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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

 
The Movements of Chris Allen -- Update your bookmarks, CA fans, Chris Allen is moving his Daily Breakdowns to Comic Book Galaxy's new group blog, Trouble with Comics.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

 
The Spirit of Eddie Campbell -- There's two great quotes in this piece about creating stories for Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures, a mixed-quality title from Kitchen Sink from years back. The first one is this:
I've never been fond of the idea of lots of different artists taking a crack at an old comic strip. The best characters in the old days were like an artist's signature while the characters of today are well, meh.
Yes. Just so. And then there's this one, which very nearly made me laugh out loud:
Eisner's late comic book covers always look too much like the Marvel formula to be entirely enjoyable. And also, somebody is always biting somebody else's clothes.
Go read the entire thing, it's pure gold.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

 
Fantagraphics is Blowing Out Their Comics Inventory -- Trust me when I tell you I would be linking to this even if Fantagraphics didn't advertise here on Comic Book Galaxy. North America's Finest Comics Publisher is blowing out an astonishing array of stapled, floppy funnybooks (and selected other items as well), and the floppies are mostly marked at -- get this! 99 cents a piece. Lots of great titles like Hate, Love and Rockets, Jim, Weasel, Measles and more, and all for less than a pack of gum. Click here to go to the amazing Fantagraphics 99 cent sale.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

 
Harvey Pekar Conversations -- I'm a bit stunned to find out via Mike Rhode's blog that his book Harvey Pekar: Conversations has only sold 600 copies. I'd guess ten times that many people went to see the American Splendor movie in its first week.

In the interests of full disclosure, my interview with Harvey Pekar appears in the book, along with many, many other great chats with the man. The book's prime mover, Mike Rhode earned a thank you in my new eBook Conversations with ADD because he was the one who originally transcribed the interview using an MP3 of my chat with Pekar.

Now, Mike doesn't seem particularly ruffled that the book has only sold 600 copies, but my gut tells me that far many more people would be interested to read it if they knew it was available. So if you're one of those people, click here to go to the University Press of Mississippi page for Harvey Pekar: Conversations and consider buying one of the remaining copies. It's a vital oral history of one of the most important areas of comics history of the last 50 years, outlining the struggle to find a place in the comics market for genuinely adult comics, and highlighting Harvey's passion for stories about his life, stories that carry a universal appeal to anyone who reads them.

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Download my free new eBook of nearly four dozen interviews with comics creators, Conversations with ADD, by clicking here. A full list of interview subjects can be found here.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

 
The Oral History of Marvel Comics -- I really dig this article Sean T. Collins assembled for Maxim.

My favourite quote comes from Roy Thomas: "After a few years at DC, Jack wanted to come back, but he knew he had set a few fires. Stan hadn’t been too happy about this [DC character] Funky Flashman that Jack had based on him. Jack joked, 'Well, it was all in fun.' It wasn’t all in fun."

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

 
Publishers Weekly Interviews Fanta's Eric Reynolds -- I can't say enough about how good Eric Reynolds is at his job. Hands-down the canniest and most professional publicist in the comics industry, he also bends over backwards to make sure people like me, who write about comics, have the information and access they need to get the job done.

Sure, it's all to the good of his employer to do his job as well as he does, but considering that that employer is one of the two or three most vital comics publishers on the planet at the moment, well, the fact that he is as good at what he does as he is means that Eric Reynolds is one of the most valuable, and valued, people in comics.

Here's an interview with the man, at Publisher's Weekly.

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Daily Comics Commentary from Christopher Allen -- That appears to be the plan, which is great news as far as I am concerned. The first Daily Breakdowns is here.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

 
Literate Discussion of Worthwhile Recent Superhero Comics -- Rare enough a thing that I thought I should share it with you. It's at The Comics Journal Message Board.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

 
Jeet Heer on The Comics Journal -- Over at the Comics Comics blog, Heer has a good look at the history of the artform's most important chronicle, The Comics Journal. Comics Comics is really heating up in a good way lately.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

 
Abhay Khosla's Bram Stoker's Dracula -- You will not read a better comic book this week. Or ever. Abhay Khosla's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

 
Spurgeon's Must-Read Gary Spencer-Millidge Interview -- GSM is the creator of Strangehaven, one of my favourite comic books ever, and he's also the author of the brilliant new Comiic Book Design, published by Watson-Guptill. Gary's the subject of today's Sunday interview at The Comics Reporter, and it's absolutely mandatory reading if you're at all interested in how comics are designed and put together. Go give it a read, and make sure you pick up Comic Book Design, too.

(Tom asks Gary about the current status of Strangehaven, too, by the way, and I am really, really ready for that incredibly complex and rewarding story to resume.)

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

 
CA on AP -- That's critic Christopher Allen writing about Asterios Polyp, one of the best releases of the year. Get outta here already and go look.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

 
Now Beginning His Sixth Fantastic Year -- Congratulations to Jog the Blog, celebrating its first five years yesterday and beginning Year Six today. Jog's a Galaxy alum, a damn good guy, and one of the very best writers about comics to be found anywhere. Always fun and enlightening, and one of those guys whose insights frequently make me say "Damn, I wish I thought of that."

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Monday, July 13, 2009

 
I Read Asterios Polyp -- I wish I could say more than that, but I don't have much. Timothy Callahan wrote a fantastic review of the book, which is your best bet if looking for intelligent discussion of David Mazzucchelli's new work.

I loved it, I loved the design of it, the duality of the mythological and the mundane at work in the characters, the wordplay, the obvious labour-of-love feel of the entire thing. At once, it recalls Mazzucchelli's work on Paul Auster's City of Glass, and the stylings and brilliance of Kirby, Krigstein, Toth and others, all harmonizing together to create a sustained lyricism and beauty, held together by the petty arrogance and eventual open heart of the title character.

It's an awesome book, certainly one of the two or three best graphic novels of this year. Read it before you delve into any reviews, and then check out Callahan's review, linked above. It'll give you food for thought and signposts to look for on future re-readings, of which I am guessing there will be many.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

 
Hey, Look: Spurge Calls for an End to the Harvey Awards -- In one of the most unusual and compelling pieces of writing he's done, Tom Spurgeon calmly, rationally and convincingly calls for an end to the Harvey Awards. I especially agree that there's a need to pay better tribute to Harvey Kurtzman's legacy than the diminishing returns the awards that bear his name have delivered in recent years.

This is important stuff to anyone interested in the bigger picture of the comics industry. Go look.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

 
I'm Not Going to Comicon -- But you might be, so make sure you check out the always-entertaining convention tips from Tom Spurgeon (entertaining both because they're well-written and because a lot of them are applicable to going to any comics convention, not just the San Diego mega-version).

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

 
Hot for Cold Heat -- Tucker Stone's look at Frank Santoro and Ben Jones's Cold Heat is one of the best damned articles about a comic book I have ever read. That it's about one of the best damned comics around is a bonus.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

 
Reminder: Albany Comicon is This Sunday -- I wrote about it here. Hope to see you there.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

 
Fantagraphics Party This Saturday -- From Fantagraphics Minister of PR Eric Reynolds:
Join us at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday evening, April 4, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM for an extraordinary event featuring two titans of alternative comics: Jaime Hernandez and Stan Sakai. We’ll be hosting a reception for an amazing exhibition of original art and book signing with Jaime and Stan, together with special guest Paul Hornschemeier.

It’s impossible to overstate the enduring influence of LOVE & ROCKETS on the comics medium, so we’ll skip the superlatives. Suffice to say that Jaime will be on hand to greet fans and sign books. Stan’s epic USAGI YOJIMBO adventure series has introduced generations of young readers to the world of comics, and his books are more popular than ever. His original drawings and paintings are inspiring. Jaime and Stan will be joined by their young colleague Paul Hornschemeier signing copies of his wonderful new graphic novel MOTHER, COME HOME.

