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Friday, December 30, 2005

Stuff of Interest - March 2006

Comics of some interest for March 2006 or thereabouts (The Kirby listed elsewhere). Here are some covers, which pretty much say it all for some of these:

And here they are with words.

by Jessica Abel
The first full-length graphic novel from an acclaimed young comics artist. This is an emotional, high velocity tale of a young woman who journeys to Mexico City in search of her true identity, only to discover a self she can hardly recognize.
HC, 8x6, 272pgs,$19.95
I enjoyed the beginning of the series quite a bit, although I thought the end was a bit of a let-down when I first read it. I'll have to re-read the whole thing before I decide if I want it in a more permanent format. I do recommend it for those who haven't read it, for the art if nothing else. And a very good price, a hardcover for $6 less than the separate comics cost. It's enough to put you off serialized comics for good.

Written by Otto Binder
Art by Curt Swan, Ruben Moreria, Ray Burnley and others
Cover by Swan & Stan Kaye
The super-affordable Showcase collections continue with a volume spotlighting Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane and pal Jimmy Olsen, collecting the first 22 issues of SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN and Lois's first solo outing from SHOWCASE #9!
On sale March 15 576 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

It's almost wrong how excited I was when I first heard of this. Over 500 pages of Curt Swan drawing silly stories of Jimmy Olsen. It's almost a shame that there'll be a Lois Lane thing contaminating it at the end (though I'm looking forward to the Schaffenberger version of Lois if there are future volumes)

by David, Staton, & Milgrom
With the rest of the Soulsearchers involved in their slapstick search for a new group headquarters, Bridget and Baraka follow Cloa Fille's trail to the accursed house overgrown by menacing plants, and find the most audacious adversary they've ever met in the "The Calamityville Horror"!
32pgs, B&W $2.50

This should be good. I'm looking forward to seeing Joe Staton's version of the characters.

by Scott Roberts
At last, Patty-Cake in full color! You knew it had to happen sooner or later! After ten years,multiplee Eisner and Ignatz nominations, Scott Roberts' beloved Patty-Cake is coming to you in color! This special trade paperback reprints the first three issues of Patty's long SLG run (from away back in 1997) as you've never seen them before.
SC, 6x9, 96pgs, FC $12.95

This is really good to see. Roberts' work will look great in colour, and hopefully with their publication of some Disney stuff Slave Labor will be able to make some inroads into mainstream distribution with it.

Written and illustrated by Tony Millionaire, Kyle Baker, Dylan Horrocks, Eddie Campbell, Harvey Pekar, James Kochalka, Gilbert Hernandez, Peter Bagge and others
Cover by Jaime Hernandez
A heaping slab of great comics featuring Bizarro by a who's-who of fantastic comic artists and writers! It's big! It's indisputably rectangular! It stays crunchy even in milk!
on sale April 26 ' 200 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Might pick this up if I see it on sale somewhere. I got the first volume a while back, and while I didn't like most of it, there were a few gems, so if this is the same I'd probably be happy to pay about half that cover price.

Written by Bob Haney, Marv Wolfman and Len Wein
Art by Nick Cardy, Bruno Premiani, Bill Molno, Irv Novick, Lee Elias, Bill Draut, Sal Trapani and Jack Abel
Cover by Cardy
The "Showcase" format continues with a volume collecting BRAVE AND THE BOLD #54, 60, SHOWCASE #59, and TEEN TITANS #1-18. Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Aqualad unite for adventures only a teen team could handle!
on sale April 5 ' 528 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

While not quite as glee inducing as 500 pages of JIMMY OLSEN, this is still going to be well worth picking up. Cardy's artwork is great on these stories, and it's probably my favourite of Bob Haney's books.

On sale April 12, SC, 200pg, b&w, 6" x 9", $9.95
For eight-year-old Lulu Moppet, nothing is impossible even if the results of her efforts are impossibly imperfect. Need to quell the fury of a rambunctious two-year-old? Lulu's got a hilarious fairy tale brewing in her brain that'll do just the trick. Father needs his best suit taken to the tailor? Lulu can handle it - so long as Pop doesn't mind if she makes a few unplanned and wholly unpredictable stops along the way. Have a wayward ghost in your house who needs a new home? Lulu's your girl!

Glad to see Dark Horse is getting these out on a steady basis. I've really enjoyed those I picked up so far, and look forward to getting all of them at some point.

by Mark Martin
After a hiatus from a regularly serialized comic - but not from comics - Mark Martin debuts his new, semi-annual title Runaway this month. The first issue begins the longest story starring his popular character Montgomery Wart (from Tantalizing Stories) - plus several shorter stories to round out the first issue. The book is full of Martin's patented visuals, slapstick humor, perfect timing, distinctive character designs, and rambunctious storytelling. Find out why so many cartoonists, from Scott McCloud to Jim Woodring, love Martin's comics.
24pgs $3.50

Good to see Mark Martin back on the printed page, even if just on a semi-annual basis. More than worth taking a look at.

On sale March 29, b&w, 24pg, $2.99
Internationally acclaimed storyteller Stan Sakai presents another adventure from feudal Japan! The foxy thief Kitsune visits the Geishu clan in this issue, and the rabbit ronin is caught between his friendship with the charming thief and his loyalty to the Geishu clan... and how will Tomoe react when she meets Usagi's beautiful and flirtatious friend? It's a meeting of two fan-favorite characters, with the long-eared samurai caught in the middle! As if that weren't enough, when Kitsune's young protege Kiyoko steals a priceless temple scroll, the man who wants it would rather kill the pair than pay for it. Can they get out of this mess before permanent damage is caused to the clan? Find out, this month in Usagi Yojimbo!

I guess there are only so many ways to say hey, it's Sakai, it's Usagi, it'll be good.

Written by Joe Kubert
Art and cover by Kubert
Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. continue on their mission to bring "“The Prophecy"” to Estonia. After a harrowing shootout with a band of renegade Nazis, the combat-happy Joes of Easy Company and their precious cargo stumble upon a place they've never seen before and one they won't soon forget.
On sale March 22 3 of 6 ' 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

And of course Kubert doing Rock is always going to be good to look at.

I don't really care about this comic enough to even copy the solicitation, and won't be picking it up, but I really really like this Brian Bolland cover.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Doctor Who - "The Christmas Invasion"

...or, for Canadians, "The Boxing Day Invasion". This slightly longer than usual episode (it ran in a 90-minute timeslot, with commercials, but didn't fill it) introduces the latest Doctor, who'll be headlining the next season in a few months. He and Rose return to modern day Earth, just in time for a massive alien invasion. We also get a hint of the new spin-off series TORCHWOOD.

I was pretty unimpressed with it, unfortunately. While there were a few clever bits, they were few and far between, and a lot of the stuff between them wasn't worth watching. Overall ranks close to the bottom of new series episodes.

The good news is that this doesn't mean much for the upcoming season, since the new Doctor spends most of this lying around doing nothing. The actor didn't seem to bad in the few bits he had, and maybe if they have him doing more it'll pick up some. The end of the episode had a few clips from the upcoming season, and while some of them don't seem too promising (as I've said before, I think DW should avoid Victorian England, so actually having Queen Victoria herself can't be good news), there are a few bits for the long time fan that I'm looking forward to, already leaked in rumours, but I won't mention them here.

I also just got the first tape of the original series from my library in a while, "Terror of the Zygons", from the Tom Baker years, with Sarah Jane Smith and Harry and the Brigadier, so that'll be a good way to get this latest thing out of my mind.

Monday, December 26, 2005

EC - Upheaval (Williamson)

art by Al Williamson, story by Al Feldstein & Harlan Ellison
Weird Science-Fantasy #24[#2] (1954)

Some sources seem to indicate that this was an unauthorized adaptation (a la the first few Bradbury adaptations) of an early Ellison short story, "Mealtime", others seem to indicate that it was authorized. In any case, it was the only Ellison story published by EC. The story concerns an exploration mission, looking (so far in vain) for signs of intelligence on other worlds. The captain is convinced that humanity is the pinnacle of evolution and they won't find anything, until they come onto a seemingly empty world, which swallows up their spaceship and the crew. After barely getting out with their lives, the skeptical captain is now convinced that he was wrong, and the world they just left is an evolved intelligent world, far superior to the parasite based evolutionary model of Earth.

Cute story, but more interesting for some really nice Williamson artwork. In addition to the usual great space-men there's a nice sequence of flash-backs to the evolution of life on earth, and any chance to see Williamson drawing battling dinosaurs and cavemen (separately, of course), even for just one panel each, is well worth reading.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Collection - CRITTERS [1986 Series]

Critters [1986 series]
40 issues [1986 - 1990]
1 - 38, 40, 50

A very entertaining funny animal book from Fantagraphics, CRITTERS ran as an anthology with up to #38, then ran various full issue stories from #39 to #49, returning to the anthology format for a big finale for #50.

I didn't start reading it until after it was cancelled, soon after I started reading USAGI YOJIMBO and looking for all the earlier stories. I liked the rest of those issues enough to start picking up the non-Usagi issues (Sakai has work in about a third of the issues).

Of course some were harder to find than others, and I only finally finished my collection of the anthology issues earlier this year. I still haven't read all the continued stories that appeared in it, as I was waiting to have all the chapters. And you hardly ever see the non-anthology issues around (I suspect they might sometimes be filed by the feature name, like "Fission Chicken" or "Birthright").

Still worth keeping, even with all the Usagi stuff available in tradepaperbacks. The "Gnuff" series by Freddy Milton (a heavily Carl Barks inspired series about a dinosaur family) appears in about half the issues, and is always worth reading. A good mix of single issue stories and serialized stories throughout. Also notable, #23 has a flexidisc with Ty Templeton's "Teddy Payne" on one side and Alan Moore's "Sinister Ducks" on the other.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Random TV stuff

Yeah, haven't been posting much lately. Don't know why, it's not like I get a lot else done. I'm not sure this weblog has found the voice i wanted yet, so it's easier to post on one of the more focused ones. I'll have to get on that soon.

I have been watching a lot of TV recently. I was able to borrow an almost complete set of NEWSRADIO tapes, so I watched those. I loved that show when it was on, but missed a handful of episodes both originally and on syndication, so it was great to revisit the old favourites and get the occasional new shot. I can't believe how good that show was. I'm going to have to pick up the full season DVDs at some point (first two seasons are out, third apparently out next year). I hear the commentary tracks are really good.

I also just recently got into ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. I'm not sure why, but the show managed to fly completely under my radar for the first two seasons. I knew it existed, I knew Jeffrey Tambor, who I liked from the LARRY SANDERS days, was on it, but not much else. Fortunately that's been corrected now, just in time for the series to be cancelled, it seems. Ah well. Anyway, one nice thing about catching on to a series late is that I got to watch almost fifty episodes in just a few months, which really works for a show like this, which has a lot of running jokes and references to past episodes.

The news that John Spencer passed away prompted me to dig out some videos I kept of the first few seasons of THE WEST WING. For a while there, from the middle of the first season to early in the fourth, it was my favourite show on TV, so I still have tapes of most of those (those were the days before DVD box sets became inevitable for most shows. I probably should look into buying the early ones for WEST WING). I still watch the show, mostly out of habit and affection for the characters, but I forgot just how good it was when all the pieces were in place early on. And of course John Spencer's character, Leo McGarry, was an integral part of that, especially early on, I think it was his presence which held the show together long enough for the rest of the cast to catch up. Really not sure if I'll be able to watch the show without him, especially if it continues past this season.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mod and Mad

I've always liked this 1968 cover by Curt Swan and Neal Adams, especially the unique integration of the logo into the action, but seeing it with this extra promotional dress from a period house ad makes me absolutely love it. "Mod and Mad"? So, so, hip...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

THE QUESTION by O'Neil/Cowan #31 - #36


Bit late on this, as I had misplaced one of the issues. Finishing up the "monthly" run of the book, with Malcolm Jones III still the regular inker.

#31 - "Boom. The End." sees some old housing projects, where Vic once lived, scheduled for demolition. Unfortunately some street gang squatters have other ideas, and take Myra hostage in there. A very simple but effective issue, with a lot of nice touches that point towards the eventual end of the series, the importance of Vic's childhood experiences to his current place.

This issue also has a pin-up of Vic and Tot in a library where Vic peruses a printout of the Recommended Reading List to date, which is cute.

#32 - "The Peacemaker" is a bit of an oddity as the main characters don't really figure into the main story. Vic and Myra appear in a few pages in the middle, furthering his own inner conflicts, but the main story is about a Vietnam vet who is brought into a neighbourhood watch program, and his own flashbacks and reactions. Not a totally successful departure, but it had its moments, including a rather depressing ending.

#33 - "Harold" is the last of this stretch of single issue stories, and introduces a character who would eventually go on to a regular supporting gig in the Batman books, the mute mechanical genius hunchback of the title. The main story this time revolves around a psycho killer being hired by a judge to kill Myra, forcing her and her daughter on the run where they're fortunately helped by Harold while Vic is mostly ineffective.

#34 - "were it not that I have bad dreams" begins the final story arc for the series, with Carlos Garzon guest inking. The city spirals into even worse chaos, and Vic is unable to handle it, finally cracking amidst exhaustion and hallucinations about his mother. Myra handles her problems a bit better, and Richard Dragon finally comes to town to help. I like bits of this issue a lot, but overall not one of my favourites, especially with the art looking very rushed.

#35 - "Let Nothing You Dismay" brings Izzy into the crisis-of-confidence party, as he pursues a Question impersonator, while Myra and Richard continue the search for Vic. A good issue, but mostly just a warm-up for the grand finale...

#36 - "Or Maybe Gomorrah" brings it all to a close, with several brilliant bits, Richard's revelation being on the top of that list. Don't want to spoil that for anyone who hasn't read it, but it took me by surprise. Anyway, it's a good resolution to the series, as Vic finally decides he has to leave Hub City, and Myra decides she can't. A fitting end to a great series, sometimes I think they should have stopped here, as some of the subsequent stuff, while entertaining, detracts from the ending as Vic keeps returning to the Hub.

Still to come, a GREEN ARROW Annual, some QUARTERLY issues, the RETURN and a few other appearances of Vic Sage.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My Collection - GRIMJACK [1984 Series]

Grimjack [1984 series]
38 issues [1984 - 1990]
1 - 8, 11 - 15, 21 - 26, 37 - 44, 46, 50, 52 - 53, 60, 63 - 64, 68 - 70, 74

Long running science fiction series created by John Ostrander and Tim Truman, first showing up as a back-up in STARSLAYER. Truman was aboard as artist for the first little while, until he started up SCOUT at Eclipse, and then various artists continued with Ostrander until #81. Recently revived in a mini-series by Ostrander/Truman and reprint collections at IDW. The title character is John Gaunt, a mercenary operating in the transdimensional city of Cynosure.

I didn't start reading the book until around the time it was cancelled, originally picking up a few based on the back-up stories done by various guest artists ("Munden's Bar" stories, set in a bar owned by Grimjack and allowing for guest characters from any dimension). I liked those enough, and liked Truman's work in other books, that when I saw a good run of the early issues for sale I picked those up, and since then have picked up the rest I have. I haven't actually read the main story in all of them yet, partly because I have a lot of single chapters of larger stories, and partly because I have some trouble with a few of the post-Truman regular artists (I like Tom Mandrake's run in the middle a lot, but Tom Sutton and Flint Henry don't quite do it for me on first glance. I might change my mind when I actually read more of the stories).

Noteworthy issues:

#1 is a good intro story, with lots of hints for the future and character establishing bits

#12 - #15 had some good single issue lead stories, and backups by John Totleben, Phil Foglio and Bill Messner-Loebs

#42 is a nice example of Tom Mandrake's run, and the first issue I ever read thanks to the really weird back-up drawn by Larry Marder

Monday, December 05, 2005

Stuff of Interest - February 2006

Here for the Kirby. Kind of a slow month overall, but a few really good bits.

by Osamu Tezuka
In the 25th century, a Japanese woman named Romy establishes a civilization and history for the formerly uninhabited planet, Eden-17. Her husband dies an unnatural death, but the life she carries inside her holds a great mystery...
SC, 424pgs, B&W $16.99

Cool. It's been over a year since the last volume, I was beginning to think they might not finish the series. And a nice thick volume, too. By they way, all these Phoenix covers are pretty interchangeable, aren't they?

by Batton Lash
In this homage to Famous Monsters, attorneys Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd must deal with a crazed werewolf, a reluctant vampire, and — scariest of all! — an annoying TV shrink! Plus, guest pinups and the letters pages!
32pgs, B&W $3.50

So I guess this series has gone the MILK AND CHEESE route and every issue is going to be a "#1" (the previous one-shot was the "First Amendment" issue). Hope it helps in a comics market that doesn't reward longevity.

by William Messner-Loebs
When Ben Franklin dies and goes to heaven, he discovers that God has been replaced by the ancient Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius... and then the wild times begin! Out of print for decades, this fine work by Epicurus the Sage writer William Messner-Loebs is collected for the very first time!
24pgs, B&W $2.95

This is the story that appeared in the back of CEREBUS way back when, isn't it? I think I vaguely recall thinking it was pretty good back then, so good to see it being collected.

The hauntings continue! Last issue the rabbit ronin, Usagi Yojimbo, was faced with a mysterious and grisly murder at Geishu Castle, but the leading suspect was a woman who has been dead for ten years! Now, after another murder attempt, Usagi himself is believed to be the ruthless assassin! The long-eared wanderer must team with Tomoe and a distrustful bodyguard to solve the mystery of the Geishu ghost—before its razor-sharp claws carve into another victim. Catch the conclusion to the two-part “The Ghost in the Well,” this month from world-renowned storyteller Stan Sakai!
On sale February 22, b&w, 32pg. $2.99

Stan Sakai’s creation, the rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo, is one of the most beloved and enduring characters in comics today. With over twenty years of adventures throughout feudal Japan, countless awards, and a following that spans the globe, this long-eared samurai continues to attract life-long fans, and the comics master who tells his stories is the nicest guy around. Dark Horse is pleased to offer discriminating Usagi readers a poster-sized art print of this beautiful painting originally created for The Art of Usagi Yojimbo. Featuring Usagi, Tomoe, Gen, and sensei Katsuichi, these 17" x 24 1/2" prints are individually signed and numbered by Stan, printed on high-quality archival paper stock, and limited to an edition of only one hundred. Shipped flat and shrink-wrapped to a cardboard backing, they will arrive ready for framing.
FC, 17" x 24 1/2", signed and numbered, limited to 100, $100

The usual reliable issue of USAGI. Not so much interested in buying a $100 print, but that is a very nice image, and one of the few prints that would interest me.

by Joe Kubert
Sgt. Rock and the combat-happy Joes of Easy Company have seen it all — but they’ve never been served with a mission like this! Having picked up the “package” that could swing the war for the Allied forces, Rock, Easy and their Partisan guides begin the dangerous trek from Lithuania to Estonia. Little do they know that what they’re delivering could result in their own downfall. Has Easy Co. finally met its match? Not if Rock has anything to say about it!
On sale February 15 2 of 6 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Looks like some nice Men of Easy pin-ups on the covers for this series. Although I've read enough DC war comics to feel sorry for any cute dog who shows up in these stories.

Written and illustrated by various
Cover by Kevin Nowlan
This 192-page Superman collection revolves around the Daily Planet newspaper and its staff. Featuring classic stories with reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane, photographer Jimmy Olsen, Editor-in-chief Perry White, and many more – showing how far they will go to get a great story!

This volume reprints select stories from ACTION COMICS #211, 429, 436, and 461, SUPERMAN (first series) #280, SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND, LOIS LANE #17, 24, 45, and 56, SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #42, 63, 75, and 124.
on sale March 1 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Should be a fun collection, although its thunder is a bit stolen by the news that soon after DC will be publishing a SHOWCASE phonebook volumes including the first 22 issues of JIMMY OLSEN (and the first LOIS LANE tryout), a much more concentrated dose of classic Curt Swan artwork. But this should be good too. Wish they had a cover more representative of the interiors.

Written by Len Wein, Robert Kanigher, Gerry Conway and others
Art by Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Alex Toth and others
Cover by Joe Orlando
Do you dare to enter…the House of Mystery? Everyone who does will find a full 22 issues of this classic DC series! Beginning with editor Joe Orlando's first issue (#174), this 552-page black-and-white trade paperback features a wealth of art from macabre masters!
On sale Feb 8 552 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

It's probably a tie between that JIMMY OLSEN collection and this for the announced SHOWCASE b&w books I'm most looking forward to. Classic 1970s stuff mixed with a lot of 1950s stories (as the book was about a quarter reprint back then). A lot of the artists in this book look better in black and white, especially with the moody material in these stories, and a great price.

by Charles Vess & Various
Illustrated and presented by one of the leading artists in modern fantasy, Charles Vess, this unique collection of ballads, folktales, and magical sagas re-imagined in sequential art form features collaborations by an all-star cast of modern fantasists including Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith, Sharyn McCrumb, and Neil Gaiman. Finished with full lyrics and discographies of the classic versions of these songs and tales, The Book of Ballads is an event in the worlds of fantasy and graphic storytelling.
SC, 192pgs, FC SRP: $14.95

I posted about the hardcover that came out last year over here. Still highly recommended if you didn't get the previous edition.

Penciled by STEVE DITKO
Who - or what - is the Wani? And can Tako Shamara, latest in the line of men trained to combat the creature, stay its wrath? It’s a question of honor as the Dragon Lord debuts in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5 (March 1980). Plus: A colorful new bouncing, brawling crimebuster bursts forth in in SPEEDBALL #1 (September 1988). Also featuring “The Man in the Sky” from AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #14 (July 1962) - the first Marvel mutant story!?
48 PGS./RATED T+ ...$3.99

Seriously? Man, I kind of wish they'd gone with another issue of SPEEDBALL (this one was just reprinted, and the Guice inks don't do it for me), and maybe one of the many never-reprinted 5-pagers (although I guess neither reprint of this one was that high profile, and it is a good one). Still, loves me some Ditko. Also, seriously, "Rated T+"?

