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THIS (THESE) (PAST) WEEK(S) IN COMICS! (1/2/13 – All of you remain trapped here with me.)

From “The Library of American Comics Essentials Vol. 1: Baron Bean”, published by IDW, 2012.

A sage conveyance of angst indeed from American master George Herriman, on the 1916 occasion of the very last installment for Krazy Kat progenitor The Dingbat Family, though I do suspect the sentiment is most applicable to your recent holiday resolution(s), gentle reader/omnivorous consumer. I’d also thought for a second that I’d uncovered the earliest usage of some derivation of ‘fuck’ in an American sequential comic — only another feather in Herriman’s cap — but close examination of the “foolish” in line one of the top balloon aptly suggests that Garge simply enjoyed letting his Ls run into his Is. That’s unfortunate, as “ARE YOU FUCKIN’ ME IN THE ASS” (or some variant thereupon) is a popular regional phrasing from where I’ve just finished Christmasing, and I was really looking forward to investigating Herriman’s potential contact with the northeastern anthracite corridors.

Oh well, guess I’ll just recommend some comic books. You didn’t resolve not to spend money, right?

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PLEASE NOTE: What follows is not a series of capsule reviews but an annotated selection of items listed by Diamond Comic Distributors for release to comic book retailers in North America on the particular Wednesday, or, in the event of a holiday or occurrence necessitating the close of UPS in a manner that would impact deliveries, Thursday, identified in the column title above. Not every listed item will necessarily arrive at every comic book retailer, in that some items may be delayed and ordered quantities will vary. I have in all likelihood not read any of the comics listed below, in that they are not yet released as of the writing of this column, nor will I necessarily read or purchase every item identified; THIS WEEK IN COMICS! reflects only what I find to be potentially interesting.

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SPOTLIGHT PICKS!

Woodwork: Wallace Wood 1927-1981: I’m told this column will be reaching you after the new comics for the week are already on the racks, so let’s start with a bit of time-travel – in 2010, the Casal Solleric in Palma de Malloraca hosted an exhibition of 200+ pages of original art by the late, great Wood. Immediately thereafter, readers of the obscure, soon-to-be-defunct comic book website Comics Comics began to wonder aloud when or how the exhibition catalog would be made available. Now, finally, IDW releases an official North American edition of that weighty tome — 352 pages at 9.5″ x 11.5″ — compiling art samples and full stories from across the artist’s career. Keep it cool and safe in the shade of your Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artist’s Editon, from the same publisher; $59.99.

[a cubic fuckton of Eurocomics from Cinebook]: Obviously this is not the real title of an item available for sale right now – I mean, is a fuckton a long ton or a short ton? (You can finish the joke yourself.) However, it remains a handy way of designating of the mass availability of:

Lucky Luke Vols. 17-20 (Apache Canyon, The Escort, On the Daltons’ Trail & The Oklahoma Land Rush) ($11.95 each)
Blake and Mortimer Vols. 6-7 (S.O.S. Meteors & The Affair of the Necklace) ($15.95 each)
XIII Vols. 1-7 ($11.95 each)
The Chimpanzee Complex Vols. 1-2 ($13.95 each)
Orbital Vols. 1-2 ($11.95 each)
(and)
SPOOKS Vol. 1 ($13.95)

to comic book retailers serviced by Diamond. I’m pretty sure some of those 7″ x 10″ XIII books have been available before – they’re one Belgium album per 48-page volume of covert action from Jean Van Hamme & William Vance. The translations are actually a lot farther along in the UK, with the much-anticipated vol. 17, The Irish Verson, drawn by special guest artist Jean Giraud(!!), due later this month. The similarly 48-page Lucky Luke books are 8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ and jump all around the series’ release chronology, although all of the content here is ’60s and ’70s work by creator Maurice “Morris” De Bevere and longterm scriptwriter René Goscinny. The Blake and Mortimer releases are 72 pages each (at the same size as Lucky Luke), collecting stories written and drawn by creator Edgar P. Jacobs from the ’50s and ’60s.

The rest are newer series. SPOOKS (7″ x 10″, 56 pages; samples) is a localization of WEST, a supernatural Old West gunfighter series begun in 2005 by writers Xavier Dorison (whom you may remember from the old Humanoids series Sanctum) & Fabien Nury (of I Am Legion, with John Cassaday) and artist Christian Rossi, who drew a long series of Jim Cutlass comics for Moebius in the ’90s, although I quite liked the one volume of his Les errances de Julius Antoine (with writer Serge le Tendre) which Acme Press translated back in ’89. It’s up to vol. 6 in French. The Chimpanzee Complex (8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″, 56 pages each; samples here) is a 2007-08 Mars mission suspense series from writer Richard Marazano and artist Jean-Michel Ponzio, both of the recent Archaia release Genetiks (though Marazano also wrote the millennial Humanoids series Dusk, for all you elephants in the room). There’s a concluding third volume that Cinebook has released, although it’s not out via Diamond yet. Finally, Orbital (8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″, 48 pages each; samples here), begun in 2006, is a more adventuresome sci-fi/space opera/diplomacy pop thingy from writer Sylvain Runberg and artist Serge Pellé (whom Lambiek tells me worked on the animated version of Lewis Trondheim’s Kaput and Zösky). It’s up to vol. 5 in France, while Cinebook is up to vol. 4 in the UK – maybe more will arrive soon in your local comics store, which doubtlessly has ordered each and every one of these fine selections.

