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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (3/7/12 – Screaming ’80s)

One of the perks of a day job that requires travel is that I sometimes get time off in an unfamiliar place; because I am a creature of habit, and lucratively sad, I immediately attempt to impose some familiar order by looking up a local comic shop and paying a visit. My motto on these trips is that even the least promising retailer was perhaps seized at one time by the need or hope or fancy to throw money down some interesting hole and hang on to whatever curiosity was coughed up until someone, somewhere, finally buys it. A narcissist to the end, I endeavor to be the finale to these uninspiring stories.

By which I mean: I found cool shit in a comic book store again!! This time it was especially awesome, because I’m not entirely sure if it was an official product on the shelves, or some personal project the retailer (or a predecessor) deigned to flip for resale. Nonetheless, I am now the proud owner of a softcover bound edition of Métal Hurlant issues #47-52, covering January through June of 1980.

Actually, it’s only issues #48-52, as #47 had already gone missing by the time I hit the scene. I’m thinking the binding itself might have been an accessory to the crime, since it took roughly five seconds after I got the package home for issue #52 to likewise drop free of its confines, fully intact, cover and all. I accepted this as a sign that I should examine the issue in isolation, as a bellwether of its time. After all, Les Humanoïdes Associés had been publishing the magazine for half a decade by then, and its U.S. counterpart, Heavy Metal, had been active for two and a half years, long enough to begin to shake free of its French origins and pursue a number of new works from English-dominant talents wandering the blighted post-underground scene of the American late ’70s. As a result, English readers tend to think of Métal Hurlant, the French stuff, in terms dictated by early Heavy Metal, which suggests the visual approaches of Les Humanoïdes founders Moebius and Druillet, or fellow practitioners of handsomely surreal fantasy and personalized mystery.

Yet this was not a fixed thing in June of 1980.

Here is Jean-Michel Nicollet‘s cover to issue #52, upon which a woman is cruelly interrupted in carving the final delicate embroideries onto her bodypaint ensemble by a steampunk condor, possibly to inform her she’s double-parked her tank. Fucking concert security! The logo in the upper left had been introduced in the issue prior as the magazine’s second-ever fixed title design; it would last until January of 1982, at which point a variation on the old, blockier logo visible two pics above would be reinstated, and the band of text down the left side would be eliminated entirely. For now, it promises peeks into the bars and cocktails of Paris, and a look at famous bathtubs, along with several comics features introduced in the alternating smaller font. It’s not just funnies in here – it’s culture.

Nonetheless, the first BD feature front-loads the issue handily by presenting the great Hugo Pratt via a segment of his Fort Wheeling, a color sequel to a strip the artist had created in Argentina in the ’60s. It’s a tale of soldiers in the American colonies, a setting not entirely unlike that of Indian Summer, which Pratt would begin with artist Milo Manara in a few years.

Yeah, I’m a man of simple pleasures. A burning torch to the face, an exploding covered wagon, SOCK! and “HOUCH!” in the same panel – and god, that third frame on page two, where it’s just gobs of black but you can not only make out what’s happening but there’s suspense in the dude creeping up behind him, coming into view with his arms raised to swing in panel four… that’s all I need!

But artists of Pratt’s longstanding renown would provide a sort of bookending force for issue #52, a magic circle of prestige surrounding a different development in comics art. We can catch an early hint in one of the magazine’s text features, the MAGAZINE roundup of cool-looking movies, books, albums and comics, identified for your pleasure by the Métal Hurlant contributors.

Yves Chaland is behind many of the capsules on this page; he had been publishing with Les Humanoïdes for two years, and would soon be collaborating with Moebius as colorist on The Incal, which would begin serialization in issue #58. Turn your attention, however, to the first full paragraph in the third column, where Chaland comments on Défi de l’invisible, a 1963 installment of writer/artist Michel “Greg” Regnier’s Rock Derby adventure series; the publisher is Magic Strip, a Belgian outfit which specialized at the time in reprinting classic mid-century comics albums. Chaland too was a great admirer of the old Belgian look, particularly the Marcinelle school of cartooning established by Joseph “Jijé” Gillain and mastered by André Franquin, an animated counterpoint to the Brussels school of Hergé and the “clear line” style, isolated and continued by the Dutch artist Joost Swarte in the ’70s.

