Saturday, March 13, 2004

 
Awesome -- In case you're wondering why people think John Byrne is an out-of-touch crank who should have given it up decades ago, here he is weighing in on his betters:

I get no sense from [Grant] Morrison's work that he has any "love for the genre". I get the same vibe I get from [Alan] Moore -- a cold and calculated mixing of ingredients the writer knows the fans like, but to which the writer himself has no eviceral connection. Nostaligia without being nostalgic, as I have dubbed it.)

Those who can't, judge, apparently, instead of teaching. And isn't it nice that Byrne's "no mind-reading" rule doesn't apply to him? Somehow he knows Moore and Morrison have "no eviceral connection" to their work.



Friday, March 12, 2004

 
The Week in Comics -- Here's (early, for once) what's worth keeping an eye out for in the funnybook store...

COMING WEDNESDAY MARCH 17TH

DARK HORSE

TALES OF THE VAMPIRES #4 $2.99 -- I've enjoyed quite a few of the stories in this Buffy-based anthology.

DC COMICS

DC THE NEW FRONTIER #3 (Of 6) $6.95 -- If you can only get one book this week, this is the one to get. Darwyn Cooke's awe-inspiring artwork is married to a sprawling tour of DC Universe history. Fantastic.

SUPERMAN SECRET IDENTITY #3 (Of 4) $5.95 -- I recently picked up #1 and 2 of this series, and it is fantastic, easily one of Kurt Busiek's strongest scripts and Stuart Immonen's art is kicked-up a notch from his usual good work.

IMAGE

WALKING DEAD #5 (MR) $2.95 -- Zombies, human drama, one of the best books on the stands, yadda yadda yadda.

MARVEL

FANTASTIC FOUR #511 (#82) $2.25 -- You know Bill Jemas never sent me my money back after firing Mark Waid?

NEW X-MEN #154 $2.25 -- I wish Grant Morrison's final arc had A) Been good and B) Not had such godawful artwork. Don't you?

AVATAR

STEVEN GRANT'S MY FLESH IS COOL #3 (Of 3) (MR) $3.50 -- The conclusion of a fantastic three-issue mini-series that should very definitely be made into a movie, just to steal Marc Mason's thunder for a moment. Great action/adventure/crime story with some interesting twists and unexpectedly terrific artwork reminiscent of the excellent Tom Raney.

 
Friday -- The weekend is nearly upon us, although I have to work Saturday morning so I'm neither excited about the prospect or optimistic that I'll get much writing done this weekend.

Well, that's preferable to spending even one minute pontificating on the relative value of blogs vs. message boards, or even more ludicrous, blogs vs. blogs-that-claim-not-to-be-blogs. Some days comics is filled with such creeps and losers that it's sorely tempting to send the computer back to Dell and pare the pull list down to Forlorn Funnies, Street Angel and Sleeper and have the shop mail 'em to me once a year.

In the real world, meanwhile, I made a meatless lasagna for dinner last night that kicked ass and satisfied even my meat-craving wife, although her ultimate 7/10 rating of it hurt just a bit. My daughter really loved it though, and that was gratifying. The transformation continues. If anyone had told me a month or two back how different my life would be in just a few weeks, I never would have believed it.


Thursday, March 11, 2004

 
Anemic Thursday Blogging -- Ah, I got nuthin'. The comics arrived late at the shop I go to yesterday, so I wasn't able to pick up (and therefore cannot comment on) Cerebus #300, the new Promethea, or any of the other interesting things that happened this week. I already read a complete preview of Street Angel #1, but I was looking forward to holding the real thing in my hand. Hopefully I'll get to the comics later today.

I feel compelled both to point out that Chris Allen has posted a new Breakdowns and to correct his estimates of the readership of the comics blogosphere. In his interesting opening paragraph on comics blogs, Chris says "Even the most popular blogs only receive about 2,000 unique visitors a week." Unless he meant "unpopular," that's way off. I know Journalista! was getting way, way more visitors than that, and since I posted my Five Questions for Alan Moore, this site has more than doubled its previous daily average -- which even pre-Moore was a bit more than Chris's estimates.

Most importantly, though, is the fact that the people who frequent comics blogs seem, from my admittedly anecdotal experience, to be an informed and influential group of people including comics creators, editors and publishers, retailers and readers of discernment. A quick slog through the nightmarish message boards that pollute some of the old-paradigm comics news sites shows that intelligent discussion there is mostly dead, buried under mountains of angry screeds and under-informed opinionating.

