THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (2/22/12 – Just a lot of stuff.)

Words of wisdom from Kenneth Smith, who I'm hoping will take over this column once they're through with me. It's from the 1990 Fantagraphics publication of Phantasmagoria, an update of art & writing forums Smith self-published years prior. I just found a copy this past weekend while browsing at a comics store by my parents' house; it was sitting on a table like it'd moved itself there. I took it up to the owner and he told me he loved magazines like that. I could only agree.

But holy smokes are the plenty of new 'magazines' ready to drop.


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.



My Friend Dahmer: I've already heard a lot about this 224-page original graphic novel from longtime alt weekly veteran John "Derf" Backderf, and all of it's good. You might remember some of Backderf's prior stories about his high school friendship with future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer from Fantagraphics' '90s Zero Zero anthology or the 2002 self-published comic My Friend Dahmer, but this is an all-new self-contained work on the topic. Abrams ComicArts is the publisher, and they've got paperback and hardcover editions to choose from. Preview here, dedicated blog here; $17.95 ($24.95 in hardcover).

Hector Umbra: Your pop comic pick of the week, being the first-ever longform work by German artist Uli Oesterle to be published in English; the last I can find of him around North American parts was in The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings back in 2003, though be aware that this is actually an import item from the UK-based Blank Slate Books, a 212-page color hardcover presumably based on a 2009 German-language collection (although I believe some segment or iteration of this material was nominated for the Prix révélation at Angoulême 2004). Oesterle's art evokes a bit of Mike Mignola -- and indeed has been praised by Mike Mignola -- which should click well with a storyline seeing an artist/detective investigating the disappearance of a Munich DJ and running into weird and occult trouble. Preview; $26.99.



Wally Wood's EC Stories: Artist's Edition: Yeah, this should look nice. It's another IDW crazy-deluxe original art showcase, this time presenting 144 pages' worth of Wally Wood's contributions to EC's sci-fi catalog (i.e. twelve complete stories and a selection of covers) at their original 15" x 22" dimensions, in color so all the marks and spots and whatevers are lavishly visible. Should you encounter one of these in person while flanked by Messrs. Franklin, Johnson & Lincoln, I think you should buy it quickly, as no reprints are planned and I suspect they'll go fast. A collection for Will Eisner's The Spirit is next in line. Exciting photographs here; $125.00.

Goliath: I'm always up for some Tom Gauld, and Tom Spurgeon reminds me that this 96-page Drawn and Quarterly original is his longest-yet comics work, a reconfiguration of the Biblical tale from the giant's point of view. Preview; $19.95.

A Long Day of Mr. James-Teacher: Another Blank Slate release, via their Chalk Marks line of 8" x 11" saddle-stitched deluxe comic books that might raise a certain nostalgic glow in readers of this site, although I think all of these items are self-contained and of varying length. This one's by HARVEYJAMES, an English cartoonist possibly best known for this (although an old Nick Gazin interview led me to this, which is incredible), but here providing a 28-page b&w account of some time spent as an English teacher in South Korea. Preview; $7.99.

Afrika: And returning for a moment to the continent, I will shamefacedly admit that I'd totally forgotten that Dark Horse is planning a new publishing push for Hermann Huppen, the Belgian meat 'n potatoes adventure strip classicist behind series like Jeremiah and The Towers of Bois-Maury, as well as various one-off projects that have blipped into English-language publication from assorted publishers, most pertinently Dark Horse via its millennial Venture imprint. That was back when Humanoids was also trying to push hardcover albums into North American comic book stores, an effort perhaps nostalgically reflected in the 8" x 11" hardcover status of this present 64-page release, a 2007 story of manly 'European abroad' action set in a Tanzanian wildlife preserve. Dark Horse next plans to release three-in-one omnibus hardcovers of Jeremiah, beginning in March. Preview; $15.99.

Mondo #1 (of 3): Your new (oversized!) comic book series launch of the week, specifically the newest Image project from alt cartooning stalwart Ted McKeever, seeing a factory employee suddenly becoming very strong and encountering plenty of odd stuff. Preview; $4.99.

Prophet #22: Speaking of Image, I'd thought the new collected edition of Brandon Graham's King City was going to show this week, but now I'm not seeing it on any of the release lists. Nonetheless, you will be able to enjoy the second installment of Graham's alien culture barbarian take on the titular Rob Liefeld creation, here drawn by Simon Roy. Preview; $2.99.

