THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (1/25/17 – Chin-Stroking Consortium)

"A tremendous and truly awful spectacle; and the more fully it is understood the more terrible it appears." So remarks the Theosophical writer Charles Webster Leadbeater in his 1903 book Man Visible and Invisible, a guide to understanding the nature of man through the means of clairvoyance. What we are seeing here is the astral body of a man consumed by "Intense Anger" - the colors and patterns are divined from Leadbeater's system of using hue as a means of cataloguing the passions. A fascinating, quite modern drawing, though, included as a plate with the edition published by The Bodley Head, which I downloaded from Google. Apparently, the original art was by one Count Maurycy Prozor, a Lithuanian-born diplomat and translator who assembled the book's illustrations "from the life" (I presume rightly through the practice of clairvoyance); the illustrations were then copied via airbrush by Gertrude Spink, another Theosophic colleague, "in order that they might be more successfully reproduced by the photographic process," per Leadbeater. A most literal swarm of fury, this, almost visible overhead to even those neglected by evolution's aetheric gifts...


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.



The Abominable Mr. Seabrook: Fun-looking stuff here from alt-comics veteran Joe Ollmann and publisher Drawn and Quarterly - it's a 316-page two-color hardcover comics biography of the American author, adventurer and occultist William Seabrook, promising to deliver multifaceted account of a man both empathetic to and exploitative of foreign cultures, in the grip of physical vices and mystic fascinations; $22.95.

Disney Great Parodies Vol. 1: Mickey's Inferno: An unusual and problematic release, this; I've seen pages floating around the internet several times in the last few weeks, accompanied by some measure of genuine befuddlement. It's an NBM/Papercutz release of a 1949-50 Italian serial -- indeed, an officially licensed Disney story -- in which Mickey Mouse journeys through Hell, as rendered in a very tight, lunchbox-ready Disney House Style by artist Angelo Bioletto. The Dante-riffing writer is one Guido Martina, working in a good deal of legitimate verse. However, it appears the English script adds a number of new, 'modern' references to the original comic, I guess so the book can more efficiently be sold to kids. Ugh! Technically your Eurocomic of the week, 88 color pages, available in two goddamned formats; $8.99 (softcover), $13.99 (hardcover).



Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four - Artist's Edition: This one's gotta be an easy layup for the IDW line of big books of original comic book art shot in color without colorization - Jack Kirby, on what's arguably his signature '60s series. Specifically, this 144-page, 12" x 16" package features some later stuff: Annual #6 (1968) and issues #82 & #83 of the original series (1969), with inks by Joe Sinnott and dialogue by Stan Lee, plus other pages and pieces; $115.99 (or so).

Arclight #4 (of 4) (&) Island #14: Two from Image and the editor/artist/writer Brandon Graham. Arclight is a miniseries he's been working on with the formidable artist Marian Churchland - it now reaches its conclusion for the moment. Island is the anthology Graham runs with Emma Ríos, reaching an increasingly impressive issue count, and this month featuring a cover by Graham himself; $3.99 (Arclight), $7.99 (Island).

The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún Vol. 1: Your manga pick of the week in an unusual one from Seven Seas - a fairly new ongoing series from the anime-affiliated publisher Mag Garden, but drawn by the artist "Nagabe" in a style halfway between Victorian illustration and stripped-down, almost 4-koma-ready moe cuteness; very unusual blend. The plot seems to be of an allegorical type, concerning a curious little girl and her tall, monstrous-seeming guardian in a world of dichotomous realms. Or something; $12.99.

Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days: Not a new book, sure, but this 2009 Al Columbia concoction -- an elusive and distressing 240-page jumble of comics, illustrations, unfinished pursuits and broken-down narratives, nonetheless eerily evocative of some kind of narrative momentum, something awful, bidden from beyond -- is a top-notch experience for every girl and boy. Plus, now that the Walt Disney Company hoards an even more elephantine ration of the global popular discourse, Columbia's conception of the Fleischer Studios as a sort of pre-moral psychic terrain of naive longings and daemon appetites seems especially on-point. From Fantagraphics; $29.99.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold - The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 (&) Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super-Sons: A double-dose of writer Bob Haney this week, if you're so inclined, starting with a 904-page Batman release stretching all the way back to late 1969, which has to be the earliest conception of the 'Bronze Age' allowable by federal law. Issues #87-122 of what had become a Batman team-up forum are included, more than half of them featuring art by the enduringly popular Jim Aparo. The slimmer (256-page) Batman/Superman item also covers a swathe of the '70s, this time from World's Finest Comics, focusing on tales of spandex progeny. Haney did not write *every* comic here, mind, though the compilation jumps ahead to one of his final stories, a Kieron Dwyer collaboration in 1999's Elseworlds 80-Page Giant, so it's sort of a de facto tribute; $125.00 (Brave), $16.99 (Super-Sons).

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Newspaper Strips Vol. 1: Marvel is not the first (or even the tenth) publisher I'd pick to handle newspaper strip reprints, but they are fellow vassals in the Magic Kingdom now with Luke Skywalker and the beeping can, so what we have here is a 464-page graphic-novel format reprint of Dark Horse's 1990s color comic book calibrations of the 1979-84 Star Wars strip, initially written and drawn by Russ Manning (with added contributions by Russ Helm and Steve Gerber), then later written by Archie Goodwin with art by Al Williamson and Alfredo Alcala at different times. PLEASE NOTE that IDW, in conjunction with Marvel, will *also* be reprinting the newspaper strips in their original format later this year; $39.99.

Comic Book Creator #14: Being the newest 84-page issue of the artist-focused all-color miscellany mag from TwoMorrows. This one is notable for containing coverage of Raina Telgemeier "and her magnificent army of devotees," a phenomenon readily observable at any convention where the artist happens to be in attendance. Also, a long interview with Kelley Jones, among the defining 1990s Batman artists, among other pursuits; $8.95.

The 10¢ War: Comic Books, Propaganda, and World War II: Finally, your book on comics for the week is a 240-page University Press of Mississippi hardcover anthology, priced for the classroom, on the topic of "how different types of comic books and comic book characters supplied reasons and means to support the war effort." Edited by Trischa Goodnow and James J. Kimble; $65.00.