Greetings from a resort town somewhere on the Eastern seaboard! Yes, I'm on vacation at the moment, but because I am so addicted to money, by which I mean service to you, I am nonetheless filing this deluxe report on all your favorite new releases!
It's okay here. I like wallowing in the ocean. It relaxes me. Lots of energetic young people around. Twerking is definitely the year's big thing for middle-class teens who want to show they're naughty, if the novelty t-shirt vendors are correct (and they are *always* correct). Lots of internet memes on shirts too, though not a lot of kids actually wear them... V for Vendetta shirts reading "DISOBEY," with nobody disobeying. Like, the only boys I see flaunting their "Cool story babe. Now make me a sandwich." gear are pretty much exactly the boys you'd expect to wear that.
Nerds, I mean. Only nerds dress like that.
Hey, remember when we all made arguments for the cultural applicability of comics? I bet Paul Pope does, and here's some of the earliest art I've ever seen from him - an old-school, hand-drawn advertisement for a series titled Philosophe, which I've never seen in the wild. I found this in the January 1992 issue of Robin Snyder's History of the Comics; Snyder would later edit Pope's early bookshelf-format comics Sin Titulo and The Ballad of Doctor Richardson, so there's your connection.
Has anyone actually read these comics? I know Pope had been doing comics work for various outlets since he was in high school, so I get the impression there might be a large body of small-press stuff that's sort of descended into obscurity.
(Feel free to mock me if explained all of this stuff in p city parade or something and I just forgot - I don't have access to anything right now, being lazy on vacation.)
Speaking of teens & comics, here's a similarly-aged find I plucked from a dollar bin: Mr. Dave Cooper, presenting a special release from "Dave Cooper's Toilet Zone Productions" from out the rear of Aircel Publishing's Dragonring #6. In contrast to Pope's stuff, the circumstances behind this work were well-documented in an interview published in The Comics Journal #245.
I've never had much direct exposure to this stuff, so it's interesting to witness how Rick Geary-like Cooper's early style seems, put in the service of a likewise Gearyesque droll comedy/horror short by writer Gordon Derry, who has already become a source of acute paranoia for me, insofar as I cannot double-check any special connection he might have to Cooper, lacking access to my archives and all. Boy, relaxation is hard - in the name of comics, I vow never to leave my apartment again!
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.
Science Fiction: I really enjoyed the little run of strips Joe Ollmann did on here a few months back, so my attention is very much piqued by this new Conundrum Press release of a 128-page Ollmann graphic novel, being the chronicle of a rational man who abruptly recovers a memory of an alien abduction, prompting much havoc in the life he shares with his understandably perplexed girlfriend. Apparently more of a relationship drama than you might expect from the cover (or the title), and I look forward to seeing for myself. Lil' peek; $18.00.
Big Plans: The Collected Mini-Comics and More: Speaking of cartoonists-worth-watching-who-are-releasing-new-comics-this-week-with-an-eighteen-dollar-price-tag, you might remember Aaron Nels Steinke as the creator of Neptune, an all-ages comic Sparkplug Books and Tugboat Press released in 2009. However, it was the debut issue of Big Plans that won him a Xeric Grant in '06, and now Bridge City Comics brings a 360-page, 6" x 7" compilation of the semi-autobiographical stuff, including all five original issues, plus contributions to anthologies like Papercutter and Runner Runner; $18.00.
Paul Joins the Scouts: More from Conundrum, in which the publisher follows up 2012's release of The Song of Roland with an English translation of this 2011 Michel Rabagliati joint, a 152-page look at the artist's alter ego experiencing the violent Quebec sovereignty activities of 1970 while... joining the scouts. Quietly, the Paul series has become a French-to-English perennial, and one day I will catch up on them all; $20.00.
Tales of Hot Rod Horror Vol. 2: Genuinely odd looking horror anthology here from Cackling Imp Press, mixing indie comics vets like the aforementioned Rick Geary and Faust writer David Quinn with young, animation-honed talents like Andy Ristaino (also in last week's Alternative Comics #4) and James Suhr, all in the service of 114 pages of b&w automotive chillers. You bet it's worth a flip; $10.00.