By 1981, Chaland and like-minded young artists would be reviving and modifying the mid-century aesthetic at Magic Strip under the publisher’s Atomium 58 line of new albums, establishing the Atom Style as a movement in international comics, an evocation of post-WWII Belgian cartoon aesthetics in an often politicized, self-aware and ironic form.

As a result, either by way of editorial precognition or just happening to be the handiest forum around, this June of 1980 issue of Métal Hurlant is absolutely goddamned lousy with sprightly cartoon figures and handsome architectural flights. It’s not a total departure from the mid-’70s genre avant-garde on which Les Humanoïdes was founded — Moebius was a Jijé protégé, after all — but it certainly stands in abject contrast to the enduring image of what proper French Heavy Metal art should look like; not just the covers that had shifted as the decade turned.

Chaland also had a comic in issue #52, the first part of his Bob Fish, which helpfully acknowledges the homage inherent to the nascent Atom approach in having a character examine his favorite comics on-page. With Magic Strip in ’81, Chaland would launch his Freddy Lombard series of throwback comedic adventures with The Will of Godfrey of Bouillon, a near-automatic drawing exercise in which he completed one full page of a sprawling present-meets-past story per day until the album seemed done, allowing his sense of how old-timey comics ‘worked’ to guide him instinctively. He would continue to switch up his approach in subsequent projects, nonetheless orbiting a core, polished, vintage cartoon look until his untimely death in 1990.

Other artists weren’t so visually constant. Here we see a jewel-like early page from Swiss artist Daniel Ceppi, who had begun self-publishing his comics only three years prior. Métal Hurlant was clearly excited by the young talent, as this story is the “CEPPI EN COULEURS” from the cover. Along with formatting changes, issue #51 had also brought a massive investment in color pages for the magazine, which had previously relied on Warren magazine-like insert sections for its 32-out-of-100 color ratio; by issue #52 color was all over the place (and the cover price had increased), allowing for a particular luster that perhaps aided the simplified forms of art like Ceppi’s, reminiscent of Harold Gray in its dotted faces and delicate human figures. Check that link a ways back, though, to witness how the artist’s style evolved into a more traditionally ‘realist’ look as he moved into longer series.

Likewise, Dominique Hé, a Moebius student, would eventually zoom in his perspectives to accommodate a more detailed view of his blocky characters. I can’t comment on the motives or impulses behind each of these developing artist’s styles — hell, I can barely even struggle through the captions with my crap French — but it’s undeniable that something was in the air to unify so many of these pages.

On the other hand, we’ve also got this little ditty from Serge Clerc, spotting blacks and working limited colors in a manner similar enough to Chaland in the same issue, but to an extent that the work seems a bit different from the more familiar type indicated by his cover to my dubious softcover omnibus way back up top, dated the same year. Clerc more than anyone would be responsible for exporting the Atom Style to English-speaking territories via his contributions to the UK’s New Musical Express and Melody Maker, from where Escape artist Rian Hughes would hone his own graphic techniques and eventually return the look to Magic Strip for the 1987 album The Science Service, among the last of the Atomium 58 comics.

Of course, some of issue #52′s evocations went in a different direction.

Behold the mighty Andy Gang, by the great Chantal Montellier. You might remember her from the reliably disquieting 1996 series and its yooneek lowculeyezayshun from early issues of Heavy Metal, and as much as I love the ligne claire and Franquin and all their descendants, for sheer gut-level impact I’ll always go for ice-cold disaffect in genre stuff; just look at that barely-mobile head shot in the final panel, like the guy’s less rocked by the hammer-blow of a pistol than stunned at the unraveling of his own face. I’ve yet to locate so much as one interview conducted with Montellier in English — she’s perfectly accessible in French, mind you — but I’ve read enough about her to make an educated guess that sapping the thrill-power from crime comics action is all part of the concept with Andy Gang, which runs like a Jacques Tardi comic from Earth-2, airless and schematic and acidly funny and entirely devoid of hope or trust in its depiction of lawmen that cause the real crime in society; his despite arriving before most of Tardi’s actual detective comics!

