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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (5/9/12 – 4 Excuses for a Late Column)

Time ran out on me.

I was at a garden party. Brass band and everything. “I leeeft my looove in Aaaavaloooon.”

“That’s Bacchus,” he said, “god of wine.”

“And revelry,” I added, from my vaults of comic book knowledge.

“Hey, that’s pretty good! I didn’t know any of that shit until I moved here.”

“You know how old the artist was?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Three. Three years old. Her daddy helped her a little, gave her some direction. But yeah, she just took off her clothes, rolled around on that.”

“It’s nice,” I said.

“Fuck yeah it is.”

***

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.

***

SPOTLIGHT PICKS!

NonNonBa: A show debut at MoCCA the other week, where I held all 432 pages in my hands, although this 1977 release from Shigeru Mizuki — maybe a more characteristic work than last year’s Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, given the artist’s renown in Japan as a master of yōkai manga — has already been making the rounds elsewhere in the west, given its capture of the Fauve d’Or at Angoulême 2007. Still, I believe there is some (fantastical) autobiographical content in here, as an old woman acts as a guide to the world of Japanese spirits. Preview; $26.95.

Megalex: Ah, this one brings me all the way back to publisher Humanoids’ 2002-04 attempt to revive Métal Hurlant as a comic book-format anthology for the North American audience – an edition somewhat different, I understand, from a mostly contemporaneous French-language incarnation. Most prominent among the alterations was an attempt to juice up the English release by serializing the first two volumes of this 1999-2008 series from writer Alejandro Jodorowsky — a bankable name working through one of his weakest stories, an autopilot array of nature-based revolution against a drugged technocratic society — and artist Frédéric “Fred” Beltran, who commanded a certain amount of aesthetic pull with the publisher at the time, having already collaborated successfully with Jodorowsky and Zoran Janjetov on The Technopriests, and even inspired an ill-considered re-coloring of The Incal. Yet the extreme of his chilly, digitally-smooth approach was Megalex, rendered entirely via millennial 3D models which, as you might expect, absolutely scream the era of their creation, which is perhaps what moved Beltran to switch to a more traditional illustration approach for the third and final volume, available for the first time in English in this 168-page hardcover package, which also includes its predecessors. Samples; $29.95.

PLUS!

Mastering Comics: Drawing Words and Writing Pictures Continued: In which authors Jessica Abel & Matt Madden follow up their 2008 ‘how to’ text via publisher First Second with a 336-page sequel intended to deepen the lessons offered prior; $34.99.

Silver Surfer: Parable: Fans of the gradual diminution of artists in the superhero comics process will definitely want a peek at this new 168-page hardcover from Marvel, a reprinting of writer Stan Lee’s 1988-89 collaboration with one Mr. Jean Giraud. Alert browsers will note that the project has actually been paired with a second Lee-scripted tale, 1990’s Silver Surfer: The Enslavers (art by Keith Pollard), transforming a rare Moebius-in-English package into a showcase for the character, or, barring that, the writer. Or, I dunno, maybe it was more cost-effective to bulk up the page count? Anyway, we’ll see if any remembrance for the late artist was put together before press time, though I won’t be expecting the Quentin Tarantino introduction the series so plainly demands; $24.99.

Space Ducks: An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness: Being a 96-page original graphic novel from musician, artist and documentary subject Daniel Johnston, which can be joined with an audio album and an iOS app for additional content. The publisher is Boom! Samples; $19.99.

Archie’s Sunday Finest: Your Archie for the week, this time a 160-page IDW ‘best of’ release of ‘40s and ‘50s Sunday comics by franchise originator Bob Montana; $49.99.

Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe and the Beatles in Hamburg: Another First Second offering, presenting the story of eventual ex-Beatle Sutcliffe and his continental experiences in a “lush, romantic” (per the publisher) and somewhat seinen manga-inflected (to me eye) style from German artist Arne Bellstorf, who saw the initial release of this 208-page work in Berlin, 2010. Official site; $24.99.