This event serves as the official after-party for this weekend’s Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, so expect to see other comics creators and luminaries. Adult beverages will be provided for grown ups and sodas for the kids.

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located just minutes south of downtown Seattle at 1201 S. Vale Street (at the corner of Airport Way S.) in the colorful Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.669.9059.
To quote Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there."

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

 
Albany, NY Comicon is One Week from Today -- The latest in a series of Albany comic book conventions is Sunday, April 5th at the Holiday Inn on Wolf Road in Albany. Full disclosure: the show is advertised on Comic Book Galaxy (via the banner ad at the top of this page).

John and Matt from Excellent Adventures in Ballston Spa have made each show bigger than the last, and this one looks to be the biggest yet, with plans for a panel discussion and an expansion into an additional room. I got some huge bargains at the last show and am still making my way through some of the books that I picked up that day. In addition, if you live anywhere in the Upstate New York region, you're pretty much guaranteed to run into a Who's Who of area people involved in some way with the artform and industry of comics. At previous shows I've run into Gene Kannenberg, and FantaCo alumni like Roger Green and Rocco Nigro, to name a few. Pictures from last fall's show are here.

This year's guest list includes Marvel Comics legends Herb Trimpe and Joe Sinnott, writer Ron Marz, cartoonists Fred Hembeck and Joe Staton, and others. My wife and I have brought our kids to each one of these Albany Comicons, and we're all excited for next Sunday to get here for the Spring, 2009 edition. the FantaCons of the 1980s were some of the best days of my teenage years, and I'm incredibly grateful to John and Matt and everyone that supports their efforts for bringing back a great area tradition so I can share it with my own children. I hope to see you there.

Full details on next Sunday's Albany Comicon are here.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

 
The One Thing You Should Do Today -- If your comic shop is carrying it, please buy A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. If your shop is not carrying it, please buy it from Amazon.com or anywhere you can find it. It is amazing and beautiful and you'll be glad you did. And don't just take my word for it, trust Tom.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

 
More on DC and Marvel's 1980s Baxter Reprint Series -- Many thanks to Bob for pointing out in the comments to yesterday's post on Baxter Paper comics of the 1980s that DC actually had a regular schedule of reprints on this excellent paper stock that included many of the publisher's most worthwhile and historic superhero stories. Here's the list Bob posted:

"DC's 'Baxter' reprint line actually ran almost monthly, with a few small gaps and one big gap, for about 5 years from 1983 to 1988 (at which time trade paperbacks were becoming more common). I think these are all of them, in published order."

Green Lantern Green Arrow 1-7
Manhunter 1
New Gods 1-6
Man-Bat 1
Immortal Dr. Fate 1-3
[one month gap]
Deadman 1-7
Shadow of the Batman 1-5
[two month gap]
Roots of the Swamp Thing 1-5
[thirteen month gap]
Saga of Ra's Al Ghul 1-4
Wrath of the Spectre 1-4
[one month gap]
Best of the Brave and the Bold 1-6


Moments after originally posting Bob's list here, good buddy, amazing retailer and all-around know-it-all Mike Sterling added a comment with a link to a list of Marvel's "Special Edition" Baxter Paper reprints. The list is obviously someone's labour of love so I won't re-post the whole thing here, but click on over and have a look.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

 
Baxter Building Your Collection -- Tom Spurgeon has posted a terrific piece on alternatives to buying current serialized comic books. A couple of thoughts.

My first thought reading the piece was that when Frank Santoro recommends reading old issues of Marvel/Epic's Coyote, I suspect he is thinking of the sublimely illustrated first batch of issues drawn by Steve Leialoha. Then I started thinking about buying that series, which was on printed on something then referred to as "Baxter Paper," which got me to thinking about Tom's reference to old comics as a "tidal wave of decaying paper," which is not a characterization I'd argue with -- the deterioration of old comics is one reason I generally eschew buying them -- but that brings me back to Baxter Paper.

If you weren't there in the 1980s you probably don't remember what a big deal this particular paper stock was -- but it's become significant to me in recent years specifically because it doesn't seem to be decaying like regular newsprint comics of the same vintage.

I recently snapped up DC's six-issue New Gods special edition reprints for less than cover price. Sure, the hardcover Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus editions are great (if pricey, at 50 bucks a pop for four volumes), but I've been wanting a nice reprint of just the New Gods stories by themselves, and the Baxter Paper reprints fit the bill. Even after 25 years or so, the paper remains white and sturdy, the colours vibrant and bold, and far more pleasurable to me to read and experience than either the hardcovers or the original, decaying comics.

Both Marvel and DC published a lot of Baxter Paper projects -- Thriller, mentioned by Tom in the piece linked above, was another one (and well worth seeking out) -- and if, like me, you hate spending lots of money on flimsy old newsprint comics slowly turning into smelly cornflakes, then the Baxter Paper comics of the 1980s are a great place to look for some great reading. Here are seven titles you should be able to find cheap:

* Doctor Strange Classics -- Four double-sized issues collecting Lee and Ditko Dr. Strange stories.

* Thriller -- Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden's weird, wild adventure comic. Thrills somewhere between Lost and Twin Peaks.

* Captain America Special Edition -- I think there were three issues of this, vibrantly reprinting Jim Steranko's hyper-masculine, psychedelic Cap stories.

* Conan Special Edition: Red Nails -- Lacking the undesirable "remastering" of Dark Horse's recent Conan Marvel-era reprints, this double-sized one-shot has wall-to-wall gorgeous Barry Windsor-Smith art on probably the most acclaimed story of the Thomas/BWS Conan run.

* Deadman -- Seven issues collecting the gorgeous, mostly Neal Adams-drawn stories of ghostly circus performer Boston Brand and his afterlife adventures.

* Warlock Special Edition -- I forget if there were five or six of these, but they gathered together all the Jim Starlin Warlock stories, with their weird ideas and the stunning, guest-star-spangled two-part conclusion that originally crossed over between double-sized annuals of Marvel Two-in-One and Marvel Team-Up.

* The Elektra Saga -- Four issues resequencing Miller and Janson's most notable Daredevil storyline from its very beginning to its then-definitive end.

In keeping with the spirit of what Tom is talking about in his piece, these should all be available for not much more than cover price. I don't know why these and the other Baxter Paper books aren't more sought-after (and I'm not trying to start a run on the bank, believe me -- I want them for my collection much more than I want them for yours!), but given the quality of many of the titles, the way the paper they're printed on has held up over the years, how many of them were printed and how they're largely available dirt-cheap (I guess those last two points might be connected), I felt like it would be wrong not to point out to you how many great comics are out there not decaying and waiting to be rediscovered. If, like me, you lack the Collector Gene and just want to read the stories with good reproduction and without spending a fortune, with the Baxter Paper books, if you know what you're looking for, you can't go wrong.

The challenge lies in that phrase, "if you know what you're looking for." None of the Baxter Paper titles had the phrase "Baxter Paper" in the actual name of the book, but look for reprints from Marvel and DC circa 1984-1987, frequently slugged "Special Edition," almost always double-sized, and make sure you get a look at the insides to see if the paper is still white and the colours still vibrant and bold.