PLUS!

Nipper Vol. 3: 1967-1968: Big stack of reprints to tackle, so I’ll start with the physically smallest – the latest in Drawn and Quarterly’s 8″ x 5.25″ landscape-format softcovers for Doug Wright’s mischievous lil’ creation; $16.95.

The Complete Flash Gordon Library Vol. 2: Tyrant of Mongo: Next, Titan blows things up to 10″ x 11″ for another 208 pages of vintage Alex Raymond; $39.95.

The Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy Vol. 14: 1951-53: I tend to forget this thing’s even still running – good for IDW; $39.99.

The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 1: 1972-1974: And then comes Black Squirrel Books at the Kent State University Press, presenting 486 pages(!) of work by star alum Tom Batiuk in a 6.5″ x 8.5″ hardcover. Wow your friends by declaring your allegiance to the early, funny ones, provided your Funky Winkerbean-conversant chums are not aware that this thing hit bookstores maybe… 10 months ago? Foreword by the Journal‘s R.C. Harvey; $45.00.

Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe: Here’s the thing, though – I don’t read Funky Winkerbean very much, but I’m pretty fucking delighted that space exists in as ossified, über-mainstream a comics forum as the newspaper funnies page for an established talent to throw the rigid expectations of the scene aside and chase what can only be a personal notion of artistic fulfillment. This is a 252-page collection (also from the Kent State University Press) — which I suppose Diamond is either just releasing or re-releasing — compiling the entirety of the bedrock storylines for the modern Funky, concerning a character’s struggles with breast cancer; $27.95 ($18.95 in softcover).

Prophet #32: I’ve heard a number of people asking “well, I do like that Prophet comic, sure, but when is Simon Roy gonna draw some more?” The new year is a lucky one for you, good friend, because this appears to be a special Simon Roy solo issue of the series, script and art. Hopefully you didn’t just peak in January. Preview; $3.99.

Punisher: Nightmare #1 (of 5): So, over the holiday, I downloaded this iPad app from Madefire, a publisher of free original motion comics and heavily illustrated short stories. There’s a bunch of series going — if you recall Dave Gibbons’ short story Treatment from issue #3 of the new Dark Horse Presents, this is where it’s continuing, sans Gibbons’ art — but one of their self-contained selections was Severing the Curse, a little five-minute pan ‘n zoom demo by Steve Niles & Mark Texeira. This got me wondering what else Texeira was up to, and lo & behold, here’s a ’90s-style Miscellaneous Punisher Miniseries that’s been in the works since 2009, and apparently will release weekly. The writer is Scott Gimple, of the writing room for The Walking Dead on tv, and the premise has the title character meeting a distressed individual with a matching set of personal traumas; $3.99.

Fury MAX #8: The Punisher is also in this, a well-regarded series of (probably) thirteen issues that the Journal‘s Matt Seneca recently suggested may be shaping up to be writer Garth Ennis’ Watchmen. Art, as always, by the fine Goran Parlov; $3.99.

Joe Kubert Presents #3 (of 6): Wait, am I just listing attractively-drawn continuing series I happen to follow? I also like James Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half-Century War (#4 of 5 this week) and Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus (final issue!); $4.99.

Hellboy in Hell #2: Guess so. I *really* liked the first issue of this, on the very fundamental level of panel-to-panel transitions and character movement and colors interacting. Just an extremely pleasurable comic to experience – Mike Mignola is the poet laureate of dudes falling down flights of stairs. Preview; $2.99.

21st Century Boys Vol. 1 [23] (of 2 [24]): The reason for all the vacillation here is that writer/artist Naoki Urasawa — now rapidly nearing the end of works scheduled for translation to English — put this megahit suspense series on a short hiatus in 2006 before ‘relaunching’ it for an extended two-volume conclusion in 2007. This is the first half of that conclusion, with Viz retaining the official title change. Urasawa’s current series, Billy Bat, is up to vol. 10 in Japan, although it’s a Kodansha series, which means they’ll presumably try and release it in English themselves at some point, barring a license to Dark Horse or some other outside entity; $12.99.

Message to Adolf Vol. 2 (of 2): Meanwhile, Vertical offers the 608-page hardcover finale to its new edition of this weighty ’80s Osamu Tezuka project, suspense of a different vintage. Terrific cover too. Note that the publisher also has a softcover edition of Tezuka’s ’70s-born The Book of Human Insects out this week; $26.95.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: A very early contender for manga release of 2013 arrives in the form of The Heart of Thomas, a 524-page all-in-one hardcover compilation of a mid-’70s landmark in Japanese comics-for-girls, Moto Hagio’s epic of gnawing desire among sparkling schoolboys; $39.99. Even older (and somewhat differently-themed) comics can be enjoyed in Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures: The Joe Kubert Archives Vol. 1, a 240-page, Bill Schelly-edited ‘best of’ collection for pre-Code genre pieces by the late Kubert; $39.99. One of the old Ignatz miniseries finds itself collected via Richard Sala’s Delphine, presented at 7.25″ x 10″; $24.99. A softcover edition drops for Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting Vol. 1; $24.99. And then you can just throw finished comics aside entirely in favor of Problematic: Sketchbook Drawings 2004-2012, a 5.25″ x 8″, 364-page collection of Moleskine pieces, “much of it… too baffling to be harnessed for any practical use,” by the awesome Jim Woodring; $28.99.

