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Friday, January 27, 2006

THE QUESTION by O'Neil post-series

Finishing up the chronicles of Vic Sage (as written by Dennis O'Neil, at least), the first place he popped up after his monthly series concluded in 1990 was just a few months later, in his usual Annual meeting with Oliver Queen.

Green Arrow Annual #3 - "A Walk in the Wind"
This story serves largely to deliver Vic and his new charge Jackie down to the rainforest, going down with Green Arrow and the Black Canary. It's not really explained why Vic would go along on that mission, with Jackie in tow, but it's not a bad story otherwise, and sets up the new status quo, as temporary as it may have been.

Question Quarterly, The #1 - "Any Man's Death"
Denys Cowan takes on the full art chores for this and the next issue. It's kind of a mixed bag, as he seems to be feeling out exactly which direction he wants his art style to go, so the experimental bits that work real well share space with those that don't. Anyway, Vic finds that trouble seems to follow him around, even down to the rainforest, and has to rescue Jackie from an insane drug dealer. Along the way he finally satisfies a bit of curiosity that he wondered about for years.

Question Quarterly, The #2 - "Gomorrah Homecoming"
As Jackie is dying, Vic decides he has to take her back to her mother in Hub City, meeting up with Marco (and it took me years to realize that there was probably a joke in giving Vic a sidekick named Marco), a practicioner of capoeira who was told by Shiva that he had to beat Vic to get a rematch with her (which I don't think Marco ever did get). They finally make it back to Hub City, without much time to spare. At the time this came out I thought it was a bit disappointing that after all that time spent in getting Vic out of Hub City he returned so quickly, but in retrospect I think it kind of fit the overall theme of how he's drawn there and how his development constantly backslides. Overall it's probably the most successful of the QUARTERLY issues.

Unfortunately, two pages of this printed out of order, the second time this happened to the series.

Cowan's off for the next issue (except the cover), replaced by Joe Quesada

Question Quarterly, The #3 - "Hell in Hub City"
The long-awaited movie finally gets made in Hub City. Bit of an experimental story, combining some screenplay style snippits with some odd scene cuts and flash forwards. I think it might have worked with a better artist, as it is, not so much, but there are some nice funny bits.

For some reason we jump from #3 to #5:
Question Quarterly, The #5 - "Outrage"
This is a "Rashomon" inspired story, where O'Neil and Quesada do the framing sequences and one version of the events that lead to Vic punching Myra, and various characters recounting why they think it happened. My favourite of the four chapters is the first, by Kelley Puckett, Denys Cowan and Mike Manley, which has Marco's version of events. It's a lot of goofy fun, as Marco is more concerned with fighting styles than with the story. The other guest segments didn't work as well, and I'm still not sure what to make of the O'Neil/Quesada finale, but I guess if any series has a right to an enigmatic ending it's this one.

That concludes the "Quarterly", back in 1992. Vic is next seen in 1995, in my favourite of his post-monthly stories:
Showcase '95 #3 - "Homecoming"
A short story drawn by Rick Burchett, where Vic once again returns to Hub City (boy can't stay away), this time to check for records in the orphanage where he was raised. Of course his timing being what it is he gets there just in time to see one of his tormenter nuns being attacked by one of his tormenter former classmates. A minor story, true, but interesting, and I'd have loved to see Burchett drawing more of Vic's adventures than any of the other non-Cowan artists.

A few months later, we get this brief thing:
Azrael #10 - "Arena"
Where Vic and Shiva run into each other in the crowd at a karate championship in Gotham City, which seemed to be leading somewhere but I don't think it ever did, although I'm missing some issues of AZRAEL so I might have missed it. Mostly amusing for the fact that Vic is impressed by fighting moves of the fake Azrael that Shiva considers amateurish.


