Monday, June 30, 2008

Reviewing the Mail, Week of 6/28: Comics

And this is the yin to the previous yang; here I'll list, and try to explicate, all of the things that came into the Hornswoggler home last week that were comics in one way or another.

I'm going to start with things I paid money for, because I wanted to draw particular attention to this first book:

The third collection of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's manga to be translated and published by Drawn & Quarterly is Good-Bye, and it's in stores now. I reviewed it at ComicMix when the galleys circulated, and probably didn't adequately describe how special Tatsumi is. He's one of the greats of world comics, with stories by turns shockingly raw and evocatively quiet. His stories aren't just good for manga, or good for comics -- they're great short stories, period.

Skyscrapers Of The Midwest is a title I don't know much about -- it's by Joshua W. Cotter, published by Adhouse Books, and seems to be a collection of (linked?) anthropomorphic stories. But I've heard good things about it, and my comics shop had it marked down, so I'll give it a whirl.

Lobster Johnson Vol. 1: The Iron Prometheus is another brand extension of the mighty Hellboy empire -- probably the last one to make it into into stores ahead of the new Guillermo de Torro-directed movie -- and it's written by Hellboy and Lobster Johnson creator Mike Mignola, with art by Jason Armstrong. (Actually, the credit reads "story by Mignola," which may mean that Armstrong worked from an outline and acted as his own scripter.) It was published by Dark Horse sometime in the very recent past.

Fables Vol. 10: The Good Prince is the latest in the modern fairy-tale-inspired fantasy series, written as always by Bill Willingham, with art by Mark Buckingham and (mostly) Steve Leialoha. As I remember, the series is still continuing, so this isn't the big finish, but it looks like a major piece of the story of the battle between the Adversary -- who conquered most of the alternate worlds of fairy-tale characters before the series began -- and our main characters in the expatriate community of New York.

In the same world, but with a somewhat different tone, is Jack of Fables, Vol. 3: The Bad Prince. It's about one of the less heroic characters from the main series, off having his own adventures. (I have no idea if the seemingly linked titles mean these two stories have anything to do with each other, though I do expect to find out soon.) The Jack of Fables series is written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, and the pencil art in this book is mostly by Tony Akins, though there are four others credited with part of the pencils and inks. This is also from DC, as one would expect, and it was published within the last month.

PvP Volume 5: PvP Treks On os the yes, fifth collection of the webcomic PvP, which is by Scott Kurtz. Image publishes the webcomic as a monthly comic book, and bills their collected books (like this one) as collections of the comic books, without even mentioning the Internet once. The direct market really is its own little parallel universe, isn't it?

I've been looking at Erotic Comics: A Graphic History from Tijuana Bibles to Undergound Comix the last two or three times I hit the comics shop, and went so far as to pick it up and look through it last time. And this time I finally admitted to myself that I was interested enough in the subject to buy the thing, and so I did. It's by Tim Pilcher, with Gene Kannenberg, Jr., and has a foreword by Aline Kominsky Crumb. Harry N. Abrams, which is a classy, serious publisher of art books and whom I trust has kept the whole proceedings as tasteful as possible (under the circumstances) published Erotic Comics in February. (What I'm hoping is that its as interesting and fun as Bob Adelman's Tijuana Bibles of a few years back.)

And the last thing I picked up at the comics store -- literally, just before I got on line to pay for my huge stack of good stuff -- was the first two volumes of Chica Umino's Honey and Clover manga series. I've already got a copy of the movie that was adapted from this series, and I hope to review the whole package for next week's Manga Friday column for ComicMix.

Now, on to the things that actually did come in the mail:

Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole, which Top Shelf will publish in September, is a big original graphic novel -- the pages aren't numbered, but I'd estimate it's over 200 pages long -- with some kind of supernatural element in it. There are a lot of bugs, on the cover and throughout. (And I can't help wondering if this Powell pronounces his name the way it's spelled or like Anthony Powell -- if the latter, it would rhyme with the title. These are the kinds of things I think about when I see new books...)

Jeff Lemire's Essex County Volume 3: The Country Nurse is also from Top Shelf, but it's publishing slightly later, in October. As the title probably clued you in, this is the third of his graphic novels to be set in his ficionalized Essex County (of Ontario, Canada), after Tales from the Farm and Ghost Stories. This book follows one day in the life of a traveling nurse in a farm community -- I think I recognize her from Ghost Stories, so perhaps this book is meant to tie together the first two volumes.

CMX Manga -- now as always an imprint of the mighty DC empire -- sent me two sets of photcopies with their usual secrecy. (They never have a cover letter, or even a tip sheet/fact sheet/sell sheet to say when the book is being published and the pertinent information -- even the most professional comics publishers seem to struggle with the things that seem simple in trade publishing.) First is Kikaider: Code 02, Vol. 7 by Ishimori Shotaro and Meimu, a science-fiction story with robots -- giant ones, I think -- and the usual accouterments. It will be published in on July 9th and is marked for Mature readers.

Also from CMX is Suihelibe!, Vol. 1, a title which I'm having the greatest of difficulty in spelling correctly (and consistently). It's by Naomi Azuma and seems to be a combination of a school club story and a cute girl from space story. (And I'm sure there's an official Japanese manga term for both of those things, but I don't know them.) This one is a bit further in the future, coming in late October. As befits a series with characters who seem to be about nine years old, it's rated E for everyone.

Manu Larcenet's Ordinary Victories: What Is Precious, collects what were the third and fourth graphic novels in the "Ordinary Victories" series in France -- the first two were published in the US as just Ordinary Victories in 2005, and ended up on Time magazine's list of the five best graphic novels of the year. It's a semi-autobiographical story about a photographer dealing with family issues, and NBM is publishing it in August.

Also from NBM is Bluesman by Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo, which collects a series originally published in three volumes only a few years ago. It's set in the '20s and about a couple of black musicians in the South -- so I don't expect it will be a terribly happy story. This new complete edition of Bluesman will be published in August.

Vittorio Giardino's No Pasaran!, Vol. 3, is the finale of a trilogy, and the latest book about Giardino's series character Max Friedman, a spy in '30s Europe. NBM will publish it in August.

Slow Storm is the first full-length graphic novel by 2007 Eisner nominee Danica Novgorodoff, a story about tornado season in Kentucky and about a woman firefighter and a Mexican immigrant. It will be published by First Second in September.

And last for this week is the Rick Geary adaptation of H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man, second in the new Papercutz Classics Illustrated series, and publishing in August. This adaptation first saw print in the great, but short-lived CI series from First Comics in the late '80s, but somehow I missed it then (even though I was buying Rick Geary stuff on sight, and most of the First CI books as well).

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