And finally, just because I cannot leave even one rug in the house uneven:

LAST WEEK’S PICKS – A RETROSPECTIVE!

Eerie Presents El Cid: Forgive me the indulgence, but this is exactly the sort of book that will assuredly vanish into obscurity if… well, probably no matter what I do, but just for the record, back in 1973, Marvel formally launched Savage Tales, a somewhat more adult-oriented b&w magazine variant on its popular Conan the Barbarian comic from writer Roy Thomas; in truth, Marvel had been angling for some means of challenging the Warren magazines and their genre competitors at their own game for years, with two prior attempts (including a pilot issue of Savage Tales in ’71) amounting to little. This time the title took off, with The Savage Sword of Conan quickly following in a wave of new b&w magazines that flooded the market, eventually decimating every player on the scene save for Warren itself.

But by the mid-’70s, Warren itself was interested in branching out; under editor/inveterate re-writer Bill DuBay, ostensible horror anthologies Creepy and Eerie began to feature horror-inflected fantasy and sci-fi stories – sometimes prolonged serials, or even entire special issues. As Consulting (reprint) Editor Dan Braun notes in his foreword to this 96-page Dark Horse hardcover, El Cid — published in 1975 and 1976, mainly in a single dedicated special issue of Eerie (#66) — was among Warren’s responses to the popularity of the Conan magazines and other fantasy comics of the time. Interestingly, unlike some of the Warren serials, El Cid boasted a dedicated artist: the supremely gaudy Gonzolo Mayo, whose decorative, ultra-’70s edge-of-comprehension style lends a rare flamboyance to scripts plotted out by seemingly everyone in the Warren offices (if always dialogued by publisher mainstay Budd Lewis). Truly an obscure moment in (counter-)mainstream comics, but an eye-catching one, nicely presented. Samples; $15.99.

Hip Flask #4 (of 5): Ouroborous: Last but not least, maintaining the unexpected artists-with-significant-ties-to-Mexico theme of of our departed Day After Christmas, 2012, keep your eyes peeled for this 48-page, Image-published corollary to writer Richard Starkings’ Elephantmen series, although *technically* Elephantmen is the corollary to Hip Flask, which began in 2002 as a bizarrely emphatic bit of world-building surrounding a hippopotamus mascot character for Starkings’ Comicraft/Active Images lettering and commercial font service. The star of the show, however, was and remains José Ladrönn, and a new issue appears basically whenever the Final Incal artist can complete enough of his pages, which have taken on a somewhat more stripped-down style, with added emphasis on character movement and washy colors. Search this out, as the tentative December 2013 release date for the final issue must prudently be considered a gesture of optimism. Preview; $4.99.

FILED UNDER:

62 Responses to THIS (THESE) (PAST) WEEK(S) IN COMICS! (1/2/13 – All of you remain trapped here with me.)

  1. Jeppe says:

    What a great Herriman panel!

    Someone needs to start publishing Billy Bat in the US, and soon. It’s an excellent series.

    I warmly recommend most of the Cinebook releases, and particularly the Blake & Mortimer books as well as SPOOKS (although I fail to fully understand their pricing scheme).

  2. Tony says:

    Speaking of Jean Giraud Mœbius, there’s a petition to unblock the US rights situation that is gaining momentum:

    https://www.facebook.com/MoebiusUsaPetition

    • Craig Fischer says:

      Thanks for the mention of the petition, Tony. Tonio Fraga started the petition just a couple of weeks ago, I joined him as an administrator of the Facebook page yesterday, and we encourage all fans to sign up and prove that there’s a passionate demand for quality Moebius books here in the States.

      • horus kemwer says:

        I applaud the intentions behind the petition, obviously, but I have two comments / suggestions:

        1. Maybe you should have an online petition somewhere that anyone can sign rather than a facebook page which requires facebook membership to follow? (for old non-facebooking Moebius fans like myself . . . )

        2. Why focus just on reprinting the classic stuff already published in the US? Maybe it will be easier to get the estate to release the rights to these (?), but if you’re petitioning, why not petition for everything?

  3. Kim Thompson says:

    A few years ago we were so close to signing a deal to at least publish Moebius’s last ARZACH book that we’d already made up our distributor catalog page, when the Moebius crew just pulled the plug on any foreign editions whatsoever, for no specified reason. Since then they’ve relented and allowed other European countries to release editions of it, but the U.S. remains totally off the table, not even open to discussion, as does all his other work. Periodically the Humanoids will release, as part of their French re-releases, an English-language, super expensive, super limited edition of some Moebius material that invariably goes out of print immediately. It’s mystifying and frustrating, and no one knows the reason for this deadlock.

    • Thales says:

      Not only European, a brazilian publishing house put out almost his entire oeuvre last year.

    • James says:

      Gee, could it have something to do with Marvel Comics who published the last set of reprints of Moebius’s best work as well as what I consider the low point of his career, a Silver Surfer story done with some hack?

    • Inkstuds says:

      I think the humanoids stuff only comes out because it’s all written by Jodorowsky, so the rights aren’t completely controlled by moebius estate.

