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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (5/25/16 – Ease Up)

Art by Trevlin Utz, from "Donna Mia" #0 (Avatar, 1997); wedding velveteen pencil textures to scenarios ranging from erotic fantasy romance to satires of American (sub)cultural specifics, "Donna Mia" stands as one of the most unique products of what can loosely be characterized the 'bad girl' comics scene of the '90s, as much "The Puma Blues" as "Lady Death", from a creator who soon thereafter found employment outside the art form. Certainly if you elect to see Avatar Press as an operating theater for potent sensations, "Donna Mia", present among its first month of releases, can only be termed Patient Zero.

Art by Trevlin Utz, from "Donna Mia" #0 (Avatar, 1997); wedding velveteen pencil textures to scenarios ranging from erotic fantasy romance to satires of American (sub)cultural specifics, "Donna Mia" stands as one of the most unique products of what can loosely be characterized as the 'bad girl' comics scene of the '90s -- "The Puma Blues" by way of "Lady Death", or maybe the other way around -- from a creator who soon after found his vocation outside the art form. Certainly if you elect to see Avatar Press as an operating theater for potent sensations, "Donna Mia", present among its first month of releases, can only be termed Patient Zero.

Crowded or not, I'm still keeping one eye out...

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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, 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.

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SPOTLIGHT PICKS!

FromNowCover

From Now On: Alternative Comics brings this 144-page collection of shorts from Malachi Ward, who some of you may recall from the tail-end of Fantagraphics' MOME, though his highest-profile works have likely been through Image, including a long serial in collaboration with Matt Sheean now running in the Island anthology. The works in here date back to 2009, including pieces for Study Group Magazine and the Center for Cartoon Studies-originating Sundays anthology, thereby spanning nearly the whole period this artist has been publishing work; $14.95.

DisquietCover

Disquiet: Also a short story collection, also from a MOME contributor, this 128-page Fantagraphics softcover spotlights the prolific Noah Van Sciver, including several solo comic book releases, such as 2011's The Death Of Elijah Lovejoy from 2dCloud and 2014's The Lizard Laughed from Oily Comics. With as fertile a creator as this, bookshelf management can prove vital; $19.99.

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PLUS!

Incomplete Works: Another Alternative release, although this one's been out for a little while, and I can't immediately recall if it's been distributed to comic book stores through Diamond before. Regardless, know that it's a 192-page compilation of short works by Dylan Horrocks, New Zealand-born creator of the formidable '90s graphic novel Hicksville, as well as the well-recalled series Atlas and the recent Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, on top of his parallel work in the '00s as a writer of Batman family superhero comics. The pieces here date from 1986 to 2012, including some material published on this site; $19.99.

Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 (of 3): There are some very high-profile mainline genre comics out this week -- dread portents for the aforementioned Batman, to say nothing of poor Scooby-Doo -- but I will instead draw your attention to the latest from the excellent Tonči Zonjić, loose again in the powder-burnt world of Mike Mignola's pulp magazine maniac, now apparently dealing with towering robot threats a la Fleischer Studios animation. John Arcudi scripts, and Dark Horse publishes; $3.50.

Barnaby Vol. 3 (&) The EC Archives: The Haunt of Fear Vol. 3: Two very different continuing reprint projects, covering two fervently-loved areas of the American comics canon (if not always by the same people). Barnaby is Crockett Johnson's midcentury newspaper strip masterpiece, long a coveted subject for the modern reprint treatment. Fantagraphics remains in charge, with another Dan Clowes-designed 372-page installment, covering the 1946-47 period. Also, one of the supplemental texts is by the great and gregarious artist/critic Coulton Waugh, whose contemporaneous book The Comics is a model on which all of us should reflect. The Haunt of Fear, on the other hand, sees Dark Horse tackling a slightly later ('52-53) and decidedly less respectable-for-its-time subject, with 216 pages from all your favorite bloodly men, including Johnny Craig, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis and Graham Ingels; $39.99 (Barnaby), $49.99 (Haunt).

Valérian Vol. 11: The Ghosts of Inverloch: Also continuing is Cinebook's English release of the complete and highly influential French SF series by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières, about which you'll doubtlessly be hearing more as next summer's Luc Besson motion picture adaptation approaches. This particular 48-page album (presented as an 8.5" x 11.3" softcover) hails from 1984. Note also that Christin -- a widely-respected collaborator with the likes of Enki Bilal, Jacques Tardi and Annie Goetzinger -- has also written a biography of architect Robert Moses with artist Olivier Balez, which is making the rounds in translation (not among this week's releases, though); $11.95.

Klaw: More French comics here, this time from Magnetic Press, which seems to favor a particular animation production art-like slickness typified by the artist Bengal. The creators here, however, are writer Antoine Ozanam and artist Joël Jurion, working a youth fantasy scenario about a high school boy who discovers that he is a were-tiger. The 144 pages in this 8.5" x 11" hardcover encompass the first three albums of the ongoing French series (presently up to t.5), though the publisher implies that the story you'll get is more-or-less self-contained in the manner of a television season; $24.99.

Symmetry Vol. 1: Another '90s Avatar artist was the Italian-born Raffaele Ienco, late of Entity Comics (then-home of Zen: Intergalactic Ninja and source for several Avatar OGs, including Bill Maus and Matt Martin), who created the series Webwitch. I often natter on about these old comics up, though I don't feel like I always emphasize that some of these artists continue to work in comics, so let this stand as your notice that Ienco has been pursuing new projects at Image for years now, including this collaboration with writer Matt Hawkins: it's about a natural disaster in a regimented utopia, and all the SF revolution that comes from that. Preview; $9.99.

José González's Vampirella - Art Edition: Finally, from the Gigantic Reprints section - this is not the first 'reproduced from the original art in facsimile color' type of project to come from the Warren horror magazines (that would be IDW's Thrillkill portfolio), but it *is* the first from one of the many Spanish talents who won visibility in North America through those pages, and who better to start with than the signature artist for Warren's most recognizable character? Eleven stories are presented across 152 pages, sort of clustered in the early-to-mid-'70s, but stretching out to nearly the end of the Warren mags in 1983. Writers include Archie Goodwin, Steve Englehart, Mike Butterworth (also of The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire in the UK), Warren regulars Bill DuBay, T. Casey Brennan and Rich Margopoulos, and Spanish comics impresario Josep Toutain himself. A 16" x 23" Dynamite hardcover release; $150.00.

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