Late, Cold Columbus Day

*Or, the wee morning after I guess.


The Surrogates (comic and movie)

Grandville (new Bryan Talbot and a bonus joke you can skip)

*I should probably take the air conditioner out.


You Are There: The next in Fantagraphics' current (newest) Jacques Tardi translation effort, this time honing in on an older work that defies today's recieved wisdom that comics intended to be movies cannot possibly be much good, to say nothing of those written in script form by a screenwriter and shopped around to various hired artists. Yet writer Jean-Claude Forest did first imagine this work to play in theaters of the 1960s; his Barbarella comics eventually found great success as adapted to movie form in '67. But it wasn't to be for Ici Même, which Forest then pitched as a comic to several veteran artists before meeting up with the 33-year old Tardi, then a few albums into his signature Adèle Blanc-Sec series (see: back issues of Cheval Noir, rare used NBM albums going for $1,000,000,001 online, that Luc Besson movie if it ever gets made). By sheer happenstance, the soon-to-be revered genre-free 'mature' comics magazine (A SUIVRE) was just starting up then, in 1978, and You Are There wound up a highlight of its earliest issues. It's a strange, wordy, spicy satire, seeing a man struggle to live on the walls surrounding land stolen from him; maybe it's best to see for yourself. A $26.99 hardcover, 196 b&w pages; not for sale in the UK, I don't think, due to license terms.

Akira Vol. 1 (of 6): Being the official debut of Big Three manga publisher Kodansha on the North American scene -- as distributed by Random House -- with a series that needs no introduction. There was a time when Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 animated movie adaptation of this stuff was the very definition of anime, enough so that his bigger, better 1982-90 manga series was overshadowed, despite Epic's famous colorized translation of it. This 352-page tome should be similar to Dark Horse's 2000 b&w printing, however, with a new introduction from Otomo included. It's $24.99 for maybe one of the best action manga of the last quarter-century -- bikers! psychics! creepy children! Neo Tokyo is about to explode!! -- and sort of a cry from the past too, when Western-influenced, 'realist' art had more currency in Japanese comics, and most of what Americans knew of 'manga' came from that.

The Ghost in the Shell Vol. 1: So, what's with the "The"? Is this a definitive edition? It's Kodansha release #2 for the week, sized at 9.8" x 7", which I think is larger than the most recent Dark Horse printing. I don't think I need to say much about Masamune Shirow's 1989-91 police procedural-as-philosophical sci-fi series either, although it's always worth noting how deeply fucking weird an artist Shirow is from the wide manga perspective of today, a sort of '80s anime-ish cute girl approach (preserved well into the '90s, as it turned out) welded to insane tech detailing and set loose in super-complete fantasy settings, steely urban fantasy here. For my money, Shirow's best work was 1995's Dominion Conflict One: No More Noise, which allowed his characters to sink deep into the everyday living of his obsessive settings, plot merely humming in the background. This one's the stamped & sealed classic in North America, however -- again, no doubt aided by a popular anime movie version, 1995 -- its episodic plots as busily detailed as any gun or tank being drawn, eventually tumbling forward to a finale by way of idea accumulation overload. It's 368 (mostly) b&w pages for $26.99.

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga: Huh, has a manga artist ever gotten one of these big North American original art book/brief history treatments? Might as well start with Tezuka, introduced to you here by Helen McCarthy's text, Katsuhiro Otomo's introduction (I think this week will see more Otomo material in English than all of 2008), 300 images and a 45-minute dvd documentary. All in hardcover, 9" x 12 1/2", for $40.00, from Abrams.

How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion When He Was a Little Boy: Good times for Asterix readers that didn't grab an earlier printing; this is a prose story origin for Asterix's pal, first written by co-creator René Goscinny in 1965, six years after the series launched, then expanded with a bunch of new illustrations by co-creator Albert Uderzo in 1989. It's $12.95 for 32 pages. Published by Orion Books.

The Fixer and Other Stories: All right, let's follow the dotted line of Joe Sacco reprints. This is a 216-page softcover from Drawn and Quarterly, priced at $19.95. It collects three stories of the Balkan conflicts, initially published by D&Q in two older hardcovers: 2003's The Fixer: A Story From Sarajevo, an original graphic novel profiling a local 'fixer' (a sort of professional guide for war correspondents) in Bosnia, and 2005's War's End: Profiles From Bosnia 1995-1996, which itself collected two earlier stories, Christmas With Karadzic, a tragicomic tale of news chasing from Fantagraphics' Zero Zero #15 in 1997, and Soba, a look at an artist as per the war that defines him to outsiders, from D&Q's own Stories From Bosnia pamphlet from 1998. You know if you want it.

MOME Vol. 16: The latest from Fantagraphics' house anthology, sporting new work from Renée French, the start of a new Fuzz and Pluck serial by Ted Stearn, new Cold Heat stories from Ben Jones, Frank Santoro and Jon Vermilyea, more from T. Edward Bak's ongoing serial, a new piece by Dash Shaw, and plenty more. It's $14.99 for 112 pages; samples here.