      • Joe McCulloch says:

        And, to be fair — though it took a while — I think all of Humanoids’ Moebius releases are now available in ‘affordable’ editions… “I think” because The Incal seems to chew through printings, and the last one was on May…

      • Kim Thompson says:

        Well, according to Amazon only two books are in print, and EYES OF THE CAT at 56 pages for $35 is affordable only because it’s so thin. MADWOMAN OF THE SACRED HEART is the only reasonably priced Moebius work in English. I literally can’t remember the last non-Humanoids/Jodo Moebius release in English; I think it was those little Dark Horse collections years and years and years ago.

        There were hiccups even in the French editions. Much of the EDENA series was out of print for years until Casterman finally just released a repackaging of it, and the original ARZACH was unavailable for a while, which was sort of absurd. But since it’s all silent you could buy the German edition!

      • BVS says:

        I don’t understand it, but I assume the issue must be both english as well as the north american market. I figure if there existed something like Australian, British, or South African published Moebius comics in english. english reading people would know about it and a few would gladly pay the massive shipping just to get their hands on them. moebius’s wiki says his works have been translated into 15 different languages. even if the reason is some grudge or personal offense against the north american market. is the non north american english speaking market really so tiny than it’s not bigger than at least 1 of those 15?

      • Ian MacEwan says:

        The only Jodo collaboration left to come out is Angel Claw, which they’re preparing to put out right now in one of those gigantor editions like the first run of Eyes of the Cat. Humanoids’ US division is incredibly small, so they can only put out very little in a print run, which I think explains The Incal’s technical OOP status. It’s going back to print though, they’re just super cautious whenever they do it.

        His work-for-hire XIII just came out as a UK release, which is technically the only new work by Giraud to be translated in the 21st century. But yeah, we need the good stuff, the stuff he wrote, primarily Aedena, Arzach, and Garage/Ciguri. In addition to Arzak: L’arpenteur, there’s a final Aedena book, Sra, that has never been translated (though I found a decent fan translation which I’ve posted here).

        Sadly, I’ve heard things that lead me to think that stuff won’t be coming out in a long, long time, and that Kim’s attempt was the closest it ever got. I’m hoping his death may have changed things? Who knows.

      • George says:

        Well, there is the SelfMadeHeroes edition available in the UK. That came out about a year ago and as far as I am aware is still in print. Is there any reason to think that is unavailable in the US?

        I’m not sure what market Humanoids are aiming at with their limited print-run and highly priced publications, but I find I skip their product now and just hope other publishers put out more reasonably priced editions.

    • Tony says:

      Kim, you mean the Arzak book published not by HUMANOIDS but GLENAT barely 2 years ago:

      http://www.glenatbd.com/bd/arzak-tome-1-9782908766585.htm

      which was intended as the first volume of a trilogy, right?

      • Kim Thompson says:

        Yes, exactly. I was dubious about the idea of taking the Arzak character and spinning him into a three-volume SF yarn; it seemed like a calculated commercial move to exploit an iconic figure that wouldn’t necessarily function well in a more mainstream narrative, but the book is actually really good, a fine combination of Moebius’s playfulness and narrative discipline when needed. (I was also shocked at how controlled his five-volume MISTER BLUEBERRY arc was.) And he could still draw like a sonofabitch. I do wonder if he completed any of ARZAK 2. He was definitely cut down in the full flower of his abilities and talent.

  4. mateor says:

    I don’t really have a handle on what people think of ole Wally Wood. I think Wally is the bestest.

    Hellboy was/is the fire.

  5. bomb voyage says:

    I saw a doc on Youtube some while back when Moebius passed away, that went into the relationship between Moebius and his 2nd? wife now widow…seemed kind of codependant, she could be seen as not very stable and very controlling of him and his relationships with publishers especially. When he died she got full control of all the rights. This was my understanding anyway. So maybe the unpredictable behaviour of publishers is coming from her direction…

    • Dr_Krospell says:

      I can confirm that your astute detection of the comments by Jodorowsky and Druillet in the You Tube/ARTE film you mention, regarding the “Moebius Widow” as she has been nicknamed all over Paris for the last 15 years, is spot on. I can also confirm that people on this blog who seem to have picked up on the idea that source of the problem in Moebius’s life and career, over the last several years, was not simply cancer, are also correct – but this is only the tip of the iceberg! If you lived in America all this time, you’d have no way to know just how tragic things were and are becoming, even still now — But anyone fluent in French who is familiar with the Comics industry in Europe or who has attended Comics events in Europe knows “the beast”…
      The “beast” is not anti anything particularly – sadly– she is mostly uneducated white trash (Part of Moebius’s dark side included a perverse fascination for people whom he deemed to be unworthy of him,) and cannot competently fulfill any of the tasks which she has increasingly managed to take control of over the last several years — sadly with the resigned blessing of the master himself.
      Also, it is important to note that the original translations done for Marvel were a sizable endeavor, led by Moebius’s then agents, at Starwatcher Graphics, and it is no small feat to re-translate all of the work. I say re-translate because those said agents were dismissed by the aforementioned person in a brutal lawsuit aimed at dissolving the US company several years ago. One of the many reasons why the continuity of Moebius’s work in the USA was suddenly broken. And never reconnected…
      It is very hard to say more on a public forum, but do cross check the information offered here with ANYONE in the French comics industry and you may be blown away by what you discover – You are all urged to go and verify all this information by yourselves.
      Anyway… this is what we Americans are up against in our hopes of ever seeing new English editions of Moebius’s work.

