Not too much up top this week, save for my surprise at the new issue #2 of the McSweeney's-published quarterly food magazine Lucky Peach being quite so comics-related. I certainly didn't expect Gary Panter to appear, in illustrated essay form, detailing his appreciation for authentic Sulphur Springs TX BBQ - even less so than Pavement and Sonic Youth bassist-guitarist Mark Ibold maintaining a regular column on the local cuisine of Southeastern Pennsylvania, i.e. the place where I'm sitting right now. I mean, issue #1 had an adoring profile of Kay & Ray's potato chips of Chambersburg, which was surreal enough, but I actually said "oh shit" aloud after turning one page over from Panter's art to see a mighty photo-guide to the bologna of Lebanon County; the fine borough of Palmyra is duly name-dropped (Comics and Paperbacks Plus, represent), almost certainly a first for a McSweeney's release, although I guess I haven't checked every feature on Wholphin.
There's also a pair of funny two-page Vanessa Davis comics reacting to the magazine's recipes, the first of which is delightfully sharp-edged concerning various typos and misprints in issue #1. Also throughout are illustrations/free stickers by Tony Millionaire, Renée French, Laura Park, Scott Teplin and others, along with a showcase feature for artist Celeste Byers. Lots of surprises, right down to resident celebrity Anthony Bourdain's just barely food-related column, a fanciful speculative biography of editor and Momofuku founder Dave Chang that reads like a series of Mindless Ones posts, this time encompassing CIA MK-ULTRA ops and the 1989 Patrick Swayze vehicle Road House, culminating in Bourdain devising a kitchen menu for the Double Deuce. There's also a H.O.T.S. reference. I dunno, I like it.
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.
Salvatore Vol. 2: An Eventful Crossing: Always a good idea to spotlight a new release by Nicolas de Crécy, here continuing a funny animal series spun off from his 2005 book Glacial Period. This should bring the English translation right up to date with the French editions, insofar as it should collect albums 3 and 4 in a 112-page package. Preview; $14.99.
Gumby's Spring Specials Collection: Or maybe it's still called Gumby's Arthur Adams Specials, I dunno. Either way, this is most definitely a new Gumby Comics reprint of two much-loved 1987-88 Comico productions, Gumby's Summer Fun Special and Gumby's Winter Fun Special, the former written by Flaming Carrot creator Bob Burden (who subsequently revisited the character in the mid-'00s in a small series of oddly melancholic, personal-feeling comics from Wildcard, worth tracking down on their own) and the latter scripted by elusive Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell (basically doing a Sam & Max story with Gumby & Pokey). Art Adams draws both, of course; $12.99.
Heavy Metal Vol. 35, #8 (Jan. 2012): If you've been keeping up with the comments to last week's column (LAST WEEK IN COLUMNS!), you are no doubt aware that this new issue of the long-lived Eurocomics forum boasts the return of Enki Bilal to North American publishing after the collapse of the DC/Humanoids deal a few years back (and Bilal's slightly earlier move of his French back catalog from Les Humanoïdes to Casterman), in the form of a 10-page selection from his 2009 album Animal'z. Presumably (hopefully?) Heavy Metal is planning to run the full work as a serial, which would be the oldest-school move they've pulled in a while, as Bilal's work manages to be as ferociously obscure in this format as any of the many story fragments the magazine ran in its earliest days. Speaking of which, this issue also sees a new short by Mark Wheatley -- artist of the title serial for the early, short-lived Metal competitor GASM -- adapting a story by Josef Rother. Extensive preview; $6.95.
Andie and the Alien: Another early, ill-fated Metal response? Warren's smutty, entirely disreputable 1984 (later 1994), which nonetheless featured lots of reliably cool art by Alex Niño. Here's Niño's newest project, another Bliss on Tap graphic novel written by Brian & Phil Phillipson (of God the Dyslexic Dog), 108 pages of color alternate history stuff placing a space alien in a WWII-ish setting. Samples; $20.00.
The Definitive Flash Gordon & Jungle Jim Vol. 01: Another of IDW's deluxe reprint projects, this time a 176-page, 12" x 16" hardcover presentation of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon Sundays, with the Jungle Jim topper strip included in the deal. I would expect this to look pretty indeed; $75.00.
The Cisco Kid Vol. 1 (of 8): 1951-1953: Meanwhile, in daily land, a new strip reprint endeavor from Classic Comics Press, this time 248 pages of gunfighter comics drawn by Argentine cartoonist José Luis Salinas, probably a talent unfamiliar to many potential Golden Age of Reprints followers. Introduction by Sergio Aragonés. The publisher also has a ninth volume of Leonard Starr's Mary Perkins On Stage this week; $24.95.
Doctor Who: The Dave Gibbons Collection: Watchmen-related reprint of the week #1 - a didn't-see-this-coming 372-page IDW block of Gibbons-drawn content from Marvel UK's Doctor Who Weekly (later Doctor Who Monthly, now Doctor Who Magazine), dating back to its 1979 debut. 2000 AD followers will require no introduction to writers Pat Mills, Steve Moore, Steve Parkhouse and John Wagner; $50.00.
The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks: Watchmen-related reprint of the week #2 - a new Rebellion edition of vintage 2000 AD Moore stuff reprinted several times before, specifically his various standalone Future Shocks and Time Twisters stories. Still, there's some fun stuff in here if you haven't already seen it, particularly involving obnoxious recurring half-cocked genius character Abelard Snazz (Steve Dillon and Paul Neary among his artists), whose core concept Moore later reconfigured into the popular Jack B. Quick feature in Tomorrow Stories. Art by Brendan McCarthy, Bryan Talbot, John Higgins, Alan Davis, Garry Leach, Mike White, the above-mentioned Dave Gibbons and others; $19.99.
RASL Vol. 3: Romance at the Speed of Light: The latest in Jeff Smith's 11.9" x 9" line of softcover collections for his present series, maybe the optimal means of experiencing the stuff. This may be the penultimate installment, going by the artist's estimate from a while back; $15.00.
Haunt #19: Not the only Joe Casey-written Image comic of the week (there's also the Doc Bizarre, M.D. graphic novel with artist Andy Suriano), but probably the most intriguing, in that it's both a mid-series takeover of a Robert Kirkman/Todd McFarlane dark superhero concept and drawn by the very adept Nathan Fox, of the Heavy Metal serial Fluorescent Black and prior Casey collaboration Dark Reign: Zodiac over at Marvel. Preview; $2.99.
Vertigo Resurrected: Sgt. Rock - Between Hell and a Hard Place #1 (of 2): DC's low-cost comic book-format reprint project has branched out into multi-96-page issue presentations of longer works, and it's worth pointing out this one in particular - a 2003 attempt at positioning Joe Kubert's WWII concept in the Suggested for Mature Readers environment of Vertigo, with 100 Bullets co-creator Brian Azzarello providing a murder mystery plot and Kubert himself drawing; $7.99.
Tintin: The Complete Companion: Finally, your book-on-comics for the week - the second Last Gasp reissue of Michael Farr stuff in a row (following last week's The Adventures of Hergé: Creator of Tintin), this time his 208-page reader's guide to the whole damn series. Must be a movie coming; $35.00.