Written and illustrated by various
Cover by Alex Ross
Collecting some of the stand-out tales from the long history of the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, from the Silver Age through INFINITE CRISIS! Included here are JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #19, #77, #122, #166-168, JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, JLA SECRET FILES #1, JLA #61, and the 3-page origin from JLA #200, pencilled by George PĂ©rez!
On sale Feb 22 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Eh, wish I could be more excited by this, even understanding that the JLA/JSA stories are off-limits as they're in the CRISIS ON MULTIPLE books. #19 is good stuff, but #77 is really awful and #122 is mediocre. Don't know about the Conway thing, but apparently it's been referenced in some modern stuff. Kind of odd that they have nothing from the Englehart run (unless they're going to do a separate Englehart book at some point). And no JLDetroit? The JL #1 is good, but kind of loses impact as a standalone instead of a beginning, and the team hit their stride later, when guys like Max Lord and Booster and Beetle were established (although a lot of it is running gags, in-jokes and chracter stuff which might not work as well in a single sample). JLA #61 is one of the few modern ones I've read, and it was pretty bad, especially the art, probably chosen for the dubious virtue of being among the few single issue stories of the modern era. Kind of wish they included all of JLA #200, which had some great art, but that would eat up over a third of the too small page count for the book.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

EC - Beauty and the Beach (Kamen)

Beauty And The Beach!
art by Jack Kamen, story by Al Feldstein
Shock SuspenStories #7 (1953)

This was a bit of an unusual EC story in some ways. It begins with a split narrative, as we follow the stories of two women on a beach. One has a husband jealous of other men looking at her, the other has a husband who hates the sun (and kind of looks like how Robert Crumb draws himself). Usually when you get that kind of split narrative the storylines eventually intersect, but not in this case. These are effectively two similar but separate stories, as both women get job offers based on their beauty (beauty pageants and modeling), making their husbands increasingly frustrated as their careers take off, and plot grotesquely appropriate murders. That's also kind of unusual as the EC formula was normally based on some sort of turnaround where the final victim deserved what they got in some way, while here it just seems a bit cruel.

Of course the main point of the story seems to be to have as many opportunities as possible for Jack Kamen to draw women in sexy swimwear, and in that respect it's quite a success.

It also delivers one of the endings where "Good Lord" and "Choke" are both uttered as final exclamations.

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Collection - SOULSEARCHERS AND COMPANY [1993 Series]

Soulsearchers and Company [1993 series]
39 issues [1993 - 2003]
1 - 32, 34 - 37, 46, 60 - 61

This is a long-running, still on-going action/humour book published by Claypool, written by Peter David and Richard Howell, originally drawn by Amanda Conner (who still draws the covers) and then by a variety of artists, including Dave Cockrum for a long run, Neil Vokes, Marie Severin, Dan Spiegle and others, with Jim Mooney doing most of the inking through the first few years. Apparently it began life as a pitch by David and Howell for a team-book using pre-existing characters for another publisher, transformed to this when it didn't fly there. There were some guesses about exactly what characters in the letter column, but I don't think they ever confirmed it. Most people seem sure it was Marvel and involved some combination of Damon Hellstrom, Hellcat, the Scarlet Witch and/or a few other affiliated characters. But maybe none of those. Anyway, it's about a group of low-rent investigators of mystic happenings, including a young apprentice witch, a shape-shifter, a demon and others. Lots of laughs in every issue, including a lot of puns and pop-culture references (to movies, TV shows, other comics and the comic industry in general), as well as general character based humour. I doubt anyone will get every reference, I know I didn't, but there's enough that you would get to make it worthwhile.

I heard some good things about the book shortly after it started, and picked up an early issue (I think it was #4), and liked it well enough to start getting the book and eventually pick up the earlier issues.

It continued to be generally enjoyable, although with a few weak issues every now and then, but after a while I mostly stopped having comics pulled for me at the comic shop, and eventually I had more trouble finding it, and didn't really think each new issue was really adding a lot to the overall story, so I stopped getting it. Picked up a few issues here and there, and may pick up some more of those I'm missing eventually.

Recently news came down the wire that the book and its companion series DEADBEATS might be ending early next year if sales don't pick up. So I might check it out again.

A few favourites from what I have-

#3 was the best of the early ones, especially for those familiar with modern comics, as it features thinly veiled versions of Dream from SANDMAN and his Marvel counterpart Sleepwalker facing off.

#24 is a good example of Dave Cockrum's work on the title, and includes the explanation about why the group's founder is a talking prairie dog.

#31 is one of my favourite guest artist bits, with Marie Severin on the pencils, and a lot of goofy fun in the story.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

We Are Going to Eat You

Steve Bissette has just announced that he's inked a deal for a fully updated version of his history of cannibal movies, WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU, to be published in 2007, to be profusely illustrated with both archival movie promo material and original Bissette illustrations, including the cover. Despite not having seen most of the movies involved, except for the most "mainstream" (the Romero LIVING DEAD movies, TEXAS CHAINSAW and the like), I was fascinated by the topic when I heard Bissette had written it, and took advantage of his opportunity to get a copy of his original 1990 manuscript a few years ago (cover shown at right). It proved to be a fascinating history of both cinematic and cultural history of the 20th century, with aspects of cultural taboo, racial stereotyping, business dealings and more. Plus lots of great historical material and a half-dozen pages of Bissette art at his most grotesque. Lots of fun, and I'm sure it will be a lot better with access to the wealth of material made newly available in the ensuing years, plus more Bissette artwork.

This has been the offical sickly ironic American Thanksgiving post for the day.

Monday, November 21, 2005

That's how rumours get started...

I'll try to get back to posting more substantial stuff than amusing Archie covers soon. Until then, enjoy.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Jimmy Olsen reprints!

Latest DC solicitations are up. More on the handful of interesting things when I have information on the other publishers, but here was a pleasant surprise I almost missed, assuming at first it was a collection of modern stuff, thanks to the very good but very modern Nowlan cover.

Written and illustrated by various
Cover by Kevin Nowlan
This 192-page Superman collection revolves around the Daily Planet newspaper and its staff. Featuring classic stories with reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane, photographer Jimmy Olsen, Editor-in-chief Perry White, and many more - showing how far they will go to get a great story!
This volume reprints select stories from ACTION COMICS #211, 429, 436, and 461, SUPERMAN (first series) #280, SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND, LOIS LANE #17, 24, 45, and 56, SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #42, 63, 75, and 124.
Advance-solicited; on sale March 1 - 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Woo Hoo, crazy-ass JIMMY OLSEN and LOIS LANE reprints from the 1960s? I don't know what specific stories these are, but they should be fun.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dennizzle the Menizzle

Who knew Dennis the Menace was a hip-hop slang pioneer?

