Quick One: Start the Year Fast

I'm trying to drop 20 pounds, so I figure I ought to keep moving.



Best of 2009 (reminder: all works that did not qualify will be withdrawn from circulation and pulped at the close of business Friday)



The Troublemakers: Oh shit, here's how you start 2010 off right - new Gilbert Hernandez. Specifically, his $19.99 Fantagraphics hardcover follow up to Chance in Hell (my Best of 2007 #1 pick) and Speak of the Devil (a portion of which was among my Best of 2008) in that it's a 'movie' that exists in the greater Love and Rockets world. As you can maybe guess, I've really enjoyed these project, and this one carries a double charge as Beto's entry into the emboldened crime comics scene of recent months: a sleazy rocker, a pair of nasty ladies and a big drug money rip-off are prominently featured over 128 cruel pages. Review coming soon, god willing, but here's a preview in which women wrestle on a dusty road immediately following the main titles.

The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.: Elsewhere in cockeyed genre hardcovers that put the "Fanta" before the "graphics," Dash Shaw brings a 104-page collection of color sci-fi stuff, ranging from production materials from the titular animated serial (his directorial debut) to various shorts from MOME and elsewhere, plus an all-new extra-length story. Definitely flip through this one; Shaw's fleshy, emotive, color-seared approach isn't quite like anyone else's, and the subject matter will (sort of) prepare you for Pantheon's collected BodyWorld later this year. It's (also) $19.99; samples here.

The Box Man: But enough of this gun shootin' and planet eatin' - what of the new bizarre pictures from Japan's world of "manga" comics? Enter Drawn and Quarterly and Garo veteran Imiri Sakabashira, a cartoonist and painter making his English-language bookshelf debut (he's also been in Vice) with what appears to be an all-new work, a strange and oozing trip report from some kind of porno kaiju movie geography. That's all I know, but the guy comes recommended by persons of good taste. It's $24.95 for 128 b&w pages; preview here.

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms: Being a dandy new $14.95 hardcover edition of Last Gasp's fine 2007 release of Fumiyo Kouno's gentle, generations-spanning story of young women connected to Hiroshima and its ever-present 20th century legacy. The artist recently won an Excellence Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival for the book's 2008 sequel, Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni, which hopefully will appear in English one of these days.

Shutter Island: Well here's an interesting tie-in for the upcoming Martin Scorsese picture - a swift Tokyopop English edition of French artist Christian De Metter's 2009 comics adaptation of Dennis Lehane's original prose novel, 128 pages in color for $21.99. Preview here.

Olympians Vol. 1: Zeus: King of the Gods: The first out the door in First Second's new wave of releases, seeing George O'Connor of 2006's Journey Into Mohawk Country and 2009's Ball Peen Hammer (with Adam Rapp) begin a projected 12-book series adapting Greek mythology to an action comics style. It's a $16.99 hardcover, although I understand a $9.99 paperback edition should be around soon. In color, 80 pages; preview.

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Vol. 1: I don't think I can cite the Golden Age of Reprints when the last edition of this was out in 2005, but that thing's going for something like $160.00 on Amazon now; I guess the demand is out there for a $24.99, 112-page Boom! Studios hardcover edition of what appears to be half of Don Rosa's much-loved extended 'origin' story for the great duck character, which doubles as a massive homage to the good (great!) duck artist Carl Barks. A similar two-volume re-release of Rosa's related stories (previously collected as The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion) will follow, resulting in a total of four volumes.

Bringing Up Father: From Sea to Shining Sea: Ah, but this surely counts! Yet another sorely tempting $49.99 item from IDW's Library of American Comics, but of a slightly different makeup, content to compile just a single, huge 1939-40 storyline from George McManus' beloved strip (est. 1913), following Maggie & Jiggs and their newly married daughter on a cross-country tour. A big (11" x 10") 272 pages, with the usual extras.

Big Questions #13: A House That Floats: A new $9.95 Drawn and Quarterly installment of Anders Nilsen's long-running serial of humans and (especially) animals skirting survival an a strange, bucolic place. Always worth a look as one of the few remaining alternative comic picture rockets around that doesn't do the all-in-one thing. Sean Collins reviews it here.

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #1 (of 5): But if it's a more traditional $3.50 piece you're after, I doubt you'll go wrong with this new Guy Davis-drawn kickoff to one of those climactic storylines that crop up in the Hellboy universe's most prolific series. See it.

The Boys #38: And speaking of building toward things, writer Garth Ennis has mentioned that this series is now set to run for an extra-long 70 issues, with two more connecting miniseries on top of the completed Herogasm, which seems to mark this final (for now) 'origins' issue as the series' halfway point, mostly. Presenting: the Female.

King City #4 (of 12): Here's some good Brandon Graham reprints, sprinkled with new bonuses.

Tank Girl: Skidmarks #2 (of 4): Here's some colorized Alan Martin/Rufus Dayglo reprints, which I hadn't read when they were new.

Starstruck #5 (of 13): Here's some excellent old 'n new or old-made-new and certainly newly colored though not colorized material from Elaine Lee and Michael Wm. Kaluta.

Batman Confidential #40: Woah, Sam Kieth for the next four issues.

Greek Street #7: And Peter Milligan too.

Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books: Your non-comics oddity of the week - a new Bart Beaty & Nick Nguyen translation of a 2005 academic tome by American studies professor Jean-Paul Gabilliet of the University of Bordeaux, analyzing the history, distribution and turbulent legitimization of our domestic stuff from an interdisciplinary perspective. I can't imagine this not being worth at least paging through, which you can do online via Google Books. From the University Press of Mississippi; 432 pages in hardcover for $55.00, priced for learning.