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.
Gil Jordan, Private Detective: Ten Thousand Years in Hell: Seven years ago, in 2010, Fantagraphics released a first-ever English translation of work by the Belgian artist Maurice Tillieux – Gil Jordan, Private Detective: Murder By High Tide. This midcentury feature from Spirou magazine found the hard-working Tillieux manifesting a loose and lively approach to detective fiction, his trade honed by a decade’s work for other magazines, in particular the comparatively short-lived Héroïc-Albums, where he created a predecessor detective strip, Félix. But it is Gil Jordan that is best remembered, and Gil Jordan that the English edition’s first editor, the late Kim Thompson, vowed would return for another book. (The whereabouts of Raymond Macherot’s Sibyl-Anne, which debuted in English at the same time, remain unknown to this writer.) AND NOW, because comics keeps its promises sometimes, here is another 96 pages of Tillieux, representing the 1962 album L’Enfer de Xique-Xique and the 1963 album Surboum pour 4 roues, blending comedy and suspense in locales both exotic and provincial. An 8.25″ x 11.50″ hardcover beckoning aficionados of youth comics from that fertile place and time; $19.99.
Shit and Piss: Also in whimsy – no, actually this is a new book from artist Tyler Landry, whom I recall from various online projects with Comics Workbook and Study Group Comics. Now the publisher is Retrofit/Big Planet, with a 104-page account of “[a] journey into a sewage processing plant built on top of the ruins of a failing civilization.” Scroll down here for a potent preview; $10.00.
Alone: This would be your Eurocomic of the week (under-half-a-century-old-division), a 2008 release from writer/artist Christophe Chabouté, 384 pages concerning the life of a loner on a lighthouse island, and inquiries into the circumstances that brought him there. The release comes via the Gallery 13 imprint of Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster; $25.00.
Mage: The Hero Denied #0 (of 15) (&) Groo: Play of the Gods #1 (of 4): Here’s a pair of longtime Direct Market names, activated once more. Mage is an Arthurian superhero comic begun by writer/artist Matt Wagner in 1984; there was a run in the ’80s (The Hero Discovered, also in reprint this week), a run in the ’90s (The Hero Defined), and now this lengthy conclusion from Image, introduced via a shorter, low-cost issue #0. Groo the Wanderer dates from 1982, when barbarian comics a la Conan were still recognizable enough on the racks to readily parody. Now Sergio Aragonés’ spoof is among the longest-lived entries in the genre as it exists in comics, still written with Mark Evanier in this new Dark Horse series concerning itself with religious conflict, itself a perennial topic; $1.99 (Mage), $3.99 (Groo).
Pigs Might Fly Vol. 1: First Second puts out a lot of books with a fantasy spin that are aimed at younger readers, but I will draw attention to this 208-page color series debut as it is written by Nick Abadzis, the longtime Deadline magazine contributor who’s been associated with First Second since their publication of his Laika in 2007. This one looks to be a Ghibli-like adventure of flying machines and humanoid pigs, with art by one Jerel Dye, whom I believe is making their graphic novel debut; $15.99 (softcover), $22.99 (hardcover).
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler Vol. 1 (&) Zombies Assemble #0 (of 4): Here’s two commercial manga projects I only know of through greater media exploitation. Nonetheless, I have seen people talking. Kakeguri Compulsive Gambler is a series fronted by artist Tōru Naomura and writer Homura Kawamoto with origins in the video game publisher Square Enix’s Gangan Joker, a monthly magazine aimed at nerdy males with an eye set firmly on big-picture franchising – as it happens, a television anime adaptation is now airing. The plot concerns a shameless school for society’s young elite where status is determined by high-stakes gambling, and the losers are forced to submit to the sadistic whims of their betters. Onto this scene comes a mysterious young woman who upsets everything with her thrill-seeking passion and an extraordinary aptitude at laying wagers. Sounds roughly equivalent to an edgy YA novel series stateside, though I do trust there will be some hugely dramatic depictions of table games, as Japanese comics have supplied for decades; the English-language publisher is Yen Press. Zombies Assemble, meanwhile, takes the international view, as shonen-specializing writer/artist Yusaku Komiyama pits the famous Walt Disney movie and video game superhero property “The Avengers” against starving hordes of those beyond the light of living (or any necessity to pay further licensing fees). The original manga was released by Kodansha in Japan a few years back, but Marvel has been splitting the English version into comic books – I’m not sure if this issue #0 is new material or newly translated; $15.00 (Kakegurui), $4.99 (Zombies).
Tex: Patagonia: It’s not every week we get recent Italian genre comics up on the English-language shelves; certainly not in a 9″ x 11.5″ hardcover format, which I believe Epicenter is trying out for the first time here. A 272-page story from 2009 sees the titular cowboy (created by Giovanni Luigi Bonelli & Aurelio Galleppini in 1948) on a long journey in South America marked by difficult choices – that’s all I know. The writer is Mauro Boselli, the artist is Pasquale Frisenda, and the results were purportedly very popular with the title’s readership; $29.99.
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan (&) The Airship Adventures of Little Nemo: Adventure classics from different times and traditions. The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan is another Fantagraphics hardcover collection of Duck comics by Carl Barks, this time 232 pages, with the usual reconstructed colors and assorted supplements. Airship Adventures is an unusual release from Taschen, its 288 pages collecting “all of Little Nemo’s colorful airship adventures”, which I guess means all of the early 20th century Winsor McCay strips that have airships in a prominent role…? Also, it looks like the book is 5.4″ x 7.7″, with the strips divided into multiple double-page spreads – it seems very unusual (and possibly infuriating), though the cost is notably low; $29.99 (Scrooge), $15.00 (Nemo).
Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geof Darrow: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week is a 9″ x 12″ Dark Horse hardcover, its 128 pages dedicated to un-inked images by the supreme purveyor of comedic/horrific chicken fat, from his own Bourbon Thret comics to collaborative projects like City of Fire (with Moebius) and Hard Boiled (with Frank Miller). I don’t know which periods of Darrow’s art will be encompassed by this edition, but we’re nonetheless promised “commentary by Darrow and his notable peers.” If you haven’t gotten around to Darrow’s current solo series, The Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign? (anticipating the release of its fourth and final issue later this month), I’d strongly recommend it – unlike with anything else I’ve seen from him, Darrow here forces the question of the individual’s complicity in causing harm to others in the pursuit of their appetites, even if that individual ostensibly stands apart from the panorama of parodic vulgarity that frequently threatens to drown us all in rotten detail; $34.99.