While this punchline was probably a bit less funny back when first published in 1957, the Fred Toole / Al Wiseman DENNIS comics are a lot of fun, much moreso I think than the original newspaper strip. Hopefully we'll see a decent reprint of them at some point.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wrong on...

... so many levels. Oh Archie, will you never learn?

Thanks, as they so often do, go out to the Grand Comics Database.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Patty Cake by Scott Roberts

While sorting through some stuff I came across this piece I'd forgotten about. If you ordered the full original 9-issue Permanent Press run of PATTY CAKE by Scott Roberts back in the late 1990s, it came with a backing board featuring an original sketch by Roberts, making it quite a bargain even without the great comics. This was the one with my set:

Read my previous post about a more recent issue of the book here. Visit the offical site, read some stories, order some issues (warning, music on site, make sure your speakers aren't too loud). Check out current publisher Slave Labor. The Pulse interviewed Roberts a while back, as did the 'Nuff Said radio show, so read and/or listen to those. And Amazon has many of the books listed (including, hey, it looks like a new collection early next year), with the "search inside" feature, so you can look at a lot of pages there.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The real reason...

People like to blame publishers like EC for the crackdown on comics in the mid-1950s that led to the Comics Code, but I think this circa 1954 issue of ARCHIE shows that publisher wasn't so innocent.

"Read how Archie treats his women rough!"? Clearly that in-house "Archie Approved Reading" labeling system was pretty lax. Also, "The Mirth of a Nation", a reference to a famously racist epic motion picture?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Stuff of Interest - January 2006

Stuff from the latest solicitations that I consider noteworthy for whatever reason. The Kirby specific version of this stuff is here.

by Osamu Tezuka
In Volume 7: Prince Ajatasattu, the headstrong young prince must reconcile with a prediction that he will murder his own father. He plans instead the assassination of the Buddha, blaming him for making his father believe this “bogus” prediction. Meanwhile, the Buddha'’s closest disciple, Devadatta, sees a great political opportunity to step the Buddha up in politics while King and Prince are at odds.
HC, 6x9, 414pgs, B&W $24.95

by Osamu Tezuka
In Volume 8: Jetavana, the Buddha has travelled back to his home in Kapilavastu to summon more followers. He delivers his final sermons in Jetavana, the forest of Buddhist lore where the Buddha is said to have spent the last several years of his life teaching. The very final sermon he gives is of the parable of the self-immolating rabbit, the very first story told in Tezuka'’s Buddha series at the beginning of Volume 1: Kapilavastu, but with a crucial difference which Buddhists refer to as the middle path. Sacrificing of the self to help others (as in the case of the rabbit), should not necessarily lead to death. All life is sacred.
HC, 6x9, 368pgs, B&W $24.95

The last two volumes of Tezuka's epic story. I've read up to volume 5 so far, and it's a very weird but often wonderful story.

by Winsor McCay
Celebrate the 100th birthday of Winsor McCay's masterpiece with thisoriginalrignal size, 120-page limited-edition hardbound volume. It features Nemo's best from 1905-1910, all printed in the actual newspaper-page size, 16" x 21". It was the greatest comic strip of its day, perhaps the greatest of all time, acclaimed the world over for its artistic majesty, unbounded imagination, and ground-breaking techniques that helped define a new art form. But since its debut 100 years ago, it has been all but impossible to view these masterpieces in their original size and colors.
HC, 16x21, 120pgs, FC $120.00

Can't come close to affording this, but having heard some of the reviews of it so far I'm still tempted. It is good to see this work getting a proper reproduction, and hopefully a few years down the line we'll see a slightly more modest production using the same quality source material but at a smaller size and more affordable price.

Written by Jerry Siegel
Art and cover by Joe Shuster
Presenting an exciting new way to experience the rich history of the Man of Steel in an affordable trade paperback collection of every Superman adventure, in color, in chronological order!
SUPERMAN CHRONICLES VOL. 1 reprints the earliest stories of the world's first super-hero, originally published in ACTION COMICS #1-13, NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR #1 and SUPERMAN #1 (1938-1939)! These historic tales feature the first adventures of the Man of Steel by Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Future volumes in this series will reprint stories from ACTION, SUPERMAN, WORLD'S FINEST and other titles throughout the character's history, all presented chronologically based on publication date!
On sale January 18 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I enjoyed the volume of Batman in the same format, and though I have most of this material in one form or another, I really like this and will probably pick this up and look forward to future volumes which will be all new to me.

Written by Jack Miller, Ed Herron, Gardner Fox and Bob Haney
Art by Jack Kirby, George Papp, Mike Sekowsky and Neal Adams
Cover by Lee Elias & Jerry Ordway
The Emerald Archer's Silver Age adventures get the spotlight! This volume reprints stories from ADVENTURE COMICS #250-266, 268-269, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #50, 71, 85, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #4, and WORLD'S FINEST #95-140. Along with his sidekick Speedy, see Green Arrow take on all manner of crime in Star City!
On sale Jan 18 528 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

The Kirby stuff was reprinted a few years ago in colour, but always worth seeing again, and the later stuff should be interesting. I've only seen a handful of the Papp era work, but it seemed fun.