It was over a year later, in late 1996, that Vic and Azrael finally met in:
Azrael Plus #1 - "The Anger the Terror and the Question"
A one-shot special with Vince Giarrano on the art. Among other things we find out that Vic's been making his money playing poker, which leads him to a bodyguard gig aboard a riverboat, which also happens to have Azrael on board. More interestingly, it's also set to be attacked by old friend Junior Musto, still trying in vain to impress his late father. Not great, but there were a few bits of humour that I really liked, and Junior Musto is always entertaining, in a sad way.

And finally, a few months later in 1997:
Question Returns, The #1 - ["Have you noticed that this boat is sinking?"]
Back to Hub City one last time (and even a cameo by Dr. Aristotle Rodor, though no other clue as to what he's been up to since leaving the Hub), as Mayor Myra has vanished and Vic makes his way back for a rescue. Like most of the post-monthly-series adventures of Vic Sage I liked bits, but wish it was more satisfying. Even Eduardo Barreto's artwork, which I normally like, seemed lacking. Among other things, I couldn't understand a story about corrupt cops in Hub City which doesn't even acknowledge Izzy. And then there was some stuff about river spirits. Eh. It was good to see Myra going on with her life.

And thus passes Vic Sage, nine years ago and not seen since.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Running possum...



A timely reminder to any fellow Canadians who may be reading this, Election Day is on Monday (though I have to say, having voted at an advance poll last week in case the weather turned rotten, that's really the way to go. In and out in two minutes). Unfortunately no Pogo on the ballot, and though I'm not sure I can entirely agree with the sentiment of the poster if you're planning to vote Conservative, it would be nice if we could reverse the trend in voter turnout heading towards American numbers.

POGO © 2005 OGPI

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More on THE FATE OF THE ARTIST

The publisher, First Second, has an official page for the book, including previews of many of the interior pages.

Eddie Campbell posts some guest entries on his publisher's blog, check it out.

Part of an Eddie Campbell interview in The Comics Journal.

Amazon link for the softcover .

Amazon link for the hardcover .

Eddie Campbell bibliography.

Campbell's previous books.

Stuff of Interest - April 2006

The Kirby and The Ditko will be mentioned on the appropriate weblogs linked to in the sidebar.

Book of the month of those below is the HAUNTED TANK reprint volume, for the sheer volume of previously unavailable quality material, 35 stories, most not available for over 40 years. Non-reprint book of the month is the new Eddie Campbell graphic novel, THE FATE OF THE ARTIST.

I'll add some more to this later if I find some stuff I missed on the first look over the solicitations.

Here are some nice pictures.

And now with the words.



KINGS IN DISGUISE TP
by James Vance & Dan Burr
Hailed as one of the top 100 comics of all time before graphic novels became a phenomenon, Kings In Disguise now resurfaces as a classic. In the Great Depression, Freddie Bloch finds himself homeless and adrift amid the Detroit riots and violent anti-communist mobs. Introduction by Alan Moore.
SC, 8x11, 208pgs $16.95

An excellent book, good to see it finally back in print, and from a mainstream publisher (WW Norton), which may get it some of the attention that it deserves.





USAGI YOJIMBO #93
Written and drawn by Stan Sakai

World-renowned storyteller Stan Sakai explores a very important part of Japanese culture in this special issue of Usagi Yojimbo. After an eventful stay, the time has come for Usagi to continue his wandering travels and bid farewell to the Geishu Province. Before he goes, he and Tomoe will first partake in the chanoyu--the formal tea ceremony. But is there something besides tea brewing between the two of them? Meanwhile, unbeknownst to either of the pair, arrangements are being made for Tomoe's marriage.

This unusual issue explores the stylized, spiritual event of the tea ceremony, which epitomizes the feeling of Zen. Sakai's attention to the historical details of Usagi's feudal environment is a hallmark of the series, and this focus is highlighted this month in "Chanoyu"!

24 pages, black and white, $2.99, in stores on April 26.
Still not easy to find new ways to say, hey, it's more Stan Sakai. This sounds like an interesting more experimental story, which I look forward to.




