Consumer updates of all sorts.

*So, is DMP's release of Tezuka's Swallowing the Earth already out of print? I notice Amazon has already reverted its listing to used/new sellers, and other sites seem to have it on perpetual backorder. Are copies scarce? Distribution problems? Does Diamond still have it? Copies should be available through that title link above, at least, but I dunno how big the print run was; might want to start checking up now, if your interest is scratching.


Up in Flames (yes, there was a Mr. Natural/Fabulous Furry Freak Bros. porno in the '70s, at a crucial time for underground comics and dirty movies alike)

Flipped! Halloween Special (just a few words on horror manga in a roundtable on the topic)

*In other dawn of modern manga news, I've really been enjoying Abrams' The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga; lots and lots of images from all sorts of early and untranslated works, and Helen McCarthy's text, while introductory by its own admission, is doing a good job of laying out the context succinctly so far.

But I've gotta say, the best part right now is definitely the included dvd. I haven't heard much about it online -- and I kinda get the impression Abrams is attempting to keep the details hazy -- but it's not brand-new content. It's better: a newly subtitled 1985-or-thereabouts NHK documentary on Tezuka, made with his full participation, following him around for a few weeks of his life as a God of Manga long ago established.

A working God too, living out of a gritty one-man apartment/workspace five days a week -- the documentary crew installs remote cameras and mirrors(!!) so we can watch Tezuka draw, glance at the tv, scratch himself, nod off at the drawing board -- commanding his art assistants by day (one of them admits to having slept on a studio couch for about a week straight), and occasionally running through the streets of '80s Tokyo to catch his ride to the airport where a plane to France awaits, cranking out pencilled pages on the drive down and securing a fax number for the pages he's gonna be drawing on the flight. Later he wins an animation award at a festival in Hiroshima, and slips back to his hotel room for more work in between popping in at the reception.

Not much on the life 'n times presented; but then, you just bought a book for that, right? No, the dvd is where you get to hang around with Tezuka, who jokes that you'd have to be an idiot to draw comics for a living, answers a question upside-down in a handstand and vows to figure out how to get his old hands to draw a good circle again, so he'll be ready to go for the next 40 years of his career. He'd be dead in less than half a decade. I can't imagine some glossy contemporary supplement serving him better.


Red Snow: And look at this - the latest in Drawn and Quarterly's attempts at bringing classic gekiga to the English language, or at least works by classic gekiga artists. This is a 2005 collection of short stories by the late Susumu Katsumata (1943-2007), who was active in comics since shortly after the entry of the venerable alternative magazine Garo onto the mid-'60s scene. I understand these are emotion-saturated pieces, set in a rural mid-century Japan touched by mythic fantasy. I'd peer through this before anything else on Wednesday. A 232-page hardcover, $24.95.

Map of My Heart: But if you're in more of a retrospective mood, D&Q also has a new collection for artist John Porcellino and his King-Cat Comics and Stories (est. 1989), which recently saw the release of issue #70. More than 75 stories, musings and slices of life culled from issues #51-61 of King-Cat (1996-2002) are included in these 304 pages, tracking several major shifts in the artist's life as rendered in his assured yet contemplative style. Here's a sample; it's (also) $24.95.

The Fat Freddy's Cat Omnibus: What, the porn review wasn't enough? You want the real stuff? These vintage high-slapstick underground capers are probably the opposite of contemplative, although the cat always was a bit smarter than Fat Freddy himself. It's a 368-page Knockabout Comics presentation, so I'm presuming all the extended The Adventures of Fat Freddy's Cat material is in here -- parodic social comedy, genre spoofs, hippie exchanges, stretching from the '60s into the '90s -- along with the one-pagers and stuff. The U.S. price is $29.99.

Key Moments from the History of Comics: And now a beginning - 48 pages of gag comics by François Ayroles, set in the world of the funnies, culled from two French books of the type (2005, 2008), and published in English by Beguiling Books, the publishing arm of North American ultra-retailer The Beguiling. I believe this was initially released in conjunction with the 2009 Toronto Comic Art Festival, to which Ayroles was invited as a guest of honor. More here; it's $10.00.

Rockpool Files: Ah, sneaking up on me! A new book from writer Glenn Dakin, British alternative comics mainstay; you might recall the Top Shelf collection Abe: Wrong for All the Right Reasons. This is a new collection of strips drawn by Phil Elliott (the two previously teamed on the 2005 pamphlet Mr. Night), concerning a crab who is also a detective. From SLG Publishing; 64 pages for $6.95.

Tank Girl Remastered Vol. 4: The Odyssey: Meanwhile, more vintage British funnies surface, these being a 1995 Vertigo commission teaming artist/co-creator Jamie Hewlett with writer Peter Milligan for a monstrous and Joycean plunge into fame and doom. Features new reflections from the writer, and some other stuff From Titan Books; $14.95 for 112 color pages.

The Eternal Conflicts of the Cosmic Warrior: A 32-page, $3.50 one-off by Paul Grist, spinning out from the soon-to-relaunch Jack Staff, and leading into its own series of miniseries for a fighter that tends to show up just when a final effort is needed. Samples.

Groo: The Hogs of Horder #1 (of 4): That's right, the title's implication is quite clear; it's the Groo version of America's Financial Crisis. From Mark Evanier & Sergio Aragonés, the latter of whom is also starting up his work on Bart Simpson Comics this week with issue #50. Groo preview here.

Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy: More Mignola & Arcudi, out of nowhere!! This is a 40-page comic featuring Abe Sapien, as drawn by one Patric Reynolds, of the back-up story in Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7 the other week. Preview.

Dark Reign: The List - Punisher: John Romita, Jr. drawing the Punisher gets a mention, simple as that.

Detective Comics #858: Starting the next storyline in the Greg Rucka/ J.H. Williams III run.

Ignition City #5 (of 5): Ending this grounded space pilot series from writer Warren Ellis.

1,000 Comic Books You Must Read: Canon fodder, plain and simple. A 272-page charge. But this one comes from a single source, Marvel/DC writer Tony Isabella, and I suspect will carry some good personality in its tour of not-optional history. From Krause Publications, a $29.99 hardcover.