Who is this charismatic rogue bursting onto the scene? Why it’s 18-year old Steve Dillon, illustrating the exploits of the first character he’d co-create for comics, Abslom Daak from Doctor Who Weekly, published by Marvel UK. The image above is from April of 1980, though I’m sourcing from the 1990 Marvel Graphic Novel collection Abslom Daak: Dalek Killer. Dillon, best known as co-creator of Preacher with writer Garth Ennis, died this past Saturday at the age of 54. Dillon’s “Abslom Daak” stories were written by Steve Moore, with whom Dillon would later collaborate on “Axel Pressbutton” strips in Warrior, a magazine founded by Dez Skinn, who was editing several Marvel UK magazines at the time Dillon began working professionally. Moore died in 2014, leaving another absence in history…
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 identified in the column title above. Be aware that some of these comics may be published by Fantagraphics Books, the entity which also administers the posting of this column, and that I also run a podcast with an employee of Nobrow Press. 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. You could always just buy nothing.
Moebius Library Vol. 1: The World of Edena: Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated releases of the past few years, and hey – actually a pretty sharp pick for a debut collection. The Edena (or “Aedena”) stories began as promotional materials for a French automobile manufacturer, but soon developed into a forum for writer/artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud to explore exceedingly clean and crystalline art, coupled with unusual notions of health and spirituality; my favorite is 1988’s The Gardens of [A]edena, a raw foods harangue that transforms into a bizarre mytho-poetic saga of male sexual insecurity, climaxing in a kaiju battle with Japanese sound effects. This 8″ x 10″, 360-page Dark Horse hardcover collects the entire primary cycle, including 2001’s Sra, which has never before been published in English; $49.99.
Prince of Cats: Hailing from the same exploratory period of Vertigo original graphic novels that produced Sarah Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days Or Less, this 2012 Ronald Wimberly high style variation on the Romeo and Juliet story from Tybalt’s point of view became a genuine word-of-mouth favorite despite lapsing out of print within the space of one year. Now Image presents a new, larger hardcover edition, 152 pages with revised design and copy elements. Samples; $24.99.
A Walk in Eden, or Adam and Eve Return to the Garden to Steal More Fruit: I spotted three other ‘adult coloring books’ on Diamond’s release list this week — it’s a trend, my friend — but were any of them drawn by Anders Nilsen? The much-admired artist of Big Questions and Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow offers 96 pages of fantastical and surreal nature scenes, with bonus fold-outs, a hidden object game, and at least one My Little Pony. Actually appropriate for all ages, per Drawn and Quarterly, which publishes the softcover at a square 10″ x 10″; $16.95.
Tōnoharu Vol. 3 (of 3): Damn, it’s good to see this. Lars Martinson released the first of these self-published autobiographical hardcovers back in 2008; recounting time spent teaching English in rural Japan, Tōnoharu is the rare comics work of a young such-positioned westerner wholly divorced from fascination with Japanese popular comics or cartoons or historical genre subjects. Instead, Martinson — a student of calligraphy and ink drawing who has since relocated to the U.S. — focuses on the isolation of language and the delicate navigation of custom, along with heavy doses of relationship angst. The series was initially planned to be four volumes, but this 208-page conclusion is considerably longer than the others. Distro by Top Shelf/IDW; $24.95.
Valerian Vol. 12: The Wrath of Hypsis (&) Valerian & Laureline: Ambassador of the Shadows Deluxe Edition: Two Cinebook releases concerning the long-running and exceedingly well-cartooned Pierre Christin/Jean-Claude Mézières SF series. The Wrath of Hypsis is a 1985 album, directly preceding the first part of what iBooks released back in 2004 as The New Future Trilogy, so congratulations on eliminating those gaps in your English-language collection. The Deluxe Edition of 1975’s Ambassador of the Shadows, a particularly beloved installment released in English at least four times in the past — in Heavy Metal, 1981; by Dargaud USA, 1982; by Hodder-Dargaud, 1984; by Cinebook, 2013 — appears to be a slightly larger (9.4″ x 12.1″) hardcover edition, as opposed to the softcover format otherwise employed by Cinebook; $11.95 (Wrath), $19.95 (Ambassador).
Misty: But hey – we may not hear about old French SF comics every day, but it’s damn well more than we hear about British girls’ comics. Rebellion here seeks redress via a 114-page collection of two serials from the pages of the 1978-1984 supernatural anthology Misty, to which 2000 AD veteran writer Pat Mills was helpfully a contributor. Mills scripts the telekinesis-and-bullying story “Moonchild” for scene stalwart John Armstrong, while Malcom Shaw & Brian Delaney (the former an editor at the magazine, best known for the 1980-81 2000 AD serial “Return to Armageddon”) present a Frankenstein-like piece, “The Four Faces of Eve”. One suspects the publisher is leaning on commonalities with its normal fare in selecting these works, but the effort is welcome nonetheless; $19.99.
Vampirella Archives Vol. 15 (of 15): Wrapping up a comprehensive Warren magazine reprint effort by Dynamite, at least as far as the valuable Vampirella character is concerned. To be honest, none of the b&w horror magazines were doing all that well quality-wise by this point (1982-83), but you’ll still find art by lingering Spanish long-timers such as José González, Esteban Maroto, José Ortiz and Rafael Auraleón. The title was also running Torpedo stories drawn by Alex Toth and Jordi Bernet at this time, but I’m not sure if they’ll be included in this edition (nobody involved is listed on the publisher’s website, which makes me wonder if rights issues are at play). A 264-page hardcover; $49.99.
Musnet Vol. 2: Impressions of the Master: The second in this series of children’s hardcover albums (8.5″ x 11.5″) about a mouse painter in the 19th century, very delicately drawn and water-colored by the artist “Kickliy”. A third volume is due from Dargaud in French this November, but the North American editions are from Odod Books, a new kids’ comics imprint of Uncivilized Books; $19.95.
Habitat: Another collected edition for a serial from Image‘s Island anthology, this one from writer/artist Simon Roy, who first came to the attention of many readers (in print) through the 2009 SF book Jan’s Atomic Heart, and then worked extensively on the revamp of Extreme Studios’ Prophet. 96 pages follow the adventure of a young man on the run through a closed environment in outer space, its provenance so long ago that various jobs and upkeep tasks have evolved into conflicting civilizations; $9.99.
Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy: Colorful Cases of the 1930s (&) Cerebus Cover Art Treasury: Two big, deluxe (expensive) items here for devotees of the artists involved. Colorful Cases is the newest release from Sunday Press Books, the most prominent of specialists in extreme fidelity re: newspaper strip reprints. Essays by Jeff Kersten, Paul Tumey and Garyn G. Roberts accompany a selection of Sunday installments from the first decade of the law & order classic, 168 pages in total at 11″ x 16″. Cerebus Cover Art Treasury, meanwhile, finds IDW reproducing every original cover from the 1977-2004 run of the Dave Sim/Gerhard series at 9″ x 12″ across 350 pages, along with annotations, production art and additional texts; $75.00 (each).
The Mighty One: My Life Inside the Nerve Centre: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week is a 304-page prose memoir from Steve MacManus, editor of 2000 AD from 1978 to 1987, a period which saw the UK weekly magazine grow into a popular force in genre comics, its top talents relentlessly headhunted to vitalize American mainstream titles. But MacManus was also involved with other magazines, like the progressive war comic Battle Picture Weekly and the controversial, ill-fated Action – Rebellion promises a full accounting of “the personalities at play and the corporate politics and deadline battles he and others engaged in on a daily basis.” Sounds interesting to me, and the price is quite nice; $12.99.