Liberty Comics: A CBLDF Benefit Book #2: Another one of those all-star benefit pamphlets -- this time a $4.99 48-pager from Image -- which sometimes tuck away an interesting story or two. No lack of known names in this one, brimming with Neil Gaiman & Jim Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti & Jim Rugg (Painkiller Jane), Mike Allred & Jamie S. Rich (Mr. Gum), Ray Fawkes & Cameron Stewart (The Apocalipstix), Brian Wood (Channel Zero), Ben McCool & Ben Templesmith (Choker), Jason Aaron & Moritat, Kathryn & Stuart Immonen, Gail Simone & Joëlle Jones, Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Paul Grist and Chynna Clugston. Covers by John Romita, Jr. and Tim Sale.

ACT-i-VATE Primer: An IDW-published anthology from artists of the popular online collective, featuring 16 new stories. All the info you need is here; 164 color pages for $24.99.

Joe and Azat: A new NBM original comic from Jesse Lonergan, whose Flower and Fade was released by the publisher in 2007. This one's a story of friendship between and American and a local in Turkmenistan, based loosely on the experiences of the author. It's 104 b&w pages for $10.95; preview.

Man-Eating Cow & the Chainsaw Vigilante: The Complete Works: Sometimes all you need is a good title to get by, although be aware that among these 344 pages of stuff related to The Tick is Zander Cannon's 1993-94 Chainsaw Vigilante miniseries, backing up Clay Griffith's & Alan Hopkins' ten-issue Man-Eating Cow project from 1992-94. Those were rich years, the early '90s. From New England Comics, as always; $29.95.

The Absolute Death: And speaking of titles! A retail charge of $99.99 is a small price to pay for a deluxe oversized slipcased edition of probably the greatest pages of comics published by DC in all the 1990s. I refer, of course, to Neil Gaiman's & Dave McKean's Death Talks About Life, aka: the One Where John Constantine Helps Show You How to Use a Condom. Ideally the remaining 352 pages of this package would consist of cover versions of that story by comics' top artists (Richard Corben! Don Rosa! Warren Craghead!), but we'll have to do with Death: The High Cost of Living (1993), Death Gallery (1994), Death: The Time of Your Life (1996) and various Death-related reprints from The Sandman (#8, 20), The Sandman: Endless Nights, Vertigo: Winter's Edge (#2) and 9-11: September 11, 2001 (The World's Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember).

Heavy Liquid: Also from Vertigo, a $24.99 softcover edition of Paul Pope's 1999-2000 sci-fi allegory, 240 pages of obscure artists, frantic chases, men and women and living drugs. This is based on the 2008 hardcover edition, including the new colors.

Gantz Vol. 7: Hiroya Oku will never, ever stop. Not while there's rippling bodies in skintight black vinyl being crushed under a giant stone foot to draw. Really.

Gødland #29: However, this Joe Casey/Tom Scioli series will not last forever -- I think they're still estimating issue #36 as the end point -- so enjoy what you have.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7 (of 8): Added adventure from Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo, this time with a back-up by Scott Allie & Patric Reynolds. See.

B.P.R.D. 1947 #4 (of 5): Years prior from Mignola, Joshua Dysart, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. Here.

Anna Mercury 2 #2 (of 5): Your Warren Ellis-from-Avatar of the week, along with Gravel #14.

Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #75: The final issue of the series that became so distraught after Garth Ennis left that it's telling us who the Punisher is right in the title, in case we've forgotten. Poor devil. Raise your glass (and $4.99) for an extra-sized goodbye, featuring short stories related to the character's origin by Peter Milligan(!) & Goran Parlov, Gregg Hurwitz & Das Pastoras(!!), Charlie Huston & Ken Lashley, Thomas Piccirilli (a crime-thriller-horror-fantasy novelist I think making his comics debut) & Laurence Campell and Duane Swierczynski & Tomm Coker. The origin focus means the end must also be a beginning -- a theme of Ennis' run, as a matter of fact -- so there's also a preview of next month's Jason Aaron/Steve Dillon relaunch -- titled simply Punisher MAX -- set to bring more of the traditional Punisher cast (Bullseye, the Kingpin) into the MAX world. Preview.

Mephisto vs. Premiere: No no, Mephisto isn't fighting Marvel's hardcover collection program. Quite the opposite, in fact! Imagine you were visiting this site, oh... a week ago, let's say. You might have run into my SPX report at that time. And it wasn't far down the page you spotted my mention of Marvel Fanfare #40, which featured an Angel story by Ann Nocenti & David Mazzucchelli. Because I had just finished my fifteenth shower of the evening and all the ends of my rugs were straight, I made sure to note that the story was actually a follow-up piece to an Al Milgrom/John Buscema one-shot from 1987, Mephisto vs. the X-Men, which was one of a series of one-shots of that type. Now, having pictured all that, imagine further that you got to that very part of my report and thought "boy, I could sure go for a $19.99 hardcover collection of those one-shots, four in total!"

Open your eyes, little angel. The Golden Age of Reprints has again made dreams, however coached, come disquietingly true.