It’s not unreasonable here, I think, to read some criticism into the action comic proclivities of Métal Hurlant, or indeed its frequently boyish parade of naked ladies lolling inscrutably; Montellier serves up just as much nudity in Andy Gang, but only in the context of desecrated corpses. The series — and the content in issue #52 is specifically from the storyline Andy Gang et le tueur de la Marne — actually originated in one of the prime undiscovered Eurocomics terrains, Les Humanoïdes’ second comics magazine, 1976-78′s Ah! Nana, a women-driven anthology of satire and commentary that confronted issue-length topics like incest and BDSM and “Le sexe et les petites filles,” and folded after nine issues when it found itself restricted to adult sales and thereby blocked from access to about 1/3 of its retail venues. Montellier commemorated the occasion by drawing the censors as the authoritarian cast of Andy Gang, which eventually ran to three collected albums, all of which appear to be out of print in France. Perhaps a concerned publisher can sweep in to rescue it, or at least translate the artist’s 2003 Vertige Graphic collection Social fiction, compiling three classic Les Humanoïdes series, including 1996.

There’s plenty of other stuff in Métal Hurlant #52, including work from French humor comics lifer Frank Margerin, but I owe it to you to showcase the only other comic mentioned on the cover, “LA 1ere BD POLAROID,” a little ditty called Une lettre inutile from the artist Irutchka — about whom I know absolutely nothing — and a writer credited as “OX 174.” It’s an attempt at reviving fumetti in a more self-evidently low-fi, visual design-y manner, and it’s astonishing in how closely it anticipates how artists like Dave McKean would reconfigure the look of certain “mature” American comic books later in the decade. If the Atom artists and Montellier evoked other styles as a means of homage and criticism, this is a little indication that the magazine could still predict a bit of the comics future, if mainly in keeping tabs on developments in the wider arena of visual arts.

And then, finally:

Motherfucking Philippe Druillet, aka the Les Humanoïdes founder that was a cartoonist and was not Moebius. There’s a duality between them: Giraud, the timeless visionary and mystic chameleon, and Druillet, the most 1970s comics artist in all the history of humankind. He’s still at it, though, having just released a new Lone Sloane album, Delirius 2, early last month. His contribution to this magazine was a chapter from Salammbô, an endeavor he’d be working on until 1986, reimagining Gustave Flaubert’s 1862 historical novel as the 1st through 192nd-greatest prog rock album covers of all time. Or at least that was the effect, continuing into earnest fury onto the inside-back cover like an incantation to reestablish the historical period of all preceding words and pictures. Wrapping it up.

Even the back cover’s ad seems apropos:

Ah, la cigarette! Something about this image makes me want to throw on Time Out of Mind and pretend I’m a rueful libertine, which is more than I can say for the house ads clogging up our comics today. So here’s to you, Métal Hurlant: you truly were perfection and grace, and the smile on my face, even after our modern history forgot what you became.

***

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!

King City: Being Image’s long-awaited 424-page all-in-one edition of Brandon Graham‘s 2007-10 sci-fi series, a conversational cut of fanciful of world-building initially released in part by now-hibernated manga specialist Tokyopop — though I felt its no-rush, detail-oriented storytelling also evoked a certain kind of early ’80s imaginative density, like Time2 or Starstruck — then split into large-format comic books released in association with Image. Those comic book chapters got tricky to find early on, so this compilation — oversized like the comics, and set to include all of the bonus features from the individual issues — should supersede as the preferred edition. The internet remains dense with a bounty of samples; $19.99.

Friends with Boys: A 224-page First Second compilation of a webcomic by cartoonist and animator Faith Erin Hicks — although actually I think it was always intended for print, and became a webcomic in partnership with the publisher — concerning a homeschooled girl adapting to public school life and encountering some supernatural stuff. First Second has come to specialize in a high-end brand of YA-aimed mainstream comic, and this is one of their more prominent releases of late. Samples (lots of ‘em until later this week, then fewer); $15.99.

PLUS!

Blue: A new Top Shelf release of work by Australian cartoonist Pat Grant, a slice-of-life piece about teenage antics and the (one presumes) metaphorical tentacled alien presence in society. Really, this has all been efficiently laid out by the artist, and I should say nothing more. Two colors, 96 pages, 9.4″ x 6.6″ in landscape format. Online in its entirety here; $14.95.