Just in the past year I've been seeking these books out, and reimmersing myself in the Conan: Red Nails and Kirby New Gods books -- for less than two bucks per issue -- has provided some of the most visceral comics-reading thrills I've had in a long time. Mister Baxter, whoever you were, I thank you.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

 
Chris Allen Bonanza -- Three great pieces in a row: A frank, insightful review of Eddie Campbell's Monsieur Leotard, a direct and amusing take on the Mike Sekowsky Wonder Woman, and an engaging riff on engaging with how others engage with the comics artform. Don't look now, but I think CA and Spurge are, y'know, engaged. I kid because I love. Pizza.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

 
The Monday Briefing -- Didn't read much comics-wise over the weekend, as I am in the final stretch of reading the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy of novels by David Mack. It was recommended as epic and well-written in a message board post somewhere recently, and turns out that is completely true. The novels (I started the third last night) tell a millennia-spanning, post-Nemesis tale that features Captains Picard, Riker, Dax (Ezri, now promoted) and Hernandez (the USS Columbia captain from Enterprise) and their ships and crews on the eve of the worst invasion the Federation has ever faced. The story is perfectly paced, more grown-up in tone than older Trek novels, and the perfect appetizer for May's movie release. If you have any interest in Star Trek at all, check 'em out, they're terrific.

Kind of hard to believe that the finale of Battlestar Galactica is now just days away. Like some viewers whose comments I've read, I've found the last couple-three episodes a bit scattered and off-point, but hopefully Ron Moore and company are saving the best for last. Apropos of nothing, I DVR'd (as we say) an episode of the original series (the Ship of Lights episode, as it turns out), and my wife fired it up yesterday thinking it was the latest episode of the new series. "I didn't understanding any of it of who the characters even were," she told me. "All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again," I cryptically told her. She was not amused.

Comics-wise, check out Chris Allen's look at some Captain America collections, both Brubaker-written and not, as well as some comments on a new line of Marvel action figures.

Tom Spurgeon has posted his Best of 2008 list. As you might expect, it's pretty hard to argue with. I still need to read Omega the Unknown, though.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

 
Jog Blogs the Hell Out of Cold Heat -- I agree with everything Jog says in his new review of Cold Heat #5/6, and I wish I could write one-tenth as well as Jog does about why Cold Heat is such an extraordinary series.

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Very Cool Illustrated Barry Windsor-Smith Bio Online -- I don't know if I've ever linked to this or not, but yesterday I stumbled onto a liberally illustrated biography of Barry Windsor-Smith on his website that, if you're as into his art as I am, could provide an hour or two of interesting reading.

Click "Next Page" at the bottom of each page -- it goes on for about 32 pages, and best of all, more is promised in the future.

Lots of art, behind-the-scenes info and insights into the man's career that I found fascinating. Click on over and see if you agree.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

 
Cold Heat Returns in Serialized Form -- While everyone and their brother are canceling their low-print-run floppy funnybooks because Diamond doesn't know how to distribute comic books (only corporate-owned superhero comic books, y'see), Frank Santoro, Ben Jones and Picturebox are saying "Fuck all that," and publishing comics anyway. They've released a 48-page combined issue #5-6 of their extraordinary series Cold Heat and you can must buy it now at the Picturebox website.

Yes, it's 20 dollars. And yes, it's worth it. I know I'm the guy who questioned Kramers Ergot costing a week's worth of grocery money, but you know, this is different. This is lunch for two at Applebee's if you go in during their 2 for 20 special they have running right now. Plus, this is Cold Heat by motherfucking Frank Santoro and Ben Jones, the single best argument for the survival of the floppy, stapled, non-graphic novel comic book as art object all by its own self.

And there're only 100 copies in existence, so you need to go get yours now. Someday the story will be collected in a big graphic novel, and that'll be nice, but you know what? Like Lee and Ditko's Amazing Spider-Man or Rugg and Maruca's Street Angel, this is a comic book that's meant to be read and experienced as a comic book.

So go buy it.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

 
In Stores Tomorrow: Humbug -- I have this on-hand but have not had a chance to crack it open: Humbug from Fantagraphics is a lush, two-volume, slipcased hardcover compiling some of Harvey Kurtzman and company's best satire comics ever. This one is going to end up on a lot of year-end best-of lists, so be sure to grab up a copy before they're all gone.

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Top Shelf's Remaining 2009 Publishing Plans -- Here's a list of what Top Shelf Productions has planned for the rest of this year. Titles I am especially looking forward to are in bold.

Mar WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED #39 Edited by Peter Kuper

Apr THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN (VOL III): CENTURY #1 ("1910") by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill (here's my review)

Apr VOICE OF THE FIRE (All-New Paperback) by Alan Moore

May LOST GIRLS (Single-Volume Hardcover Edition)
by Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie


May FAR ARDEN by Kevin Cannon

May SECOND THOUGHTS by Niklas Asker

May AWESOME II: AWESOMER
Edited by Indie Spinner Rack's Charlito and Mr. Phil

Jun WELCOME TO FOREST ISLAND by Bwana Spoons

Jul THE SURROGATES (VOL 2): FLESH & BONE
by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele


Jul THE SURROGATES (SPECIAL HARDCOVER EDITION - VOLS 1 & 2)

Jul New-Cover Edition of THE SURROGATES (VOL 1)
by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele


Aug THE COMPLETE ESSEX COUNTY Hardcover by Jeff Lemire

Aug JOHNNY BOO (BOOK 3): HAPPY APPLES by James Kochalka

Sep ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS (HARDCOVER) by Eddie Campbell

Oct MOVING PICTURES by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

Nov THE MARSHAL LAW OMNIBUS by Pat Mills & Kevin O'Neill

Dec AX (VOL 1): A COLLECTION OF ALTERNATIVE MANGA
Edited by Sean Michael Wilson and Mitsuhiro Asakawa

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Friday, February 27, 2009

 
The Secret Lives of Comic Store Employees -- Wish I had thought of this. A great photo essay up now at Wired.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

 
Definitive Cla$$war On Its Way -- I'm excited about the soon-to-be-available graphic novel collecting the previously-released issues and a new conclusion of Cla$$war, written by Rob Williams with art from Trevor Hairsine and Travel Foreman. It hits the stands in March. Here's what I had to say when I first reviewed the debut issue back in 2002:
Cla$$war features a team of government-sponsored superheroes who discover the government is a corrupt, treacherous entity and decides to go public with what they've learned. With an illegal coup having destroyed over two-hundred years of lawful government in the U.S., you could not ask for a more timely storyline. Rob Williams and Trevor Hairsine's work is compelling and confrontational, clearly inspired by such titles as Astro City and The Authority. Both Williams and Hairsine are developing talents, and it'll be fascinating to see where they are in five or ten years. In any case, their work here is way above average for an independent book of this stripe, and I'm looking forward to future issues.
Well, the future is now...or at least, this March.

Com.X's Ben Shahrabani tells me that when it was initially published, "Cla$$war was one of our most successful titles when we launched. After the first three issues we went and published a TPB of the first three issues due to demand, and that sold out. The decision to release Cla$$war in collected form was to push the Com.x brand back into the market and make sure the entire comic fraternity now has the opportunity to be able to purchase some of our most influential books."

You'll note that I compared the title to The Authority in my 2002 review, and I want to emphasize that at the time I was thinking of the action-packed and altogether excellent initial run of that title by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, not any later, lesser incarnations.

Shahrabani tells me the Cla$$war collection will please readers, saying "We want to make sure that we created something that we'd want to own in our personal book collection. We have sketches, posters and cover art, extra sequences and original script pages, amongst other stuff. We've also cleaned up the lettering and re-edited both books to sharpen them up. Call them 'Director's Cuts,' if you like! These will be the definitive editions."

Click the images accompanying this post to see larger versions, and for more information on Cla$$war, check out the Com.x blog.