RASL #13: And here's the latest from Jeff Smith and his Cartoon Books, drawing nearer to the conclusion of this action series; $3.50.

Dark Horse Presents #9: But if its varied bits of action you want, this newest issue of Dark Horse's house anthology features a new comic by Paul Pope and a new prose story by Andrew Vachss (illustrated by Geof Darrow) - truly we are plunging through Dark Horse history. Other segments include a color Poe adaptation by Richard Corben, a Lobster Johnson story by Mike Mignola & Joe Querio, and various beginning or continuing serials. Samples; $7.99.

DC Universe: Secret Origins: A big smattering of old-time superhero shorts has its appeal, even as an expensive 320-page hardcover, and this collection of several old and newer reprint compilations (Secret Origins, More Secret Origins, Even More Secret Origins and Weird Secret Origins) should have stories by Jerry Siegel, Bob Haney, Gardner Fox and Bob Kanigher, among others, with art by Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Mike Sekowsky, Ramona Fradon, Joe Simon, Gray Morrow and more; $39.99.

Popbot: Big Beautiful Book: Speaking of smatterings, here's an IDW compilation -- a slipcased 11" x 14" hardcover, in fact -- of artist Ashley Wood's unfinished-in-terms-of-plot 2002-09 signature series, which started as a series of illustrations arranged and dialogued with the help of fellow artist Sam Kieth (the Maxx shows up at one point) and then transformed into an oblique work of future satire before concluding as a type of illustrated catalog of robot fantasies assisted by co-writer T.P. Louise. Mostly it all reminds me of the early '00s, and how determinedly odd ostensibly 'pop' comics could get while still attracting something of a broad readership. I think this was initially a special order premium with the publisher, and now they're knocking off whatever copies are left; $95.00.

Ampney Crucis: Vile Bodies: This week marks the 35th anniversary of British sci-fi comics institution 2000 AD, and with it comes a special extra-long issue that won't be seen in North America for at least another week if you're following around digitally. Hard copies are less predictable. However, publisher Rebellion still has something from the pages of the series on import, a collection of throwback painted stories from Ian Edginton & Simon Davis, seeing a very crisp aristocrat challenging extra-dimensional beings that threaten his home reality; $19.99.

Between Gears: Hey, an old-fashioned autobiographical comic! Or, I guess its new-fashioned, being a webcomic limiting itself to one page per incident. Anyway, it's the debut print-format book from Natalie Nourigat, and it's from busy, busy Image; $19.99.

Too Much Coffee Man: Cutie Island: Hey, a... fashioned humor comic! This is the first new book from Shannon Wheeler's best-known creation in a while, a 192-page softcover from Boom! Studios Samples; $17.99.

20th Century Boys Vol. 19 (of 24): Some of you might gravitate more toward Dark Horse's twentieth volume of Oh My Goddess! in manga this week, but I'll highlight this rapidly-concluding suspense series by Naoki Urasawa, still from Viz; $12.99.

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes: And we'll wrap up in a cyclical manner with another Abrams release, this time from its Amulet Books line of youth-targeted publications. It's a new 128-page color anthology edited by Kazu Kibuishi of the popular Flight series, centered on the premise of mysterious boxes (as you might guess). Nice lineup, including Kibuishi, Emily Carroll, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and others; $10.95 ($19.95 in hardcover).


CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: There's a pretty enormous amount of Fantagraphics stuff out this week, with nothing more anticipated I suspect than Is That All There Is?, a 144-page collection of almost all of Joost Swarte's work in alternative comics, including eye-catching bits from RAW, Heavy Metal and elsewhere; $35.00. Then you can keep up your international airs with Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, a 250-page anthology of Scandinavian works edited by the Journal's Matthias Wivel; $29.99. Editor Blake Bell returns with Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, a 240-page collection of Golden Age superhero comics from the titular artist; $39.99. Diane Noomin (of the Twisted Sisters anthology, the second volume of which I attribute to changing my entire perception of how the comics form could work at a crucial age) gets a 180-page anthology of her various works with Glitz-2-Go; $19.99. And finally, in case comics are just too much for ya, Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 finds music producer and writer Pat Thomas tracking the recorded output of various black power groups of the designated time span, in glorious prose; $39.99.