They're Prompting You to Jolt the Holiday Economy


stunt casting (in the tradition of The Comics Journal #300 but far better, Tucker Stone and I have a special conversation about comics; countless insights erupt from all of last week's pamphlets in an obscene display of hilarity and meaning, with a lot of heart too)

*It's a light one on Wednesday, although I've gotta commend one item in particular to your flipping eye -


Crossing the Empty Quarter and Other Stories: It'd probably be excessive to title Welsh-raised, painting-trained Carol Swain the most underappreciated cartoonist in the history of ever, particularly considering she's a one-time Peter Milligan/Brendan McCarthy collaborator (on Skin) that counts Alan Moore among her appreciative readers, but rarely have I found a cartoonist to be so reliable at delivering an utterly unique worldview -- a stark, grimly poetic semi-rural setting torn by ex-hellraiser snarling-through-the-fog attitude and a visionary outsider's obscure address -- in such a spread-out bunch of settings: her old Way Out Strips series, the current Hotwire anthologies, her erratic Fantagraphics releases Invasion of the Mind Sappers (1995) and Foodboy (2004).

Amazingly, this Dark Horse project is the second major Swain hardcover release of 2009, following Fantagraphics' Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock 'N' Roll Life, a memoir of writer and Swain partner Bruce Paley. Here it's a full-scale career-spanning collection of short stories, over 30 of them in b&w and color, crammed into a 200-page, $24.95 hardcover. Don't let it get lost in the crowd. Sample story here; exciting flipbook preview here.

Daytripper #1 (of 10): Being the much-anticipated Vertigo project by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá, both of whom naturally have extensive experience in writing their own comics prior to and apart from Casanova and The Umbrella Academy -- the 2006 Dark Horse collection De: Tales is worth checking out on that front -- though this is pretty well tagged as the post-breakthrough work, with colorist Dave Stewart along to assure us of visual polish. Along with breathless comparisons to David Mazzucchelli, Craig Thompson and Paul Pope, the publisher promises "quiet moments that ask big questions" and "a mystery about the meaning of life itself," told through the temporally fragmented life of a dissatisfied news writer in Brazil. I haven't been this interested in a Vertigo series in a while... so, full-priced $2.99. Sneak peek.

Yotsuba&! Vol. 7: More from the lil' "cutie pie manga aimed at male otaku" that could - this thing's got stacks of copies at my local Borders. Vol. 9 is currently new to Japan. Yen Press is also presenting its new edition of ADV Manga's Azumanga Daioh omnibus this week, collecting an earlier, similarly wide-appealing gag-based high school cutie pie comedy from artist Kiyohiko Azuma.

Detroit Metal City Vol. 3: Somehow I don't think this ongoing ALL METAL manga from Kiminori Wakasugi will enjoy a similar kids' comics crossover, although admirers of dirty jokes in situation comedy (a famed metal legend is really OMG an indie pop wimp!!) will possibly have a lot of fun with this. A $12.99 Viz release; up to vol. 8 in Japan.

Sky Doll: A $19.99 Marvel softcover edition of this universe-spanning, animation-informed and furry-casted lampoon of diverse religion and media from Disney Italy veterans Alessandro Barbucci & Barbara Canepa, closing in on five years as a series with a fourth chapter still forthcoming. Note that this edition does not appear to collect any of the content (mostly production art) from the not-yet-finished-in-English Sky Doll: Doll Factory series, so it remains a slightly smaller, twice-as-expensive version of the Heavy Metal Summer 2006 Special -- where these first three chapters initially saw North American release -- with nicer paper and a smoother English translation.

The Muppet Show Comic Book Vol. 2 #0: Being the 'first' issue of the newest incarnation of this popular licensed series, which apparently will present itself as a formal ongoing series after all. Roger Langridge will remain the primary artist, but this $2.99 introduction has a guest turn by Shelli Paroline. Preview.

Tank Girl: Dark Nuggets: Yes, its the same current Tank Girl team of Alan Martin and Rufus Dayglo, who are indeed working on a color miniseries for Titan (Tank Girl: Skidmarks) right now -- first published as a b&w serial in the Judge Dredd Megazine -- but this is a new, b&w 32-page Image special presenting three complete stories of a supposedly nastier type. More will follow, along with more from IDW ("Publisher #3") in turn. Preview.

Phonogram 2: The Singles Club #6 (of 7): Nearing the end of Kieron Gillen's & Jamie McKelvie's second music-as-magic miniseries, and it looks like you, Phonogram reader, better savor it while it's here. Preview.

PunisherMAX #2: One Kingpin, comin' up.

B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #4: In which this series of action/suspense-heavy John Arcudi flashback/looking-back pamphlets comes to a close with the always-welcome art of Peter Snejbjerg and a focus on gaseous Johann Kraus, who finds out what the hell happens to all of these cannon fodder monsters after they die. Looks like this.

Citizen Rex #6 (of 6): Concluding Gilbert & Mario Hernandez's odd, sometimes striking miniseries, a real old-timey 'alternative comics' kind of offhandedly joking sci-fi series hyper-literate in funnybook art. Mario sez "I tried to give it the feel of a strange late-night foreign movie you're too drunk to remember clearly the next day," but it's more like an untethered anthology serial you don't realize went on so long until you look it up. Recommended, but remember - I even sort of liked Girl Crazy. Samples.

Batman: The Cult: Oh, this is a new $19.99 printing of that post-Dark Knight 1988 Jim Starlin/Bernie Wrightson miniseries where Batman's mind is ruined by an evil preacher and his deadly henchman Alan Moore and they all conquer Gotham but then Batman gets away and him and Jason Todd ride into town in a monster truck Batmobile and beat the shit out of an entire religion. It may be gritty late '80s superhero stuff at its silliest, but my affection remains undimmed.