Excuse the repetition of content, but I got some very enthusiastic reactions on Twitter to last week's coverage of the Autumn 2012 return for the David Quinn/Tim Vigil superhero/horror comic Faust, so I thought I'd put it way up on top of the column this time, along with a page from Vigil's preceding costumed project Grips as a means of expressing my state of mind in what's looking to be an exceedingly crowded week of comics releases.
The helpful header text reminds us that I am totally not scanning an original 1986 copy of Grips #1, but a page from the 1990 softcover collection, redolent with the personality of writer/creator Kris Silver, detailing the full in-and-out-of-continuity history of the character in a long typeset introductory essay, complete with a map of the character's headquarters. Something about the hermetic, obsessive nature of Silver's '80s mini-empire of blood-soaked genre funnies makes me think of it all as the ur-text for Ben Marra's own line of comics, although I have no evidence of this whatsoever save for my feverish intuition, overclocking madly at the very thought of all the goddamned comics available tomorrow. How will I summarize them all?
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.
Birdseye Bristoe: When there's this much stuff to choose from, values come into play, dear readers, and I've decided that new works deserve spotlight priority over reprints, no matter how excellent and tempting. As such, turn your eyes now toward the first-ever original graphic novel by the very inspired Dan Zettwoch, who's been putting out funny and unique comics for years now, typically focused on working folk interacting with constructions and devices lovingly detailed through cutaway diagrams, inventories and explanatory charts. There's real emotion to these stories, though, and I expect the same from this 7.5" x 10", 64-page Drawn and Quarterly hardcover -- helpful fold-out included! -- a plot that moves in reverse from the destruction of a cell-phone tower in the titular small town to uncover the story of what happened. Give this your time. Preview; $19.95.
The Lovely Horrible Stuff: No less than the new one from Eddie Campbell, a Top Shelf/Knockabout co-production in which the artist presents a bisected narrative, one half detailing (among other things) the many personal and professional relationships in Campbell's life that money has affected, and the other honing in on the island of Yap, where giant stone discs provide a most fecund example of finance. If you really wanted, you could classify each half down the lines of Campbell's autobiographical Alec works and his tale-telling Bacchus catalog, but anyone can rest assured that a full display of the artist's talents is offered across these 96 color pages. Preview; $14.95.
Gloriana: You see, this is a reprint, albeit of one of my favorite comics of all time, Kevin Huizenga's peerlessly constructed juxtaposition of parental anxiety, optic wonder and scientific rationalism, bouncing from anxious comic strip gags to freedrawn visions to text-heavy disquisition on the act of seeing - and what's most fascinating on re-read is the amount of excess Huizenga is comfortable with, augmenting his narrative with fold-out pages and slathering on words and charts to extent that seems contemptuous of the all-holy balance of words & pictures that purportedly marks any serious and worthy piece of longform cartooning. Yet everything is ultimately complimentary, in this story of a few minor incidents in a short period of time. Drawn & Quarterly is again the publisher, and its 96-page hardcover package essentially replicates the contents of the material's 2004 release as Or Else #2, with some dialogue alterations, a few supplemental production extras and a slightly larger size (5 1/4" x 6 3/4" vs. 4 1/4" x 5 1/2"). Was it really eight years ago; $19.95.
Journalism: Likewise, Metropolitan Books here brings a 208-page compilation of short non-fiction comics pieces by Joe Sacco, including his Chechen War, Chechen Women story from I live here, the Iraq War-set Complacency Kills from The Guardian, and various and sundry works from magazines and other sources, traveling from Malta to India to the Hauge, with notes by the artist on each entry. Sample story; $29.00.
David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil: Born Again - Artist's Edition: But because I am a realist, and a Wednesday crowd patron, I will admit that there will be many, many people out and about tomorrow who will consider Daredevil #227-233 to be of such evident superiority to anything released by the Kevin Huizengas and Joe Saccos of the world that no question even exists as to where many reprint dollars will need be consolidated. Really, though, I doubt anyone won't be tempted to peer at this 200-page, 12" x 17" IDW collection of the entire Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli superhero classic, personally scanned by the artist from his original art, in color, so as to preserve every speck and spot on the b&w linework. I predict this will sell really, really, really, really, really, really, really quickly; $125.00.