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 (of 13): Clearly the main draw to this new IDW project is seeing artist Bernie Wrightson embark on (a) the largest single comics story of his career and (b) a sequel of sorts to his 1983 illustrated edition of the Mary Shelley novel, albeit here a full comic with writing by frequent collaborator Steve Niles. I’m a bit more interested to see how the process utilized in the publisher’s gigantic Artist’s Edition books — i.e., reproducing the original art in full color, retaining all of the textures and imperfections of the page, which admittedly was not devised by IDW itself, having been used by McSweeney’s in its edition of Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary – translates to new work in the comic book format. Samples; $3.99.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics #1: Another popular trend – colorization! Bone did it, Scott Pilgrim’s doing it, and now the original Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird debut gets (another) treatment, courtesy of one Tom Smith and Scorpion Studios. Preview; $3.99.

Trio #1: And for a throwback of a different, newer sort, IDW brings an all-new big fightin’ superhero comic from writer/artist John Byrne. Preview; $3.99.

Mystery in Space #1: Another one of those fat anthology comic books Vertigo sometimes puts out, this time an 80-page package promising work by Paul Pope, Mike Allred, Kyle Baker and others; $7.99.

FLCL Omnibus: Oh wow, this is something. The worst manga in the world are generally anime or gaming tie-in series, but the once-great animation studio Gainax sponsored several exceptions, among them an expansive (and never-finished) Neon Genesis Evangelion adaptation by the popular show’s character designer, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and this utterly berserk Hajime Ueda rendition of the studio’s 2000-01 critique of the “magical girlfriend” genre, as inside-fandom as a premise can get while nonetheless — under the sure hand of never-better director Kazuya Tsurumaki — dishing out comedy and surrealism and big dirty genre licks in the manner of a top-notch Grant Morrison comic. Ueda’s comic, however, flings the entire affair deep into furious, near-inchoate mark-making of a sort rarely seen in mainline Japanese comics, which is its own type of added rebellion for the sponsor studio. Previously released in 2003 by Tokyopop, and now from Dark Horse as a 392-page all-in-one brick. Samples; $19.99.

The Bible: Finally — and sadly not your DC relaunch of the week — we have a new hardcover reprint of a 1975 treasury format release by the publisher (Limited Collector’s Edition C36), sporting 68 pages of Nestor Redondo drawing Old Testament classics under the direction of Joe Kubert, in a project spearheaded by Sheldon Mayer that never proceeded past issue #1. Note that this edition is 10.3” x 13.6”, which is approximately the original publication dimensions; $29.99.


9 Responses to THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (5/9/12 – 4 Excuses for a Late Column)

  1. Man, that FLCL adaptation is such a weird product. Its take on the material is fascinating, and makes a perfect companion to the series while being so completely unlike it.

  2. Tony says:

    Due to my aversion to shrunken down editions, I’m only interested in what Humanoids themselves label as SUPER-DELUXE EDITIONS, which fall into 2 categories:

    Slipcased Omnibus editions of multi-volume series, as big as the original European books:
    THE INCAL (Jodorowsky-Moebius)
    BEFORE THE INCAL (Jodorowsky-Janjetov)
    THE METABARONS (Jodorowsky-Gimenez)
    THE CELESTIAL BIBEMDUM (De Crecy)

    Super-oversized tabloid editions (12 x 16) of individual albums:
    THE EYES OF THE CAT (Jodorowsky-Moebius)
    PARIS SOIREES (Petit-Roulet-Avril)
    YOUNG ALBERT (Yves Chaland) (Published sideways – 16 x 12)

    Not bad. Seven books so far, and all of them published simultaneously with their French-language counterparts, which is crucial for the immediate future because Les Humanoides Associes is really amping up the production of these babies:

    http://www.humano.com/book-list/a_paraitre

    They have 6 new super-deluxe books of this kind lined-up until october.

