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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - July Previews summary

Slimmer than normal selection for noteworthy books this time, but then I didn't get much of a chance to look in depth, so I'm sure I missed some stuff. Cover of the month is probably whichever cover they choose for the PHANTOM STRANGER book. That run had some nice covers.... Book of the month is Tezuka's ODE TO KIRIHITO if it lives up to what I've heard about it.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - LOEG: The Black Dossier


Written by Alan Moore; Art and Cover by Kevin O'Neill

Acclaimed writer Alan Moore once again joins forces with artist Kevin O'Neill for THE BLACK DOSSIER — a stunning original hardcover graphic novel that is the next chapter in the fantastic saga of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN!

England in the mid-1950s is not the same as it was. The powers that be have instituted some changes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have been disbanded and disavowed, and the country is under the control of an iron-fisted regime. Now, after many years, the still youthful Mina Murray and a rejuvenated Allan Quatermain return in search of some answers — answers that can only be found in a book buried deep in the vaults of their old headquarters — a book that holds the key to the hidden history of the League throughout the ages: The Black Dossier. As Allan and Mina delve into the details of their precursors, some dating back centuries, they must elude their dangerous pursuers who are hellbent on retrieving the lost manuscript…and ending the League once and for all.

THE BLACK DOSSIER is an elaborately designed, cutting-edge volume that includes a "Tijuana Bible" insert and a 3-D section complete with custom glasses, as well as additional text pieces, maps, and a stunning cutaway double-page spread of Captain Nemo's Nautilus submarine by Kevin O'Neill. Don't miss what's sure to be one of the most talked-about books of 2006!

America's Best Comics 208pg. Color Hardcover $29.99 US

I'm not always interested in a lot of Moore's current work, since about the time FROM HELL ended, but LOEG (or, as the cool kids call it, LXG) is one that I still get some enjoyment from, and I'm glad to see it being released in a more logical single volume this time around, given the schedule the serialized versions wound up following. Not sure I want to pick up the hardcover, though, but I'll be there for the eventual tradepaperback. Or watch the movie version...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger


Written by Bob Kanigher, Dennis O'Neil, Gerry Conway, John Broome, Len Wein, and others
Art by Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo, Murphy Anderson, Neal Adams, and others

Over 500 pages of supernatural phenomena with tales from the Phantom Stranger and his skeptical counterpart Dr. 13! This volume reprints Showcase #80 and spooky tales from The Phantom Stranger #1-21.

on sale October 18 544 pg, B&W $16.99

The SHOWCASE books have been pretty great so far, and this looks to continue that trend (a few more months and we'll get to the first one I plan to skip), with a good mix of 1950s reprints and early 1970s originals, with some great artists.

I especially love that Aparo cover I used above, which probably won't be the cover used for the actual book.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Usagi Yojimbo #97


Discover the secret of “Hamanaka’s Treasure” in this conclusion to the two-part adventure presented by internationally acclaimed storyteller Stan Sakai! All hell has broken loose in a small town after the death of crime boss Hamanaka. The two remaining factions of his gang are vying for control of the community, but it’s the townspeople who are suffering the most. The tension comes to a head just as our favorite rabbit bodyguard, Usagi Yojimbo, arrives upon the scene!

On sale September 27, b&w, 24pg, $2.99

Looks to be an excellent run of stories coming up. I wonder if there's anything big planned for #100 (considering #100 is actually #160something).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - E-Man: Recharged

by Cuti, Staton, & Webb

E-Man, the pure energy being from the stars, returns to comics in this all-new, full-color, extra-sized story. The original creators reunite E-Man with his girlfriend Nova Kane and their arch-nemesis, The Brain from Sirius. It's all-out action, adventure, and fun in the proud E-Man tradition.
32pgs, Full Colour $3.99

Digital Webbing JUL063100

Several pages of previews over on the site linked above. I have a soft spot in my heart for E-Man going back to the original Charlton series, and Staton's art looks as sharp as ever. This also reminds me that there are still a bunch of back issues of the series that I need.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Abraxas and the Earthman

by Rick Veitch

Rick Veitch's unforgettable 8-part Epic Magazine series is finally one mind-bending full-color graphic novel! Abducted from Earth by space whalers, Cetologist John Isaac endures physical and spiritual mutation by order of the ship's cruel master, Rotwang. Pressed into the mad captain's hunt for Abraxas, Isaac finds his own destiny in the belly of this monstrous red-horned whale.

Softcover, 88pgs, Full Colour $16.95
King Hell JUL063278

I read a few chapters of this in various issues of EPIC, and it seemed pretty odd, full of the alternatingly fascinating and maddening things that characterize most of Veitch's work. Better than a lot of stuff in EPIC. The artwork was especially cool. It'll be interesting to see the whole thing.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Popeye v1 by Segar

by E.C. Segar

Fantagraphics’ Popeye will collect the complete run of Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip (dailies and color Sundays) featuring Popeye, re-establishing Segar as one of the first rank of cartoonists who have elevated the comic strip to art. He was the most popular cartoonist of his day, his sense of humor coming straight out of Mark Twain. In this first volume, covering 1928-1930, Popeye’s initial courtship of Olive Oyl takes center stage while Olive’s brother Castor Oyl discovers the mysterious Whiffle Hen. Also, the entire cast meets the Sea Hag for the first time in their pursuit of the “Mystery House” (Popeye’s first extended daily narrative), and Castor Oyl attempts to turn Popeye into a boxing champion in a series of hilarious Sunday strips. These strips pre-figure the rise of superheroes in the 1930s and 1940s.
Hardcover, 11x17, 200pgs, $29.95
Fantagraphics Books JUL063133

I've read some of Segar's early stuff in various reprints before, and it's really funny work, a lot better than you'd expect from most non-Segar Popeye in comics or cartoons. Good to see it added to the list of comic strips getting good comprehensive reprints.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Castle Waiting v2#2

by Linda Medley

Chapter three of “Interiors” wraps up with a flashback to young Jain paying a visit to her charming older sisters at the King's court. Upon returning home, she finds an equally charming visitor of her own waiting for her. Chapter four opens back at the present-day Castle, as unexpected guests arrive. Medley’s sharp pen and even sharper storytelling create a delightfully adventurous universe!
40pgs, $4.75
Fantagraphics Books JUL063130

The first all-new issue of the new series, coming out a lot sooner than I had expected. Good to see Medley getting right back into it after the long publishing gap. I'm looking forward to finally getting some answers about Jain's past.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Runaway Comic #2

by Mark Martin

Mark Martin is still on the run with his tirelessly wacky comic, Runaway. This second issue is even intenser than ever with: the second chapter in the Montgomery Wart wherein Monty’s bug fib is exposed and he and Murg get their a**es whupped; the Adventures of Skinny Benny, a tale in which YOU choose the ending; and the extra content-filling bonus section called “Jabberous Offline”.
24 pages $3.50
Fantagraphics Books JUL063135

Really liked the first issue a few months back, so good to see another one coming up soon. Definitely a breath of fresh air.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tripping - UK photos

Yes, vacation photos. Feel free to skip if that's not to your taste.

I got a new camera just before I left, my first digital camera, so I did a lot of clicking. About 1500 photos in all, which is probably more than I'd taken in my life before this camera. A lot of those didn't come out good, of course, because I was playing with the camera settings, and I'm not a very good photographer, but the good thing about digital is that you can freely take lousy photos.

As I mentioned, one of my favourite things in the UK were the RAF Museums. This is from the RAF London, one of the coolest displays, a Hurricane that crashed during the Battle of Britain, recovered in the 1970s.

Another plane from the Battle of Britain building at the RAF Museum.

A panoramic view of one of the hangars at RAF Cosford. Hey, the camera does panoramic, I had to see how well it did it, and this was a cool view.