Buy Cla$$war from amazon.com.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

 
Monday Reading Recommendations -- A couple of pieces that caught my eye in the past couple of days and may be of interest:

Tom Spurgeon looks at the various modes in which one can read Watchmen. None of them will be particularly compelling to anyone who hasn't read it yet, but all his points are of interest to those of us who have and are still thinking about the book's many layers all these years later (speaking as someone who bought issue #1 new off the stands).

Roger Ebert remembers Gene Siskel on the 10th anniversary of his death. This is one of those links I post and wonder if my readers are as interested in it as I am...I link to Ebert frequently, because he's a brilliant and crystal-clear critic and an engaging, top-notch writer, but also because in recent years as his health has suffered he has become even more vital and reflective a talent. This piece on his longtime friend and partner moved me more than anything I've read in a long time, and while I don't know if it's the type of thing you come here to be directed to, I really kind of hope that it is. I long ago stopped feeling bad about not writing much about superheroes, and as my interests have moved on to other concerns, I hope yours have too. I'll always write primarily about comics, but pieces like this Ebert one are sort of the real-world essay version of the comics I love: profoundly human and filled with humour, insight and a frank look at genuine life experience in all its sad and wondrous facets.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

 
Mother Come Home Hardcover Preview -- Longtime readers may be aware of my love for all things Paul Hornschemeier. One of the greatest days of my comics-reading life was the day Rob Vollmar told me about his work (leading me to forever assume that if Rob likes it, it must be good). Additionally, the first article I ever wrote for the Comics Journal was a Paul Hornschemeier profile. So needless to say, I'm fully invested in his stuff.

Despite this established interest, man, the preview of the new hardcover edition of Mother Come Home blew my mind. That is one fine looking book. Congratulations to the cartoonist and everyone at Fantagraphics for finally giving this story the presentation it has always deserved.

Buy Mother Come Home from amazon.com.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

 
Toward Better Comics Criticism -- Dick Hyacinth has the best piece I've seen on the subject in quite some time. And he also gets why Kingdom Come is better than Geoff Johns's Bathtub Cum, but that ultimately both are crap in an artform that contains Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, and a thousand more gifted comics creators than Waid, Ross and Johns.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

 
What if Marvel and DC Disappeared? -- Comic Book Galaxy alum Michael Paciocco has been pondering that question: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

 
Keeping Up with The Eberts -- If you're a fan of Roger Ebert, you won't want to miss this Time Out Chicago profile of he and his wife Chaz.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

 
At 1:20 in the Morning I Kind of FEEL Like The Walking Dead -- Long day of training on a new system yesterday, which was immediately preceded by a sleepless night of not feeling terribly well. Bad combination, although the training went very well and was immediately followed by pizza.

I really like this Tom Spurgeon review of The Walking Dead. I haven't kept up on the title in recent years, but it's one I am tempted to jump back in to from time to time, both because it's not superheroes, and because its craft elements are absolutely rock-solid.

Anybody watch Monday night's Big Bang Theory? Is Sheldon not the Spock/Fonzie/Kramer/President Bartlett breakout character? The scene where he comes home zonked out on milk and valium ("I drank milk that tasted funny") was so funny I've watched it four or five times now, and it still makes me laugh ("I'm Batman. Shh!")

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

 
Look Out, Monsters in Stores Tomorrow -- Well, the better ones, anyway. Read my review of Look out, Monsters and if it sounds like the sort of thing you like (hint: it is), tell your retailer you want a copy.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

 
gold starsWe Are All Made of Stars -- I used to give out a grade with each of my reviews, based on a five-point system. Some critics do it, some don't. I used to, and I don't anymore, feeling that most works worth talking about are probably more complex than a five-point system and deserve to be discussed as such, not boiled down to such simplistic terms. Not to mention that a five-point system that allows for fractions (2.5 out of five, for example) is really a ten point system, which is more points than anyone should need to describe whether a work is worth experiencing or not.

The always-brilliant Roger Ebert shares his thoughts on ratings systems in criticism, and I guarantee you that if you're at all interested in criticism as criticism, you will find vast acres of food for thought in this piece.

I give it a well-deserved thumbs up.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

 
Harvey Pekar: Conversations -- I was very pleased to receive my contributor's copy of Harvey Pekar: Conversations yesterday.

The book, edited by Michael G. Rhode and published by University Press of Mississippi, includes quite a few interviews with the creator of American Splendor, including one I conducted a few years back.

Pekar is one of the best writers in comics, and his honesty and humility always come through whenever I have the chance to talk to him. I haven't read the book yet, but I have no doubt it will be a pleasure to read, and likely re-read many times in the future, just like Harvey's comics.

Buy Harvey Pekar: Conversations (Conversations With Comic Artists Series) from Amazon.com.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

 
Another Great Ebert Essay -- Here Roger Ebert weighs in on his favourite movie, and comes up with another indispensable piece of writing. Not a day goes by that I don't feel profoundly grateful that Roger Ebert has struggled through his health problems of the past few years and come out of it as great a writer as he ever was. Perhaps better, in fact, since his recent essays seem so informed by a passionate will to experience, relate, and connect.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

 
Sean T. on Santoro's Incanto -- A brief but loving look at maybe my favourite work by Frank Santoro, here's Sean T. Collins on Incanto. (and here's my own, while I'm at it.)

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Monday, August 04, 2008

 
The Monday Briefing -- I have a whole lot of nuthin' for you this Monday morning. Just a couple of things...

* The Fart Party. I'm late to the party in discovering the work of Julia Wertz, but who wouldn't want to be late to a fart party, I ask ya? Go visit her website and soak in her luxurious autobiographical cartoon strip archives, and order her book published by Atomic Books, The Fart Party. I love the book so much I will probably read the whole thing again tonight. It's funny, it's dirty, it's sad and it's awesome. Most importantly, it's real, and really good, in the way great autobiographical comics are. Apparently Wertz takes some shit from readers for the simplicity of her line or whatever their complaints are, but Wertz's comics are filled with energy, great observational skill, sarcasm and wit. Not what you'd expect from something called "The Fart Party," I know, but isn't being surprised half the fun?

And thanks a bunch to Alicia at Earthworld for validating my purchase with her comment on Saturday, "You're buying The Fart Party? ALL RIGHT!" Buying it I am, for life. More Fart Party now, please, Ms. Wertz.

Bonus: My two favourite phrases from the book: "Turd cutter," and "Hot dickings."

* If you ever wondered what I'm doing, thinking or fuming about in the in-between moments when I am not constructing brilliant essays and reviews, you now have access: the add lifeblog, with all the little Doaney moments you need to build an even more complete picture of why you hold me in such contempt high regard. Bonus: It's all lower-case for more ee cummings-like pretentiousness. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT.

* Have a great Monday.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

 
X-Files: I Want to Believe -- Extremely short version: I missed the hell out of Mulder and Scully since the end of the season where Duchovny left full-time duty on the series. It was great to have them back, and the story is top-notch, creepy-as-hell X-Files storytelling, as good as Tooms, for example, to compare it to an episode with a similar vibe.

For sheer viewer immersion, I enjoyed it more than The Dark Knight, although obviously it lacks a knock-out performance of Heath Ledger proportions.

It does, however, have one extremely gratifying cameo, probably two-thirds of the way through it, that just made me grin from ear to ear and electrified every scene this character was in for the rest of the film.

The story itself is hella grotesque, with one seriously hideous special effect that is only on-screen for a second, but it was enough to make my stomach lurch, just a bit.

Oh, and it has Leoben from Battlestar Galactica. Come on, you know you wanna see it.

I want to believe you do, anyway. And I'm glad I did.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

 
Must See: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog -- I just got done watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, created by Joss Whedon and starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and others.

