Saturday, April 17, 2010

Incoming Books: 16 April

I had to be in the city for an errand yesterday afternoon, so I took a detour and visited Jim Hanley's Universe, a great comic-book store hampered by an unintuitive organizational system. [1] I wandered in circles there for a while, gradually gathering the following books (plus some Sonic and Tiny Titans for my two sons) --

Popeye, Vol. 4: "Plunder Island" by E.C. Segar -- I've been looking for it for months now, and I finally ran into it in person. Of course, I still haven't read Vol. 2 or 3 yet -- they're so big that I need to sit down at home, or maybe take it on a long family car trip. (The Wife drives for those, since it's her minivan.) So this will go onto the pile for some indeterminate time, but I hope just having it will give me reason to dive into # 2, "Well, Blow Me Down!"

Hello, Again by Max Estes -- I've never heard of this or Estes before, but it was half-price and it was published by Top Shelf; that's enough for me to take a flyer on it.

The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson by Roger Langridge -- Langridge's first Muppet Show collection was a hell of a lot of fun, so I'm back for the follow-up.

Dungeon: Twilight, Vol. 3: The New Centurions written by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim, with art by Kerascoet and Obion -- I'm beginning to think that I will gather all of the Dungeon books and read them straight through -- whatever that means for a series as scattered in time as this one -- but, while I'm working on that, I might well read this on its own.

Almost Silent by Jason -- this collects four of his shorter books. I'd already bought & read one of them -- The Living and the Dead -- so it took some thinking to decide to buy this. But I did give in, eventually.

The Complete Peanuts, 1973-1974 by Charles Schulz -- You know why. If not, start with the first book and work your way up.

High Soft Lisp by Gilbert Hernandez -- I know this is mostly stories I already have, and I'm afraid buying it will put me on the slippery slope to rebuying the entire Love and Rockets saga in those giant hardcovers, but I couldn't help myself. Fantagraphics: exploiting Hernandez junkies since 1982.

[1] Most of the material for sale -- individual comics, trade paperbacks, and similar permutations of printing-on-paper -- is organized alphabetically in several long rows of shallow wire racks running down the middle of the store. I say "alphabetically" -- most of the material is alphabetical by title, though some of it, interspersed, is alphabetical by author. Those rows run onto their endcaps, more or less in sequence, though the endcaps seem mostly to be themed (new releases in the front of the store, major authors/series in mid-aisle and the back). There's also a set of bookcases on one wall, with graphic novels and collections that follow the identical scheme -- alphabetical by something-or-other -- and which overlap the main section unpredictably. Oh, and then two publishers -- Drawn & Quarterly and NBM -- have their own sections, which I think means books from those publishers aren't anywhere else. And then there's the R. Crumb shelves, over by themselves. And the manga section, which I think is all alpha by title, though I haven't investigated it closely. And the strip-reprint section, which also is alpha by title (probably). And the section for younger readers, which seems to be clumped by publisher, and then alpha by title. And of course the smut is over in an annex at the back of the store, as used to be common before the Internet smashed the market for comics porn. There are probably other sections I'm forgetting or ignoring (like an impressive mini-comics display); none of these have signs of any kind (other than small shelf talkers for authors or titles).

I do have to applaud them for having something different than the usual comic-shop Great Wall of New Releases; it's much more of a bookstore feel, with backlist fully integrated into frontlist. But it desperately needs a system of signage to show browsers where everything is.

It's the kind of store where you almost have to start at one end, look at everything, and give up once you've found more good stuff than you can afford. (Which isn't difficult, I should say.) Coming in with a list of things to find, as I did, can be very frustrating, though I did find the above big stack eventually. So, if you're in New York, check it out -- but don't hope to dash in, grab something specific, and get back out.

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