Good things come to those who check the internet obsessively hundreds of times per day.

*That's how I came to win the Nobel Prize in Victory.


pamphlets from last week (being Batman and Robin #6, PunisherMAX #1, Starstruck #3 and Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8)

*Well, issue #300 of The Comics Journal was available online for a few hours (and maybe still is for subscribers?) - long enough for me to assess and affirm the quality of most of its 11 inter-generational conversations between cartoonists. I'd rank the Ho Che Anderson/Howard Chaykin piece as tops in sheer enjoyment, although all of them have their virtues; I mean, J.C. Menu in English. Come on.

But it's also worth mentioning that most of the Journal's regular columnists appear in this final magazine(ish)-format as well (plus a few reviews); of particular note is (will be) Matthias Wivel's piece on Moebius' The Airtight Garage and how its various incarnations (including 2008's new Le chasseur déprime) follow his development. Right now Moebius is in one of those odd positions European cartoonists often find themselves stuck in vis-à-vis North America where his renown is obvious but his work is somewhat inaccessible, to say nothing of recent work, which means a lot of English-language discussion of the work takes on a retrospective quality, and these retrospectives tend to imply the guy's hands were stolen by goblins sometime in the early 1990s, because hey: no recent work in English, save for that one Halo comic.

This piece covers a wider range, and I think offers a fuller view of one aspect of Moebius' body of work, which is valuable. And it also demonstrates the vitality remaining in the Journal's recurring, non-interview features.

*So then -


Driven by Lemons: The new book from Joshua W. Cotter of Skyscrapers of the Midwest, which Sean T. Collins, in an interview with Cotter from the Comics Journal #299, referred to as making Skyscrapers look like Harry Potter in terms of accessibility, to which Cotter replied "I just have to do what my brain tells me to, you know?" The result here is a facsimile Moleskine sketchbook filled with seemingly random or abstract (and sometimes self-referential) drawings in a number of styles, which eventually fuse together loosely into an improvisatory philosophical wander. I went more in depth here, but let me state plainly that this is top-tier work for late in 2009. From AdHouse; $19.95 for 104 b&w and color pages. Preview.

Pictures That Tick: An unexpected Dark Horse reprint of a 2001 Allen Spiegel Fine Arts collection of Dave McKean's short comics from about a decade's stretch prior. I recall liking this stuff when it was new-ish, although I haven't gone back to it in four or five years. Literary and poetic shorts, touching on McKean's collage style and the inkwork of much of Cages; certainly those who enjoyed that longform work will want this, as McKean is not prolific in the comics form. It's a $19.95 softcover, 184 b&w and color pages.

The Fir-Tree: A 72-page hardcover Lilli Carré adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale; I expect it'll look pretty. From HarperCollins' It Books imprint, priced at $14.99.

The Gift of the Magi: Also from It Books, a similarly conceived (96-page, $14.99) O. Henry adaptation by Joel Priddy, with the expected holiday theme. These things are 5" x 7" so I bet they'll fit in a stocking.

Casper the Friendly Ghost 60th Anniversary Hardcover: I like a birthday celebration comic for beloved kids' entertainment franchise that has its title character weeping tears of shame right on the front cover almost as much as I like ghost school report cards where all the grades spell out OOOO, so you can just imagine how the low low $9.95 cover price on this 7" x 10", 80-page color item is the frosty white icing on a cake of the hilarious youthful dead. Collecting 1949's Casper the Friendly Ghost #1 from publisher Archer St. John and what I presume is Harvey Comics Hits #61 from 1952, which was also effectively Casper #6, picking up from the St. John run, i.e. the first Harvey issue of Casper, although the official Harvey series didn't pick up until #7. Also, the "60th Anniversary" here deals with comics only; the Casper character actually dates back to the 1930s. When I come back from the dead as a ghost I'll scare everyone with comic book info, screaming issue numbers as they all run because I hate friends and these are tears of pride. Anyway: two Golden Age comics here. Preview.

Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Vol. 4: But if you're more of a jungle pulp type, Dark Horse also has another 232 pages of Golden Age stuff just your speed. The usual $49.95; see?

Alex Raymond's Rip Kirby: The First Modern Detective Vol. 1 (of 5) 1946-1947: Shit, why the hell not? You've read about it in Dave Sim's glamourpuss, now experience Raymond's photo-realism style for yourself in his final major newspaper strip, a sleek and modern detective thing written by King Features editor Ward Greene, at least for this book, another huge Library of American Comics hardcover from IDW, where they never sleep. Your $49.99 gets you 320 pages, including educational materials from Raymond biographer Tom Roberts and expert Brian Walker.

Pluto Vol. 6 (of 8): Meanwhile, in manga - Tezuka by way of Urasawa, again. The usual $12.99.

Black Jack Vol. 8 (of 17): Or maybe Tezuka by way of Tezuka, for another 328 pages. It really is something that 2000+ pages of Black Jack is out in English now, huh? And Vertical isn't quite halfway done. And even that won't cover the stuff Tezuka didn't want to reprint! Crazy.

Oishinbo Vol. 6: The Joy of Rice: There's also a million or so pages of this quintessential cooking manga, although it looks like VIZ's translation may be halting soon - only one more volume after this one (on casual venue 'izakaya' foods) is set, due in January 2010.

Vagabond Vol. 30: On the other hand, the publisher is primed to see Takehiko Inoue's swordsman drama through (it's currently up to vol. 31 in Japan), as it enters its final year or two.

Borgia Vol. 3: Flames from Hell: And then there's popular Eurocomics. You've probably heard that Milo Manara is finally wrapping up work on X-Men: Ragazze in fuga (roughly, X-Men: Girls in Flight), a Chris Claremont-written 'women of the X-Men' original Italian comic album first announced in March of 2006 - some b&w preview pages are now out and about. But Manara hasn't just been drawing superheroes the whole time; indeed, Heavy Metal readers have been treated over the last few years to this historical fiction exploitation-movie-on-paper series scripted by no less than Alejandro Jodorowsky, a man who knows his family issues and can no doubt appreciate the reign of the dirtiest Pope of all. This is HM's oversized $14.95 unedited hardcover album version of the newest stuff, which was supposed to conclude the story at one point, though it looks like a fourth chapter is forthcoming, maybe around the time that X-Men comic drops in English.

Viking #4: Ivan Brandon & Nic Klein, oversized Image at $2.99 for 24 pages of no nonsense. Preview.

Fall Out Toy Works #2 (of 5): Hard to believe The Winter Men is finally due in collected form next week. Here's the current project by its writer, Brett Lewis, a normal-sized Image at $3.99, all anime-slick and 32 pages.

Hellblazer #261: Your Peter Milligan of the week, seeing regular series artists Giuseppe Camuncoli & Stefano Landini return for a three-parter.

Dominic Fortune #4 (of 4): Concluding Howard Chaykin's trip back in time (in several ways).

The 'Nam Vol. 1: And then there's another odd bit of Marvel time-travel, a gritty bit of 1986 in the form of a period war comic, cooked up by two veterans of the day, editor Larry Hama and writer Doug Murray. Following soldier Edward Marks as he arrives on the scene in 1966, the idea was that each issue would jump forward a month with each issue's realtime release (albeit realtime decades removed). However, it's probably influential penciller Michael Golden that left the most lasting impression on readers, and this new $29.99 softcover collection notably stops at issue #10, just a few issues before Golden's departure from the series; Murray remained as regular writer until 1990, and the series continued to 1993, by which point the Punisher had been introduced as a sales-boosting member of the cast. Still, these 248 pages can perhaps be read as particular to their time, when the very plates of the superhero publishing earth seemed to shift.