I have no comprehensive review to offer; just trust me when I tell you that this brief, three segment "series" contains as many thrills, laughs and unexpected twists as a season of any of Whedon's shows, all of which are awesome.

You can get it on iTunes, or you can wait for the DVD, which I will definitely be buying. Whatever you do, make sure you see this fantastic, I guess I'll call it a short film. Altogether it runs a little under 45 minutes, and it's the best 45 minutes I've spent watching my TV in a long time.

And it gives me even more hope for January's debut of Whedon's new series Dollhouse.

---

You can get more information and a much better review at Pajiba.com.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

 
Currently Reading -- Top Shelf sent along a preview copy of Veeps. It's not comics, but it's damned funny, and informative as well. I'm only up to the Civil War, and enjoying the hell out of it so far.

In the world of prose non-fiction, I'm about two-thirds of the way through Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World. His assessment of the next few decades seems unaware of Peak Oil and The Long Emergency, or maybe he just thinks iPhones and the Prius will allow the Easy Motoring Utopia to continue, just with the global focus moving to China and India. It's interesting for the many historical observations he makes, but I do doubt the continued growth he sees over a span of the next fifty years or so, unless space aliens show up with a solution for the confluence of problems that are clusterfucking all around us on a now-daily basis.

Did you see The Daily Show the other night, with the compare and contrast segment on simultaneous speeches by Bush and Bernanke? Scary, illuminating and funny as hell. Well, at least we get some yocks on the slow ride to hell...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

 
BLUESMAN in Comic Shops Tomorrow -- Just a quick note that Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo's BLUESMAN collected edition hardcover is arriving in comic book stores tomorrow from NBM Publishing.

BLUESMAN has been serialized over the course of the past few years, and is one of the best stories to be told in comics this decade. Rob and Pablo have worked very hard to come to this point, and I'm excited as hell that their work has finally come to fruition with the release of this definitive edition.

If you didn't pre-order the book from your retailer, please see The BLUESMAN Project for ordering number, artwork and additional information. Johanna Draper Carlson has also posted a very good interview with Rob Vollmar about BLUESMAN at Comics Worth Reading.

And congratulations to Rob, Pablo and NBM for making this happen.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

 
Recommended Online Comics Resources -- If you're a regular reader here, this may all be old hat to you, but I've posted a guide to the best online comics resources at iTaggit.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

 
Outrageous Book of the Week -- I want to bring your attention to this week's release of Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester, new in softcover by Bob Levin and published by Fantagraphics Books.

Levin is one of the most gifted writers about comics ever, and one of the previous books remains one of my most cherished volumes about the subject. I can't tell you how often I pluck this off the shelf and read an essay or two. It gets me excited about writing and excited about comics every time I crack it open.

Much more information at the Fantagraphics website.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

 
Order BLUESMAN Now! -- The BLUESMAN graphic novel is now available for preorder at your local comic book store.

Here are the details you need to have to make sure your retailer can get you a copy:

Bluesman Collected Edition HC
Diamond Order Code: APR084026
ISBN 1561635324
220 pgs, B&W, HC, 6x9

BLUESMAN is the creation of Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo, whose first graphic novel was The Castaways. BLUESMAN was serialized in three volumes and was an amazing read, with both Rob and Pablo showing great growth over The Castaways, which was pretty terrific to begin with. But they really blew the doors off with BLUESMAN, and this hardcover is bound to be a beautiful collection of one of my favourite comics of the past decade.

More details at The BLUESMAN Project, which was overhauled a bit over the weekend to reflect the pending hardcover release. Please take a look and make sure you let your retailer know you want BLUESMAN.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

 
The Best Current Comics -- This thread at The V has me thinking of what current comics I am enjoying the most at the moment. This is actually a tough one of me, now that I am out of the habit of weekly comic shop visits but not quite in the category of "waiting for the trade." But here's my list:

Punisher MAX
All-Star Superman
Love and Rockets
Scott Pilgrim
D&Q's Yoshihiro Tatsumi reprint series
Criminal
Anything Frank Santoro touches (Cold Heat, Storeyville, Incanto)
Godland

Not many regular titles are grabbing me these days; I was loving Conan under Busiek and Nord but not so much now they're gone. I want to love everything Ed Brubaker touches, but Captain America's art is a total turnoff to me, and Daredevil hasn't really excited me as a character since the end of Born Again.

I've ordered Steven Grant's Two Guns in trade, but some of the issues were sold out so I was unable to read it in singles once I heard it existed. Tom Spurgeon is quite right today when he notes that a lot of publishers aren't getting enough word out about their books.

I am still getting Morrison's Batman, but I haven't liked an issue since the JH Williams trilogy of issues. Since it's Morrison, I am holding on in hopes it will come together again, a privilege I reserve pretty solely for Moore and Morrison.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

 
The Comics Journal #288 -- Just want to say I am thrilled as hell that The Comics Journal #288 is on its way to stores and subscribers. This is the first issue in the new "literary journal" format, and although I have not seen it, I am eager to devour its goodness, as I have been every issue since I bought my first one somewhere around 1979. Dirk has a link to the usual online previews and excerpts in the link above.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

 
Essential Blogwriting Tips -- Write to Done hosts 12 Essential Blogwriting Tips by the author of Zen Habits, one of my favourite blogs.

I don't often link to posts like this, but these 12 tips are all pure gold, if you're a beginning blogger or thinking of becoming one, you should give it a look.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

 

10 Things I Love About The New Mome -- The tenth volume of the Fantagraphics comics anthology Mome is in my hands, and to celebrate its tenth volume, here are ten things I loved about it:

10. Dash Shaw's mind-fucking backward/forward robot war tragicomedy "Look Forward, First Son of Terra Two." FANTASTIC.

9. The textures in the Jim Woodring piece; the story (continued from Vol. 9) is up to the usual Woodring standard of psychedelic excellence, but the textures on display in the neighbourhood scenes are astonishing.

8. The final panel in the Woodring story: study it carefully. How long have these kids been weeping, and what are they mourning? A lost world of wonder? Their own ability to function in a universe they no longer understand?

7. Tom Kaczynski's interview, conducted by Gary Groth. Groth is one of my personal heroes, whatever his perceived flaws, and no one can doubt his ability to paint fascinating portraits of the people he interviews, virtually every time out. Kaczynski is no exception -- his life story is interesting stuff, and his inclusion in Mome has improved it measurably.

6. No surprise, then, that his story in this volume is one of the highlights. He takes the Clowes/Tomine ball that he references in the Groth interview, and he runs off in unexpected directions with it.

5. Kaczynski's portrait of The Lizard bursting out of Spider-Man's costume is worth noting all on its own.

4. Ten volumes in, and no price increase.

3. The Sophie Crumb full-page portrait right at the front of the issue. I am finding her strips a little out of place in Mome and I wish we'd see more of her solo series Belly Button Comix, but this is a nice piece of art and a stretch from her usual Mome offerings.

2. John Hankiewicz's "Success Comes to Westmont, IL" is a change of pace for the cartoonist, a little more direct than his usual fare, but also using stylistic change-ups to add depth and nuance to the narrator's bitter complaint.

1. Al Columbia's cover -- there are cat people and dog people, and I am a cat people. The front and back covers are both cat portraits by Al Columbia, and both are extraordinary and chilling in very different ways. I think the thing I love the most is the phantom claw just barely visible on the right side of the image; is Columbia showing us a bit of his process, or suggesting the speed with which cats move, or both? Also of note: This is the first original cover the series has featured, instead of a blown-up image from the interior. I liked that idea, but I love Columbia's cover more.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

 

Palestine: The Special Edition -- Joe Sacco's particular brand of comics journalism has been one of the highlights of the artcomix revolution that has occurred over the past decade or so. In the 1970s and '80s, no one would have known what the hell to do with works like Safe Area Gorazde or The Fixer, but now that non-fiction comics are more widely read and talked about in the mainstream press, Sacco has been able to carve out a nice little niche that perfectly suits both his talents and his obsessive curiosity about why and how the awful things happen that happen in this world.

