THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (5/9/12 – 4 Excuses for a Late Column)

Time ran out on me.

I was at a garden party. Brass band and everything. "I leeeft my looove in Aaaavaloooon."

"That's Bacchus," he said, "god of wine."

"And revelry," I added, from my vaults of comic book knowledge.

"Hey, that's pretty good! I didn't know any of that shit until I moved here."

“You know how old the artist was?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Three. Three years old. Her daddy helped her a little, gave her some direction. But yeah, she just took off her clothes, rolled around on that.”

“It’s nice,” I said.

“Fuck yeah it is.”


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.



NonNonBa: A show debut at MoCCA the other week, where I held all 432 pages in my hands, although this 1977 release from Shigeru Mizuki -- maybe a more characteristic work than last year's Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, given the artist’s renown in Japan as a master of yōkai manga -- has already been making the rounds elsewhere in the west, given its capture of the Fauve d’Or at Angoulême 2007. Still, I believe there is some (fantastical) autobiographical content in here, as an old woman acts as a guide to the world of Japanese spirits. Preview; $26.95.

Megalex: Ah, this one brings me all the way back to publisher Humanoids’ 2002-04 attempt to revive Métal Hurlant as a comic book-format anthology for the North American audience - an edition somewhat different, I understand, from a mostly contemporaneous French-language incarnation. Most prominent among the alterations was an attempt to juice up the English release by serializing the first two volumes of this 1999-2008 series from writer Alejandro Jodorowsky -- a bankable name working through one of his weakest stories, an autopilot array of nature-based revolution against a drugged technocratic society -- and artist Frédéric "Fred" Beltran, who commanded a certain amount of aesthetic pull with the publisher at the time, having already collaborated successfully with Jodorowsky and Zoran Janjetov on The Technopriests, and even inspired an ill-considered re-coloring of The Incal. Yet the extreme of his chilly, digitally-smooth approach was Megalex, rendered entirely via millennial 3D models which, as you might expect, absolutely scream the era of their creation, which is perhaps what moved Beltran to switch to a more traditional illustration approach for the third and final volume, available for the first time in English in this 168-page hardcover package, which also includes its predecessors. Samples; $29.95.



Mastering Comics: Drawing Words and Writing Pictures Continued: In which authors Jessica Abel & Matt Madden follow up their 2008 ‘how to’ text via publisher First Second with a 336-page sequel intended to deepen the lessons offered prior; $34.99.

Silver Surfer: Parable: Fans of the gradual diminution of artists in the superhero comics process will definitely want a peek at this new 168-page hardcover from Marvel, a reprinting of writer Stan Lee’s 1988-89 collaboration with one Mr. Jean Giraud. Alert browsers will note that the project has actually been paired with a second Lee-scripted tale, 1990’s Silver Surfer: The Enslavers (art by Keith Pollard), transforming a rare Moebius-in-English package into a showcase for the character, or, barring that, the writer. Or, I dunno, maybe it was more cost-effective to bulk up the page count? Anyway, we’ll see if any remembrance for the late artist was put together before press time, though I won’t be expecting the Quentin Tarantino introduction the series so plainly demands; $24.99.

Space Ducks: An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness: Being a 96-page original graphic novel from musician, artist and documentary subject Daniel Johnston, which can be joined with an audio album and an iOS app for additional content. The publisher is Boom! Samples; $19.99.

Archie’s Sunday Finest: Your Archie for the week, this time a 160-page IDW ‘best of’ release of ‘40s and ‘50s Sunday comics by franchise originator Bob Montana; $49.99.

Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe and the Beatles in Hamburg: Another First Second offering, presenting the story of eventual ex-Beatle Sutcliffe and his continental experiences in a “lush, romantic” (per the publisher) and somewhat seinen manga-inflected (to me eye) style from German artist Arne Bellstorf, who saw the initial release of this 208-page work in Berlin, 2010. Official site; $24.99.

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 (of 13): Clearly the main draw to this new IDW project is seeing artist Bernie Wrightson embark on (a) the largest single comics story of his career and (b) a sequel of sorts to his 1983 illustrated edition of the Mary Shelley novel, albeit here a full comic with writing by frequent collaborator Steve Niles. I’m a bit more interested to see how the process utilized in the publisher’s gigantic Artist’s Edition books -- i.e., reproducing the original art in full color, retaining all of the textures and imperfections of the page, which admittedly was not devised by IDW itself, having been used by McSweeney’s in its edition of Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary -- translates to new work in the comic book format. Samples; $3.99.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics #1: Another popular trend - colorization! Bone did it, Scott Pilgrim’s doing it, and now the original Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird debut gets (another) treatment, courtesy of one Tom Smith and Scorpion Studios. Preview; $3.99.

Trio #1: And for a throwback of a different, newer sort, IDW brings an all-new big fightin' superhero comic from writer/artist John Byrne. Preview; $3.99.

Mystery in Space #1: Another one of those fat anthology comic books Vertigo sometimes puts out, this time an 80-page package promising work by Paul Pope, Mike Allred, Kyle Baker and others; $7.99.

FLCL Omnibus: Oh wow, this is something. The worst manga in the world are generally anime or gaming tie-in series, but the once-great animation studio Gainax sponsored several exceptions, among them an expansive (and never-finished) Neon Genesis Evangelion adaptation by the popular show's character designer, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and this utterly berserk Hajime Ueda rendition of the studio's 2000-01 critique of the "magical girlfriend" genre, as inside-fandom as a premise can get while nonetheless -- under the sure hand of never-better director Kazuya Tsurumaki -- dishing out comedy and surrealism and big dirty genre licks in the manner of a top-notch Grant Morrison comic. Ueda's comic, however, flings the entire affair deep into furious, near-inchoate mark-making of a sort rarely seen in mainline Japanese comics, which is its own type of added rebellion for the sponsor studio. Previously released in 2003 by Tokyopop, and now from Dark Horse as a 392-page all-in-one brick. Samples; $19.99.

The Bible: Finally -- and sadly not your DC relaunch of the week -- we have a new hardcover reprint of a 1975 treasury format release by the publisher (Limited Collector’s Edition C36), sporting 68 pages of Nestor Redondo drawing Old Testament classics under the direction of Joe Kubert, in a project spearheaded by Sheldon Mayer that never proceeded past issue #1. Note that this edition is 10.3” x 13.6”, which is approximately the original publication dimensions; $29.99.