Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 Comics highlights

I'm sure a lot of the best of 2006 I won't get around to reading until later years, and I didn't get around to writing on this were weblog about a lot of them that I did read, but here's a list of a few highlights I got or look forward to getting.

The publication of Osamu Tezuka's PHOENIX finally continued after nothing in 2005, with at four volumes out this year, "Nostalgia", two volumes of "Civil War" (with "Robe of Feathers" included in the second) and "Strange Beings / Life". One more story, "Sun", of an unknown number of volumes, still to come. I really do need to get caught up on these, but I can say that "Nostalgia" was some strange-ass shit.

Or at least I thought so until I read Tezuka's ODE TO KIRIHITO, which brings Tezuka strange-ass shit to a whole new level. I'm still trying to figure that one, more thoughts on it soon, but parts of it were definitely brilliant, if disturbing.

Big year for Tezuka, as I think the last bits of BUDDHA came out early this year (or maybe late last year). Another one I haven't gotten around to catching up on yet.

Awful lot of Jack Kirby stuff came out, some of it long overdue. Some good Ditko as well.

The loss of Alex Toth this year was mitigated slightly by the publication of DEAR JOHN - THE ALEX TOTH DOODLE BOOK, a great collection of some of his letters and sketches and notes on stories.

Linda Medley's CASTLE WAITING returned with both a gorgeous collection of the earlier material and a new series picking up where she left off. Both are recommended.

USAGI YOJIMBO continued at its regular pace, with some good short stories, and is getting close to the symbolically major #100 issue of the current series.

Mark Martin returned with a new series, RUNAWAY COMIC, which was a welcome dose of high-energy insanity, which you can also sample on his blog (where the current storyline has Steve Bissette losing his head).

And more insanity with Bob Burden returning to GUMBY, and bringing Rick Geary along. Seems to have fallen behind schedule almost out the gate, so I've only read #1, but I hear #2 is out now and even stranger, so hopefully a lot more to come in 2007.

And is mentioned recently, it was good to see Ploog and DeMatteis return to ABADAZAD in a new format this year. Looking forward to seeing the story move to new ground in the future.

Lots of big comic strip reprints. Two volumes of COMPLETE PEANUTS, the second WALT & SKEEZIX, the first volume of POPEYE, a big cheap SUPERMAN: THE DAILIES book back when a movie with a similar character came out. Lots of classic reading in those.

And a lot of comic book reprints of note, as well. DC really bought into its SHOWCASE line of thick b&w reprints with about a dozen volumes and came out with a lot of stuff I never thought we'd see reprinted, like over 500 pages of early Haunted Tank stories, early Jimmy Olsen, Elongated Man. Marvel's similar ESSENTIAL line also continued with a few major releases but mostly concentrating on their slightly less interesting (to me) 1970s books. We also got some nice inexpensive Disney reprints of Don Rosa's "companion" stories to his LIFE OF SCROOGE series and Carl Barks stories that inspired the DUCKTALES cartoon (although the colouring wasn't great in the Barks books). And it was good to see some of Walt Kelly's earlier work from the OUR GANG comics reprinted, although I'm not sure I'll be back for a second taste. I'd rather see Kelly in his prime with some POGO books. And of course we got a lot of LITTLE LULU reprints by Stanley&Tripp, including one book in colour. And the new series of hardcover colour EC reprints began, so those will be tempting me for a while.

A few major original works by major creators caught my eye. Alison Bechdel's FUN HOME is getting a lot of year-end list attention, and I'll just say that they aren't wrong. Eddie Campbell's THE FATE OF THE ARTIST didn't entirely work for me, but the parts that did worked very well, and even not-quite-there-Campbell is worth reading. David Lloyd's KICKBACK was a good crime drama, a bit light maybe and with a few flaws, but with some great artwork. Scott McCloud makes his "... COMICS" series into a trilogy with MAKING COMICS, which I'm still trying to wrap my head around. The first time through I wasn't that impressed, while acknowledging that I really wasn't the target for a lot of it, but a few things stuck with me, and I think I need to go through it again more slowly.

Well, that's some of the interesting stuff that came out. As I said, I tend to be behind on these things, so I'm sure a lot of them I'll only find out about around 2010.

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