On sale February 22, SC, 200pg, b&w w/FC, 9" x 12", $29.95
In the tradition of the celebrated collections The Art of Sin City and The Art of Hellboy, Dark Horse is proud to showcase the work of multi award-winning creator Stan Sakai in The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, offered in a softcover format for the first time. The sold-out hardcover edition, timed to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the creation of Sakai's signature character, Usagi Yojimbo, was met with an overwhelming response from thousands of fans around the world. This softcover edition will be printed on the same high-quality paper stock and will feature scores of never-before-seen pieces, a long out-of-print twelve-page primer illustrating how Stan creates each of his Usagi stories, forty-eight full-color pages of Stan's beautiful painted artwork, and more. Additionally, some of the biggest names in comics pay tribute to their favorite rabbit ronin in a fantastic gallery section, with pinups by Frank Miller, Geof Darrow, Jeff Smith, Sergio Aragones, and Matt Wagner, among others!

Kind of glad that I passed on the hardcover of this, which was very tempting. I'll probably pick this one up eventually, as Sakai's behind the scenes and painted material is always worth a look, and this is a good price for a thick deluxe volume.

On sale January 25, b&w, 24pg, $2.99
Master cartoonist Stan Sakai digs into a ghost story in this issue of Usagi Yojimbo!
Shortly after escaping their enslavement at the territory's edge, Usagi and the Geishu bodyguard Tomoe return to Lord Noriyuki's castle only to be greeted by a savage murder. The victim was a member of a trade delegation sent by Lord Kojima, and all evidence implicates a maid who died ten years ago! Unless Tomoe and the long-eared ronin can solve this mystery, treaty negotiations will dissolve completely and another throat may be clawed out. What is the dark story behind the ghost of Geishu Castle? The hauntings begin in this first half of a two-part story, "The Ghost in the Well"!

And of course the usual ongoing USAGI series, still going strong. Just caught up on the last few months recently, and the current story (which will be done before this issue) is excellent, and Sakai does good work on the shorter stories as well.

by Donna Barr
The story of the Desert Peach's entire life, by the side of the Desert Fox, from their early boyhoods through two world wars. How they and Germany got that way and why. The much-promised, finally finished - and today exceedingly pertinent.
Novel, SC, 6x9, 350pgs, B&W $21.95

Hm, interesting that Barr is doing a prose novel for her long running series. I'm not quite sure yet if I'm going to read it, but I might. I wonder if there'll be a lot of background that never made it into the comic. Odd cover, though.

Written by Wendy & Richard Pini
Art and cover by Wendy Pini
The next thrilling chapter in the ElfQuest saga begins in this all-new bimonthly miniseries by Wendy and Richard Pini! Cutter's son Sunbeam has been hibernating, but his soul self has been exploring the world of Two Moons. He has made contact with an underwater tribe, one that fears all life on the surface. When Sunbeam experiences Recognition with one of the sea denizens, he leads his fellow Wolfriders on the beginning of a new journey, one promising discovery, danger and romance!
On sale January 11 1 of 4 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

I wasn't that impressed with the last Elfquest book, and I'm really not sure that I care about them introducing yet another Elf tribe. That's the last thing they need. But I'll take a look at this and maybe try the eventual collection.

by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Collecting The Birth Caul, Snakes and Ladders, the acclaimed interview with Alan Moore by Eddie Campbell from Egomania, and featuring a never-before-seen sketchbook of the working drawings for Snakes and Ladders.
HC, 7x10 $19.99

I have the two books and the interview collected in here, but if you don't they're well worth the price to get them in one deluxe volume. I'm a bit sorry that they're publishing this in a 7x10 volume, the same size as the originals, as I think the work would have benefitted by a slightly larger format, and would have justified re-buying the material, but I trust Campbell to make sure it looks good. Put it on the someday list.

On sale February 8, SC, 200pg, b&w, 6" x 9", $9.95
Long hailed as one of the best (and funniest) comic books ever published, Little Lulu is once again a reading staple for kids of all ages thanks to these new collections of the classic material!
Whether she's spinning the tallest tale of her life to sooth the savage neighbor tot Alvin, hatching schemes to invite both friends AND enemies to her birthday party, or winning prizes in a ski-jump contest she hasn't even entered, Little Lulu's adorable antics will leave you breathless with laughing and eager to keep reading!

Been picking up the volumes published to date, and this is consistently great stuff, well reproduced at a great price. I'm still hoping they do a best of collection in colour, including the stories where colour is really important. There's usually at least one in each collection.

by Steve Diitko
The Thing! is one of the most sought-after series by Ditko and pre-Code fans alike. Packed with wild ideas and wilder images, The Thing! #12-15 feature some of Steve Diitko's earliest work in the field of comics. It's almost 100 pages of the kind of comics your parents didn't want you to see. Also included in this volume are some of Ditko's best work for the Charlton horror books. Save yourself hundreds of dollars and years of search for some of Ditko's most sensational work!
SC, 8x11, 160pgs, B&W $25.00

Another collection from Pure Imagination, making this effectively the third volume of the DITKO READER series. It should be some great stuff, although I kind of wish the book had more than just the horror work. I always like the mix of genres in the two READER volumes, with some western, war, fantasy and sci-fi stories with the horror.

by Mark Crilley
The most popular issues of Mark Crilley's award winning Akiko series are collected in a brand-new, manga-sized edition! Akiko and her intergalactic friends from the planet Smoo reunite to share stories of their past solo adventures. Follow Spuckler's dangerous mission to rescue a friend from space prison. Mr. Beeba launches a treasure hunt to find the missing chapter of a legendary story, while Gax leads a robot revolution on a derelict spacecraft. Finally, the floating head Poog revisits his home world.
SC, 6x9, 144pgs, B&W $11.95

by Mark Crilley
Collecting issues #26-31 of the Akiko series in a brand-new, manga-sized edition, plus brand-new bonus material not found in the original edition! To save the life of Mr. Beeba's mentor, Akiko and her intergalactic friends (including Prince Froptoppit) search the planet Smoo for an infamous healing potion, Bornstone's Elixir. But when the gang meets up with a dashing hero named Kell, the Prince succumbs to intense jealousy. What will tear the gang apart first: petty rivalries, or the fantastic monsters and hungry giants that guard the potion?
SC, 6x9, 112pgs, B&W $9.95