      • JMLofficier says:

        A small correction: The rights to our translations rightly belong to (now) the Giraud Estate and can be reused without our permission or the need for additional payments. We would be delighted and proud to see them reissued and have confirmed this & given our blessings to several US publishers who inquired.

      • Anthony Thorne says:

        Lovely news Jean-Marc. I also hope we see these books reissued in the West someday. Thank you for your explanations.

      • JMLofficier says:

        It is entirely up to the Estate at this point.

        To provide a bit of background, it is traditional in France for a publisher to keep 50% of the moneys generated from foreign rights sales, e.g.: if a US publisher pays $100 to Humanoids or Casterman or Dargaud, the author will receive (or split if there are several authors) $50.

        At the onset of Starwatcher in 1986, we used our leverage to renegotiate the publishing agreements in order to reclaim 100% of the moneys for Moebius on Moebius-alone works, for English-speaking countries and Japan. This did not apply to INCAL, EYES OF THE CAT, etc. which were works shared with Mr. Jodorowsky, and which remained under the publisher’s control (Humanoids) for these countries.

        This meant that, on any US, UK and Japanese editions of Moebius, he was totally in control and got to keep 100% of the money generated by the exploitation of these works in these countries. Now that Moebius has passed away, the control of these rights has been transferred to the Estate.

  6. Daniel K says:

    Further to Bomb Voyage’s observation above, I watched a film on Vimeo of Moebius doing “live drawing” to musical accompaniment and his good lady wife was sat close by his side in front of the audience throughout, although exactly what she was adding to the drawing experience was beyond me.

  7. ” Terrific cover too. ”

    Peter Mendelsund is the bomb. His spine for the hardcover Ayako is my favourite spine of all time. We’re at a stage now, I think, where the design of these reprint and translation efforts is becoming more and more important to the books’ appeal.

  8. Charro says:

    Sorry to hear the news that the, ‘comics comics’ website will be defunct. Is it possible to incorporate into another website somewhere? it did address some observations on comic artists layouts and storytelling which seemed unique and unfortunately short lived.

    • Briany Najar says:

      That was my all-time favourite comics website/blog/mag. There are a couple of good ones about, but that one was definitely the very best one.
      Yeah, it should probably be archived or something. Some valuable stuff on there, for sure.
      Or, maybe I could take some screenshots now and they’ll become collectors items later.
      Yep.

      • Dan Nadel says:

        Thanks! Well, Comics Comics will live on just as it is right now. No worries about losing it. Nice to know that if Gary finally gets tired of our relentless questions about Steranko’s 1970s laundry habits and gives us the ax, we can always go home again. Anyhow, while the informal blog atmosphere of Comics Comics went away, the entire crew is right here on TCJ continuing to write. Life changes and editorial duties have made it a little tougher for me and Tim to write as much as we’d like, but that’s the nature, I’m told, of “life”.

  9. steven samuels says:

    Speaking of “defunct,” it’s more than a little annoying that the past decades-worth of TCJ web site writing is gone from the web. Not only Deppey’s “Journalista,” but things like Groth’s breakdown of the Kitchen Sink dissolution. It’s a shame.

  10. Dan Nadel says:

    Actually, a lot of it is archived. Some could not be due to tech glitches dating back many years, but if you direct your gaze over to the masthead you’ll find this link: http://classic.tcj.com/.

  11. Kim Thompson says:

    If I had to guess — and in the absence of no solid facts whatsoever, what with Mme. Giraud’s Sphinx-like demeanor on the subject — my conjecture would be that she feels Moebius was such a titan in the field that eventually some major English-language publisher is going to wake up and offer a ton of money for all of Moebius (say, mid six figures) — as Marvel did to whatever degree once, but this time on steroids — and piddling away the rights to individual volumes at a time on small publishers who’ll want to license just a couple of books and pay a few bucks (at the low end of five figures, say) here and there is a waste of her time, an insult to Moebius, and a threat to the eventual grand bargain that could be struck for the works with some Random House-scaled publisher someday. (In a way, the tabula rase lack of Moebius books in print in English is an opportunity.) So until that day, “No” is the easy, fall-back answer.

    But this works only if someone at a Random House-scaled publisher thinks The Collected Moebius is worth (say) a quarter of a million bucks on the barrelhead, of course. Maybe there will come a time when it becomes obvious that the choice isn’t between a few piddly contracts with Fantagraphics- or Dark Horse- or Cinebook-level publishers and a grand bargain with Random House… but between a few piddly contracts with Fantagraphics- or Dark Horse- or Cinebook-level publishers and no English language Moebius at all in any of our lifetimes.

    Of course, I can just read it all in French so it’s no skin of my nose. (Casterman just put out a new edition of the Aedena cycle and I can get the one book in the series I was too cheap to buy at inflated collector’s prices before.) But I feel your pain, my monoglot brethren, I feel your pain.

    • Tony says:

      Kim, thanks for taking the time to explain your conjecture.

      Let my try blow one hole through it though: How do you factor in the international barrage of Mœbius reprints that is sweeping across the main comic markets? There are at least 7 countries and languages where this is happening right now:

      http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=134085980084462

      That’s undeniably a full-fledged avalanche, a grand-scale international publishing revival of Jean Giraud’s works, and as far as I can see, the vast majority of it is achieved through “piddly contracts with Fantagraphics-level publishers”. You could argue that among all those niche publishers there are 2 exceptions, PANINI and EGMONT, that are multinational corporations, but they’re releasing the Mœbius stuff through specialized niche labels in the countries they operate.