The Song of Roland: And in that translations are sort of like reprints in a way, let this be the listing for the book formerly known as Paul à Québec, a 2009 release from artist Michel Rabagliati, of many a Drawn and Quarterly release. This one's actually from Conundrum Press, though, a 192-page, 7.5" x 10" softcover edition chronicling the life and death of the father in law of Rabagliati's fictional stand-in; $20.00.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #3 (of 3): 2009: In which Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill wrap up this era-spanning comic book-format iteration of their continued experiment in corralled fictions with a lunge into the near-present and, purportedly, a slightly shifted focus onto characters from our vaunted new golden age of television, although one modern literary property in particular has been confirmed for a most engaged and thoroughly unauthorized appearance. It's all in service of the mission of Century, a sustained lament that began with ineffectual heroes utterly failing to affect any meaningful societal change (1910), continuing into a morass of youth-pandering meta-nostalgia (1969) and bottoming out here with the very idea of 'culture' and 'resistance' commodified and dominated by media conglomerates; I am also told somebody fires a lightning bolt from their penis. Co-published by Top Shelf & Knockabout at 80 color pages; future new releases from the publishers with the increasingly comics-averse Moore include a photo book based on the writer's Unearthing album and a grimoire produced in collaboration with Steve Moore and various artists, while elsewhere the Magus plans original screenplays and the presumptive completion of his sophomore novel, Jerusalem, which looks to be weighing in just south of William T. Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down. Preview; $9.95.
Barry Sonnenfeld's Dinosaurs vs. Aliens: Speaking of which! Released in 2010 by Liquid Comics -- formerly Virgin Comics -- by way of Dynamite Entertainment, Grant Morrison's 18 Days proved to be one of the most unexpectedly compelling post-millennial releases by a veteran comics writer seemingly disengaged enough at times from the mess of pace and character that the joke went it'd be better to just print his concept notes; 18 Days did exactly that, presenting Morrison's pitch for a never-produced animation project alongside illustrations by Mukesh Singh (an Indian artist prone to likeable psychedelic variations on muscular Top Cow-ish superhero action poses), and in the process revealing the frequent interaction between textual study, imaginative flight and ruthless populist calculation in the writer's creative approach. It was a startlingly denuded portrayal of a talent accustomed to dressing himself in fictions. And here's a thematic sequel of sorts, re-teaming Morrison, Singh and Liquid for a 96-page hardcover proof-of-concept, in service of some fucking would-be summer tentpole movie product, though be aware that this one is apparently a proper comic to some extent. Preview; $19.99.
Get Jiro!: I've long felt celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's digressive, fictive essays in Lucky Peach magazine read like posts on the Mindless Ones website, so perhaps I'm mentally prepared for this, Bourdain's entry into comics writing, a 160-page color Vertigo graphic novel scripted with novelist Joel Rose (also of the old Paradox Press series La Pacifica) and drawn by Langdon Foss. A combative future Los Angeles' two-fisted foodie culture is challenged by a ronin sushi chef in what looks to be a somewhat shonen manga-inflected narrative. I'd probably page through it; $24.99.
Anna & Froga: Want a Gumball?: I know absolutely nothing about Paris-based artist Anouk Ricard, but parts of this series have been official selections at Angoulême, and there's a nice, childlike style in play. Publisher Drawn and Quarterly promises "yarns that will delight and entertain the whole family" in this 7.75" x 9.875" color hardcover. Preview; $14.95.