SGT. ROCK: THE PROPHECY #4
by Joe Kubert

On the road to Riga, Rock and Easy Co. bear witness to the horrific truths at the heart of WWII. Then, pushing forward with their package, the men of Easy are given further responsibility: a newborn child. That innocent life leads them into their fiercest battle yet -- will it lead them to their deaths as well?

32 pages, $2.99, in stores on April 19.
And of course great to see Kubert, and with a Wildman cover no less. Hope they don't delay too long before collecting this series.




OUR GANG Volume 1
by Walt Kelly

Early work from the creator of the celebrated Pogo syndicated strip! Along with fellow Disney alumnus Carl Barks, Walt Kelly is now considered one of the two classic "funny animal" artists from the golden age of comics. Surprisingly, Kelly's longest-running continuing series was based on actual people the "real-life" characters of MGM's durable short-film series, Our Gang (a.k.a. "The Little Rascals").

Spirited and engaging, Kelly's Our Gang harks back to the days before television, when kids spent most of their time playing outdoors, limited only by each other's imagination and ingenuity. Kelly created nearly 100 Our Gang stories by the end of its 59-issue run in 1949, the year he quit comic books to switch careers a final time as syndicated artist/writer on the immortal newspaper strip, Pogo.

This is the first in a series of books reprinting Walt Kelly's Our Gang stories. Suitable for both adults and children, Fantagraphics Books has lovingly restored the work from their comic book appearance, which will be printed in their original four-color splendour.

Paperback, 96 pages, $12.95

Loves me some Walt Kelly. My preference would be for some Pogo (comic strip or comic books) or the various holiday comic stuff, but I'm happy to take a sampling of his OUR GANG work while waiting.




FLAMING CARROT, VOL. 1, TP
April 12 140 pg BW $14.99
by BOB BURDEN

A humble man, lonely at heart, seeks out the rejected "freaks" of the world, taking these misbegotten outcasts under his wing in a traveling show of oddities. But life is not without its own irony and his true self is revealed in a twist of fate and revenge.

Collects FLAMING CARROT #1-4 (#33-36 in regular series) and FLAMING CARROT PHOTO SPECIAL
It's been great to have Bob Burden back in comics in the past year, really on his game with the new stuff. Well worth picking up based on the first three issues I've read. Still not sure about the photo comic (don't even know if it's come out yet).



THE FATE OF THE ARTIST
by Eddie Campbell

In Eddie Campbell's latest graphic novel, the author will conduct an investigation into his own sudden disappearance.

In wildly comical reenactments of incidents from his curious life, his part will be played by an actor. With audacious literary sleight of hand, he will put words into the mouths of those who knew him. Clues will be sought in artistic blow-outs from the history of all the arts. And all the major players, even down to Monty the dog, will get their own daily strip and Sunday page in yellowed newspaper sections from an imaginary long ago.

In this creative mining of the rich resources of the comic strip language Campbell will give us a complex meditation on the lonely demands of art amid the realities of everyday life.

96 pages Full Color US $15.95
Hardcover Deluxe Collector's Edition US $22.95
New Eddie Campbell is always news, and with a full colour original book it looks like he's going to be taking the old "Alec" stuff to the next level with this. I might even spring for the hardcover on this.



SHOWCASE PRESENTS HAUNTED TANK VOL. 1 TP
Written by Robert Kanigher, art by Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, Irv Novick, Jerry Grandenetti, and Jack Abel, cover by Joe Kubert.

One of the most unusual concepts in war comics gets the Showcase treatment in this volume collecting stories from G.I. Combat #87-119, Brave and The Bold #52 and Our Army At War #155. The ghost of a Confederate general returns to protect to his namesake, commander of a tank in North Africa in WWII.

560 pages, black and white, $16.99, in stores on May 17.
Definitely an exciting book, the few reprints I've seen of early Tank stories are great, and anything with over 200 pages of Russ Heath and 200 pages of Joe Kubert in crisp clean black and white is worth a lot more than $17, plus it'll be nice to see the handful of Novick stories and single examples of Grandenetti and Abel.



THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1959-1960

As the first decade of Peanuts closes, it seems only fitting to bid farewell to that halcyon decade with a cover starring Patty, one of the original three Peanuts.

Major new additions to classic Peanuts lore come fast and furious here. Snoopy begins to take up residence atop his doghouse, and his repertoire of impressions increases exponentially. Lucy sets up her booth and offers her first five-cent psychiatric counsel. (Her advice to a forlorn Charlie Brown: "Get over it.") For the very first time, Linus spends all night in the pumpkin patch on his lonely vigil for the Great Pumpkin (although he laments that he was a victim of "false doctrine," he's back 12 months later). Linus also gets into repeated, and visually explosive, scuffles with a blanket-stealing Snoopy, suffers the first depredations of his blanket-hating grandmother, and falls in love with his new teacher Miss Othmar.

Even more importantly, several years after the last addition to the cast ("Pig-Pen"), Charlie Brown's sister Sally makes her appearance - first as an (off-panel) brand new baby for Charlie to gush over, then as a toddler and eventually a real, talking, thinking cast member. (By the end of this volume, she'll already start developing her crush on Linus.)

All this, and one of the most famous Peanuts strips ever: "Happiness is a warm puppy."

Almost one hundred of the 731 strips collected in this volume (including many Sundays) have never been collected in any book since their original release, with one hundred more having been collected only once in relatively obscure and now impossible-to-find books; in other words, close to one quarter of the strips have never been seen by anyone but the most avid Peanuts completists.

The introduction is by comedienne extraordinaire Whoopi Goldberg, who reveals which Peanuts character she has tattooed on her body (and where) - as well as telling of her meeting with "Sparky" Schulz, and her fascinating theory on Snoopy's brother Spike. The Complete Peanuts continues to receive national and international media attention for its sophisticated treatment of one of the 20th Century's defining American classics.

344-page hardcover $28.95

Have to say, I would probably pay extra for a copy where Goldberg doesn't tell us anything about her tattoo. Or her theories on Spike, for that matter. Otherwise, this should be a great book, I remember the strips around the early Sally stories from books I read as a kid, and the prospect of over 200 strips in that era of Schulz's work that I haven't seen before is irresistible.



WAMPUS (Volume 1)
by Franco Frescura & Luciano Bernasconi;
additional story by J.-M. Lofficier; additional art by Chris Malgrain; cover by Stephen R. Bissette

Wampus , the mysterious, shape-shifting servant of the all-powerful cosmic entity known only as the "Great Mind", has arrived on Earth to sow the seeds of chaos and destruction.

Collecting the original six-issue run of French comics from 1969, the great cities of the world fall to the power of Wampus, whose only adversary is French secret agent, Jean Sten.

Contents:
- Original Episodes of Wampus (1969) by Frescura & Bernasconi
- Epilog in Manhattan (2003) by Lofficier & Bernasconi
- 3 bonus pages by Chris Malgrain
- Foreword by Will Eisner
- Introduction by Lofficier

$20.95 - 5x8 trade paperback, 232 pages

Bissette has said a few good things about this, which makes i well worth considering (plus it's always good to see a cover by him), and the material that appeared about that era of French comics in ALTER EGO #30 was intriguing.




CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS VOL. 4 TP
Written by Elliot S! Maggin, E. Nelson Bridwell, Martin Pasko and Paul Levitz, art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin, cover by Alex Ross.

Collecting Justice League of America #122-124, #135-137 and #147-148! In this latest collection of team-ups, meet the heroes of Earth-S, led by the Earth's Mightiest Mortal, Captain Marvel, as well as the Legion of Super-Heroes!

168 page, $14.99, in stores on May 3.
Looking forward to this. I've heard about the LSH crossover but never been able to find the issues at a decent price, and only have two of the three Earth-S issues. And the other one sounds weird enough to be interesting (apparently Maggin and Cary Bates are the villains).



