Trouble with Comics
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By Alan David Doane
Lots of comics fans spend hours staring at all the gaudy pages in the front half of the monthly Previews catalog, drooling over poorly-crafted statues of Elektra or the latest hack Watchmen snuff comics from the Bloated Two. If you manage to survive until the back of the catalog, you can actually find good comics. Here's some of them.
Noteworthy titles listed in the May edition of Previews, expected to arrive in comics shops in July, 2005.
BOOK OF THE MONTH
STRANGEHAVEN VOLUME 3: CONSPIRACIES TP
by Gary Spencer Millidge
Description: The quirky village of Strangehaven, hidden in the depths of the English countryside, has a clandestine society, the Knights of the Golden Light. Newcomer Alex is drawn into a web of intrigue with both the Knights and the secret witches coven vying for his allegiance. Collects Strangehaven #13-18. Introduction by Dave Gibbons.
SC, 7x10, 176pgs, B&W SRP: $14.95
ADD: One of the best comics ever, I'm very excited to see the third TPB solicited at last. If you need to catch up on the eerie goings-on in Strangehaven, Abiogenesis is also offering the two previous collections. Order all three and you'll be set for good reading for weeks. Here are the order codes for the first two collections:
VOLUME 1: ARCADIA (STAR08110)—SC, 7x10, B&W SRP: $14.95
VOLUME 2: BROTHERHOOD (STAR11407)—SC, 7x10, B&W SRP: $14.95
Other Noteworthy May Releases
DRAWN & QUARTERLY
DRAWN & QUARTERLY SHOWCASE VOLUME 3 TP
Description: Rising star Sammy Harkham is best known as editor of the new avant-garde anthology Kramer's Ergot, as well as author of Poor Sailor. His story in this issue, "Somersaulting," just may be his best yet. The book is rounded up with American born, British cartoonist Matt Broersma, who provides a spectacular looking film-noir comic strip reminiscent of Richard Sala.
SC, 7x10, 96pgs, FC SRP: $14.95
ADD: The Harkham-edited Kramer's Ergot 5 was a thing of wonder, so it's great to see him getting the Showcase treatment. I'm not yet familiar with Broersma, but I love Richard Sala's stuff, so I am eager to check that out as well.
ED, THE HAPPY CLOWN #2
by Chester Brown
Description: Chester Brown's Ed, The Happy Clown was one of the defining books of the original alternative comics movement and it went on to influence a generation of cartoonists and readers alike. This issue kicks off with "The Man Who Couldn't Stop" and continues
right through to Ed's unusual manner of breaking out of prison!
24pgs, B&W (2 of 9) SRP: $2.95
ADD: Chester Brown has a tendency to take his readers to unexpected places, and that was certainly true of the first issue of this series. It's good having a Brown series in stores on a regular basis again.
THE FREEBOOTERS HC
by Barry Windsor-Smith
Description: The Freebooters is a lively, character-driven graphic narrative set in a fantastic, ancient milieu.With similarities to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, The Freebooters is a riotous, unexpected and postmodern take on the genre. This volume collects the entirety of Windsor-Smith’s “The Freebooters” stories from the acclaimed BWS: Storyteller comic book series from the early 1990s, including a full-length chapter from the
unpublished tenth issue, plus more than 50 pages of new story. Also available signed by
HC—HC, 9x12, 184pgs, FC SRP: $29.95
SIGNED HC—HC, 9x12, 184pgs, FC SRP: $49.95
ADD: The second of three planned hardcover collections of the three serialized stories in the late and much-lamented BWS: Storyteller series. I should mention that Barry is a friend and my comments can hardly be considered entirely objective, but The Freebooters was a gorgeous and often hilarious story about characters not entirely unlike those BWS was depicting in his landmark Conan work -- only many, many years (and beers) later. Highly recommended.
SQUA TRONT #11
edited by John Benson, cover by John Severin
Description: First Time in Previews! The John Severin issue! More pages! More color! Featured is a long John Severin interview by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., and a complete checklist of Severin's work. Plus lots of rare and unpublished art, including a good selection of
humorous illustrations from Severin's correspondence which Harvey Kurtzman has
described as Severin at his best. Published for the first time are the amazingly detailed
pencilled pages that Roy Krenkel drew for an American Eagle story. There's an interview
with EC writer and longtime Severin friend Colin Dawkins, and a remembrance of
Severin pal and EC staffer Jerry De Fuccio by Hames Ware (with unpublished Severin
caricatures). The EC fanzine series continues with coverage of the original 1959 dittoed
SQUATRONT (one word), which had a cover by Severin. SQUA TRONT's editor, Mike
Britt writes about his publishing days with Robert Crumb and his contacts with Severin,
Steve Ditko and Jules Feiffer. With original Crumb illustrations and a rare, brief Wood
interview. "The EC French Connection," by Jacques Dutrey, gives more info on how
famous French cartoonists Rene Goscinny and "Morris" hung out with the EC artists,
including Severin, in its heyday; illustrated with rare photos and Kurtzman art. NOTE:
Originally listed in Previews Plus #656.
Magazine, B&W SRP: $10.95
ADD: I've seen this issue, and it is spectacular. I'd even go so far as to say you don't have to be an EC fan to get a lot out of it, since it is so packed with comics history. But for anyone who loves EC, this is must-reading.
SHUCK: THE SULFURSTAR #1
by Rick Smith & Tania Menesse
Description: Shuck, a beleaguered devil, is forced into retirement and travels to a small town to recuperate. Unfortunately, the Nether followed him as sulfurous explosions in the sky. The allure of hellish revelry is too much to bear and Shuck investigates, only to find more than he bargained for.
32pgs, B&W SRP: $2.95
ADD: I've already read and reviewed this one, a fine return to form for one of my favourite comics.
These items are listed in the May Previews catalog and are set to arrive in comics shops in July, 2005, so tell your retailer you want him to order them for you by, say, mid-May and make sure you put it in writing and don't take no for an answer. Support the great comics, and they'll make more, I promise.
-- Alan David Doane