Over in Coventry, they're still doing some excavations around the Coventry Catherdral that was bombed in WWII. This is a cool floor mosaic called "Cofa's Tree", which is where the city got its name.

The Natural History Museum had a lot of nice displays, including the Meteor display (photos from there didn't come out too well, a bit too dark) and some stuff on evolution. But the highlight of course is the dinosaurs (I love the way the signs directing you to the dinosaurs take you almost through the full museum to get there, when there's an unsigned shortcut right off the entrance).

Lots of great skeletons and models, leading of course to the giant animatronic T. rex. Sure, it's a gimmick, but man is it one cool gimmick.

My first view of Big Ben. Which yeah, is a bit touristy to take a photo of, but I did want to mention that photos really don't do justice to it and the whole structure. Also, I liked the way this angle caught two distinctively Londony things.

I also liked the dragons around the city, many of which looked really cool.

The British Museum had some great stuff, of course, especially the Egyptian rooms and the Greek stuff. I always like sculptures of horses. The sculptors always seem to same their most inspired work for the horses.

The Rosetta Stone is the big name display piece at the British Museum right now, of course. You can tell by the Rosetta Stone paperweights and Rosetta Stone chocolate for sale in the gift shop (I picked up the Rosetta Stone shaped keychain). Anyway, pretty cool to see it in person and up close.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Making Comics by McCloud


by Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud, acclaimed illustrator and renowned author of Understanding Comics, focuses his critical analysis on the art form itself, exploring the creation of comics, from the broadest principles to the most minute of artistic details.
SC, 7x10, 272pgs, $22.95
Harper JUL063708

Comics, manga and graphic novels? Aren't those three words that mean the same thing?

Anyway, I'm not really sure if I'm looking forward to this or not. I liked UNDERSTANDING COMICS quite a bit when it came out, though it had some flaws that time has magnified, but couldn't even finish REINVENTING COMICS. And part of me just wants McCloud to get back to actually making comics rather than writing about making comics. Although ABRAHAM LINCOLN suggests that might not be a good idea either... I'm sure I'll read this eventually, and from the bits I've seen at least McCloud's work on computer has improved since LINCOLN.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Gumby #3


by Burden, Geary, Oliff

When Gumby spies a cool pair of Uber Boots but has no money to buy them, he up and joins the Circus to pay for the boots — only to come under the mind control of the evil Ringmaster! Can Gumby be saved, and will he get his Uber Boots? Find out all the answers as this series just get's hotter and hotter! This issue comes with a free DVD that contains a Gumby episode! Enjoy!

32pgs, Full Colour $3.99
Wildcard Ink JUL063562

Monthly Rick Geary and Bob Burden on Gumby? Wow. Same cover they used in the solicitation for #2, so one of those is wrong. Looks great in colour, though. And the free DVD does take a bit of the sting out of the slightly high cover price. I don't think I've ever seen a complete Gumby cartoon.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tripping - UK 2006 thoughts

As I mentioned, I spent a few weeks in the UK recently. First time I'd been there. Quite an interesting contrast to Toronto, where hardly anything is more than a few decades old (and those things that are older don't really fit). I liked the place overall, and wouldn't mind returning with some more time to do things and some more concrete plans (I pretty much played it by ear this time around, between family obligations that dominated a fair bit of time). June also seems to be a good time to visit, beating most of the tourist rush from North America, and with some great weather (I could have done with a little less sunlight, though. No one warns you about that unrelenting London sun. Does it never rain there?).

Might as well start with the comics stuff. I made it to three comic shops while I was there. The first two (Nostalgia and Comics in Birmingham and Gosh in London) were really good shops, but didn't offer much in the way of stuff that wasn't readily available locally (except those softcover Marvel Masterworks, more on those on the Kirby Weblog soon). Still, really good selection of graphic novels and such in both, very well organized. The third shop, 30th Century Comics in London (near Putney Bridge) was the one where I actually found stuff to buy, thanks to their good selection of actual British comics. In particular, I bought about a dozen issues of COMMANDO from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, and could easily have picked up a few dozen more of those and the other digest sized "picture library" series if I wasn't reluctant to drag those around. I also picked a few of the Alan Class published black and white reprints of American comics from the 1970s, one with a Kirby monster cover from Marvel, one with a Ditko sci-fi cover from Charlton. More one those in the future on other weblogs (for those interested in the Alan Class book, the store had Class's file copies for sale, each with a signed certificate. I kind of thought they were overpriced, and only picked up unsigned issues, but if that's your thing there it is). I also picked up a few issues of COMICS FORUM, a UK fanzine from the 1990s, and a copy of CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT #1 (which for some reason I never could find before). Anyway, good store, with a lot of other UK published comics (a lot of the hardcover Annuals), as well as a good selection of the usual American comics.

I'm led to believe that the best source for issues of COMMANDO and the like are "boot sales" (which I guess are some sort of combination of what we call flea markets or garage sales). I saw signs for a few of them at various places, but I didn't manage to make it to any.

I also checked out the comics available on newstands and bookstores. Some pretty good graphic novel sections in the chain stores I saw. The newstands also had some UK versions of American comics, in the format of triple sized monthly books, usually with two consecutive chapters of a storyline from about two or three years ago and one older reprint (the FANTASTIC FOUR book, for example, reprints a pair of issues from the recent Mark Waid written run with a Kirby/Lee reprint in the back). Kind of unusual, I guess most people really interested in that stuff would either get the US issues or the tradepaperbacks, but it's good that the casual fans are getting exposed to some of the Kirby and Ditko stuff. I also kept an eye open for current issues of COMMANDO, and finally found some on my last Friday there. A WH Smith store had one set of the most recent releases (they release four every two weeks). So I picked up a pair.

Surprisingly, the comics were actually a very minor part of my time there (although they did make up a good percentage of my shopping budget). I really enjoyed just walking around London and Birmingham, with a lot to see in both places. Very confusing to figure them out, though. Someone should really tell them that if they're ever invaded by the Germans or Russians or French or Canadians, poor signage isn't really going to slow down the invasion force. Well, maybe the Canadians.... The bus tour of London is also a nice way to see the city. I didn't get to see nearly as many of the museums as I would have liked, but I did really like the British Museum (with the Rosetta Stone as their current big display piece). The Natural History Museum was also really good, in particular the massive dinosaur section featuring a big robot T. Rex. My favourite was probably the Royal Air Force Museum in London (the one in Cosford is nice, as well, but it's more on post-WWII planes and my interest is mostly stuff from before jet planes). Some really great displays in the main buildings on the history of flight and the RAF in the wars, and then a building devoted to the Battle of Britain. A really nice presentation, including a 15 minute film and lots of displays on various aspects of the era.

Well, there was a lot more, but that's enough for now. I might post a few pictures later on.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Kirihito by Tezuka


by Osamu Tezuka

Dr. Osanai Kirihito has uncovered a fatal medical condition that transforms humans into dog-like beasts. In pursuit of the Monmow Disease, Dr. Kirihito catches the disease himself, and becomes his own patient. Christian dogmas of charity, redemption, and human compassion are put to the ultimate test!

Softcover, 828pgs, B&W $24.95

This sounds like one seriously odd but interesting book. Interesting choice to release it all in one big chunk like this, too. Provided the binding is okay, I approve, though I might have liked to see a hardcover edition.

Also this month from Vertical, the third paperback volume of Tezuka's BUDDHA.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I returneth

Back from my stay in the UK. Very fun but very hectic and tiring as well. I'll post about a few things in the next week, so consider that either a promise or a warning depending on how you feel about reading other people's trip reports. Haven't had much time for reading in the past few weeks (although I did get some comic book related stuff I'm looking forward to, more on those later). Anyway, much more soon.
Weblog by BobH [bobh1970 at gmail dot com]