Asleep At the Keys: The Post


Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival 1 (featuring reviews of French brut force Pakito Bolino's Spermanga and various Shaky Kane klassiks, plus comments on new manga in Japan, idle chatter on recent Diamond releases and some actual thoughts on the comics convention in question - the second half will be up tomorrow or Wednesday)

*What's the word of the week? OLD. Old old old. The Criterion Collection of Comics is real.


Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons: I mean, c'mon, a $125.00, 942-page three-volume slipcased doorstep -- by which I mean it's so big it doesn't stop the door, you use it to access the door from a lower level -- collecting what appears to be all of the famed wit's content for Playboy, ranging from cartoons to prose stories to illustrated essays... but mostly cartoons. And in the good Criterion tradition, publisher Fantagraphics has readied a set of production notes by designer Jacob Covey and an introductory appreciation by author Neil Gaiman. Big preview here.

The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures: But if you want your all-in-one hardcovers more recently interested (and a lot smaller) (and way cheaper), you might want to look at this IDW collection of the late Dave Stevens' breezy early 20th century movie serial-inspired odyssey into adventure comics perfectionism, which blinked in and out of sight for 13 years (1982-95) and 111 pages before settling into a conclusion of sorts. It remains an attractive piece of modern throwback costumed hero stuff -- Michael Wm. Kaluta, no stranger to that himself, did breakdowns for some of the later segments -- here newly recolored by Laura Martin, presumably to add consistency to visuals noticeably affected by evolving visual tools. The publisher has two editions ready, a $29.99 basic edition, 144 pages, and a $75.00 Deluxe Edition that adds 104 extra pages of production art and bonus images.

Silver Streak Comics #24 (The Next Issue Project #2): Wow, kinda forgot this was still a going concern - not a reprint at all, but Image's most conceptual of anthologies, assigning today's popular artists to public domain superhero and adventure characters to create a $3.99 'next issue' of a long-gone Golden Age series, printed in the larger period-specific pamphlet format. The first one of these was a very mixed bag, but it's still hard for me to resist the prospect of Erik Larsen, Paul Grist and Michael T. Gilbert (of Mr. Monster) playing around with ye olde Lev Gleason superheroes. The probability of Jack Cole homage is high. Preview.

Asterix & Obelix's Birthday: The Golden Book: Being the 34th official entry in the mighty Franco-Belgian series, another old comic, but one that simply never stopped after its creation just over 50 years ago by the late René Goscinny and current writer/artist Albert Uderzo. And 'mighty' stands strictly in terms of money and visibility, I'm afraid; almost everyone seems to agree that Asterix has been in decline for some time now, with 2005's Asterix and the Falling Sky (vol. 33) representing a mild cultural protectionist meltdown over the hideous uniform monster horde of manga, coupled with American superhero jokes dating back to crew cut era William Gaines. This one promises to be a little different, a probably-cozy old-series-talking-about-aging thing wherein 12 short stories track birthday celebrations throughout the years, matched up with a guidebook feature based around text by Goscinny. From Sterling Publishing Company; a $14.95 hardcover, 56 pages.

The Art of Ditko: See, we're passing through the vintage comics color spectrum here. This is another IDW project, a Craig Yoe-edited/designed 9 1/2" x 12 1/2" hardcover appreciation of someone who needs no introduction, nor even a mention of his given name. Rare stories and art are promised, along with appreciations by Jerry Robinson, John Romita and P. Craig Russell, with an introduction by Stan Lee. It's 208 color pages for $29.99.

Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess: Or maybe the latest in Dark Horse's line of artist-focused hardcover showcases will do? I've never heard of any of these things not looking really nice, so if you like high fantasy specialist Vess I can't imagine your $39.99 going to waste. Huge preview here, by which I mean over 1/4 of the book's contents - I get the impression someone's mighty confident about this thing's appeal as a physical item. It's 9" x 12", 200 color pages, with an intro by author Susanna Clarke.

The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion: Ok, what's next in our journey through antiquity? How about an expanded reprint of a 1992 book about a vintage newspaper strip? Layers of an onion, friend. Brian M. Kane compiles and Fantagraphics publishes this 160-page package of essays and samples and synopses of everything Valiant, right up to today, with the participation of the strip's current creative team of Gary Gianni & Mark Schultz. It looks like this. Note that this week brings the $39.99 hardback; a $24.99 softcover should follow shortly.

Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie Vol. 4: House Divided Or Will Fate Trick Trixie?: Oh my god, wait - we haven't had a proper thick book reprinting a big stack of old newspaper strips yet this week? Thank providence good American pluck and industry for IDW's Library of American Comics, because now 1932 and half of 1933 are coming back to life for $49.99. What could possibly come next?

Connie Vol. 1: Captives of the Space Pirates & Connie Vol. 2: Battle for Titan: Oh. Oh right. And finally, there is Connie. Don't know what Connie is? Yeah, me neither, but the internet assures me it's a signature comics work by illustrator Frank Godwin and the product of a smaller syndicate, which meant exposure in smaller papers. Running from 1927-44, Connie apparently tossed its girl hero into any situation deemed attractive for the time, and these two $11.95 books -- 140 and 112 pages respectively -- cover the 1939 sci-fi era of the strip in which Connie went into space to confront space threats. From longtime rare/obscure funnies purveyors Pacific Comics Club, doing a 'deluxe' release and taken up by Diamond. Why not? Now can't possibly not be the time.

20th Century Boys Vol. 6 (of 24): But getting back to new... shit, are manga reprints too??

Children of the Sea Vol. 2: Maybe if it's a newer manga... sure, like this evocative, lightly-plotted Daisuke Igarashi series about special water kids and vanishing fish, sort of an arty children's entertainment, although I understand it maybe doesn't remain fit for children for too long. Up to vol. 4 in Japan; $14.99, Viz, IKKI, high-end.

Elephantmen #23: Ending the current (long) run of self-contained side character stories, to focus on something else next.

Gødland #30: Joe Casey, Tom Scioli. Look.

The Zombies That Ate the World #7 (of 8): Drawn by Guy Davis.

Hellblazer #262: Your Peter Milligan of the week.

Dodgem Logic #1: And finally, both old and new - the official bimonthly lifestyle magazine from off the streets of Northampton, England, fronted by writer/artist(!) Alan Moore, in the thrall of reviving some bygone whiff of the underground papers. Your $3.99 nets you cartoons (by the likes of Kevin O'Neil, Melinda Gebbe and Savage Pencil), helpful advice and chat on society, a CD of local music (including the Magus himself on one track) and texts of varying styles and attitudes. The official site has a lot of free things, enough to warrant an entire section labeled "Steal," which is probably as close to online culture as a new print endeavor can get today.