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.
meanwhile... #1: Not quite a new comic, since issue #2 is already out in the UK, but Diamond is now bringing this 52-page Soaring Penguin anthology to North American comic book stores. The main event, I suspect, will be the continuation of Strangehaven, a low-key rural suspense thriller from writer/artist Gary Spencer Millidge, which ran irregularly from 1995 to 2005, picking up a fair number of admirers. I quite liked it at the time. Also involved (among others) is writer David Hine (of Strange Embrace and The Bulletproof Coffin), who's doing a new serial with artist Mark Stafford; $7.95.
The Humans Vol. 1: Humans for Life: Also not a new comic, since it's an Image collection of material already published in comic book form, but I think it's useful to occasionally spotlight this publisher's collections program, since it's so easy for things to get lost in the flood of releases. This one comes from two experienced practitioners of small press & self-publishing sensation: Tom Neeley & Keenan Marshall Keller, both just interviewed by Tom Spurgeon a few days ago. It's a big romping thing about apes riding motorcycles, and this first trade compiles the four extant Image issues and a preceding self-published issue. Official site; $9.99.
Bite Me! A Vampire Farce (&) Family Man Vol. 1 (&) Danse Macabre 2.0 (&) Outfoxed: I don't know anything about writer/artist Dylan Meconis, save that she's a webcomics artist who seems to make a lot of period fiction, but it's always pretty striking when a gigantic chunk of somebody's output gets released to comic book stores, and that appears to be what's happening here, via the artist's own Toonhound Studios. These look to cover over a decade of work, so poke around on her site; $20.00 (Bite & Family), $15.00 (Danse), $10.00 (Outfoxed).
Roller Girl (&) Bone Tribute Edition Vol. 1: Two YA choices, both gesturing toward huge successes of recent years. The solicitation for Dial Books' release of Roller Girl explicitly begs comparison with Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, as it is similarly a tale of a young girl's growth through small challenges, specifically here her delight in roller derby. The artist is Victoria Jamieson, a creator of children's books making her comics debut. Bone, of course, requires no introduction - just be aware that this "Tribute" packages the Scholastic color edition of the first collected book as a 192-page 6" x 9" hardcover, with a new illustrated poem by creator Jeff Smith and fan art by Kate Beaton, Craig Thompson, Jeffrey Brown, Kazu Kibuishi, the aforementioned Raina Telgemeier, and several others; $12.99 (Roller Girl), $14.99 (Bone).
Millennium: A new Humanoids release of some real French comics firmament, a 2003-09 series concerning merchants battling occult weirdness and human calculation around the year 1000 AD. The writer is Richard D. Nolane, who's scripted a number of works for Les Humanoïdes and Soleil, while the artist is François Miville-Deschênes, whom I do not recall enountering in English before. A 292-page, 7.9" x 10.8" hardcover. Samples; $39.95.
Final Incal (&) Metabarons Genesis: Castaka: Humanoids also has two reissues this week, including a smaller version of Final Incal, by Alejandro Jodorowsky & José Ladrönn. By smaller I mean it's now 7.9" x 10.8", the price is lower, and it's missing the Après l'Incal stuff that Moebius drew. (You can still get a digital edition of that, though.) Castaka is a new edition of Jodorowsky's Incal-related prequel with Das Pastoras, which I reviewed here, with afterwords by Das Pastoras collaborator Jason Aaron and the great Katsuya Terada; $34.95 (Final Incal), $29.95 (Castaka).
Southern Cross #1 (&) The Surface #1: Two new Image debuts here. Southern Cross comes from writer Becky Cloonan and artist Andy Belanger, both adept visual stylists; it's an ongoing SF horror-mystery set in deep space. The Surface is a new one from writer Ales Kot, of Image's continuing Zero, here with artist Langdon Foss (who worked with Anthony Bourdain on the very attractive Get Jiro! in 2012) on a story about hackers in Tanzania seeking to smash the world's shell, from what I can gather. Southern preview, Surface preview; $2.99 (Southern), $3.50 (Surface).
Howard the Duck #1: I'm no more thrilled with the idea of Howard the Duck comics not written by the late Steve Gerber any more than you, but let's face it - this is not just a Marvel-owned property, but a property with a history (infamous, yes, but a history) in movies at a time when Marvel is a leading brand in movies. It was going to come back at some point -- in fact, it just *was* back about seven years ago via Ty Templeton & Juan Bobillo -- and here it is now, written by the reliably funny Chip Zdarsky (co-creator with Matt Fraction of the enormous Image hit Sex Criminals) and drawn by Joe Quinones. Preview; $3.99.
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 9 (&) Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 24: No, this isn't a publisher filling in stock gaps or anything, it's actually two publishers working the same material for different audiences. The former is the Simon & Schuster North American line of 2000 AD reprints, pulling up to 1986 for 400 pages of miscellaneous tales, including one of the classic bits, "Letter from a Democrat." The latter is 320 pages from Rebellion's line of UK compilations, advancing yet more into the mid-'90s; $19.99 (vol. 9), $32.99 (vol. 24).
Hurricane Isle and Other Adventures: The Best of Captain Easy and Wash Tubbs (&) Willard Mullin's Casey At the Bat and Other Diamond Tales: A pair of vintage presentations from Fantagraphics here. Hurricane Isle is a continuation of the publisher's Roy Crane reprint effort, switching here from Sundays to selected daily storylines plucked in their entirety from the 1928-1935 period. It's 320 pages in a 10.5" x 8.5" landscape hardcover. Casey is another slice of Americana, pairing Mullin's merchandise illustrations inspired by Ernest Thayer's poem with the work itself, and then tossing in several other baseball-themed items for a 52-page sum. A 6.25" x 6.25" hardcover storybook, with a preface by Yogi Berra (whom I am hoping will also pen the introduction to Prison Pit: Book 6). Hurricane preview, Casey preview; $39.99 (Hurricane), $9.99 (Casey).
Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week - Andrews McMeel's 160-page catalog to the eponymous 2014 exhibition at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, showcasing Bill Watterson's original art along with that of his influences, with commentary by the artist and a new interview with curator Jenny Robb. An 11" x 8.5" softcover production; $19.99.