The Compleat Terminal City: Paul Gravett has suggested that Dean Motter’s ’80s sci-fi series Mister X also functions as an English-language appendage of the Atom Style, particularly through the visual concepts of Paul Rivoche, though readers of this site will doubtlessly remember it better as a forum for early work by the Hernandez Brothers and Seth. This is a 368-page Dark Horse edition of a subsequent Motter-written retro futurism project, a pair of 1996-98 Vertigo series blending noir and robots and stuff, drawn by Michael Lark. Samples; $24.99.

Hellboy Vol. 12: The Storm and the Fury: The last big collection of artist Duncan Fegredo’s excellent tenure as primary artist on Mike Mignola’s signature series, and a handy reminder of how world-shattering climactic action man sturm und drang can work marvelously as visceral entertainment, even while mostly existing to set up yet further plot developments (particularly the return of Mignola as writer/artist). Probably not a great choice for your first Hellboy comic, but if you’ve been wondering if the kind of genre licks that power the continuing superhero comic book industry can succeed apart from the windows-onto-a-virtual-world focusing effect that dominate high-profile crossover events, the answer for me was yes – in fact, the comparative lack of baggage makes ‘em register much clearer. Preview; $19.99.

Avengers: 1959: Also in superhero comics set a little bit apart comes a softcover collection for Howard Chaykin’s most recent solo project, a period espionage thriller dotted with various Marvel characters bent to Chaykin’s particular purposes, including the artist’s own Dominic Fortune. An Image-published sequel to Black Kiss is next in line; $16.99.

EmiTown Vol. 2: Speaking of Image (again), here’s a second 400-page volume of autobiographical comics by prolific Emi Lenox, coming just over a year after the first; $24.99.

No Longer Human Vol. 3 (of 3): Wrapping up Vertical’s recent push of releases by Usamaru Furuya, a hard-to-keep-tabs-on talent here adapting novelist Osamu Dazai’s 1948 landmark in a modernized setting; $10.95.

Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 8: Likewise, this 160-page cut of color cat manga by Kanata Konami brings Vertical’s releases nearly up to speed with the Japanese series, which saw its ninth volume released this past December; $13.95.

One Piece Color Walk Vol. 2: We may never have a long wait for more of Eiichiro Oda’s widely-liked, zillion-selling megahit, but while Viz indeed has vol. 61 of the collected editions ready to fly (it’s up to 65 in Japan), I’ll turn some attention to this anticipated sophomore release of color images by the artist, 110 pages at 11.5″ x 8.2″, with an interview included; $19.99.

Lynda Barry: Girlhood through the Looking Glass: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week, a 208 University Press of Mississippi release by Susan E. Kirtley, who “concentrates on Barry’s recurring focus on figures of young girls, in a variety of mediums and genres,” per the publisher. “In tracing Barry’s aesthetic and intellectual development, Kirtley reveals Barry’s work to be groundbreaking in its understanding of femininity and feminism.” Probably worth a look; $25.00 ($65.00 in hardback).

SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Eh, Diamond doesn’t have any conflicts of interest ready for Wednesday, but this post still seems awfully unbalanced.

Thus, in commemoration of the one-and-a-half minute anniversary of your having read the first half of this post, here is a French bartender:

And here’s Serge Gainsbourg sitting in his famous bathtub:

We remain, as always, your full-service comics column.

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29 Responses to THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (3/7/12 – Screaming ’80s)

  1. Great review of Metal Hurlant. These softcover bound editions were common, I’ve also seen similar compilations of PILOTE, EL VIBORA, CAIRO, etc. Some didn’t include the covers to the magazines, suggesting they were assembled from the copies returned by newsdealers.

    The Magazine roundup you mention is one of the reasons I miss magazines like these. Most of these European magazines had similar sections, which were a great way to find out what has happening in the international comics scene in those pre-Internet days. (Not to mention all those news about local books, music, radio programs, etc.)

  2. Ian MacEwan says:

    Speaking of Pratt, Universe/Rizzoli released an English version of Corto Maltese : Ballad of the Salt Sea today!