      Also, in all those countries, Germany, Spain, Brazil, etc. there are “Random House-scaled publishers”, certainly even bigger than Panini and Egmont, yet the Mœbius estate is not withholding the rights waiting for a blank check offer from them. They are accepting offers from specialized comic niche publishers wherever they can get them.

      My point is: do you really believe in the “exceptionalism” of the Anglo-American market? Do you really think that Mme. Giraud treats American and Britain as a kind of Holy Grail that must be kept in quarantine?

      I have a hard time believing that the financial prospects of American reprints are so lucrative in comparison to all the other countries. As far as I know, Mœbius has never ben a cash cow hit in English, neither for Marvel, nor for the smaller and smaller publishers that Giraud continued dealing with after them: Dark Horse, Caliber (!), Mojo Press (!)… to the point of ending up self-publishing limited “Ashcan comics” in the late 90s, before an ugly legal feud with the Lofficiers brought everything to the screeching halt that lasts until this very day.

      In the end, you yourself conclude, if I’m getting it right, that Mme. Giraud is being naive if she’s really waiting for the Random House pipe dream, and perhaps some day she’ll realise that. I’m just saying that, maybe, she doesn’t have those pipe dreams at all, and the reasons are different altogether…

      • Tony says:

        Let me present another counter-argument:

        THE INCAL

        In the last 15 years, ever since Humanoids set foot in the US market, THE INCAL has been their flagship title, reprinted over and over and over, at least in 5 different formats: comic-book, tpb, small HC, big HC, superbig HC…

        Through all their crashes and burns in America, The Incal has remained the only constant for a publisher who, in this very site, has admitted that their presence in the US market can be described…
        http://www.tcj.com/this-week-in-comics-8812-you-cause-me-such-angst-kaiju/#comment-57268

        “more in the spirit of a boutique than an industrial activity.”

        The book has even been licensed by Humanoids to be exploited in the UK market by a micro-publisher called “SelfMadeHero”, being generous the British equivalent of a Drawn & Quarterly, after an announced deal with a much bigger company like Titan Books (but nowhere near in the Randon House league) fell through. Hardly surprising since I don’t think anybody has ever expected The Incal to be co-opted by Pantheon or something.

        http://wednesdayshaul.com/wordpress/2011/03/22/the-incal-from-humanoids-only-no-titan-edition-coming/

        My point is: I think it’s obvious that THE INCAL’s performance in the English world is as good as it gets for MOEBIUS. So the question is:

        Is there the slightest reason to believe that THE INCAL could be out-performed by any other Moebius book?

        I think the answer to that question is a gigantic NO.

        A Western comic called BLUEBERRY ? The METAL HURLANT cycle (contemporary and similar to the INCAL)? AEDENA? JIM CUTLASS? The latter day self-published stuff? C’mon….

        And in a country where he’s mainly known as the guy who drew some ancient Silver Surfer quarter bin fodder?

        I thing it’s literally impossible that Isabelle Giraud is looking at the numbers of THE INCAL, at the royalty checks she’s getting from it and the other, even less popular, handful of Moebius works that Humanoids can freely exploit in English, and thinking: “Oh man, if only we had total control over these books too, we could withhold the rights for 15 years and wait for Random House to knock on our door”

        When you’re the first one to doubt your own theory, when you say that she’ll realize some day that she’s wrong, I think it’s not far-fetched to go one step beyond and infer that she’s not being that naive in the first place. If you yourself are able to realize that the hypothetical Random House pipe dream is just that, a pipe dream, she should be able to do the same on her own, assuming the thought ever crossed her mind in the first place.

      • JMLofficier says:

        May I state for the record that Marvel did very well with the Moebius books, until the later BLUEBERRY ones which definitely drooped in sales, but still made money.

        AIRTIGHT GARAGE was #3 on the Diamond list the month of its release — at $12.95 cover price in 1985 $, that was quite a lot of $$. Besides, would Marvel have released 20+ books if weren’t making money?

        As for our “ugly fight”, it wasn’t that ugly really. I bthink people gor the wrong impression. Giraud had every right to do whatever he wished to do — it was his company, after all. Yes it took slightly under two years to negotiate our severance, etc. but that is not so unusual in international matters spanning two continents.

        The resulting settlement was amicable and satisfactory. As proof, I’m still in good terms with several members of the Giraud family.

      • Tony says:

        Wow, Mr. Lofficier, thanks for chiming in.

        Have you heard of this? :

        https://www.facebook.com/MoebiusUsaPetition

      • JMLofficier says:

        Yes — which is how I found this thread, BTW.

        Obviously, I’m in full support of a new edition of Moebius’ works in English. (And translating the ones created after our leaving.)

        All our (award-winning, says he, modestly :-)) translations belong to Moebius, and now to the Estate, so could be reused without any new costs, although I presume they would have to be relettered now, since no digital copies exist.

        (All the negative films from the Marvel + Dark Horse editions were conveyed to Moebius at the time, but I don’t think they could be used today, even assuming they were perfectly preserved.)

        Note that the Estate is not Mrs. Giraud alone, but in fact the four children. Under French Law it is the children who inherit ownership of assets, although in most cases, the widow keep the finacial benefits until her death (but not the underlying ownership).

