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Lots of comics fans spend hours staring at all the gaudy pages in the front half of Previews, drooling over poorly-crafted statues of Elektra or the latest bad comics from the corporate comics publishers. Fuck all that, here's the good stuff:
Noteworthy titles listed in the January edition of Previews, expected to arrive in comics shops in March, 2005.
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Description: The title says it all; it’s Hero Time for Street Angel. Pinned down, back against the wall, flying lead everywhere, the situation looks grim, but the gunmen are gonna learn, when you play with fire, you get burned. Introducing the original Wilkesborough badass, a blast from the past, the Afrodisiac. 24pgs, B&W; $2.95 USD
ADD: Look at that gorgeous cover. Man, I love this book, I love its attitude, its smart storytelling, I love everything about it.
Street Angel #1-4 were four of the very best comics released in 2004. Rugg and Maruca's disorienting blend of action, satire, pathos and humanism seemed to confuse some, but I loved the change of tone in virtually every issue, the rock-solid presence of Street Angel Jesse Sanchez, and the drop-dead gorgeous cartooning, reminiscent of Farel Dalrymple and Dan Clowes but with its own passion and energy. Along with Biploar and Love and Rockets, Street Angel is one of the most vital and exciting titles being released today, and you owe it to yourself to check it out and see just how good comics can be.
Drawn and Quarterly
Description: Michel Rabagliati crafts stories that are easily accessible to both teenage and adult audiences with his semifictional protagonist, Paul. This time Paul encounters another step into adulthood by moving out of his parent¹s house and into his first apartment with his girlfriend. Rabagliati came into prominence recently as the Harvey Award winner for "Best New Talent" and he has since gone on to becoming one of Drawn & Quarterly's most successful cartoonists, with regular short stories in D+Q's anthology along with his first book, Paul Has A Summer Job. HC, 8x10, 120pgs, B&W; $19.95 USD
ADD: Rabagliati's style is gentle and humane, but the sentiment is honestly earned and his storytelling is wonderful. D&Q is also offering Paul in the Country and Paul Gets a Summer Job again this month, and you won't regret ordering all of these and immersing yourself in Rabagliati's stories.
EL CAPITAN BOOKS
Description: The acclaimed comics series continues its fifth arc of gut wrenching tales — an arc of stories full of hjinks, derring-do, and severe beatings. Amy does something she’s never done before — kill lots of people and save a poor couple in distress. Well... okay... but the saving people part... she’s definitely never done that! Travel back to another time. A time of Shoguns and Warlords. A time of honor and swords. A time of horses and pigs. A time when honor meant everything, and skill and discipline was a way of life. Of course, Amy doesn’t care about any of that. She’s got a poor couple in distress to save, and she’ll do it by any means necessary, including semi-automatic weapons and napalm.When guns and swords clash, it’s no contest in this obligatory Amy Racecar tale of woe. MATURE THEMES; 32pgs, B&W; $3.50 USD
ADD: The Amy Racecar issues of Stray Bullets are amazing diversions into violence, adventure and over-the-top melodrama. As a bonus, they always reflect in some way on the life and times of one of the main characters of the series, too, and so can be read and enjoyed on multiple levels. Stray Bullets is one of the best crime comics ever created, so if you ever wish there was more going on in the comics shop than the current trend of raping and murdering all those poor old superheroes and their wives (in shittily crafted stories at that), you should be supporting Stray Bullets.
Description: Now entering its 29th year, The Comics Journal returns yet again with the comics-related news, reviews and commentary that has made the magazine indispensable. In this issue, longtime contributor Charles Hatfield sits down for a conversation with breakout indy-comics superstar Craig Thompson in an interview that runs his early days to Goodbye Chunky Rice to Blankets and beyond! Also, Managing Editor Dirk Deppey talks to the genius behind Flaming Carrot and the Mystery Men, Bob Burden. Burden's fame as an easygoing raconteur and surreal wit gets a workout in this freewheeling trip through a career that spans the last two decades of comic-book cartooning. Ut! Plus, British journalist Paul Slade examines the progression of Herge's internationally reknowned Tintin series as it grew from classic strip to universal storytelling genius, in an enlightening essay you're not going to want to miss. Add in a reprint of rare, archival comic strips, insightful and acerbic industry commentary, plus the celebrated news and critical coverage that just won the magazine Great Britain's prestigious Eagle Award for "Favourite Magazine About Comics," and you've got another fine issue of the most essential magazine about comics available today: The Comics Journal! Magazine, 192pgs, $9.95 USD
ADD: I've been reading the Journal for most of the 29 years they talk about in the description, and I sure as hell am not going to stop as it enters a new golden age of quality comics journalism. Over the past few months, The Comics Journal has been absolutely indispensible for its interviews, reviews, columns and reprints of long-out-of-print rare and fascinating comics. Ten bucks is cheap for what is inarguably the greatest magazine about comics ever.
LOVE & ROCKETS VOLUME 2 #13 by Los Bros Hernandez
Description: In the second installment of "Day by Day with Hopey," "Wednesday is Bitter Ends Day," Hopey prepares for her new career and must decide what to do for lunch: eat at home or go out? Meanwhile, Julio's nephew, Julio Tomas, discovers rock and roll in the 1950s. In the here and now, washed-up motivational speaker Mark Herrera, determined to expose the mystery of the Sea Hog, goes after his five ex-wives for help — including fourth wife Fritz, who is now a B-movie actress! MATURE THEMES; 32pgs, B&W, $4.50 USD
ADD: One of the finest comics ever published, gorgeous art, delicious drama, high comedy and usually more than a smattering of sex. Come on, you know you want it.
TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS
Description: The author of the autobiographical classics Clumsy and Unlikely takes a break from books about girls for this humorous short story collection featuring fiction, gags, and autobiography. Included are such gems as "My Brother Knows Kung Fu" and "Action Television how." SC, 4x6, 96pgs, B&W, $8.00 USD
ADD: From autobiography to superhero satire, I've enjoyed everything Brown's served up so far. Can't wait to see his first offering of 2005.
These items will be listed in the January Previews catalog and are set to arrive in comics shops in March, 2005, so tell your retailer you want him to order them for you by, say, mid-January 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.