    I haven’t seen it in person yet, but I’ve found a preview of it, which looks fairly promising. I’m glad the colors have that washy watercolor feel, but they look a little too washed out in some places. The lettering also looks a little stiff.

    Really though, I couldn’t care less. I haven’t yet had a chance to own any Corto in English, so I’m excited as all get out for this. Especially if they manage to release the rest of the series, which they plan to do.

  3. david t says:

    it’s funny you would single out chaland’s blurb on greg, because what chaland is actually saying is that the greg story is a tilleux swipe; & then goes on to ask the reader to compare by themselves, saying (to make a plain translation) that greg is coffee substitute («chicorée», i.e. root chicorea) to tilleux’s coffee.

  4. Joe McCulloch says:

    Certainly! Chaland’s affections would not foreclose on his drawing distinctions between artists, or works…

  5. Tucker Stone says:

    Book distributors unleashed the new editions of Corto Maltese today. Diamond should catch up with them on the 21st.

  6. DerikB says:

    Forgot those were coming out. Thanks for the reminder, Tucker.

  7. Tony says:

    Glorious return of Corto Maltese at 6-3/4 x 9-1/2 inches.

    Do they include a magnifying glass with the booklet?

  8. david t says:

    what i’m saying is i don’t see no affection for greg in chaland’s blurb. :) not that there should be: greg was a decent-to-great writer (his spirous with franquin & jidéhem are definite highlights of the series) & an okay gagman, but generally quite a poor draughtsman, who often resorted to uncredited assistants. a sort of belgian stan lee, if you will.

  9. Sean Michael Robinson says:

    David Lasky gave me a big ol box full of these Metal Hurlant soft cover rebindings last month. As far as I can tell they’re remaindered copies, with “perfect” binding added–they must have done them for a while, as I’ve got 29-76 bound this way! A beautiful way to take in the magazines–makes them a lot more robust and satisfying (and bewilderingly busy! much like a big ol manga magazine).

  10. Kim Thompson says:

    Let’s be fair: Comparing ANYONE to Tillieux short of Franquin or Hergé is a mug’s game. It’s like starting out a record review, “Well, compared to the Beatles’ REVOLVER, this is…” Greg’s comedy-adventure work is skillfully crafted, but no one would put any of it in the top rank: It’s unmemorable and mostly done to order (although two of three of the later ones are close to being in the same league as the weaker Tillieux stories.)

    As a cartoonist Greg was slick and skillful at best — but “often resorting to uncredited assistants” isn’t exactly a devastating putdown in a field where the king is Hergé, some of whose later books had more Roger Leloup or Jacques Martin ink on the page than Hergé (and emphatically uncredited, too).

    But Greg wrote four of the very, very best SPIROU stories as David says (which makes it four of the best humor/adventure albums ever, period), he wrote what is easily the second best of the “realistic” action-adventure series of the 1960s and 1970s (BERNARD PRINCE). And even though it didn’t pan out, it says something that Hergé picked him to write a TINTIN book. His ACHILLE TALON gag series is well done (if repetitive), too. And twee as they were, I always had a fondness for his OLIVIER RAMEAU stories and having been surreptitiously buying up the nice new “Intégrale” editions of then.

    The Stan Lee analogy might be pretty on the nose except Greg actually wrote his stories instead of filling in captions. And at some times he was writing about half of TINTIN magazine, too.

    PS: Uh, what? Oh, right. BLUEBERRY, of course what do you think?

  11. Kim Thompson says:

    Oh, pshaw. On the sliding scale of cartoonists whose work works perfectly well at a slightly smaller size (or doesn’t), the crisp, stylized, often minimalist Pratt is emphatically on the “works just fine” end, maybe just to slightly to the left of Peyo. As I recall NBM published this exact story at U.S. comic book size, which is basically what this is, and it read perfectly well then too. I suspect any reader who wasn’t aware of the European editions and picked this up wouldn’t even blink. Again I say, have none of you ever read an ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY?

    That it’s the color version is probably much more of an issue to get bent out of shape over.

  12. DerikB says:

    Oh, it’s the color edition… that severely tempers my interest.

  13. Tony says:

    “I suspect any reader who wasn’t aware of the European editions and picked this up…”

    And I suspect that’s 90% of them.

    “…wouldn’t even blink.”

