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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (12/10/14 – Somebody Had to Say It)

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Wow - it's my life, in manga form! If you're like me, you've definitely been wondering what Takashi Nemoto has been up to lately; perhaps you even sleep with Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby under your pillow. Well fear not - he's still active in what Japanese venues will have him, such as the venerable SeirinKogeisha anthology AX. What you see above is a selection from the magazine's 100th issue: a spread attributed to Evis Gekiga Production, which is basically a jam group fronted by alt-manga favorite Yoshikazu Ebisu, featuring the participation of longtime Garo contributor Shin'ichi Abe, somebody calling themselves Mask Baby, and good ol' Mr. Nemoto. Specifically, Nemoto is credited (in English) as "Chief Assistant" - the image above lacks the chunky roundness of Nemoto's solo work, so it might be a collaborative image (or possibly the work of Mask Baby, about whom I know absolutely nothing), though I think it nonetheless captures that old heta-uma spirit enough that it is submitted for your approval anyway. Be forever!

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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 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. 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!

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Here: I'm not sure what more needs be said after Matt Seneca's rundown yesterday, but yeah - this is a massive expansion of Richard McGuire's all-time classic 1989 short from the pages of RAW, re-imagined as 304 color pages' worth of double-splashes, each and every one of them fixed on the same place in the same geographic location at wildly divergent moments from the history of the Earth, often with numerous inset panels peering into entirely separate moments in time, occurring in that same position. Or, in other words, if you really liked that one bit in Grant Morrison's & Frank Quitely's Pax Americana the other week, where it's a bunch of characters navigating a large room with different panels set at different points in time, committing a murder and being murdered and investigating the murder simultaneously - that shit was straight-on McGuire, and now Pantheon brings it full-power as a 6.8" x 9.5" hardcover. Assists by Min Choi, Maëlle Doliveux & Keren Katz; $35.00.

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Dungeon Twilight Vol. 4: High Septentrion & The End of Dungeon: As Lewis Trondheim mentioned to Alex Dueben last week, there hadn't been a lot of action on the Donjon front for about half a decade - not since the '09 release of Donjon Crépuscule T.106, which was set near the chronological end point of the duo's sprawling mock-epic-turned-actual-epic fantasy/comedy institution, which happily bounced around an imaginary 500+ volume run to snatch little bits of story from out the corner of the imagination: both yours and theirs. Many good artists were involved -- some of them, like Boulet (Noirness) and Kerascoët (Beautiful Darkness), caught well before their current renown -- but because all things should end, Trondheim & co-creator Joann Sfar reassembled earlier this year to write two final albums, the definitive ending to Donjon, both of which have now been collected and translated by NBM as a 96-page, 6.5" x 9" color package. The artists are Lionel "Alfred" Papagalli on the first half, and Pierre "Mazan" Lavaud on the second, with both colored by franchise stalwart Walter Pezzali. Note that this is not the end of NBM's translation effort, as they hadn't quite gotten to everything - next summer should bring Dungeon Monstres Vol. 5, featuring the art by Blutch. Preview; $14.99.

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PLUS!

Bitch Planet #1: If a good title's half the battle, this new Image debut is halfway there. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick picked up a lot of appreciation for her earlier western series Pretty Deadly (with artist Emma Ríos), and here she is again with an SF women-in-prison concept, drawn by Valentine De Landro of X-Factor and other (primarily) superhero works. Preview; $3.50.

Savage Dragon #200: But what of the older Image stock? Like Richard McGuire, Erik Larsen also recently finished work on an all-double-splash comic -- issue #199, True Believer -- and now his signature series grows stouter with a 100-page anniversary special, featuring backup stories drawn by Herb Trimpe, Chris Burnham and others; $8.99.

Fairy Tales I Just Made Up!: Your YA showcase for this second week of Advent, in which Ray Friesen (a longtime self-publisher who's worked with Top Shelf in the past) teams with a number of accomplished humor and fantasy comics veterans for zany folkloric riffs. Contributors include Roger Langridge, Batton Lash, Shannon Wheeler, Sonny Liew, Rich Koslowski, Ian Boothby and many others. An 80-page hardcover from Don't Eat Any Bugs Productions; $18.95.