ABC Warriors: The Volgan War Vols. 1-2 (of 4): This is a pair of 96-page paperback editions of 2000 AD content from 2007, initially collected in hardcover; I have no idea why Diamond is only apparently getting these in for the first time now, since they were initially released to the UK back in '11. Maybe it's in preparation for the softcover third volume, which just dropped overseas a few weeks back? Nonetheless, Pat Mills is the writer on this well-regarded outing for his long-lasting crew of war robots, and artist Clint Langley promises all sorts of garish grinding via his semi-photo-comic digital approach; $21.99 (each).
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol. 2: Garma: But if it's hand-drawn mecha battles you crave, I doubt you'll do better than this 432-page Vertical-published hardcover, handsomely compiling more of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's adaptation of the late '70s anime landmark. I likened vol. 1 to the war comics of Kanigher & Kubert in both worldview and expert action mechanics, though I expect Yasuhiko may soon begin deepening those character interactions. With a bonus roundtable discussion by CLAMP; $29.95.
The John Stanley Library: Nancy Vol. 4 (of 4): I don't know if Nancy has the deepest character interactions, but at least it's got John Stanley aboard to head up another 7.8" x 11" hardcover album, featuring 136 concluding pages of gags 'n whimsy. Samples; $29.95.
Satellite Sam #1: Good gravy, Image putting out an intriguing-looking debut issue of a new comic book series?! The wonders of 2013 will never cease. Ah, but let's not let a plethora of interesting things detract from the promise of writer Matt Fraction teaming with artist Howard Chaykin for a new b&w mystery set in the world of 1950s live television. Can't deny I dig the cover. Preview; $3.50.
Age of Bronze #33: Also from Image but not nearly so new is this Eric Shanower series, chronicling the Trojan War since 1998. I try to mention it every time it appears, because ongoing independent comic books of this vintage and duration are a precious commodity indeed; $3.50.
Catalyst Comix #1 (of 9): Meanwhile, Dark Horse tries to get in on the offbeat superhero revamp thing with this Joe Casey-written recalibration of the old Comics' Greatest World megateam, which accomplished bin-divers will recall was co-written by no less than Eddie Campbell back in '94. Art by Dan McDaid, Ulises Farinas & Paul Maybury, each of which will be assigned an individual short story to work on in every anthology-style issue, with an emphasis to be placed on concision and impact, I imagine. Preview; $2.99.
The Graphic Canon Vol. 3 (of 3): From Heart Of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest: Your mainline bookstore pick of the week, I'll guess, though I'm not much of an admirer of these big, thick compilations from Seven Stories Press. Vol. 1 struck me as the sort of English textbook you're given in junior high school: small distillations of worthwhile reading doled out medicinally, with little regard to intuitive or complimentary aesthetics - just a big ol' extra value meal of uneven themed funnies. Nonetheless, there's plenty of fans of the series out there -- fans in major review outlets, prone to employing language like "[m]y hands were quivering" and "these works of literature do not reside just on the shelves of academia; they flourish in the eye of our imagination" -- and they will be pleased to have 512 new pages over which to rhapsodize; $44.95.
The Star*Reach Companion: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week - a 192-page TwoMorrows production from author Richard Arndt (an invaluable cataloger of b&w horror magazines and early independent comics), tracking the impact of one of the critical forums for 'mature' genre comics in the immediate post-underground desolation of the 1970s. Foreword by founder Mike Friedrich, and full stories by Howard Chaykin, Steve Leialoha and P. Craig Russell. Preview; $27.95.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Lots of deluxe strips capering for your leisure attention this week, starting with Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Color Sundays Vol. 1: Call of the Wild, a 280-page, 10.5" x 8.75" hardcover compiling rest day specials fronted by Floyd Gottfredson, with contributions by Al Taliaferro, Ted Thwaites, Ted Osborne and Earl Duvall, as well as the usual slew of extras, including an appreciation by Kevin Huizenga; $29.99. Then, get yourself current with Green Eggs and Maakies, the latest 120-page, 12.25" x 4.75" carpet of strips by the great Tony Millionaire; $19.99.
Well, back to the bottle! Here is your President Shima Kōsaku sequence of the week: