Monday, September 21, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/19

This was one of those weeks dominated by a single big box -- in this case from Dark Horse -- so I'll talk about the other things first and then dive into that. But, first: the explanation! I review books, so I get books to review -- sometimes things I ask for, sometimes not, and always more than I'll be able to manage to read. I do these Monday-morning posts to make sure that I mention everything -- the books I know I'll love, the books I'll read five pages of and quietly drop, the ones that will fall deeper and deeper into a pile until they're finally eaten by a grue.

First this week is a book with the cheery title It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies!, a collection of Christmas carols written by Michael P. Spradlin with an introduction by Christopher Moore. It also has a number of cheery illustrations by Jeff Weigel, full of rotting flesh and juicy brains. It's one of those cute little impulse buys that I expect will sit at the cash-wrap in various bookstores starting in November, when it will be published by Harper. (Given that Spradlin is, by day, a Harper sales rep who lives in Michigan, I hope one particular chain will be particularly enthusiastic about it.)

The fifth and last of the Joe Pitt Casebooks series from Charlie Huston -- about vampires in New York, who act very much like real-life organized criminals and gangs -- is My Dead Body, coming as a trade paperback from Del Rey on October 13th. (I reviewed one of the earlier books, No Dominion, last year, and keep thinking that I need to find time to read the rest of the series. Maybe I will now that it's complete.)

I mentioned Douglas Clegg's new novella-as-a-book Isis when I saw a copy at BEA this summer; it's now turned into a real hardcover (slim and handsome, just a bit too late for a Fashion Week tie-in) from Vanguard Press. It's illustrated, in a great spidery, neo-19th century style, by Glenn Chadbourne, and it will be officially published in October.

I've complained before about graphic novels from major publishers that downplay the work of the artist -- usually with a credit like "illustrated by" or "artwork by," even in cases where that artist was working from a vague script without even panel breakdowns. But I now have an even worse case -- The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks is credited only to Max Brooks on the front cover and title page. The artist, Ibraim Roberson, is merely mentioned on the bottom of the back cover and with a small reference on the copyright page. Three Rivers Press, this is simply unacceptable. A graphic novel is not a work by one writer, and it's stupid to pretend that it is. From that copyright page, it also looks like Recorded Attacks collects comics stories originally published by Avatar, but it doesn't make that connection clear at all. What Recorded Attacks does have, once the reader can figure it out, is a dozen comics stories of between five and twenty pages, all drawn by Roberson and written by Brooks, about attacks by zombies at various points in history. If you like reading about random historical people being eaten by supernatural creatures -- and seeing that depicted in an appropriately detailed, gory style -- Recorded Attacks will be available on October 6th.

And now I get into the Dark Horse box -- everything from here on out is published by Dark Horse, and is available now.

Next is Usagi Yojimbo: Bridge Of Tears, the twenty-third collection of the long-running series by Stan Sakai. I've only looked at Usagi intermittently, but even I know that it's about an anthropomorphic (rabbit) samurai in classical Japan, wandering and having the kind of adventures that honorable ronin have, among a series of other characters who look more individual and less "furry" than is usual for anthropomorphic comics. And now that I have this book in my hands, I guess I should read it and do a more serious review of Usagi.

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures Volume 2 collects the early '80s series from Marvel comics -- remember when big comics companies could have long-running, popular series in the first place, and they're weren't necessarily all long-underwear types? Ah, good times -- written by David Michelinie, with art from a variety of folks like Herbe Trimpe, Jackson Guice, Luke McDonnell, David Mazzucchelli, and even Steve Ditko. This book collects issues 13-24 of the Further Adventures of Indiana Jones series, plus the three-issue adaptation of the movie Temple of Doom, which interrupted it. It looks like typical '80s Marvel adventure comics -- wordy, with occasionally shaky continuity on character's faces, but full of action and forward momentum.

And then there's Kull: The Shadow Kingdom, a graphic novel adapted from Robert E. Howard's story of the same name by Arvid Nelson, with art by Will Conrad and Jose Villarrubia. Dark Horse is doing a lot of Howard-related books recently -- there's their long-standing Conan series, both new work and reprints of the old Marvel stuff, plus this and a Solomon Kane book coming up -- and I thought I'd try to do a big Howard-at-DH review this fall. Now that I've actually said that in public, I hope it will happen.

Speaking of Howard and Dark Horse, I was surprised to see that their reprints of the old long-running Marvel series has hit Volume 18: Isle of the Dead. (I own the first five, but stopped following it closely after that, since I was primarily interested in the Windsor-Smith era.) This one has stories from 1982 and 1983, written by Bruce Jones and Steven Grant, with art from John Buscema (who did Conan, off and on, for a very long time, I note once again), Marc Silvestri, Val Mayerik, Alfredo Alcala, and others.

Speaking of Conan stories from Marvel in the early '80s, Dark Horse also recently published The Savage Sword Of Conan Volume 6, which collects all of the 1981 issues of that Marvel black-and-white magazine in one of those phone-book-looking collections that everyone seems to have forgotten Dave Sim invented. Savage Sword was the older brother of the Marvel Conan comics series, aimed at a somewhat older audience, with more graphic violence, no Comics Code, and even a few hints of sex. These stories are by Roy Thomas, Michael Fleisher, and Bruce Jones, with, again, most of the art by the hard-working John Buscema. Gil Kane shows up for one issues, and Ernie Chan inks Buscema most of the time, and does one issue solo.

And last for this week is Turok, Son of Stone Archives, Volume 2, collecting the second six-pack of the Dell comics series from the '50s. This was well before my time, and it looks a bit crude these days -- particularly in the bland typeset lettering -- but I'm sure there will always be an audience for stories about Indians fighting dinosaurs. At least, I wouldn't want to live in a world where no one cared about Indians fighting dinosaurs!
Listening to: Rupa & the April Fishes - Une Américaine à Paris
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment