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.
Beverly: Being the 136-page debut 'graphic novel' from Nick Drnaso, whom some of you may recall from late in the life of the Fantagraphics anthology MOME, or some Oily Comics mini work. A suite of six short stories linked by the presence of "violence and quiet brutality," this color work has attracted early praise from Ivan Brunetti and Chris Ware. A Drawn & Quarterly release. Samples; $21.95.
Mean Girls Club: I'll make it a double-shot of books from anthology vets up here today, with this new large-format comic book from BLAB! contributor Ryan Heshka, a Canadian illustrator and children's book artist working in a style informed by mid-20th century advertising and pin-up art. It "turns the image of the stereotypical 50’s female upside down and inside out," per Nobrow, the UK release from which now appears in North American stores. Samples; $5.95.
Blubber #2 (&) Hip Hop Family Tree #6: Two continuing 32-page comic book series from Fantagraphics here, proving that the three feet of snow outside the window constitute evidence of my traveling backwards in time. Blubber is a one-man anthology from Gilbert Hernandez, offering an opportunity to explore severe short-form works heavy on biological monster slapstick, though last issue's (excellent) bleak centerpiece of not-especially-funny animals descending into a consumer nightmare in Las Vegas suggests a deeper eat-or-be-eaten social metaphor. But maybe everything will be different this time. Hip Hop Family Tree is a continued repackaging of the mass biographical book series cum Marvel comics aesthetic exercise by Ed Piskor, notable on today's scene for simply having racked up half a dozen releases; $3.99 (each).
Prophet: Earth War #1 (of 6) (&) Island #6: And here's a pair from that wing of Image comics fronted by writer, artist and organizer Brandon Graham, stretching back to the beginning of his heightened profile with the publisher as something other than a solo writer/artist. In 2012, Graham and collaborators Simon Roy, Richard Ballermann & Ed Brisson started up a revival of an old Rob Liefeld character, attracting a tremendous amount of attention and praise - Prophet: Earth War now provides that run with an ending it never had, with a variety of contributors from throughout the series, such as artist Giannis Milonogiannis. Island, meanwhile, is a continuing anthology series, now featuring anthropomorphic critters from erotic cartoonist Onta (NSFW) and a revised presentation of Fil Barlow's Zooniverse series, which Eclipse published stateside back in the mid-'80s. Both comics should also feature work from Journal contributor Sarah Horrocks, unless time-travel has left me baffled; $3.99 (Prophet), $7.99 (Island).
Comics Squad Vol. 2: Lunch!: There's a number of books out this week featuring short-form kids' comics work from established cartoonists -- mainly in the media license realm of Adventure Time or Garbage Pail Kids -- but I'm going to highlight this 144-page Random House release of a dedicated anthology from editors Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm & Jarrett J. Krosnezka, all of them experienced creators of children's cartooning matter. Among the contributors are Jason Shiga (whose self-published, very-much-not-all-ages Demon serial recently saw the release of its *twentieth* issue), Jeffrey Brown and Sara Varon (paired with writer Cecil Castellucci, herself comics-experienced); $7.99.
Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Vol. 3 (of 3): Your manga pick of the week is a concluding DC release of '60s superhero manga -- linked, at least in terms of publishing viability, to the global reach of the Batman television show of that era -- from the co-creator of 8 Man. 'Classic' manga releases aren't common enough for this not to feel like a treat right on the face of it, but Kuwata has a fine and agile approach to boy's comics storytelling that has kept these works lively and appealing for audiences approaching more from the 'Batman' than the 'manga' end; $14.99.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book Archive: For a good deal of my tenure as a Marvel superhero reader, the 1991-92 run of Evan Dorkin-driven comics stemming from the then-popular time-travel movie franchise had a reputation as unusually strong expression of a creator's point of view in the media license arena, and I think it's still pretty well-remembered today. This is a 368-page BOOM! hardcover collecting the whole thing, which Dorkin wrote and drew with various inkers, among them Marie Severin, Stephen DeStefano and David Mazzucchelli. Samples; $34.99.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Gallery Edition: WHOA, WHOA - is this a DC studio publishing a comic not merely written but co-owned by Mr. Alan Moore?! Has-- has détente been achieved? No, actually this is a Graphitti Designs release distributed in conjunction with Vertigo, put together to highlight the uncolored drawing of co-creator and U.K. comics icon Kevin O'Neill. The complete 1999-2000 original miniseries should be represented across these 184 pages, presented at 12" x 17" and reproduced directly from the original art; $125.00.
The Art of Neil Gaiman: The Story of a Writer: Finally, your book-on-comics of the week is a 320-page Harper Design softcover edition of a biographical tour through the catalog of the titular novelist and comics writer, authored by Journal contributor Hayley Campbell. The original hardcover was released in 2014, and proved very comprehensive to these not-yet-whiteouted eyes; $19.99.