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.
witzend: It's another hot week of major reprint projects here in the Land of Comic Book Stores (Specifically the Ten of Them Which Actually Carry All the Books I List Here), but insofar as I tend to favor compilations which can be used to genuinely kill people "by accident," I will begin with this enormous boxed set of 9" x 12.5" hardcovers, 656 pages in total, representing the entire 1966-85 run of Wally Wood's pre-Zap, early underground era (and beyond) forum for artists to do whatever the hell they wanted. Some of it was basic comic book genre stuff with naked ladies. Some of it was weird and aggressive. Some of it demonstrated to all of us the distinction between black and white. Let longtime editor Bill Pearson and historian Patrick Rosenkranz be your guide to works by Steve Ditko, Art Spiegelman, Al Williamson, Reed Crandall, Angelo Torres, Gray Morrow, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Steranko, Archie Goodwin, Frank Frazetta, Kenneth Smith, Don Martin, Vaughn Bodē and many more, including Wood himself. Samples; $125.00.
World War 3 Illustrated: 1979-2014: Less thick, less deluxe, but far more furious is this 8" x 10" PM Press hardcover, presenting themed selections from the full sweep of the radical magazine across 320 pages. I've been told it looks super-nice. Edited by founders Peter Kuper & Seth Tobocman, with an introduction by Bill Ayers; $29.95.
The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains: In the interest of expanding this column into an events listing as well as a tip sheet (who says I lack in ambition, mom?), be aware that the "synchronized multimedia storytelling event" of this title will be playing Carnegie Hall on June 27; it's a live reading of a Neil Gaiman story with projected images from Eddie Campbell and music from the FourPlay String Quartet. This 80-page HarperCollins release, meanwhile -- an 8" x 8" hardcover -- reconfigures the Gaiman & Campbell elements into flights of illustrated prose and word-dabbed image, with some sequenced panels and dialogue bubbles, for your private enjoyment. Preview; $21.99.
Photobooth: A Biography: "[A] biography of the [photo]booth through the eyes of technicians, owners, collectors, artists, and fanatics." I know very little about Canadian artist Meags Fitzgerald, but of course I'll mention a book like this. Obviously. From the busy minds at Conundrum Press, 280 pages in softcover. Official site; $20.00.
Charles Schulz's Peanuts - Artist's Edition: Ha ha, is it gonna be a giant comic stYES IT IS GOING TO BE A GIANT COMIC STRIP, LAUGHING BOY, a 19.5" x 11", 140-page landscape-format presentation, if I've got my specs right. As always, IDW's Artist's Editions shoot pages of original art in color at roughly their original size - though, actually, the press surrounding this installment carries disclaimers that even a 19.5" x 11" presentation represents some reduction from Schulz's originals. Shouldn't be too much of a problem, as Peanuts is well-known for its adaptability to the shrinking confines of funny pages in the latter half of the 20th century, and it's not like you've seen it this big in a book before; $124.99.
The System: Never let it be said that Vertigo didn't publish some interesting stuff back in the '90s. Case in point - this 1996 Peter Kuper series, a wordless clamor of murder and ambition and lives out of control, now compiled by PM Press into a 7" x 11", 112-page hardcover, supposedly with improved reproduction quality; $19.95.
Escapo: Being the first of two new releases from Z2 Comics, which has been active since 2010 (as "Zip Comics"), although I think this week's output will double their overall catalog. Escapo is a Paul Pope joint, a mythopoetic story sequence about escape artistry which originated as backup features is various THB-related anthologies and eventually saw a b&w compiled edition in the late '90s from the artist's own Horse Press. This 9" x 11.3" hardcover version has been colored, as well as expanded to 160 pages with the addition of a new story, an alternate ending and various bits of new standalone imagery. Preview; $24.99.
Fear, My Dear: A Billy Dogma Experience: And from the same publisher, here is an 8" x 8" hardcover for Dean Haspiel's fantastical romance creation Billy Dogma, which has been going for roughly the same amount of time as Escapo. It's a pair of stories, one of which I recall running in the '07 Image series Brawl, although I think they originated on the ACT-I-VATE website; $19.99.
The Wicked + The Divine #1: Obligatory Image debut, this time an ongoing superhero series from Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie, of the much-liked Phonogram and a popular run on Marvel's Young Avengers. This one matches gods of mythology up with pop star archetypes for a story of gorgeous young things who've got two years to live. Several recent Image successes involve high-profile superhero veterans dropping alt-genre books, so I can't imagine this being positioned any better. Preview; $3.50.
Doodle Jump #1: This is the second week in a row I'm seeing a new series based on a smartphone game, but it's worth noting this one comes in part from someone experienced with actual mobile game design: artist Steve Uy, who was behind some of the more anime-influenced art coming out of Marvel during their exploratory period in the early '00s. His game, however, is Oasis: Path to Redemption, while Doodle Jump is one of those monstrously popular casual apps that every fifth device had loaded in 2010. The writer is Meredith Gran, of the very popular webcomic Octopus Pie; digital comics and mobile games have a lot of potential for cross-pollination, as I realized upon encountering a cool little Maré Odomo comic inside of Ridiculous Fishing. Any publishers who want to hear of the rich mythos I've devised for Temple Run can contact me here. Published by Dynamite. Preview; $3.99.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol. 6: To War: Best-looking manga of the week, 440 more pages of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko doing robot war comics. From Vertcal; $29.95.
Bomb Run and Other Stories: Non-robot war comics here, as Fantagraphics continues to re-issue EC stories in artist-focused hardcover without color. This time it's John Severin, working with writer Harvey Kurtzman and frequent inker Will Elder on 34 two-fisted tales for 264 pages. Samples; $29.99.
Cork High and Bottle Deep: Also from Fanta, another book for gag artist Virgil Partch (following last year's VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch), this time a 184-page collection of "drink-themed artwork," standing steady at 6.75" x 6.75". Samples; $19.99.
Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely: This one looks to straddle the line between book-about-an-artist and collection-of-his-works, much in the way Robin appears ready to straddle the reader's face. A 368-page DC production, 8.9" x 11.8", compiling Quitely's various contributions to Paradox Press anthologies as well as a whole lotta cover art and probably some other things as well; $39.99.
Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week is a 320-page Thames & Hudson hardcover, in which Dan Mazur & Alexander Danner summarize 45 years of major occurrences in 'the three solitudes' of the United States, France/Belgium and Japan, with stops in the UK, Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Korea, and perhaps elsewhere. Numerous illustrations, "many reproduced in full-page format for more sophisticated analysis." Contents; $34.95.