Monday, April 09, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/7/18

No good deed goes unpunished.

My Book-A-Day engine has been running pretty well so far this year, but I belatedly realized that every prior time I did Book-A-Day, I had a mechanism sending me free books regularly. (Either I was at the SFBC, where there were shelves of random books available for the taking, or I was getting a lot of publicity titles since I actually did something with them once in a while.) This time around, I've got none of that, and my unread shelves -- at least the comics portion, the ones that can be read easily in a day -- is beginning to dwindle. (Well, I've still got parts of three shelves, but there's a lot of multi-book series that I want to write about together, and each of those takes planning so it doesn't blow up my schedule.)

Luckily, there's always a backup plan. Books are not a scarce commodity in the modern world.

I put through a lot of holds through my local library about two weeks ago, and many of them came through in the past few days -- enough to keep me going for another two weeks. (Through...roughly the tenth of May. Hmm. Still a lot of year to go....)

And these are those library books, which should show up in the rapacious maw of Book-A-Day quite soon:

The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 1 by Herge -- a nice little hardcover collecting three of the Tintin books. My guess is that it's the first three, from the volume number, but it might not be so. I've never read any Herge, so I thought I might as well use Book-A-Day as an excuse.

Voices in the Dark, a graphic novel by Ulli Lust adapted from the novel by Marcel Beyer -- I liked Lust's autobiographical Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, so I figured I'd check out this odder project of hers. I believe this was actually created earlier than Today.

Tank Girl, Vol. 1 by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin -- I'm pretty sure I had this book, or an earlier incarnation of it, and I definitely had the early-90s Tank Girl comics from before Hewlitt realized making rock 'n' roll was more fun and lucrative than making comics. But I haven't read it in ages, so why not check in again?

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North and Erica Henderson -- This is a fun series, and I'll keep reading it as long as I can get it from libraries. (See my recent post on Vol. 3, which links back to the first two.)

Astro City: The Dark Age, Vol. 1: Brothers and Other Strangers by Kurt Busiek and Brent Eric Anderson -- I wandered away from this "Silver Age done right" superhero series sometime over the past decade or so, which is why I'm only now getting to this 2008 collection. I'm not entirely in sympathy to the impulse here, but doing versions of iconic superhero characters and stories is a huge draw for a big segment of American comics, so I take a look at that stuff regularly to try to figure out what the deal is.

Free Country by a dozen or so people led by Neil Gaiman -- Twenty years or so ago, everything in corporate comics had to be an event. (Not all that different from now, then!) The Vertigo "line" at DC was actually a bunch of entirely separate comics with a rough shared audience and stance, but they had to have a big Event in their annuals (which they also had to have) in 1993. It was called The Children's Crusade, and there were bookend standalone comics that the various individual comics' annuals slotted in between, more or less. It was not the most successful experiment. After a couple of decades, though, someone at DC realized they had a couple of issues written or co-written by Gaiman that were sitting uncollected and not making them any money. So they commissioned a new team (Toby Litt and Peter Gross) to create a new middle, and then put out the end product as a book with a new Gaiman introduction. I can't imagine it all comes together well, but I'm fascinated to see just how jury-rigged and bizarre it is.

Valerian: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 by Pierre Christin and Jean-Clauide Mezieres -- I didn't see the recent movie (along with a lot of other people), but it reminded me this series of adventure comics from France existed, and that I hadn't read any of them. Movies are opportunities to publish stuff, so I'm happy to see this exists, and I'll see what these stories are actually like. It's a shame that Laureline has entirely lost cover billing, though.

The Hospital Suite by John Porcellino -- Porcellino is one of the great minimalists of comics, but I've never quite clicked with his work as much as I keep thinking I should. (I looked at his book Piece of My Heart back in the 2010 Book-A-Day run.) But I do like his quiet comics, when I remember to look for them. And I did this time.

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann -- The non-fictional account of a somewhat famous (at least at the time) hard-drinking and adventurous reporter in the early 20th century. I'd never heard of him, but that doesn't mean much.

Boundless by Jillian Tamaki -- Jillian Tamaki is the creator behind Supermutant Magic Academy and one-half of the Tamaki cousins team of Skim and This One Summer. So I have no idea what this is, and I want it anyway: it's her new book. (Takes a quick look.) Original graphic novel, as far as I can tell -- cool.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson and more artists than usual -- This is a book I keep trying to like, and not quite succeeding at the level I hope I will. (I started my post on Vol. 4 with "This book pissed me off," for example.) I keep trying, since I think the things that annoy me aren't the fault of the creators, and things I do like are because of the creators. But it's a hell of way to read a comic, man. Marvel has a lot to answer for.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, and Carolyn Nowak -- I come to this series only occasionally, since I'm the wrong reader for it in so many ways. But I like Noelle Stevenson's work, and this is what she's doing these days, so I dive in when I can. It's about teen girls being friends -- what could be wrong with that? (See my post on Vol. 2 for more of me explaining more of this stuff.)

Going Into Town by Roz Chast -- Chast was a city kid who raised suburban kids. She made this book to explain New York to them...even though I think they're all grown up and have figured it out by now (if they're going to). I've never been a city kid, but I love NYC and I love Chast's work.

Tenements, Towers & Trash by Julia Wertz -- The onetime Fart Party cartoonist turned into an urban explorer and chronicler, dropping this big, weighty book last year. (Props to Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading, who reminded me it existed after I wrote about the big Fart Party compendium in February.)

1 comment:

Johanna said...

Mwa! Thank you. You have such great roundups I'm glad I could help.

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