News, Notes, Writings, Muffins, Etc.

*Fascinating. Just today Tom Spurgeon notes in his ‘First Thought of the Day’ (scroll down) that he’s recently had a new variation of a recurring dream involving his finding rare comics at a store - and just today, my new column is up, featuring a description of a recurring dream of my own, involving my finding all of the books I want upon entering a new comics store. I don’t have the perspective Tom refers to, having gotten seriously into searching through stores after the prevalence of reprint books and trades and the like, though the dream is ultimately the same - books I’ve been looking for in an unfamiliar place. Odd.

Anyway, the real focus of this week’s column is the anticipation of my recent trip to The Big City (Philadelphia), which also provided the material for that Harry Potter anecdote yesterday. I wasn’t really on trial for drug trafficking, btw, and Atomic City Comics on scenic South Street is a nice store, indeed bigger on the inside than it looks, with a fair selection. I bought that Negative Burn: The Best From 1993-1998 book for $5 out of the bargain box.

*A pair of stories regarding manga are in my local newspaper today, both bearing the name of blogger and The Comics Journal contributor Christopher Mautner (who has some New York Comic-Con photos up now, and a longer piece coming soon to be posted somewhere). The longer of the pieces, which unfortunately appears to have had a fair portion of its beginning cut off in the online version, focuses on manga and its influence in general, complete with comments from Dirk Deppey, representatives from VIZ and Tokyopop, and various members of the Cedar Cliff Anime Club (aka that anime club that RIOT Comics + Culture proprietor Jason Richards occasionally mentions on his blog). The second, shorter article, focuses on various local comics retailers and the difficulties they encounter through selling manga in competition with chain bookstores and other outlets.

*LOCK DOWN Dept: Well, it seems the New York Comic-Con is going swimmingly, by which I mean upwards of 6,000 people were turned away yesterday due to overcrowding, including pre-paid registrants, and all on-location ticket sales were closed down for today, the final day of the Con. Also, various professionals (Karen Berger, Frank Miller, Patrick McDonnell and others are named in this thread at The Engine) had trouble getting in and around to signings and the like. Be sure you check out some nice analysis from Tom Spurgeon at the above link concerning the likely PR spin surrounding the affair. Keep your eyes peeled for Chris Butcher’s latest updates, check out some official refund documentation on page 2 of the comments to this Newsarama story, enjoy Johanna Draper Carlson’s link round-up (plus an update here), pour over a little anonymous industry insider critique, and feel free to let me know if you have any Con experiences you’d like to share.

*There were, however, a few announcements made at the Con. Apparently one of the bigger ones surrounded some new Batman/Spawn thing, which will be released with an accompanying collectible statue that will somehow tie into the plot, and possibly a limited-edition time machine that will physically whisk the reader back to 1994. Vertigo, however, does have some interesting new things coming up, including a Dean Haspiel-illustrated graphic novel written by Jonathan Ames (The Alcoholic), plus a “visceral” Vietnam War miniseries from artist Cameron Stewart and first-time writer Jason Aaron (The Other Side).

Plus, they screened Art School Confidential, which sounds pleasingly misanthropic and cruel.

Couldn’t find a lot of manga information at the other news sites, but AnimeOnDvd notes that VIZ has made official their (already rather well-known) license of Kazuo Umezo’s seminal ‘70s horror series Drifting Classroom. Meanwhile, Dark Horse has announced via a generalized manga panel that they’ve secured the license to Kazuo Koike’s recent(ish) New Lone Wolf and Cub, with art by Hideki Mori, replacing Goseki Kojima, who died in 2001.

But even more interesting, Dark Horse is also apparently entering into a partnership with Japanese publisher Asuka Shinsha to bring the latter’s Small S quarterly ‘manga illustration magazine’ to the US, hoping to fold some western comics artists into the publication's lineup. Very cool! Hopefully more details will filter out as the NY affair draws to a close.