Ditko's Shorts (&) Howard Nostrand's Nightmares: Two from the Craig Yoe division of IDW's reprint apparatus, both honing in on familiar topics. First is Ditko's Shorts -- Yoe's fifth book collecting the artist's works -- which is 112 pages' worth of stories no longer than three pages in length. An 8.5" x 11" hardcover. Then there's the horror stuff, specifically Howard Nostrand's Nightmares (same dimensions, 148 pages), collecting works from the Bob Powell assistant and pre-Code Harvey specialist, likely containing works made very much in the vein of Jack Davis and Wally Wood; $24.99 (each).

Li'l Abner Vol. 07: And one from IDW's Library of American Comics, 272 pages in which Al Capp introduces the Shmoo, one of the fabulously popular comics concepts of the mid-20th century, a morally pure and easily renewed food source that threatens to destabilize the world economy. As with most things Capp, it is decidedly less visible today, but now more accessible; $49.99.

Enigma (&) Divine Right: The Adventures of Max Faraday: The highs and lows of 1990s super-comics from DC this week. If you set aside the various Brendan McCarthy collaborations -- many of which involved some writing input from McCarthy in addition to his art -- Enigma is probably writer Peter Milligan's best work, and likewise one of the best superhero-themed comics of the decade, an unfailingly generous depiction of of personal, sexual identity through the genre lens, as drawn by Duncan Fegredo. Divine Right, in contrast, is post-J. Scott Campbell Wildstorm kitsch at its most flagrant, but nonetheless notable as the final-to-date creator-owned project of Jim Lee, who writes and draws with the assistance of partial co-writer Scott Lobdell, supplemental penciller Carlos D'Anda and various & sundry inkers; $17.99 (Enigma), $24.99 (Divine).

John Buscema's Silver Surfer Artist's Edition (&) Cerebus Archive Number One: Diamond Edition: Fans of large items are in for a treat. First, we've got IDW with issues #5, #6 & #8 of Big John's cosmic tenure (all 1969, inked by Sal Buscema and Dan Adkins, written by Stan Lee), plus some unspecified bonus pages, 144 pages at 12" x 17". Dave Sim has also done some work with IDW, but the Cerebus Archive is an Aardvark-Vanaheim home production, Kickstarted earlier this year as a means of raising funds for the continued restoration and preservation of the Cerebus comic - it's a folio of ten original art pages reproduced at full size on cardstock, all dating from the late 1970s or 1980, accompanied by notes from the artist. I don't believe these non-backer editions are signed or numbered; $100.00 (Surfer), $89.00 (Cerebus).

Winsor McCay: The Complete Little Nemo (&) Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!: Every so often, somebody puts out a new edition of Little Nemo - your exposure to it seems generational. I remember the old red-cover Taschen edition, a little bigger than 9" x 12", which meant the comics were readable, if not always easily so. (As to whether you *want* to read the words in Little Nemo...) This, now, is a new Taschen edition, much more expensive but a good deal larger, standing at 13.5" x 17.3", and purportedly collecting everything; there is also a supplemental 144-page book with text by Alexander Braun (bringing the total length up to 708 pages) and a suitcase-style cardboard carrier, which had better be emblazoned with "DULL CARE" or I'll flip a table. At the same time, Sunday Press Books is reissuing its yet-larger (16" x 21") Best Of selection, 128 pages, now up to I believe its fourth edition; $200.00 (Taschen), $125.00 (Sunday Press).

Insider Histories of Cartooning: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week - a 224-page University Press of Mississippi collection of articles by R.C. Harvey, longtime Journal contributor and expert on newspaper strips. That said, the 14 chapters in here are said to travel all over the form, with a timeline of research discoveries and considerations of artists familiar and obscure. Definitely worth flipping through, if you see it; $35.00.

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