Not that there isn't hope for the once-major sites. The first step -- and at least one comics-related site has ignored my private advice to their later-admitted peril -- is to not provide message boards directly under the content of the news and columns you present. Nothing says "amateur" quite louder than the appearance that you're just the first idiot to begin posting in a message board thread, which is what the end effect is for such columnists who continue to waste whatever talent they have on sites that perpetuate this egregious format. This is likely why Comic Book Resources continues to enjoy a better reputation than, say, The Pulse or Newsarama even though their glory days of being a must-read site every day are long gone. At least the good columns they retain aren't polluted by mindless bullshit immediately underneath that overshadows the content of the column itself.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

 
Calling Bullshit -- Christopher Butcher's bullshit detector is working flawlessly. Nice catch, Chris.

 
Get Street Angel Today, Damn You -- Steven Wintle provides yet more reasons why Street Angel #1 is today's must-buy choice at finer comics shops everywhere.


 


Tom Beland -- One of the biggest success stories of the past few years in the world of independent comics has been Tom Beland's True Story, Swear to God. Unapologetically romantic, funny as hell and a joy to look at, Beland's comic book manages to appeal to a wide variety of readers by telling an intensely personal story. He wrestled the Five Questions to the ground.

As an autobiographical cartoonist, how do the people in your life react to being depicted in your work?

It's funny...the people who you'd think would be the most interested in this stuff, family and friends, are the ones who don't know what issue I'm on, or that there's a trade paperback or anything. When they FIND OUT, they're very supportive, but otherwise, they don't go looking for it. Which is weird, because these are the people who saw you drawing at the dinner as a kid and talked about how cool it would be to you to be a cartoonist one day. Then when it happens it's "oh, you've got a book out..?" [Laughs]. I compare this to the last Lord of the Rings film, where the hobbits save the world and are riding into the Shire, all decked-out in their hero bling and looking all proud...and to the older hobbit sweeping his porch, he looks at the four heroes and has this "aaahhhh those fucking kids are back" attitude. I nearly DIED when I saw this, because whenever I go back to Napa Valley (my Shire) I have to admit that I always expect people to be jacked about me coming home and wanting to see my work...and it never happens. It totally puts you back into reality. They also think that the Eisner awards are in honor of Michael Eisner. YeeEEeeg.

But when they DO find out a book is out, they're very cool about everything. My brother Joe is a great supporter.

True Story, Swear to God seems to have achieved universal acclaim...how has the book's success affected your life and your approach to your cartooning?

I think that it's allowed me to meet people I'd normally be way too shy to say hello to. In San Diego last year, I had Wil Wheaton come to my table and hang out there for a bit and I was like, "You're Wesley Crusher!!" I'm a Trek fan, so this was very cool. I mean, this guy's hanging at my table and telling me he wants to do what I do....and HE'S BEAMED DOWN!! Who else do you know that has BEAMED DOWN??

When Kurt Busiek walks over to say hello, it fucking blows my mind. Every time. Doing a panel discussion with Craig Thompson was a big thrill for me. Paige Braddock is great to panel with too.

But the absolute highlight for me was meeting Sal Buscema. Huge fan. Gigantic fan. I thought he cranked out more comics in the '70s than anyone when I was a kid. He was all over the Marvel books. I jumped from my seat, said hello and had a picture taken with him. I totally geeked-out. The photo is hanging in my ofice

The bizarre thing of the success is when other artists bring their portfolios for me to review. My style isn't in super-heroes, so I'm not exactly the place to go for advice. But I'll look at it and tell them if the anatomy is weak or they need to work on their perspective and backgrounds.

Do you have any ambitions in comics beyond TSSTG?

There's a project I'm really trying to get to that was written by Neil Kleid about a robotic boy on a quest. It's a great story and I'm sketching during my free time on it. I'm also working on a side TSSTG project titled CLIB'S BOY about my childhood leading up to my parents' death while I was a senior in high school. There's a lot of comedy, but also a lot of emotional pages that are very difficult, yet therapeutic at the same time.

You uprooted your life in the U.S. and moved to Puerto Rico to be with the woman you love -- tell me what that change has been like.

Best decision I ever made. Period. It allowed me to cut loose the anchor that familiarity can bind you to. I was able to live in a new place and take chances with my work. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes, your family, friends and co-workers only remind you of what you haven't achieved in life. The focus is more about "you should've tried this" or "why haven't you done that?" and when you leave that atmosphere, you begin to get it done. At least that's how it was done for me.