    One of them, ANGEL CLAW (Jodorowsky-Moebius), (which was already published in 1996 by NBM in a regular 9 x 12 size), it’s been already confirmed that HUMANOIDS USA will reprint it in the 12 x 16 format:

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/04/30/stumptown-quenched-consciousness-tribute-moebius/

    “The conversation began with a piece of news that, in December, Humanoids will be releasing Angel Claw — another collaboration between Moebius and Jodorowsky. This will be in a similar edition to The Eyes of the Cat that was released earlier this year. The work itself is similar to that first collaboration in that it pairs text pieces from Jodorowsky with full-page illustrations from Moebius, this time exploring sexuality, fetishes and psychology”

    The other five books announced in France are:

    2 slipased omnibuses that I doubt Humanoids USA will pick up, but who knows:
    I AM LEGION (Nury-Cassaday)
    THE FOURTH POWER (Juan Gimenez)

    And another 3 tabloid hardcovers:

    THE TREASURE OF THE SHADE (Jodorowsky-Boucq)
    LE ROMAN DE RENART (Jean-Claude Forest (of Barbarella fame) – Max Cabanes)

    and last but not least:

    Moebius’s AIRTIGHT GARAGE

    Yes a 12 x 16 tabloid deluxe hardcover of one of Moebius’ cornerstones.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msQPHxTUgzI

    Evidently, under normal circumstances Humanoids USA would be all over it, but the material is part of the legally forbidden fruit:
    http://www.tcj.com/jean-moebius-giraud-1938-2012/#comment-38548

    • Joe McCulloch says:

      I am slightly itchy over The Young Albert not appearing on either the U.S. or French release schedules at the moment… at least anywhere I can find them on the official sites. That might be the one I’m looking forward to the most… although Amazon.fr at least still has it listed for June, and Amazon US is still accepting pre-orders for August, so who knows?

  3. George Bush (not that one) says:

    I wish Megalex was the correct size, I really hate shrunken comics. Oh I did see on the Humanoids facebook page that he hinted (not confirmed) that they would do a correct slipcase of Technopriests later this year. It would be nice to shove Megalex in there also. Slipcase of 4th power would be great.

  4. jasontmiles says:

    i have no problem with a comic being printed as original art… but the digital lettering of the wrightson/niles frankenstein comic is terrible! wrightson/niles, the publisher, and readers are blind if they can’t see that.

    • Joe McCulloch says:

      Unfortunately, I agree – it looks a bit like one of those supplemental comics DC used to put out for their big releases, where the art would be in pencils but the digital lettering from the ‘actual’ comic would be dropped on top to make it readable. Since it’s a supplement, I guess they figured there didn’t have to be much visual unity, but that rationale doesn’t work here… what’s really frustrating is that some of the panel borders are hand-drawn, with the digital captions/balloons applied inside, although I suppose that gestures toward the utility of the technique: the non-drawn borders suggest dialogue additions/correction could be (and probably were) made late in production, and obviously digital files are easier to work with than hand-lettering. I just wish the files fit the hand-made aesthetic! Then again, most of the big-ish mainstream-y publishers don’t seem to mind clashy digital letters and sfx, or maybe most of their readers don’t.

      Sometimes there’s an interesting disconnect… DC released a Joe Kubert book in 2010, Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965, where the cold, impersonal lettering matched the bluntness of the historical narration, all of it standing in vivid contrast to Kubert’s crazy, expressive sketchy art… no such effect in this one…

  5. Lwv says:

    “an expansive (and never-finished) Neon Genesis Evangelion adaptation ”
    It’s recently caught up to the end of the TV show, with the 13th book coming out this November alongside the next film. Sadamoto and the publisher have been unclear on whether it’s actually ended, but they’ve been saying it’s nearly done for a few years.

  6. Joe McCulloch says:

    CORRECTION: Though a previous version of the Mystery in Space solicitation referenced a Paul Pope story, the solicitation has since been updated to remove such mention, and examination of the comic itself reveals no Pope content.

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