    You can say that about each and every existing miniaturized English edition of an European comic, or even about any hypothetical miniature edition of, say, Prince Valiant or Geoff Darrow.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    Inversely, if any customer could see these shrunk down editions side by side with the original European books, not only would they blink, but most of them would recoil in disgust and ask out loud who are they triying to swindle?

  14. david t says:

    hi kim. the reason why i criticize greg’s practice of not crediting his collaborators (whereas hergé’s doesn’t seem to me as problematic) partly has to do with how mediocre & uneven i find the resulting work (it’s glaring when you look at the later achille talon collections); but mostly, i feel that as one of franquin’s old assistants (who duly credited every collaborator, even people who gave him ideas) he should have known better.

  15. Kim Thompson says:

    I don’t think the recent Casterman edition of SINNER that is smaller than the previous versions is a “swindle,” I don’t think the recent Dargaud editions of Fred’s PHILEMON that are also smaller are a “swindle”; in fact I prefer both versions to the traditional album-sized version. Our LOVE AND ROCKETS and BUDDY DOES SEATTLE/JERSEY editions are not “swindles,” I can assure you, but attempts (successful ones, I think) to package the work for readability. I don’t feel swindled by the Pantheon EPILEPTIC which is somewhat smaller than the L’Association version. And there is one classic Euro GN I’m planning to reprint in a significantly reduced version in a year or two, probably the smallest it’s ever been, because I think it’ll work like gangbusters in that format.

    There are instances where publishing work at a smaller size is done for bald-faced commercial or cheap reasons and there are instances where it inarguably hurts the work, but I see a somewhat maniacal size absolutism, including the fellow who was having a fit over the Dark Horse Manara editions which are in fact the same size pretty much every Manara edition has ever been EXCEPT for one French OVERsized edition of a few years ago he’d fixated on as being somehow the standard. (My understanding is that Manara is super happy with the DH editions, as well he should be since DH’s editions benefit from fantastically scrupulous production, very nice design, snappy lettering, and I’m told the translations are OK, too.)

    There are definitely some works that need their original size and are hurt if shrunk. There are some that actually can look and read better if they’re shrunk. And there are some that you can shrink or blow up by a range of 10% to 20% and it honestly doesn’t matter that much. Which are which can be debated, hopefully in less heated terms than “swindle,” “recoil in disgust,” etc.

  16. DerikB says:

    Having recently read one of each of those Sinner and Philemon editions, I had no idea they were smaller than the original (both are still bigger than average American comic size, though not quite normal European album size), nor did it occur to me that they were. (The Sinner edition is certainly bigger than the old pamphlet editions Fanta did.)

    In contrast, if you think about some of those editions of old newspaper strips (Little Nemo, Sundays with Walt & Skeezix): they may be original size (I assume) but, damn, at times that seems a little too big. You can’t really read those things without laying them out on the floor and climbing on top of them, which isn’t really an ideal experience.

  17. DerikB says:

    I should add, I don’t feel I was swindled (or any such thing) learning about the size difference. Both editions looked great.

  18. Tony says:

    I don’t think the recent Casterman edition of SINNER that is smaller than the previous versions is a “swindle,” I don’t think the recent Dargaud editions of Fred’s PHILEMON that are also smaller are a “swindle”

    The French readers CAN choose between the original, standard edition and the smaller, much-after-released repackagings.

    The English-speaking readers don’t have that luxury. Do you think I would complain otherwise?

    Likewise, we have plenty of available in-print non-shrunk down versions of LOVE AND ROCKETS and HATE. For CORTO MALTESE or SMURFS, or a lot of other books, in the current market, it’s the miniature or nothing.

    There are instances where publishing work at a smaller size is done for bald-faced commercial or cheap reasons and there are instances where it inarguably hurts the work

    To me, every single time it’s done for bald-faced commercial or cheap reasons, and inarguably hurts the work. Exceptions and “sliding scales” are only in your mind.

    I’m sorry if I’m “having a fit” and using “heated terms”, but it’s the accumulation. It’s not one or two books, it’s the general trend of years and years in the market, and the fact that keeping the original European dimensions has become an extravagant exception.