Palestine was one of the first works of Sacco's that I read, and certainly it made Sacco's reputation as a contrarian journalist of the first order, unwilling to swallow whole any government propaganda, and damned determined to get to the bottom of whatever story he was investigating, even if it put him in harm's way.

Fantagraphics Books has now released a deluxe version of Palestine that better presents the work in contexts both historical and artistic. Lengthy, generously-illustrated text pieces lead off the new hardcover edition, with Sacco providing first-person commentary on his experiences in the Middle East and how he translated them into comics form. He admits to the book's minor flaws (chiefly, that the pamphlet format the work was originally serialized in leaves for a somewhat choppy graphic novel reading experience) while giving genuine insight into the artistic choices he made in presenting the story as he experienced it, and I was interested to see how most of the visual decisions Sacco made were chosen to better present as objective a journalistic view as possible. As horrific as, say, a man being beaten and suffering a broken arm in the attack is, Sacco makes a convincing case that it's even more chilling when presented with as little visual melodrama as possible. Less is more, so much more so in the case of non-fiction on as serious and important a topic as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Sacco's work to reveal the truth about what is happening between the Israelis and the Palestinians remains as powerful and timely now as it was when originally published, and it deserves to be seen and experienced in this new, prestigious edition. Whether you're a longtime Sacco follower or just curious about what it is that he does that makes him so noteworthy among his fellow cartoonists, Palestine: The Special Edition is absolutely indispensable.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

 
Doctor Who: Time Crash -- The annual charity broadcast of Doctor Who is eight minutes of pure joy for me. It's been a day or two since it aired, and if you're somewhat net-savvy, it's pretty widely available at this point.

I won't spoil a thing for you, other than to say that David Tennant's Doctor makes a speech right at the end that perfectly sums up my feelings about the guy he's talking to (and about), and this little short episode pretty much made my entire weekend. Seek it out if you're at all a fan of the series.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

 
Canary in a Coalmine -- The news that Love and Rockets is moving to an annual graphic novel format is more interesting than surprising.

What will be surprising and interesting, is when and if DC and Marvel make the same canny, forward-looking and industry-redefining move.

They should have done this already with titles like The Punisher and Fables, of course.

I wonder which titles and companies will follow suit next?

Me, I'm up for any Love and Rockets in any format I can get it in. Speaking of which, the two new phonebook collections are out from Fantagraphics, Vol. 3 in each series, collecting hundreds and hundreds of pages of some of the very best comics ever. Buy them already, if you haven't yet.

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Alan Moore's Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths TPB -- I got my contributor's copies of this new Avatar Press release yesterday, and damn, is it an impressive package.

It's about twice the size it was originally solicited at, and in addition to collecting the Alan Moore miniseries, it also has stories by Antony Johnston also working in the Lovecraft-inspired vein that Moore tapped for the series. There's an impressive roster of artists including Juan Jose Ryp, Oscar Zarata (on a From Hell tie-in story that is must reading for fans of that series) and my personal favourite, Jacen Burrows.

Of interest to Comic Book Galaxy readers, the volume contains a number of text features, including the complete text of my 2004 interview with Alan Moore that was originally broadcast (in greatly edited form) on NPR affiliate WAMC in Albany, New York. I've never had a better time interviewing anyone in my life than the time I spent talking to Moore, and he touches on a great many topics, from his interest in magic and mysticism to the legal entanglements of Marvelman/Miracleman, and most fascinating to me, we talk about how Moore kicked off the transformation of superhero comics in the 1980s, a subject he has very mixed feelings about. Re-reading the interview last night, I was delighted to remember springing my theory on him about the precise moment (in an issue of Swamp Thing) that Moore unintentionally inaugurated the grim 'n gritty era in a fantastic scene that still gives me chills every time I read it, but which was the unwitting inspiration for a thousand less gifted creators to mishandle other creative properties for decades afterward.

But my interview is just a dozen or so pages in a mammoth slab of great comics and other features, and I hope you'll consider adding it to your bookshelf. I'm thrilled to finally have it on mine. Also having read the fantastic new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier yesterday, it was a great day in my house to be an Alan Moore reader. Either or both would make great holiday gifts for someone you know who loves great comics created with unbounded enthusiasm for the artform.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

 
ADD's 2007 Year in Review -- Let's look back at a great year for comics. First up:

THE BEST of 2007

* Crecy, Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres (Avatar) -- This one took me by surprise, and ended up being by far one of my favourite comics of the year. The way Ellis uses the lead character's narration is pretty unique in comics, and adds a layer of comedy and depth to the true story of a crucial historical battle. This is one you have to experience to really appreciate how accomplished it is. [Full Crecy review].

* Criminal, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon) -- Although I didn't review any single issues of this in calendar 2007, it was still my favourite monthly read and a more entertaining and well-crafted title than any other five comics you could name from either Marvel or DC. The second story arc, "Lawless," just wrapped up, and it was one of Brubaker's best pieces of character work ever, with Phillips contributing his usual amazing artwork -- he's the very best artist currently creating monthly comics, no question. [Criminal #1 review].

* Marvel Zombies: Dead Days and Marvel Zombies 2, Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips (Marvel) -- Nothing captures the real spirit of Marvel's heyday better than this perverse reimagining of their core characters, which has become a franchise unto itself. Stick with the books by Kirkman and Phillips, and know you're in for a grand time. [Marvel Zombies 2 #1 review].

* I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics Books) -- Junky and presumed-forgotten comics by one of the artform's weirdest minds were recontextualized by Fantagraphics and editor Paul Karasik into one of the must-read collections of the year. You may never look at superheroes the same way again, and never have as much fun reading them. [I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets review].

* A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Saga of the Bloody Benders, Rick Geary (NBM/ComicsLit) -- This was one of the finest and most fun original graphic novels of the year. You don't hear much about Geary on the comics news sites, but he quietly has become one of the most unique and dependable storytellers in the entire medium. [Bloody Benders review].

* Please Release, Nate Powell (Top Shelf) -- If there's a more thoughtful and interesting artcomix practitioner than Nate Powell, I don't know who it would be. He's someone you'll be hearing a lot more about in the years ahead, and the stories in this collection are a good indicator why. [Please Release review].

* Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel) -- I didn't review this, but I don't think there was a better value for your superhero dollar than this 99.9 percent perfect collection of possibly the greatest superhero comics of all time. The misspelling of Steve Ditko's name on the last page is the only flaw I could detect, but Jesus, what a flaw to have in an otherwise exquisite presentation of these essential comics.

* All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC) -- The most fun I've had since, well, any other Morrison and Quitely project you could name. One of the greatest, most entertaining teams working in corporate comics.

* Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly) -- Any other creator delivering a novel this dense and entertaining would probably be hailed in every corner of the blogosphere, but the excellence of Shortcomings is by now expected, and therefore possibly not as thrill-generating. But rest assured, this exploration of race and relationships is Tomine stretching, even if just a little bit, and that makes it more than worth your attention. [Optic Nerve #9 (Shortcomings Chapter 1) review].

* The Complete Peanuts, Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics) -- This series is well into the most glorious era of the best comic strip ever, and you should definitely be reading along to see how the magic happened, day after day, for half a century. I recently reviewed David Michaelis's Schulz biography, Schulz and Peanuts, as well.

* Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty (Dark Horse) -- I don't know if this title will bring any new readers to comics, but if you were ever a fan of Whedon's TV work, this is the most note-perfect adaptation/continuation you could possibly have asked for. Even writer Brian K. Vaughan's arc is keeping me entertained, and that's quite an accomplishment considering his stuff usually not only leaves me cold, but makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

* Spent, Joe Matt (Drawn and Quarterly) -- I suppose this is the sort of story anti-artcomix folks are talking about when they damn all artcomix with the "navel-gazey/autobio/masturbation" accusation. Fuck them, I love Matt's stuff. [Peepshow #13 (Spent Chapter 1) review].

* The Boys, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite) -- Anyone who dismisses The Boys as mere foul-mouthed satire is missing one of the wildest and best superhero rides around. The book just gets better with every passing issue. [The Boys #8 review].

* Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni), and Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (DC/Wildstorm) -- All right, I haven't read these yet because they come out today. I admit it. But by this time tomorrow I will have likely read both, and based on previous volumes in both series, I have no doubt they belong on this list. If I'm wrong, I'll happily come back and edit this post. But I don't think I'll have to. Related: As much as I miss Moore's ABC line, I am pleased as punch for him that he's out from under his indentured servitude to DC, a company that has gone far out of its way to shit on him time and time again. And I look forward to supporting every project he chooses to create with any other publisher. DC really, really fucked up when they decided (multiple times) to alienate the best writer ever to work in comics, and they will likely lose hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in future revenue as a result of their petty, vindictive bullshit. Fuck anyone who had a hand in Moore's decision to separate himself permanently from the company.

And now, because there was just a lot of it, here's some of:

THE WORST of 2007

* Martha Washington Dies, Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons (Dark Horse) -- I don't know what I was expecting from this, but having really enjoyed the original series back when it debuted, this came as something of a shallow, pointless kick in the teeth. [Martha Washington Dies review].

* Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special #1, Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver (DC) -- Noogies. Fucking noogies. Who does Geoff Johns have pictures of, and what farm animal are they sodomizing, exactly? I can't believe anyone would even have to ask if Geoff Johns still sucks, but there it is. He sure as fuck does. [GLSCS #1 review].

* Tales from the Crypt #1, various (Papercutz) -- Very possibly the worst idea of the year, if not ever. [TFTC #1 review].

* Thor #1, J. Michael Straczynski and Oliver Coipel (Marvel) -- "How mightily it fails to impress," I said, proving just how pervasive Thor's pseudo-Shakespearean dialect might be. This was one big, malodorous turd in the mighty small punchbowl that is "what I expect from Marvel these days." [Thor #1 review].

* The Highwaymen #1 (DC/Wildstorm) -- The creators of this exercise in generic tedium were shocked when the title was canceled after a handful of issues. I sure as hell wasn't. [The Highwaymen #1 review].

LOOKING AHEAD

What am I looking forward to in 2008? Hopefully more surprises like Crecy and I shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, and more expected excellence like Criminal, All-Star Superman, Scott Pilgrim, anything by Rick Geary, and The Boys. And I really hope Dark Horse collects (in hardcover, goddamn it!) Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth's Born on the Battlefield, one of the most compelling Conan stories ever presented. I'd also like to see Barry Windsor-Smith's Paradoxman collection from Fantagraphics, and see Marvel get its head out of its ass and release BWS's Thing graphic novel.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

 
Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko -- If you saw the recent BBC special on Steve Ditko, this news will be about the most exciting you've seen all year. If not, it probably still is. Here's the press release from Fantagraphics Books:

ANNOUNCING “STRANGE & STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO”

COMING IN JUNE 2008 FROM FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS


On his 80th birthday, Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the
June 2008 release of the first critical retrospective of Steve Ditko,
the co-creator and original artist of the Amazing Spider-Man.

In the wake of the astonishing success of Sam Raimi’s three Spider-
Man movies, Steve Ditko’s status as a driving force behind the pop
culture icon has been revealed to an audience the world over. But, in
the context of Steve Ditko’s 50-year career in comics, his creative
involvement with Spider-Man is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Ditko is known amongst the cartooning cognoscenti as one of the
supreme visual stylists in the history of comics, as well as the most
fiercely independent cartoonist of his generation. From his earliest
days in the 1950s, working for the notorious low-budget Charlton
Comics (the Roger Corman Productions of the comics industry), Steve
Ditko broke every convention in comics, with his innovative special
designs and imaginatively hallucinatory landscapes of Dr. Strange,
the almost plebian earthiness of The Amazing Spider-Man, and his
black-and-white views on morality and justice through his
uncompromising vigilante of the late 1960s, Mr. A (inspired by the
work of Atlas Shrugged author and Objectivist philosopher, Ayn Rand).

Why will this book appeal to such a broad readership, to those who
may not even be comic-book, or Steve Ditko, fans? “For the non-comic-
book reader,” says author Blake Bell (author and essayist for the
Marvel Comics’ line of Ditko-related Omnibus reprint projects), “we
tell the narrative of Steve Ditko, the artist, from humble beginnings
in Johnstown Pennsylvania; to the dizzying heights of co-creating
Spider-Man; to the spectacular Howard Roark-like determination, and
tribulations, in bringing his personal and philosophical vision to a
recalcitrant audience. There’s a fantastic, dramatic storyline
running through Ditko’s career; the artist having walked away from
the Spider-Man franchise (and the billions it was to generate) as it
was reaching the height of its popularity. What price did Ditko pay,
and what was the impact on his work?”

Comic-book fans have also been waiting for a definitive examination
of Ditko the artist; a chance to have the entire artistic scope of
his career in one volume. “Fans of Ditko, and comic art, will not be
able to put the book down,” says Bell, “as we explode many of the
myths surrounding key moments in Ditko’s career, as well as present
reams of rare and unpublished Ditko artwork. For the comic art
scholar, we also break down the “hows” of Steve Ditko as a great
sequential storyteller, dissecting his work in depth for the first
time, also with analysis and commentary by some of the most skilled
and articulate comic creators of the day.”

While Steve Ditko himself remains absent for the World Wide Web
(minus a summer back in 2001, when Bell himself worked for Ditko as
his official web site designer), Strange & Stranger will assault the
’Net with similar intensity to that of the creator himself.

In addition to updates to Bell’s unofficial Steve Ditko web site at
www.ditko.comics.org, readers will be able to keep abreast of updates
with pages on Facebook, MySpace, and a dedicated feature page at the
Fantagraphics web site, found through the portal
www.steveditkobook.com and launching soon. This will have a web log
offering on-going commentary on the process of creating the book,
with commentary by Bell and the staff at Fantagraphics. It will also
publish commentary by professional comic-book creators on Ditko’s
career and artwork, and feature artwork that won't make it into the
book. As the book speeds to its June 2008 release date, teasers,
convention appearances by Bell, as well as book store signings will
be featured on the site.

2008 will mark the year when Steve Ditko fans the world over will
have the opportunity to celebrate the artist’s 50-plus year career
with this definitive volume from Blake Bell and Fantagraphics Books.

TITLE INFORMATION:

Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko
By Blake Bell
$39.99 Hardcover
220 pages, full-color, 9” x 12”
ISBN 978-1-56097-921-0
PUBLICATION DATE: June 2008

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

 
Lifelike -- A small press creator whose work always entertains me is Dara Naraghi. His AKA and other small press comics have always been a blast to read, and it's clear he's in it for the love of creating comics, not because he wants to score a movie deal or hook up with Image or Marvel.