Lily. Jesus, where do you really begin with her? She's the one who told me to make my comic strip zines and when I told her I didn't know how to do that, she told me to go learn how. I did and then BOOM, we got an IGNATZ nomination for Best New Zine. When it came to printing my first comic book, again, I didn't know how to do it and she told me to just give it a shot. I did and then BOOM, Eisner nominations. Everything...EVERYTHING I've achieved in this business is because she told me to get off my ass and try.

If you have a person in your life that wants you to succeed, you have to listen to them. I don't care if you're depressed, can't draw cars, no one else is buying your work, whatever...that one person believes in you. They want to see you do the best you can do...and the one thing you should focus on is making them proud they believed in you. It's that easy.

You have your muse.

Clib's Boy is a one-man show so far. Tell me about the hazards and advantages you see in self-publishing.

Hmmmmm...okay. Issue #1 is the easiest thing to publish. I don't care HOW MUCH blood, sweat and tears went into completing it. It's the easiest book to publish. It's new. It's your first work. There's energy to burn in that issue and it's great to see it hit the stands and see people buying it in conventions.

But then you never see issue #2. The writer's still working on the story... even after a year. The artist is dragging his ass or doesn't like the next script and wants to have a bigger say in the plotline. It's evolved into a job. And if you're doing both, it's a huge load.

By issue #3, the drive is hard to maintain. Sales aren't the same as Batman, so you get bummed out and want to quit.

The thing that you have to do in self-publishing is get the work done. Period. Get it done. Getitdonegetitdonegetitdone. Because issue #1 looks retarded sitting by itself after a year and a half. Any reader you obtained has moved on. There are lots of other great books on the rack and if you can't get the job done, they'll move on. They don't want to know what the excuses are...especially if they keep piling up.

And this is what you've always wanted to do! Never, ever underestimate that...doing what you want to do. Quit putting everything off and get it done.

This can also be said for the bigger publishers. How anyone can invest in a Kevin Smith comic book these days is baffling. He never finishes what he starts, but when it's announced he's writing a series, everyone's all ZIPPIDYDOODAH!! And when he's on Leno, he's going on about his love of comics. But how many series has he finished? Good lord. He gets issue #1 and #2 out, then he pulls a Nightcrawler act and BAMFS out of the schedule. Do a completed series, THEN solicit it THEN get it out. Kevin should know better and so should Marvel.

Brian Bendis writes a BiLLION titles a month and they hit the stands when expected. If not, he's right there to tell you why and it's there a short time later. Look at his workload, the quality of his stories and give props to making his deadlines. He's Stan Freakin' Lee.

So get the work done. Get the books out. A page a day. That's what Terry Moore told me. That's what I do.

The advantage is you're the boss. You decide how it reads and how it looks.

But because of that, you make sure that the buyer is going to like this book. Make the book, wait a day, then reread it from a BUYERS point of view. Here's the thing: someone goes to the store on a Wednesday and they have twenty bucks. They buy their Spidey books, Fantastic Four, Batman, Powers, Gotham Central, Promethea, New X-Men and that leaves them about three bucks left. Out of all...ALL the remaining comics on the rack, this person can only afford ONE BOOK. So you have to make them want to give up Runaways, Rose and Thorn, Arrowsmith, Bone or any other impossibly cool book and buy yours.

If after reading your book again, you see flaws the reader will see...you have to fix it. You have to be totally honest with yourself on your work. You have to know it's worth if before they do.

I have to say, Alan, that there's something else that sucks about self-publishing. You make a book, call it "Super Hero Happy Hour"...it's a hit...you're on a roll...and then you get a legal notice from Marvel and DC saying that they own the rights to the term "Super-Hero" and now they want you to change your name to "Hero Happy Hour." I've never seen a more asinine thing in my life than this. Buying the trademark on this term does absolutely fucking nothing to help comics. Nothing. It's nothing more than a way to bully the smaller indie publishers. And then they won't even comment on it...but will go on and on about how their companies are "indie friendly." It's a load of crap and I'm embarrassed for Marvel AND DC for doing something so ridiculous. They should focus their attention on getting books out on time and getting their talent to complete mini-series that are a year late.

When you're a small press publisher, you don't have the money to take on larger publishers and so you're forced to change the name of your book because of two moronic publishing companies can't find any other way to ruin the industry. There was nothing positive to come out of owning a trademark on such a general term.

