Monday, June 07, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/5/21

Not that you care, but I'm starting to stack up books for Reviewing the Mail posts, like Delta flights over Atlanta, because I don't want to type for hours to have a post with a dozen-plus books one week and then nothing the next. So I'm saving each discrete chunk of books (library run, birthday gala, random box because I felt like buying things) and sometimes sticking them together when it makes sense.

But sometimes not.

This, then, is a box of books I got from an online comics store in the fine state of Texas about two weeks ago. They've been sitting next to the computer the whole time, so they're still "new" in that sense. Next week will probably be the stuff I got yesterday for my birthday, unless I get a crazier idea.

Again: you don't care. But here are some books I was happy to buy and will soon (I hope) be happy to read. If your tastes are anything like mine, they may be of interest to you as well:

Hypnotwist and Scarlet by Starlight by Gilbert Hernandez -- this is a flip book collecting two oddball dream-like stories from Love and Rockets (which also may be part of his collection of movies from his fictional world treated as comics, or maybe not). I have them in this order because the bar code is on the Scarlet side, which tells me that is the back cover, as much as this book has one. I'm pretty sure I read both of these in the magazine, and didn't entirely understand them then, but I'm up for another go.

The Follies of Richard Wadsworth is a collection of comics by Nick Maandag, whose work I've never seen before. I haven't actually been in a comics shop for at least a year, so I'm trying to find other ways to be impulsive and try new work - throwing in a completely unknown book every time I order a box of stuff, for example. This is supposed to be funny, was published by D&Q, and has quotes from Hartley Lin (whose stuff I've liked) and Simon Hanselmann (not so much, though it's probably me).

Breakfast After Noon is a 2001 graphic novel by Andi Watson. I think it was the first of the string of serialized graphic novels, all in a mostly-realistic mode, most of them vaguely romances of one kind or another, that he did for about a decade after the initial ending of Skeleton Key. I love that era in Watson's work, since each of those books is wonderful in its own way, and I've been slowly rebuilding that shelf since my 2011 flood. I think this is the last one I needed.

Young Shadow is the first book in what I think is a new series by Ben Sears, but it's cover-billed as "a double+ adventure," like the previous book of his I read, House of the Black Spot. My guess at this point is that all of Sears' books to date are set in the same world, and maybe most or all of them before this were about Plus Man and his buddy. (I could very easily be wrong.) This one looks to be a little more superhero-y, and may be a soft reboot: Young Shadow is the Robinesque guy on the cover, and he protects Bolt City with the help of his sidekick Spiral Scratch (who is, maybe, the dog on the cover?) in between stints at his job making food-pantry deliveries. (And that sounds a lot like the Plus Man setup, minus the superhero outfit.) Anyway, I liked my first Sears book, so I'm trying more: that's how this is supposed to work!

Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, which is the latest edition of a book collecting their 1988 miniseries of the same name. It ended up being a tryout for Sandman, but no one would have known that at the time - it was a series about a minor DC character pitched by a couple of British creators and edited by Karen Berger, which was not yet a clich√© but (post-Alan Moore Swamp Thing) was well on its way to being a Bankable Thing in its own odd way. (And let me underline that I am entirely sure that the bankability was 90%+ because of Berger: she knew the field, knew the creators, knew the audience, and could get great work out of people that also sold strongly.) I read this in floppy form, way back when, and I think read it as a book at some point, but not in a decade or two.

Room for Love is a book I was vaguely looking for over the past few years - it was published in 2013 - possibly delayed because I knew the creator as "Ed Hillyer," who worked with Eddie Campbell on some Deadface stories over the years, and this book is credited to "Ilya," a version of his name he seems to use more often these days. But I can't quite figure out the difference: I want to say "Ed Hillyer" is the one who does work-for-hire projects and "Ilya" is the creator-owned side, but I don't think it's even that simple. Anyway, this is a solo GN, tending to the drama side of the drama/comedy split, about two people who are not, as far as I can tell, actually in love.

And last is Mind MGMT, Vol. 3: The Home Maker by Matt Kindt. I can look at my shelves and almost pinpoint where I stopped going to comics shops regularly; I kept up with projects and creators very well to that point, and then...it all fell away and got very haphazard. (I at least was never a Big Two "fan of characters," which still strikes me as the opposite of how art works.) I read the first two Mind MGMT books (these big paper-over-board books; there may have been bigger or smaller collections along the way) and then lost track long enough for the later volumes to come out, get obscure, and go out of print. I already have the fifth volume, so I think I just need to find two more and I can actually finish up the whole thing. Maybe I will, one of these days.

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