I already have the full size versions of both these books, so I'll pass on these versions, but it's good to see them continuing, raising the hope that we'll see the series continue onto the thus far uncollected issues. It's great stuff, if you haven't read it before.

written by BOB BURDEN
cover by BOB BURDEN
Finally: proof that the Flaming Carrot is REAL!!! With comics on the fast track to the movie screen, isn't it time that the movie screen came to comics? Flaming Carrot's great detective-ness gets to the bottom of a mysterious series of events at a comic convention! Everyone's pockets are disappearing! Will Flaming Carrot discover the mystery in time or get side-tracked by the convention sirens? Fun, action and numerous cameos by comic book celebrities!
January 5 32 pg FC $3.50

I'm not that interested in a this photo comic, but it promises to look odd at the very least, and Burden seems to be excited by it, which usually leads to some high insanity.

Written by Joe Kubert
Art by Kubert
Comics legend Joe Kubert returns to DC's legendary unit in the all-new 6-issue miniseries SGT. ROCK: THE PROPHECY, based on a true story! From North Africa to the Rhine, Sgt. Rock and the combat-happy Joes of Easy Company have faced insurmountable odds thrown at them by the Axis powers and lived to tell the tale. But when they find themselves caught in the No Man's Land of the Balkans searching for a religious prize that could ultimately decide the outcome of WWII, have our heroes finally been given a mission that will stop them in their tracks? It's 1943, and World War II has reached fever pitch. Somewhere deep within a smoldering, war-torn village in Nazi-occupied Lithuania hides a secret treasure that must be found and returned to the U.S. - unharmed - by any means necessary.
It's up to the trusted G.I.s of Easy to save the day. But once they discover what the "prize" really is, will they be able to follow through with the mission? More important, will they want to?
Join Rock, Ice Cream Soldier, Bulldozer, Little Sure Shot and the rest of Easy this month for this hard-hitting and provocative tale told as only Joe Kubert could deliver it!
On sale January 18 1 of 6 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I'm pretty sure to either pick this up or pick up the eventual collection (I didn't bother with the previous Azzarello written ROCK book). A beautiful cover there. I'm not as sold on Kubert's writing Rock, based on past examples, but the art should make up for that.

(Doug Moench/Herb Trimpe, Jim Mooney & Tom Sutton) Collects Godzilla #1-24. Godzilla shrinks, goes West, travels through time and hosts one of Spider-Man's most gratuitous guest-shots ever. 432 pp B&W $19.99

I've been disappointed that the ESSENTIAL line seemed to move to mostly 1970s and 1980s stuff before finishing up the classic and more worthy 1960s stuff (although a few of them, like TOMB OF DRACULA, were well worth picking up). I'm not sure yet if I'll be picking up this one (which is thinner and more expensive than the regular volumes, since they had to secure the rights to the Big G). I've read a few issues, and they're goofy enough fun, and I thought it was a good match for Trimpe's style in particular. I'll probably get it. Better than ESSENTIAL IRON FIST, at least.

Written by Alan Moore
Art by Jim Aparo, Jim Baikie, Brian Bolland, Paris Cullins, George Freeman, Dave Gibbons, Klaus Janson, Kevin O'Neill, Joe Orlando, George Perez, Kurt Schaffenberger, Curt Swan, Rick Veitch, Al Williamson and Bill Willingham
Cover by Brian Bolland
Don't miss this exhaustive collection featuring the World's Greatest Super-Heroes as interpreted by one of the most acclaimed authors in comics! The work of Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) in the DCU during the 1980s is considered a benchmark for great stories with fresh approaches to iconic characters. Collected in this volume are all of Moore's Superman and Batman stories, including the long out-of-print "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" as well as, for the first time in trade paperback, BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE (illustrated by Brian Bolland, who provides a new cover).

This volume - which no comics fan should be without - collects stories from ACTION COMICS #584, BATMAN ANNUAL #11, BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, DC COMICS PRESENTS #85, DETECTIVE COMICS #549-550, GREEN LANTERN #188, THE OMEGA MEN #26-27, SECRET ORIGINS #10, SUPERMAN #423, TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS ANNUAL #2 & 3, SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11 and VIGILANTE #17-18.
On sale January 11 304 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Still kind of pissed at this, as I had picked up the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE book which this supersedes, 100 fewer pages and at the same price. I wouldn't mind so much if this wasn't still incomplete, not including Moore's unreprinted first SWAMP THING issue or other stuff which would fit nicely. Also, technically nice but kind of boring cover (as was Gibbons cover for the previous version).

On sale February 22, HC, 208pg, FC, 6 1/4" x 10 1/4", $49.95
A stunning, five-part adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Return of Tarzan highlights this archival collection, which reprints Joe Kubert's Tarzan comics, issues 215 through 224. With color restoration based off of Tatjana Wood's original colors, this beautiful hardcover is a must-have for fans of pulse-pounding adventure tales and students of the graphic narrative. Writing, drawing, and editing a monthly Tarzan comic-book series in the 1970s, Joe Kubert was able to illustrate the adventures of his childhood hero and produce some of the most engaging pages of his career. Tarzan: The Joe Kubert Years Volume 2, also includes "Death is My Brother," "The Renegades," "The Black Queen," and other dynamic stories inspired by Burroughs' classic books.
Reprinting Tarzan issues #215-#224 (originally published by DC Comics)
Introduction by Joe Kubert!

Wish they were releasing this at a more reasonable price. I passed on the first volume, since i have most of the original issues for that one, but almost all of this would be new to me. Great stuff, well worth picking up if you don't mind the price.

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