That's why I love APE and SPX and MOCCA. The big companies aren't there and it's the real deal. People making their own comics because they LOVE COMICS.

Thanks to Tom Beland for participating. Visit his website and the TSSTG page at AiT-Planetlar.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

 
A Whole New World -- Went to Hannaford and hit the natural foods section (which is large and almost a store within the store, conveniently right in the middle of the place), but I was beat after work and not firing on all
cylinders, sadly. So I didn't get as much -- or as much variety -- as I had hoped. It didn't help that I forgot my pen and couldn't cross stuff off my list.

Anyway, I got:


Most things didn't cost much more than the regular "evil" versions, so I am pretty confident that this can be done without breaking the bank...anyone with any specific shopping tips they recommend is welcome to e-mail me.

And my apologies if this is boring...it's a whole new world for me, and as I used to say on the radio, you can't say "A whole new world" without saying "A-Hole."

 
More Love for Street Angel -- Hey, John Jakala has his review up of Street Angel #1, and so do the guys over at Previews Review. My review is here and I am telling you, this is the coolest book yet to debut in 2004. Don't forget to pick this up on Wednesday.

Monday, March 08, 2004

 
From Chewing to Eschewing -- I don't think I've mentioned this here, yet, but for the past couple of weeks I have been eating a vegetarian diet, finally convinced by the realities of the meat industry that eating meat is extremely dangerous for one's health and well-being.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions for particularly good books or websites for me to explore as I try to readjust my entire life around this new paradigm (which is not a fad, I am just about physically repulsed by meat by now), I could really use some suggestions from those more experienced than myself. E-mail me your links and suggestions, if you would.

And I know about the Vitamin B-12 thing, just to save us both a little time.

 
So Impressed with Myself -- Wow, I actually figured out how to change a basic element of my Blogger template!

 
Comfortable with Occultists -- Jessa Crispin of Bookslut has thanked me for not dwelling on Alan Moore's appearance or interest in the occult in my recent interview with Moore.

Perhaps this is because my oldest friend, Marshall, is also an occultist who has long hair. In fact, when my kids see pictures of Alan Moore, they always ask "Is that Marshall?" So, Jessa, you're welcome. I guess I'm just comfortable with hairy occultists. I'll have to post a photo of each of them later today so you can all compare and contrast.

 
Monday at the ADD Blog -- It was a big weekend here at ADD Central, as I tried to get back in the blogging groove and provide you, the home reader, with a good dose of Monday Morning Blogging Goodness. Here's what we have to whet your appetite today:


Scroll down or click the above links to begin reading.

I should say thanks to fellow comics blogger Mick Martin, who bought me lunch yesterday and sat and listened to my fevered ramblings on Mad Cow Disease, What's Wrong with Television, and of course, The Comics. I had a great time and it was interesting to see what happens When Bloggers Collide. One of these days we're gonna have to host, at the very least, a Northeast Blogosphere Conference or summat.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Monday, to the extent that any given Monday can be enjoyed.

 


Damon Hurd -- The writer of My Uncle Jeff and A Sort of Homecoming last week entered the battle over equal marriage rights for all by offering up his comics as a premium in a fundraining effort to support embattled New Paltz, New York Mayor Jason West. West is the first elected official in New York State to recognize the equal marriage rights of gays and lesbians. Not coincidentally, Hurd is a resident of New Paltz. He tells us about his career as a comics writer and his efforts in support of equal marriage rights in his responses to the Five Questions. Special thanks to Shawn Hoke for transcribing this interview.


Your first graphic novel, My Uncle Jeff, was released last year to no small bit of acclaim. Tell me a little bit about how you got started writing graphic novels.

Well, Iíve been writing since I was about five and I used to do a lot of comics and such with crayons and the like as a kid. And then I realized I couldnít draw, so I turned, focusing just on writing and Iíve always been in love with the comics medium. So I tried my hat at that and after a stint of doing some bad Vertigo rip-offs in college, I decided to move towards more serious graphic novels. And after spending a weekend in Pennsylvania with my family, the weekend thatís detailed in the book My Uncle Jeff I came home and wrote it in about two weeks. When I did the book, I actually did it rather quickly and hired an artist to draw it and thatís how I began my professional relationship with my artist Pedro Camello. And at the time, I printed up about a hundred xeroxed mini-comics that I sold and it sold out pretty quickly at the MOCCA art festival that year. Thatís what prompted me to go to a larger print run on my own.