  12. Kim Thompson says:

    Or she thinks that the Humanoids, who because of the collaborative nature of the Jodorowsky material have managed to hold onto the English rights, are too small and have badly mismanaged the material, and that under a big publisher with major marketing muscle and savvy and the ability to start over fresh the material could be presented in such a way as to reap the success that it so clearly deserves and is capable of.

    Don’t you think Marvel/Epic sold a hell of a lot more Moebius books back in the day than Catalan or NBM could’ve managed if they’d gotten the franchise? That’s a pretty solid prior example.

    To answer your question: “Do you really believe in the ‘exceptionalism’ of the Anglo-American market? Do you really think that Mme. Giraud treats American and Britain as a kind of Holy Grail that must be kept in quarantine?” Yes, I do, actually.

    I mean, there hasn’t been a new English-language edition of Moebius (non-Humano-controlled non-Jodorowsky-collaborations) published in 17 years, the last gasp of the Lofficier agenting that would then go down in flames. More than one English-language publisher has reported seeking the rights to one or another project and getting a flat “no” with no explanation. I’m fine with listening to other theories, but the “maybe they’re mad about / afraid of his work being censored” theory seems far more of a wild stretch, especially as Dark Horse cranks out XXX-rated Manara book after Manara book and Fantagraphics THE COMPLETE CRUMB. I think if you’re going to dispute a theory your counter-theory has to be more plausible, not less.

    If you control the rights to arguably the single greatest European cartoonist of the last half century and there’s been a decade-and-a-half gap in his being published in the biggest market in the world, you’re almost certainly doing something and you’re doing it for a reason. Unless there was some catastrophic legal Gordian knot that has left the English language rights in intractable legal limbo. (There’s one book, not by Moebius, I tried to get that’s been locked in limbo for at least a decade. Another one, BARBARELLA, seems to be so as well; it’s crazy that there’s been no new French-language edition of one of the seminal French comics works for, again, a decade and a half.)

    As I get ready to post this I see that Dr_Krospell above has just provided a comment that seems pretty relevant.

    • Tony says:

      The comment by Dr_Krospell is nothing new, well, aside from the “translations are a sizable endeavor, no small feat to re-translate all of the work” argument, which is blatantly ridiculous, but all the rest is nothing that I haven’t heard before from different sources, some reliable, others not so much. It’s the, let’s call it, “crazy bitch” theory that blames everything on the alleged incompetence and mental instability of the widow.

      A line of thought that doesn’t exactly congeal with your, let’s call it, “blank check” theory where she’s masterminding Moebius’ Second Coming to the “biggest market in the world” with one hand while offering a free-for-all, first-come-first-served Moebius buffet to everyone else in the planet with the other.

      I don’t buy either theory or any other, I don’t even buy my own theory because it’s not my theory as I don’t have one. That censorship comment was just wishful thinking on my part that everyone, including the Moebius estate, shares my hatred for Censorbook.

      In any event, we can agree on “the absence of no solid facts whatsoever”, so all this speculation is pointless. I’m more interested in knowing if there’s any prospect of a solution, and if a collective petition has any chance in hell to make the slightest impact in Mrs. Giraud.

      Is it remotely possible that if a petition could get a significant number of signatures, say 5000- 10000, she would listen? Or is it totally useless and a futile endeavor, no matter the number of supporters? Is there a point in making noise as loud as possible hoping that she can be compelled to at least break her silence? Or is it best to just lie in wait til the whole thing resolves itself 2, 3 or 10 years down the line?

      Your candid, brutally honest opinion on the actual possibilities of this scheme would be greatly appreciated, Kim.

      • Ian MacEwan says:

        While it sounds disgusting to blame this all on a “crazy bitch”: what Dr_Krospell said. I’ve heard the same things, from multiple people who’ve directly interacted with her. Things like asking for reprint page rates that are… let’s just say they’re beyond any realm of consideration.

        It sounds like she has this overblown idea of how successful the American comics market is in general. A line of thinking that goes like “the French film industry is to Hollywood what the French comics industry is to Marvel/DC”. It sounds hilarious, but I can believe that could be the perception to people in France who don’t pay attention to market sales and just see the barrage of superhero movies coming to their shores. Publishers not being able to meet her absurd page rate requests, if she doesn’t have a real understanding of how small a market this is, would naturally leave her feeling like she’s being short-changed.

        I’m guessing this will resolve itself only when Isabelle decides to place the business side of things in someone else’s hands, a Lofficier-type that she trusts who can explain to her the realities of our industry(maybe even making a play that a much cheaper deal would help juke some media rights potential for adaptations?).

    • JMLofficier says:

      BARBARELLA is not in limbo. I work closely with the Estate of its creator (his son, Julien Forest), including on the forthcoming TV series. We have one very attractive offer from an English-lsnguage publisher we are seriously considering at the moment.

      • Tony says:

        Great news, thanks for sharing!

        You probably know that Kim Thompson has health problems right now, which everyone of us wishes him to overcome as soon as possible, so I’m afraid he won’t be able to talk to you here, but I’m sure he’d be delighted to hear this revelation.

        I hope we’ll all enjoy a new English edition of Barbarella soon.

      • JMLofficier says:

        The #1 problem right now is purely technical: to arrange the transfer to digital & recoloring of the original editions under the best artistic conditions.

      • steven samuels says:

        Yes, thanks from a lot of people. This Moebius situation has been speculated on literally for years in this site and other places. It’s good to finally hear the real deal.