He asked me to mention that his new graphic novel Lifelike is solicited in the current (October) Previews catalog, and I definitely think you should click the link and consider pre-ordering it. It's the "Featured Item" on page 300 of Previews, and the Diamond order code is OCT07 3596. A lot of the book, which started as a webcomic, is available to read at that link, and being published by IDW, it's a good bet the production quality of the finished edition will be top-notch. Click on over and give Lifelike a look.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

 
Two to Get in San Diego -- I won't be at the San Diego Comicon this year (my unbroken streak continues!), but two graphic novels spring immediately to mind as worth recommending to you if you're going and you see them up for sale.

* I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets (Fantagraphics Books) -- This big collection of truly freaky superhero comics by Fletcher Hanks is edited by Paul Karasik, and includes an illustrated comic-style afterword about how the project came to be. Hank's talents combine the rubbery stylings of Basil Wolverton interpreting the twisted scripting of Michael Fleischer, with a singleness of purpose to each and every script that at first seems like laziness or a lack of imagination, but by the end of the book will have you realizing in its own way, this one-track mind of Hanks's may have been his greatest gift to comics. He apparently wasn't a very nice guy, if you believe Karasik's afterword (and there's no reason not to), but in his own way his comics seem like a distillation of everything that is possible in superhero comics, and everything that is utterly retarded. This is one of the essential books of the year, without question.

* Spent (Drawn and Quarterly) -- The four issues collected here seemed somehow more monumental when I was buying them in single issues over the years they took to come out, but Joe Matt's latest collection is still, in some ways, his most personal and interesting. The intimate details of his repugnant private life when he was living in Canada are all on display, and no doubt many who knew what he was up to may be glad he's living back in the States now. Matt, Seth and Chester Brown (the latter two are characters in the book) all make up a sort of mini-movement in artcomix, and I find just about everything all three do to be revealing and progressive comics that move the artform forward no matter what their individual tics and foibles. I can't say you'll like the guy once you close the covers of this very well-designed hardcover, but if you're like me you'll find it impossible to stop reading and even admire Matt's ability to depict his own worst nature with what appears to be brutal, if elegant, honesty.

* San Diego Bonus -- Here's Christopher Butcher's Five Favourite San Diego Memories; tell him I said "hi" if you see him there, would you?

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Monday, July 23, 2007

 
Pull List -- Here's a quick rundown of what I plan to pick up at the comic shop this week.

* BLACK SUMMER #1 (OF 7) -- Avatar releases the "first issue" of Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp's look at superheroes who call bullshit on the political status quo. Here's my review of Black Summer #0. Also arriving this week, in real bookstores, anyway, is Ellis's prose novel that I recently reviewed, Crooked Little Vein.

* BONE VOL. 6 OLD MANS CAVE COLOR ED HC -- I think this came out a week or two back, but I was lax in ordering it, so I get it this week.

* BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 8 #5 -- Not much to say about this one, except that if you liked the show, you will like the comic book sequel very much.

* DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #1 -- Another Ellis title from Avatar. I haven't read any preview copies or anything, so I have no idea what the quality of it will be like, but I'm always up for an Ellis #1. Fingers crossed.

* FUTURAMA COMICS #32 -- For my son...

* HEARTBREAK SOUP PALOMAR VOL 1 TP
* MAGGIE THE MECHANIC LOCAS VOL 1 TP -- I hadn't realized these were going to include material not in the gigantic hardcovers of a couple of years ago, so now I am onboard with buying all these softcover re-releases as well. This will mark the fourth or fifth time I've bought some of this material, but you know, it actually is just that goddamned good.

* LOVE & ROCKETS VOL 2 #20 -- Giant-size, this one is gonna be awesome.

* MARVEL PREVIEWS #48 AUGUST 2007
* PREVIEWS VOL XVII #8 -- The less said about these, the better.

* SIMPSONS CLASSICS #13 -- Again, for the boy.

* TEEN TITANS GO #45 -- And ditto.

Three collections (Bone and the L&R volumes) mean this is a pricier than usual week, but luckily I have a doctor's appointment Wednesday, so the exorbitant co-pay will make me even poorer. Yay comics! Yay corrupt, inefficient health care system! Yay!

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Monday, July 16, 2007

 
The Week in Comics -- Looks like some very good stuff is arriving in comics shops this week...

BOOK OF THE WEEK

* Lone Ranger HC and Lone Ranger #7 (Dynamite). I sure would not have expected this title to grab me the way it has, but it's always a fun, dynamic and gorgeously-rendered title. Here's my review of Lone Ranger #1.

OTHER TITLES OF NOTE

* Bone Vol. 6: Old Man's Cave (Scholastic). I never read much Bone until the mammoth one-volume collection came out a few years back. The colours in the new Scholastic editions are absolutely beautiful and add even more to what was already an exceptionally well-realized vision.

* The Comics Journal #284 (Fantagraphics). I never miss an issue of this, the most essential periodical on the subject of comics. In fact, I don't think I've missed more than a handful since I started reading TCJ circa 1980. The issue's Roger Langridge interview should be worth the price of admission all by itself.

* Conan #42 (Dark Horse). Am I enjoying this as much as I did when Kurt Busiek was still writing it? I'm not sure, but I think Tim Truman has exceeded my expectations in his efforts so far to fill Busiek's big, big shoes. I think this is part 2 of "Rogues in the House."

* Godland Vol. 3: Proto Plastic Party (Image). This is one I dropped from my monthly pull list, because the floppies just weren't doing it for me. In a nice, big chunk, Joe Casey and Thomas Scioli's Kirby pastiche reads much better and is far more satisfying.

* The Spirit #8 (DC). Man, I really missed Darwyn Cooke last issue; I think only one of the three fill-in stories really held my attention, and just a month later, I couldn't even tell you what it was about. With Cooke back in the saddle, though, things are sure to be much-improved.

* World War Hulk #2 of 5 (Marvel). Like Lone Ranger, this is a title I would not have predicted ahead of time that I would enjoy. The first issue felt more like a Marvel Comic in the best sense of the word than anything I can remember reading in a long, long time.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

 
Best Comics News of the Month -- Turns out Greg Sadowski is planning a third B. Krigstein volume. The previous two -- one a heavily-illustrated Krigstein biography with selected remastered stories, the other a massive slab of even more remastered masterworks by comics' smartest visionary -- are both absolutely essential for anyone who loves the artform of comics. A third volume automatically goes to the top of my list of highly-anticipated works-in-progress.

Via The Comics Reporter.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

 
Alan David Doane's Recommended Comics, Graphic Novels and Related -- I started reading comic books in 1972, at the age of six. This is a list of the very best comics, graphic novels and related publications I have read in my lifetime of reading and a decade of writing about the artform. This is a work in progress; if you have a suggestion for this page, or if you have questions about any of these titles I've listed, please email me.



Alison Bechdel



Chester Brown

Ed Brubaker

Charles Burns

Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth

Eddie Campbell

Dan Clowes

Jordan Crane

Robert Crumb

Joe Daly

Warren Ellis

Garth Ennis

Renee French

Gary Groth

Gilbert Hernandez

Jaime Hernandez

Paul Hornschemeier

Kevin Huizenga

James Kochalka

Bob Levin

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Jasen Lex

Jason Marcy

Joe Matt

David Mazzucchelli

Mike Mignola

Mark Miller

Gary Spencer Millidge

Tony Millionaire

Alan Moore

Grant Morrison

Bryan Lee O'Malley

Harvey Pekar

John Porcellino

Jim Rugg

Greg Sadowski

Salgood Sam (Max Douglas)

Frank Santoro

Charles Schulz

Seth

Jeff Smith

Jiro Taniguchi

Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Adrian Tomine

C. Tyler

Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo

Chris Ware

Bill Watterson

Barry Windsor-Smith

Jim Woodring

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