99 a pop). I love me that Paul Pope work, so I’m onboard, though I have to wonder if the price is going to spook away less Pope-friendly Batfans.

- Eddie Campbell teams with Bart Sears for Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #200. I can’t believe I just wrote that. It’s a 56-page anniversary issue, and Campbell brings along fellow Bacchus vet Daren White to co-write (the two also collaborated on the lovely Batman: Order of the Beasts special). It involves the Joker. Might be cool.

- Showcase Presents: House of Mystery is a big fat 500+ page b&w collection of classic horror stuff from the Joe Orlando editorial run, with art by Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Alex Toth, and many more. Low price ($16.99), good line-up.

- Howard Chaykin is doing the cover of Jonah Hex #4. Just thought you’d all like to know. You can also pick up the City of Tomorrow! trade. Did Challengers of the Unknown ever get collected? Because that was a superior work in comparison…

- Scott Hampton (currently of the Steve Niles-scripted Batman: Gotham County Line) gets the spotlight in the new Solo (#9).

- Bulleteer is looking more and more like an all-purpose tie-up series in the Seven Soldiers project, with the heroine taking superhero ‘odd jobs’ and wandering into contact was familiar (to devout readers) characters. Issue #3 promises to tie into the past of the Newsboy Army (as seen in Guardian #4), as well as additional loose ends from Seven Soldiers #0. Meanwhile, Frankenstein looks to be pleasingly odd. Also keep an eye out for Morrison’s 1991 Kid Eternity, finally getting a trade; it’s a good, thoroughly underexamined work.

- Planetary #25. Only one month after #24! We promise this time!

- Superheroes! The media! Innocence corrupted! The realism of the nation’s social realities contrasting with the childlike wonder of men in capes! Government secrets and the threat of communism! Yes, we’ve heard a whole lot of this before, but that looks to be the premise of writer John Ridley’s and artists Georges Jeanty & Karl Story’s The American Way, an 8-issue miniseries, and still probably the most promising series debut from a DC studio this month that doesn’t involve some sort of established superhero icon. Maybe it’ll overcome the crashing familiarity of its premise?

I actually do have a link to Dark Horse, though - note that their solicitations cover February and March.

- The big Concrete reprint project continues, with the March 15 release of Concrete Vol. 4: Killer Smile, aka: the one where Larry is kidnapped. As with all of these new 6” x 9” editions, the main story will be accompanied by assorted Concrete shorts, the cumulative effect of which will obviate the need for a separate series of ‘shorts’ collections. Apparently, same as the upcoming Concrete Vol. 3: Fragile Creature, it’ll also be presented in b&w, unlike the original issues and out-of-print trade, which are in color.

- Writer Kazuo Koike’s and artist Ryoichi Ikegami’s oft-bonkers adult action epic Crying Freeman begins its reprint effort in March (Viz handled the earlier editions) with a new version of Vol. 1. I recall this particular story being a strange, blood-soaked, yet oddly sweet thing about sexual togetherness and letting things go. I’ve been told by many that the series goes downhill rather fast after this, but it might be worth it just for Ikegami’s prime-period art.

- The crisply titled Hellboy: Makoma, or, A Tale Told by a Mummy In the New York City Explorers' Club On August 16, 1993 #1 (of 2), presents the why-hasn’t-this-happened-sooner teaming of writer/artist Mike Mignola and artist Richard Corben, with the former providing the visuals on a framing sequence, and the latter illustrating everything else. There’s no way I’m not buying this come February, and you should follow my lead.

- I’ve never heard of Toru Yamazaki or his apparently famous Octopus Girl horror/humor series, but this March sees Vol. 1 arriving, and Dark Horse seems awfully excited, labeling it “insane” and declaring that “[t]hese shocking vignettes will hypnotize fans of the macabre and the absurd, as intestines, eyeballs, and fluids of all sorts shoot enthusiastically across Yamazaki's pages!” Well shit, I’m onboard! In other March horror manga news, Kanako Inuki is apparently ‘The Queen of Horror Manga,’ and we’ll all have Vol. 1 of her School Zone series to judge for ourselves with. I must say, the cover is pretty goddamned awesome.

And finally, there’s IDW.

- Masters of Horror #3 continues this tie-in series with the current Showtime horror program. NYC Mech writer Ivan Brandon teams with artist Dennis Calero for part one of an adaptation of director Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House. Sounds like a nix mix of talents.

- And Brian Wood debuts a third new series with as many publishers, the action/consumerism satire Supermarket, with art by Kristian Donaldson, who did some decent work in IDW’s recent Doomed horror comics magazine.