AGE OF BRONZE #23
April 5 24 pg BW $3.50
by ERIC SHANOWER

"BETRAYAL, PART 4"
The story of the Trojan War continues as the Trojans prepare for the invasion of their land. Hektor returns triumphantly with his new wife, Andromache, who makes her long-awaited debut in. Cressida resists attack from her fellow Trojans when they discover her father Kalchas's defection to the enemy.

And good to see Shanower's been getting this book out on a steady clip over the past year. Excellent stuff.



ADVENTURES IN OZ – TPB, HC
by Eric Shanower

In the marvelous Land of Oz, magic is always around the next corner. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and their many Oz friends can't stop plunging into one adventure after another. Come journey over the rainbow to help save Oz from the Wicked Witch of the South, to ride an enchanted whirlpool that leads to a hidden island, to explore the spooky Great Gray Gillikin Swamp, to prevent a war between dragons and wood-nymphs, and to soar in an emerald unicorn to the frozen land of the mysterious Ice King. Wonder and magic abound in five full-color stories, The Enchanted Apples of Oz, The Secret Island of Oz, The Ice King of Oz, The Forgotten Forest of Oz, and The Blue Witch of Oz, by award-winning cartoonist Eric Shanower, collected here for the first time in one volume. This special volume also contains over 70 pages of sketches and other bonus material from Shanower. L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz lives again in stories that Booklist calls "well-written" and "charming" by "the superbly talented Shanower."

TPB • $39.99 • FC • 328 pages
HC • $75.00 • FC • 328 pages

Speaking of Shanower, this is a bit too pricey for me (like just about anything else interesting from IDW), but I have a few of these stories from when they were first published, and they're a lot of fun, well worth it for the Oz fan.



Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Collection - ZOT [1984 Series]

Zot [1984 series]
36 issues [1984 - 1991]
1 - 36

This is of course Scott McCloud's big series, published by Eclipse. First 10 issues are in colour, then following a hiatus the next 26 issues are in black and white. I was a pretty latecomer to the proceedings, first picking up #31 in 1990, after reading a few mentions of the series in BEANWORLD which I'd started reading a few months earlier. That was in the middle of the Earth Stories, and good stuff, and it wasn't long before I was hooked, hunting down every back issue I could find. It was pretty frustrating for a while, since McCloud did a lot of 2-part stories, and for a while I think I had just one chapter of 4 different stories. Eventually I did find everything, though. That #11 took forever to find, though.

Pretty much the whole series is recommended. The first ten issues form one long story, and honestly McCloud was probably too young and inexperienced at the time to do such a long story, so there are a lot of flaws, but there's a lot of good in there too. #6 is the best of that run. #11 to #27 run short stories, one to three issues, all of them pretty good action adventure bits. "Eyes of Dekko" from #17 - #18 is my favourite, with one of the best villains McCloud designed. The last nine issues are the "Earth Stories", with a heavy focus on Zot's "real world" friends, a group of high school students dealing with their own problems, and that's the best era of the book, a lot more character heavy and introspective, and with some bolder attempts at storytelling than the earlier eras.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

EC - Blood Type "V" (Ingels)

Blood Type "V"
art by Graham Ingels, story by Al Feldstein
Tales From the Crypt #22[#6] (1951)

I'm not as fond of the early Ingels work on EC as I am the later stuff. Take this story as an example. While there are a few flashes of what would shine in his work later (especially in the lush inking style), overall it's a lot stiffer than what I associate with his work. Also, the early stuff doesn't seem to revel in the gore nearly as much as it should. This story involves a couple who get into a car accident, and the woman loses massive amounts of blood (despite only slight wounds) and gets a transfusion from a creepy passerby. Of course he turns out to be a vampire, who tranformed the woman to a vampire as well. All well and good, but we don't get to see nearly enough of the choice bits, not even a good look at the vampire, which is where you'd expect Ingels to shine.
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