    When Humanoids finally releases a faithfull INCAL or METABARONS edition, after over a decade of comic-book and tpb repackagings, they feel the need to write “FAITHFULL TO THE ORIGINAL FRENCH DIMENSIONS” on the back cover! Like hey guys, this is the one book we are publishing this year that it’s not shrunken down!

    P.S.: Thank you for the ADELE sized as god intended editions, and GIL JOURDAN. Sometimes your actions speak wiser than your words.

  19. Kim Thompson says:

    “To me, every single time it’s done for bald-faced commercial or cheap reasons, and inarguably hurts the work. Exceptions and ‘sliding scales’ are only in your mind.”

    Boy, I don’t know what possessed me to call you an absolutist. Do you know Domingos?

    I do agree that there was a fear of European-sized work that led to a number of U.S. publishers consistently releasing reduced versions of work that WAS sometimes hurt by it. (Some of NBM’s DUNGEONs spring to mind.) And generally speaking, yes, as evidenced by what we do, sticking to the original size is often the best way to go. But “it is ALWAYS done for basely venal reasons and it should NEVER be done period” is a somewhat hysterically overreaching response. AS A READER I prefer the smaller Fred, SINNER, Bagge, LOVE AND ROCKETS books to the larger ones. (I also much prefer the Fantagraphics-sized Jason graphic novels to the Euro sized French ones, I might add.) Is it so crazy to think that there might be sound, or at least honestly chosen, editorial and design reasons behind some of this reformatting?

  20. Kim Thompson says:

    Shows you tricks memory plays upon you: Fantagraphics’ old SINNER magazines were done in the 8 1/2 x 11 magazine format, slightly BIGGER than the latest Casterman iteration. (I was especially tickled by the “certainly.”) Perhaps you are thinking of CHEVAL NOIR, FRENCH ICE, or FRENCH TICKLERS, all of which pulled Eurocomics down to the standard U.S. comics size, although at the time it didn’t seem to be quite such an issue.

    I agree with the assertion that printing original Sunday comics in the original comics size is not necessarily ideal. (Funny, no one has insisted that the “shrunken” reprints of Sunday comic strips are inherently a “betrayal.”) Just in terms of actual objects to be held, an oversized Sunday comics newspaper section is quite a different beast than a big 100+ page hardcover book at the same size.

  21. DerikB says:

    That should teach me check these things first (in defense, I gave away from my English editions when I got the French ones).

  22. dewaram says:

    Actually they have magnified in it themselves, this one is 80 pages more than the original- reason they have increased the panel size and reduced the number of panels per page…

  23. Kim Thompson says:

    Oh, it’s probably the Casterman color edition of a few years ago. Which might actually mean, as Dewaram says, that the panels are pretty close to the original size.

  24. Joe McCulloch says:

    The legal text at the front of the book lists the art as copyright Casterman 2006, so yeah – it’s probably that version.

  25. Scott Grammel says:

    I’d have thought those beautifully printed full-color Pocket Books reprints of the early Sixties Marvel comics, the years and years of happily consumed Disney (Barks!) and Archie comics in digest form, and even that second, smaller series of Raw magazines, to name just a very, very few examples, would’ve calmed the hysteria of the size-always-matters very-vocal majority, but nope.

    Oh, my personal favorite Hernandez reprint size? The Titan softcovers from decades ago, at least for the Gilbert Palomar material.

  26. patrick ford says:
  27. gustaf mortier says:

    Is there any possibility that the Sinner comics will be translated into English and collected, perhaps in the same format as the Jason omnibuses or the Tardi collections? It seems like the original English reprint series was never completed, and issues are hard to find. I’d really appreciated a collection of Sinner, as well as any other classic Munoz and Sampayo collaborations. Surely the Sinner comics are worthy enough for such a treatment?

    I have been enjoying the recent European graphic novels re-release in English very much. Hope there is more Marti in the works, as well as David B.’s Babel 3?

    Thank you for continuing to make these amazing books available.

  28. Kim Thompson says:

    SINNER: Yes, someday, definitely.

    MARTI: Yes, CABBIE 2 in 2013 (it’s contracted for and being translated), more books to come.

    BABEL 3: David is too busy with other work now to get to that, but when he does, we’re so there!

  29. Gustaf Mortier says:

    Thank you Kym!

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