I'm here, I'm tired, I'm behind.

*And one of the books I'm currently writing about selflessly gave its life for the online funnybook blogging cause in the midst of scanning illustrations. That'd never happened to me before; tears filled my eyes as I gathered up the remains, and I vowed that this dolorous scene would spur me on toward ever-greater feats of writing about comic books on the internet. Just you wait, readers, fate - something's coming.


Mushi-Shi (the 2006 live-action movie by Akira creator Katsuhiro Ōtomo)

I wound up keeping the pages inside the cover. It still sort of looks like a book if you don't move it. More or less. And it's not like I resell anything, ever.

*But there were happy times in the course of my research too. For example, I got to poke through old issues of Epic Illustrated, which meant exposure to one of the crucial aesthetic signposts of the era (1980). I refer, of course, to that one Champale ad where everyone is doing the classiest fucking job of boozing in a cave in all the annals of human consumption. My malt liquor memories involve playing cards on the porch when I was a teenager. I must have done it wrong:

When the time is right, and the mood is light, go with your feelings. To a cave... together.

*I'm wearing that jacket right now.


3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man
: There was a lot of good word circling around artist Matt Kindt's Super Spy in 2007; now comes his new book, a Dark Horse hardcover production following a forever-growing man through three periods, each narrated by a woman in his life. It's 192 pages of painted color art for $19.95; preview here, bonus stories here and here.

The John Stanley Library: Nancy Vol. 1: Being the latest in Drawn and Quarterly's Seth-designed 7.75" x 11" hardcover compendiums of Stanley stories, this time a 144-page shot of Dell tie-in comics related to Ernie Bushmiller's newspaper strip native. Stanley worked on this stuff for a long time, close to 40 issues (1957-62), working out roughs for other artists to finish; I'm unsure if this particular series is meant to be comprehensive, since the first volume is only 144 pages, but you never know what'll happen. Say, have you learned How to Read Nancy? Expanded edition coming soon.

Johnny Boo Vol. 3: Happy Apples: Meanwhile, in new hardcover kids' comics, James Kochalka continues his cute ghost series with a story about eating healthy. The colors sear, as I like it. Top Shelf publishes, 40 pages for $9.95.

Beasts of Burden #1 (of 4): A fun-looking spooky comics series from Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson, following suburban pets on self-contained mysteries into the supernatural. Publisher Dark Horse featured earlier stories from the same team (and of the same concept) in its Dark Horse Book of... horror anthologies, so if you liked it there (and I did) your $2.99 should be as good as spent. Have a look.

Pluto Vol. 5 (of 8): This month's Urasawa; you know the drill.

Oishinbo Vol. 5: Vegetables: Mmm, looks like an especially crisp installment of this thing about a guy who eats and his hated father who also eats, and their all-eating supporting cast, which don't eat as skillfully as the guy and his father. Unless I'm totally off, these VIZ editions are based on Japanese themed collections of the series, of which 59 are currently available. At least two more (on rice and "pub food") are due in English. It's 268 pages for $12.99.

BioGraphical Novel Series 3: Che Guevara: Of course, the truly hardcore will be saving up their $14.95 for Che: the Manga, because the pain of missing out on Anne Frank featuring Astro Boy still burns so cold, like the stab of the Witch-king. I don't think Astro Boy is in here, granted, nor is Che likely to appear in Pluto, although Urasawa does tend to get erratic as his endings draw near. This one's by Chie Shimano & Kiyoshi Konno, published by the excellently named Emotional Content. Video preview here.

APPLE Vol. 3: But maybe you want a little more color? And people maybe not wearing a lot? Sure, UDON Entertainment's release of the all-color Japanese anthology series Robot seems to be on hold, but this similarly toned Korean number -- A Place for People who Love Entertainment -- continues to steam forward, already up to vol. 4 overseas. Expect lots of glossy pin-ups and candied comics. Produced by Seoul Visual Works; it's $34.95 for 264 oversized pages. Preview here (scroll down).

Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures Archives: This is actually one of Dark Horse's Archives hardcovers, at the $49.95 price point, although I think they might intent to number it "27" to follow DC's similarly produced volumes of classic Eisner material. It's a 200-page collection of Kitchen Sink's eight-issue all-star revival of the character from 1998, featuring contributions by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (much in the vein of Moore's later Greyshirt work with Rick Veitch), Moore & Daniel Torres, Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell, Campbell & Marcus Moore & co. (more on Campbell's stories here), James Vance & Dan Burr, John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra (of Judge Dredd), Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (of Astro City), Paul Chadwick, Mark Schultz & David Lloyd, Jay Stephens & Paul Pope, Mike Allred & Matt Brundage & Michael Avon-Oeming, John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake, Dennis P. Eichorn (Real Stuff!!) & Gene Fama, and Joe R. Lansdale & John Lucas, among others. I think Moebius even has a pin-up in here. Doubt you'll find a more happening crew this week. Preview.

Tom Strong Deluxe Edition Book 1 (of 3): And if that's not enough Moore for ya, there's always this $39.99 hardcover collection of the first 12 issues of the Magus' pulp hero fantasy future, co-created with Chris Sprouse and featuring guest art by Al Gordon, Art Adams, Jerry Ordway, Dave Gibbons (again), Paul Chadwick (again), Gary Gianni and others.

Haunt of Horror: Oooh, and don't miss this - a new $29.99 softcover collecting the entirety of Richard Corben's Poe and Lovecraft-themed b&w horror comics for Marvel, along with all of the source texts for easy comparison.

Dominic Fortune #2 (of 4): And speaking of throwbacks...

Thor Annual #1: Your Peter Milligan superhero comic of the week, following the writer's prior character one-off The Trial of Thor; I hadn't known the Thor annuals were in need of a relaunch, but here you go. Preview. The $3.99 tag also nets you vintage content from Journey Into Mystery #83, fancied up with modern coloring tricks so you don't feel ashamed.

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1 (of 4): Beginning writer Warren Ellis' contribution to the freshly plowed Ultimate line, an Iron Man story drawn by Steve Kurth & Jeffrey Huet. Preview.

Batman and Robin #4: Philip Tan!! Are you ready to accept the challenge of the gods?! Aw, that's a little condescending, actually; Frank Quitely hasn't been at his best here, particularly last issue, where his characteristic shortcut of leaving most of the background work to the colorist in certain bits actually got in the way of the impact of that double-page dance sequence, where I think Pyg was supposed to be menacing Robin Michael Madsen-style, but actually wound up thrashing around in a void for much of the spread. Moreover, I'm not convinced his general approach of favoring continuous, animation-like movement in the (many) action pages was entirely effective, in that Quitely's approach to character art relies so much on small gestures, which I found constantly slowing me down so as to keep the action straight on the 'how is Robin balancing on this chair?' level - it's a really studied approach, almost an action comic in quotes, and for all the fun sound effects and gore mists I never got much impact out of it, which seemed to jar against Grant Morrison's rollicking story.

And, you know, he's still interesting, obviously, and some of the problems he couldn't help - is there any artist working in superhero comics today who's worse served by ads in the story every three or four pages? But... what I'm saying is, I thought John Romita, Jr. did twice the action comics job in Kick-Ass last week with half the fuss and one-fifth the heralding, and it does nobody any good in terms of critical rhetoric, analysis or simple anticipation to posit Quitely's work as this scalding zone of achievement bound to devour the flesh of unlucky talents immediately to follow. Particularly in a superhero series where the symbols and allusions really do appear to be percolating in the background; a man of impact can do well there. Maybe this guy will, maybe he won't. We'll know soon enough.

Wednesday Comics #11 (of 12): Not all of this was great, but I'll be sad to see it go. And how's that for impact?