Iíve actually done about four books now and Iíve worked with three different artists. Each one brings something different to the table. In the case of Pedro, he really was mostly just interested in drawing the script as it was. He didnít really want to change anything or contribute anything graphically that way. For him it was a little bit more of a job, but he did such amazing work and actually with my second book, A Sort of Homecoming, I think that he enjoyed that story a lot more and I think that he put a lot more of his own personal touches into it. So that is where you see a little bit more of him in the project. Whereas, my other books that are yet to be released and are coming out this year, The White Elephant and The Strange Day, both of those artists really took on much more of a collaborative role and kind of shaped the way that the book is presented.


As a resident of New Paltz, New York, youíve certainly been witness to some chaos and controversy over the past few days, in kind of an interesting way too. If you could relate the story of how you found out about mayor Jason Wet performing same sex wedding ceremonies in New Paltz.

Yeah, actually I had been in San Francisco for the previous week leading up to this event. I was attending the Alternative Press Expo, which was held on February 21st and February 22nd and then my wife and I spent the rest of the week in San Francisco for a vacation. We had an incredible time. Itís such an amazing city and as we got off the plane at JFK and were collecting our bags, all the different TV stations were set to CNN and lo and behold, there was our town hall. It was very strange, since we live in a very small, upstate village that doesnít normally get such media coverage. That was how we found out that those wedding ceremonies had taken place that day.

I donít think it should have come as a complete surprise to anyone, considering that New Paltz has always been, I mean itís a college town, there is a university there. Itís a very liberal town, which is kind of strange given the political makeup of the Hudson valley, which is primarily Republican. But, itís always been labeled as a "hippie town," and such, due to the residents, its proximity to Woodstock and the like. But I donít think it should have been a surprise, simply because I think someone standing up for an issue is always important.

Having this go on in your hometown, how is that affected your life since youíve been back?

Well, Iím very proud of it. Iím proud to live there and Iím proud to live in a town where someone is trying to make a change in this issue. In terms of traffic, itís always traffic-y there, so that hasnít changed much. Thereís a lot more news vans and coverage, but other than that it hasnít changed my life too much, simply because Iím gone twelve hours a day, between my commute and working.

And youíve undergone sort of a grass roots effort to raise funds to help Mayor West in his effort in recognizing equal marriage rights for same sex partners. Tell me a little bit about that.

Iíve been thinking about it for the last few days and I really wanted to do something to help this cause in any way that I can. Like I previously said, Iím at work a lot of the time and donít have a lot of time to donate to helping with any of these efforts and I donít have the financial resources to donate a large portion of money. So what I decided to do was to appeal to the comics community, of which Iím a member, in order to hopefully raise funds to help with Mayor Westís legal defense fund if necessary, or his personal finances, which are going to take heavy hits due to all these legal challenges against him. Iíve set up a donation system through my website origincomics.com, where people can come and make donations of any amount they wish. If they make a donation of five dollars or more, Iím going to personally send then a copy of My Uncle Jeff, or another one of my comics if they choose a substitution, as a personal thank you for their support.

Do you have any concerns that your efforts may cost you readers, among those that are opposed to same-sex marriage?

Actually, Iím not too concerned with that. I would hope that my readers could separate my work from my own social and political beliefs. I understand that this is a polarizing issue in our country, but our country was founded on the principals of freedom and equal rights for all citizens. We cannot allow civil rights to be suspended based on religious principals. I think that we must maintain a clear separation of church and state, so that everyone in this nation can enjoy the same rights and freedoms, regardless of their race or their sexual orientation.

I think Iím doing this because I feel that this is, if not the most important issue before our nation, I think we are in the edge of what could be the last civil rights movement in this countryís history and I sometimes think that actually people have forgotten that women couldnít vote eighty years ago, and that African Americans were segregated forty years ago. I think one could easily make the argument that both groupís fight is far from over, even in the year 2004. I think my greatest fear is that this movement for marriage rights for same sex couples is going to die out and less people like Mayor Jason West can emerge from this legal battle victorious. Thatís what Iím raising money to insure.

Learn more about Damon Hurd and his effort to raise funds in support of equal marriage rights at the Origin Comics website, and learn more about the battle for equal marriage rights here.

 

Short, Sharp Shocks -- It's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to knuckle under enough to get some reviews done, so the stack has managed to get tall enough that stuff keeps sliding off. I had hoped to whittle the stack down a bit more than this, but maybe I'll get to some more reviews later in the week.

