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.
The Love Bunglers: Being a collected edition of Jaime Hernandez's hugely-appreciated climax-of-sorts to his ongoing chronicles of erstwhile romantics Maggie and Ray. The publisher's solicitation compares it to Updike - but isn't *television* the lively art where all the exciting criticism is happening? IT'S THE SEASON FINALE OF LOVE AND ROCKETS. Ahh, relevance accomplished! On the off-chance that any longtime readers have held off until now, these 112 pages are what you've been waiting for. A Fantagraphics hardcover, 9" x 11.5", 112 pages. Preview; $19.99.
The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe: And here is the latest from artist Nick Abadzis, whose Hugo Tate attracted some Love and Rockets comparisons back in the day. This one's a collaboration with writer David Camus, adapting his own short story to the comics format, with developments and reworkings by Abadzis. A SelfMadeHero hardcover, 128 pages in color, released in North America via Abrams. Samples; $22.95.
Kids are Weird and Other Observations from Parenthood: You might remember Jeffrey Brown from Darth Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess. Or Unlikely and Kramers Ergot 4, but it's the Star Wars kids' books that sold more copies in the average human heartbeat than anything with a blurb from a comics publication within ten clicks of its back cover or website, so that's the stuff listed on the cover of this, a new 6.5” x 6.5”, 108-page Chronicle Books release presenting witty scenes extracted from the wry stuff of life. Video preview; $14.95.
Buddy Buys a Dump: Whole lotta alt-comics stalwarts from different generations this week, but I think the (now-)uniquely comic book-centered release pattern for Hate will make this 144-page compendium of Peter Bagge stuff especially desirable - it contains all of the latter-day Hate Annual stories featuring Buddy Bradley, seeing major changes in his look and lifestyle. A new 20-page story will also be included. All in color, 144 pages, Fantagraphics. Preview; $19.99.
Unlovable Vol. 3: Esther Pearl Watson has built up a nice following for these teenage comedy/agony vignettes, counting Matt Groening and Pendleton Ward among their admirers. Now we get another 412 pages in the same square 5.75” x 5.75” format as prior volumes. Lots of visceral drawing in here, all up in everyone's face. Samples; $29.99.
The Boxer: Another SelfMadeHero/Abrams release, this time a 2012 work from artist Reinhard Kleist, initially serialized in a German daily newspaper. The subject matter involves a Polish boxer who survives Auschwitz by fighting his fellow inmates, and later becomes a prizefighter in the U.S. Samples; $22.95.
(Mostly) Wordless: A new release from Alternative Comics, and I believe the first book by illustrator Jed Alexander, funded via a Kickstarter campaign and published now by Alternative Comics. The content seems to be text-light stories appropriate for young readers, including “an enchanting tale about a little girl and her imaginary adventures,” per the publisher; $18.95.
Elephantmen #56: I don't know how much attention this Richard Starkings-fronted Image SF/anthropomorphic-animal-coexisting-with-humans series gets anymore, but I'm always down for new art by the redoubtable Shaky Kane, and this looks to be one of his occasional guest issues. The story is by Mark Schweikert and zebras are promised. Preview; $3.99.
Cardfight!! Vanguard Vol. 1: So, I still maintain a subscription to the English-language Shonen Jump -- it's like owning a low-maintenance cat; you acknowledge it every so often and it kind of takes care of itself -- and one of the perks I get is the occasional physical mailing of Yu-Gi-Oh! game cards, which I mostly flash at state troopers in hopes they will trap some of the points against my license. And now Vertical is in on the action, localizing the ongoing manga iteration of a different multimedia card battle contraption, as visualized by franchise co-creator (and Yu-Gi-Oh! contributing artist) Akira Itou. A teen is thrust into the world of card battles, AS ARE YOU upon the first glimpse of the limited-edition card included with every first-printing copy. Note that a Special Edition is also available, which throws in a 50-card starter deck; $10.95 ($19.95 w' deck).
Vinland Saga Vol. 3: Your seinen manga choice, meanwhile, sees Makoto Yukimura continue the best damned ongoing viking series in comics today. Recall that these Kodansha hardcovers are 400+ pages; we are thus already almost halfway through the (presently) 14-book Japanese run; $19.99.
Vertigo Quarterly #1 (of 4): Cyan: This is the new 80-page house anthology for DC's 'mature readers' line, which had previously gone the route of dusting off older comic book titles (The Witching Hour, etc.) and cramming together a bunch of short stories loosely connected by theme. Now, the prevailing theme appears to be colors, specifically the familiar CMYK - one at a time. The publisher also vows the project "will defy all conventions of traditional comics anthologies," so feel free to factor that in with your reading experience. Participants include Fábio Moon, Jock, Joe Keatinge, Amy Chu and more. Samples; $7.99.
Alice in Comicland: And finally -- in this terrifically abbreviated installment, for which I beg your indulgence -- we have the newest Craig Yoe release through IDW, a 168-page anthology of Lewis Carroll-derived homage, adaptation and travesty, including works by R.F. Outcault, Walt Kelly, Alex Toth, Dave Berg, Jack Davis, Dan DeCarlo and others, with an introduction by scholar Mark Burstein; $29.99.