Fatima: The Blood Spinners #1 (of 4): Gilbert Hernandez, on the other hand, has directed a movie himself -- the awesome public access-style episodic opus The Naked Cosmos -- and has also imagined a whole bunch of movies in his comics, though I've seen much of his current direction as sympathetic with the works of younger cartoonists like Johnny Ryan and Ben Marra in pursuing a less-filtered style of generic expression. It's Dark Horse that publishes his comic book-type comics, and so here's a new miniseries boasting a Blue Sunshine-type homicide drug and the gun-toting woman opposing the addict hordes. Dig that preview; $3.99.
Prophet #26: In case you haven't quite clicked with the gradually-revealed concept of this Brandon Graham-headed revival of the Rob Liefeld/Dan Panosian Extreme Studios character, Graham has stated it plainly in a recent interview (um, *SPOILERS*): each of the different artists working on the series is communicating through the perspective of a different genetic variation on the title character, with Giannis Milonogiannis now settling in as the 'original' Prophet's pov artist. This issue, in contrast, is written, drawn and (I'm guessing) colored by Graham himself, which suggests yet another opinion on things. Preview; $2.99.
B.P.R.D. - Hell on Earth: Exorcism #1 (of 2): Nary a week can pass, of course, without a release from comics' reigning multi-artist 'quality' genre line, so here it's Mike Mignola (sans co-writers) teaming with the popular Cameron Stewart (of Sin Titulo) for a tale of Holy Confirmation... no, exorcism. Preview; $3.50.
Fatale #6: According to writer Ed Brubaker's recent interview with Tom Spurgeon, this formerly 12-issue series seems to have plumped itself up into "it's over when it's over" territory, so be aware that this particular chapter marks a new storyline set in the 1970s, where horror stuff and dangerous women still prowl. Publisher Image also has a softcover compilation of issues #1-5 out this week; $3.50.
Amazing Fantasy #15: Wow, this week really does have it all! Eh, I'm just highlighting this for 'gross curiosity' purposes, as it's one of Marvel's occasional attempts to augment older comics with contemporary color techniques - Spidey's got a movie coming, so "Sturdy" Steve Ditko gets the treatment (by one Jean-Francois Beaulieu) in what's specifically a reprint of the Spider-Man-pertinent Amazing Fantasy content and Amazing Spider-Man #1. Maybe I just want something to offset all the quality this week; $3.99.
Attack on Titan Vol. 1: Manga choices - Viz has Bakuman vol. 11, and Vertical has The Drops of God Vol. 4, but I'm thinking a discerning readers such as yourself would prefer an introduction to new shit the kids are talking about -- these kids admittedly being persons whose tastes coincide with mine, which perhaps renders them 'old souls,' or 'arguably tasteless' -- so here's a gesture in the direction of Kodansha Comics' release of an ongoing shonen serial by Hajime Isayama, in which the remains of humankind gear up to battle enormous man-eating person-creatures. GIS "shingeki no kyojin" for as much of a preview as you'll likely require; $10.99.
Tales of the Beanworld Vol. 3.5: Aw, what the hell - more reprints! This lil' 64-page hardcover is an all-color edition of Larry Marder's creation, collecting material from the MySpace version of Dark Horse Presents, the Beanworld Holiday Special and the mid-'90s Rob Liefeld-backed anthology Asylum (new colors), with some new stuff too. Samples; $14.99.
Berkeley Breathed's Outland: The Complete Collection: Hey, it wouldn't be a week of EVERYTHING without a little Golden Age of Reprints newspaper-style action. IDW remains in charge of the Breathed oeuvre, and so 320 pages compile the entirety of his 1989-95 Sundays-only follow-up to Bloom County; $39.99.
Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman: Finally, your book-on-comics for the week, a Charlesbridge Publishing release from Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrator Ty Templeton, laying down the facts about Bill Finger for an all-ages audience. Very fitting for these franchised days; $17.95.
CONFLICT ON INTEREST RESERVOIR: Even a conflict! Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin - The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpiece of Johnny Gruelle may run a fair risk of getting buried this week, but I've had my eye on the strip since Tony Millionaire started referencing it years ago, and these 128 pages are reproduced in a 14" x 18" format, so they should be fairly easy to spot, even above the din of stuff that escorts our June into history; $75.00.