Forlorn Funnies #5: My Love is Dead, Long Live My Love -- Probably the biggest bargain of the year, this standalone issue provides a myriad of examples of Paul Hornschemeier's brilliant cartooning and design sense. A flip-book half dedicated to the forlorn, half dedicated to the funny, with standout pieces like "America, Your Boyfriend," which frames the debate over U.S. foreign and domestic policy in terms even an idiot can understand -- quite a handy thing to have around, if you think about it. "Whatever Dude" and "It's Just So Cute" demonstrate how Hornschemeier can absolutely dazzle with his fearless exploration of what it is to be a cartoonist. "These Trespassing Vehicles" and "The Underneath" both point the way to new directions Hornschemeier may be exploring in the near future. This is incredible, essential stuff, absolutely the best comics money can buy, and this issue has so many wild examples of Hornschemeier's gifts that it's guaranteed to hook you for life. Grade: 5/5

The Gypsy Lounge: Lunchtime Variety Criminals -- An epic post-superhero story that constantly teeters on the edge of an appealing insanity. Writer/artist Jasen Lex combines his angular cartooning with seamlessly integrated phtographic backgrounds throughout, his story focusing on the daughter of a noted superbeing who gets caught up in the bizarre scheme of a brilliantly deranged scientist. Lex's style is uniquely his own and extremely accessible, and should appeal to readers of books as diverse as Powers, Grrl Scouts and, perhaps especially, Automatic Kafka. Unlike that last title, though, Gypsy Lounge works as a complete narrative and never gets so fascinated with its own chaos that it loses your attention. Lex's combination of cartooning and computer techniques is both forward-looking and thoroughly comics. Order through the Aweful Books website. Grade: 5/5

Further Grickle -- My first exposure to Graham Annable convinces me I need to see more. Deceptively simple cartooning gives way to cogent insights about human fallacy, with just enough "there" there in the art to breeze along without seeming anorexic. "By Necessity" is a serio-tragic and utterly relateable suburban misadventure, while "Living for the Moment," which opens the volume, sums up social insecurity with wit and insight in three short pages. Great stuff, highly recommended. Grade: 4.5/5

Skidmarks: The Complete Bic Cycle -- Surprisingly human graphic novel that most readily evokes Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez and Paul Grist as it documents the awakening of a self-involved young adult always involved in one scheme or another. This isn't a fully-formed masterpiece, but writer/artist Ilya shows great potential and an emerging unique voice and sensibility, and at less than thirteen bucks, artcomix fans may find this a worthy addition to their libraries. Certainly it indicates Ilya may be a name to look for in the future. Grade: 3.5/5

 

The Week in Comics -- Here's a preview of some of the noteworthy titles arriving in shops Wednesday, March 10th, 2004.

DRAWN AND QUARTERLY

OPTIC NERVE #9 $3.95 -- One of two ADD Blog Books of the Week. Here's how you know if your comics shop is truly on top of things in the industry -- did they have this weeks ago? Because it's been available from the publisher and other distributors for some time, but Diamond is only getting around to it now. Here's my review from a month ago. Probably the best issue yet, and a must-read for artcomix enthusiasts.

SLAVE LABOR GRAPHICS

STREET ANGEL #1 $2.95 -- Here's the other ADD Blog Book of the Week. My review of this smart, forward-looking adventure comic is right here. Oh, and, Randy Lander likes it too.

AARDVARK/VANAHEIM

CEREBUS #300 $2.25 -- You'd have to be crazy to pass up this issue. My friend Marshall thinks it'd be a hoot if Dave released #301 next month just to fuck with everybody's heads.

DC COMICS

COUP D'ETAT AFTERWORD $2.95 -- Half of this issue is drawn by Whilce Portacio, but the good news is that the other half is a preview of "Season Two" of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Sleeper, America's Best Monthly Funnybook. Not to be missed.

GOTHAM CENTRAL #17 $2.50 -- No idea what's going on in this issue, but I always enjoy the book. I do find that my enjoyment is inversely proportional to the presence of Batman-related characters and refrences, but your mileage may vary.

PROMETHEA #29 $2.95 -- The last few issues of this title -- literally the end of the ABC Universe -- are among the best comics I've ever read, and certainly among the best Alan Moore has ever written. Essential reading.

MARVEL

MARVEL MASTERWORKS UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 3 HC $39.99 -- I've been trying to reacquire all the Claremont/Byrne issues I long ago sold off. The reproduction of the artwork in these Masterworks volumes is often lacking, but usually better than the shoddy job that was done on the recent Wizard X-Men hardcover.

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