      • JMLofficier says:

        I’m glad to clear up some things. If you have any questions (about that period), I’ll be happy to answer them, to the best of my abilities.

      • Tony says:

        I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m more interested in what you think about the present situation. You had first hand experience with the rights holders, so do you think we’ll see a solution to this drought anytime soon, or do you fear the situation will remain the same for years and years?

      • Tony says:

        Oh, btw, speaking of comics “in Limbo”… or not… I’ve heard that TONGUE/LASH is in one of those situations, like the creators can’t agree on the terms for a reprint or something. Could you shed some light, please?

      • JMLofficier says:

        Re Tongue/Lash, no that’s not true at all. Dave (Taylor) and I would love to see it back in print & we agree pretty much on everything. It’s simply we’ve had zero offers.

        Re the Moebius Estate. They’re presently in litigation, or just about. So I’m inclined to believe that the matter will remain as is for years to come.

      • Not sure of what Jean-Marc Lofficier is talking about. The BARBARELLA publishing rights are held by les Humanoïdes Associés/Humanoids and this for years. We are currently working on a new edition, and Jean-Claude Forest’s son, Julien, is perfectly aware of these plans.

      • JMLofficier says:

        Mr Donoghue is actually incorrect on every statement.

      • Alex Donoghue says:

        We have no intention of arguing with Jean-Marc Lofficier over the Internet, but the fact is that Jean-Claude Forest signed agreements with Les Humanoïdes Associés on May 14th, 1992 regarding the series BARBARELLA. The agreement regarding the first book of BARBARELLA and LES COLERES DU MANGE-MINUTES is still valid to this day, and with that we confirm that Les Humanoïdes Associés along with Humanoids are currently working on a new edition of the title.

  13. Kim Thompson says:

    Moebius was the one cartoonist we didn’t get for the ABSTRACT COMICS collection. I won’t specify the page rate we were able to come up with (which everyone else was fine with), but with an esoteric book like that, with sales of well under 3,000 copies, you can probably imagine. Mme. Giraud and I had a basically pleasant email conversation about getting a four-page Moebius story for it, and then she asked for a page rate that would have sucked up literally over a third of the entire budget of the 200-page book and that was that. There was no room for discussion whatsoever. “That is our page rate.”

    I do think she genuinely believes that given the global popularity of Moebius and the relative sizes of the markets she can and should hold out for a huge deal from the English-language markets. Selling an ARZACH book to Sweden or the Czech Republic for a couple grand, fine, those are inherently tiny markets.

    I don’t agree with or approve of the insulting terms used here. Business is business, and we may think her MO is unreasonable and unlikely to result in anything, but who knows? Maybe one day Benedikt Taschen, who loves comics, will wake up, say “Damn, I sure do like Moebius” and write a quarter-million-dollar check for The Complete Moebius. And she’ll have spectacularly won the long game.

    I think the internet petition will be exactly as potent and useful as every other internet petition ever launched: The U.S. government will be putting the finishing touches on our first Death Star before this one bears any fruit.

    Of course, I could be entirely wrong.

    • Tony says:

      For the record, I don’t agree with or approve of the insulting terms used exclusively by “Dr_Krospell” in his/her post. Myself, I have only paraphrased the “insulting terms” to describe succinctly, in shorthand manner, the insulting content of the theory put forward in the post by “Dr_Krospell”. That’s where the insults originated, and only the author of that post, “Dr_Krospell”, is responsible for them.

      Furthermore, I have only referred to that post full of insults and rumors written by “Dr_Krospell” after it was described to me by the administrator of this page as, and I quote, “pretty relevant”, and I immediately added that I didn’t buy into any of it.

      I also agree with Kim Thompson on his appraisal of the potency and usefulness of the petition, despite being its main instigator myself.

      Of course, I also think that we could be entirely wrong, and I certainly hope so.

    • mateor says:

      Death Star!!! nice.

  14. Robért says:

    I do not know Isabelle personally, but I certainly don’t think she’s crazy nor do I have reason to believe any of the other derogatory things said about her. And the idea that less than a year after her husband’s death some U.S. fans are newly impatient for his grieving widow to hurry up and get around to the business deal(s) they think she should be making is frankly sickening. I think the petition idea is well intended, but inadvertently tasteless, probably doubly so to a French woman who doesn’t need others telling her how to mind her late husband’s legacy.

    I appreciate Kim Thompson’s insights. My own view, which for all I know might be Isabelle’s as well, is that an oeuvre that famously attracted Fellini, George Lucas, and Ridley Scott, and which was created by a man who dreamed his whole life of successful film adaptations of his work (his final Arzak book was based on an unproduced screenplay), does indeed demand major trade publication in the U.S. – though given the commercial realities this might only be achieved in unison with a Spielberg-calibre “Hollywood hyphenate” deciding to adapt Le garage hermétique or Le monde d’Edéna.

    Or to put it more bluntly: Hergé got Little Brown, Moebius gets Humanoids? I think not. My bet is she’s a smart lady, and someday everyone’s going to know it.

  15. Paul Slade says:

    A new UK publisher called Sloth Comics has an English-language edition of Jodorowsky & Moebius’ Madwoman of the Sacred Heart out this week. Details over on the Gosh blog here: http://www.goshlondon.com/2013/01/the-gosh-authority-150113/#more-8915.

    It’s priced at £16.99, which is – what – about $27?

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