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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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