Thursday, August 06, 2009

Incoming Books: 5 August

Partially as a reward to myself for getting through this year's American Accountants Association meeting, and partly because I hadn't been to a comics shop in a month or more -- which is becoming my usual pattern; I'm one of the many, many people who are far too busy to go to a store every Wednesday -- I hit both of the major midtown Manhattan stores yesterday: both the one actually called Midtown Comics, and the outpost of Jim Hanley's Comics Universe, which could be one of the great comics stores if it weren't for eccentric shelving strategies and less-than-perfect fixtures.

But I managed to dig through the piles of underwear perverts (and the New Comics Day crowd salivating for them) to find the following things, which of course I think are much better than the books other people like:

Astro City: The Dark Age, Vol. 1: Brothers & Other Strangers by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, which is only superhero-y book I still buy. And, even then, when there's a collection every four or five years, I pick it up, and try to decide if it's worth spending money on. Busiek tells good stories, but it's become very clear that he cares deeply about the history and psychology about people who dress up in silly clothes to punch each other, which is a very odd thing to care deeply about.

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter is the first in a series of adaptations of a great run of crime novels (by Stark, a pseudonym for Donald E. Westlake) by Darwyn Cooke. I've only seen bits of Cooke's work before -- he's mostly done "mainstream" comics, and I've already noted my distaste for most of those -- but his stuff has always looked really good to my eye: thoughtful and stylized, the art and story of a creator who always has his own viewpoint. So now I'll see what he does to a story I already know -- and, from a first glance, this book looks gorgeous, from the blue-toned art on lightly green-yellow pages to the classy early '60s look of the book design.

Rick Geary's The Adventures Of Blanche collects three widely-spaced single issues from the last decade or so, telling adventures of the title character in three different cities. I have two of those issues, but, still, I'll buy almost any new book by Rick Geary -- particularly one that showcases his sly underhanded sense of humor, like these stories do.

I'm making my way through Jason's books as I come across them and feel like reading them, so this time I grabbed The Living and the Dead. On the positive side, it's got a neat cover and it was the cheapest of the Jason books I saw. On the negative side, it's about zombies, which I'm generally allergic to. But I suspect Jason's deadpan style will go well with the walking dead, so I'm up for it.

I'm stalling out on buying collections of strip cartoons ever faster these days -- I think I've broken my three-decades-long Doonesbury habit, and just one volume of Sheldon seems to have been enough -- but I did get the sixth collection of Scott Kurtz's PvP strip, Silent But Deadly. Maybe it's because these strips are still from just before I started reading it regularly, I don't know. But Kurtz does everything a good newspaper strip should: delivers a funny gag nearly every day and tells larger stories along the way, with great characters, nice art, and only the obligatory Internet-required level of fan references.

I am a comics blogger, so I'm required to read and write about Asterios Polyp, the graphic novel David Mazzucchelli has apparently been working on all this time. I just hope that it's half as good as the hype says it is.

I will only be three years behind everyone else in reading Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness, third in Bryan Lee O'Malley's series about the young Toronto slacker whose life is like Slackers crossed with Super Mario. I may even manage to catch up by the sixth book!

And last -- except for some stuff for my sons that I won't mention -- is a book I didn't buy on my last comics trip, out of a possibly-misguided sense of loyalty to Midtown Comics....who didn't have a copy when I got there. (Similarly, this time I thought I should buy the Richard Stark/Darwyn Cooke book at Hanley's -- but they were sold out, so I got it at Midtown. I think life is just too complicated to start worrying too much about which comic shop to buy a book from.) Anyway, that book is The Fart Party, Vol. 2, another collection of funny webcomics by Julia Wertz, which you should all go and buy, because she totally needs the money. (And it's good slice-of-life stuff, smart enough not to go too heavy on the woe-is-me-I'm-a-poor-twentysomething-living-in-squalor material.)
Listening to: The Innocence Mission - Since I Still Tell You My Every Day
via FoxyTunes

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