Ah, the tricks of alphabetization. I went to SPX last Saturday -- an interminable con report should be up later this week, unless Dan comes to his senses -- and this was one of two encounters I had involving print publications with which I'd been involved, tangentially or directly. In one of them (not pictured above) I'd forwarded some materials for the editor's use; I'd always liked reading the little thanks-for-letting-us-borrow-shit section in archival books -- "Huge thanks to Albert P. Appleton for his seventeen-foot stack of Momma tear sheets- rest in peace, bro!" -- and while I don't expect any such mention in this particular tome (my role being far too small), seeing the object itself made me very happy. All my hording: justified.
What I *am* picturing here, however, is Study Group Magazine #3D, a show debut and beneficiary of a recent Kickstarter campaign. I was pretty eager to contribute, as the features editor of the magazine is Milo George, familiar to many of you as a former managing editor of the print edition of this venue; that was the period when I began to read The Comics Journal, though I only started writing for it under the succeeding editor, Dirk Deppey.
What you're seeing here is a deleted image from my article, a short piece of soft theory in which I speculate as to why 3D comics never seem to satisfy me, except in rare cases like French publisher Le Dernier Cri's 2011 anthology 3DC, which -- in teetering on the edge of presumptive notions of what comics 'are' -- avoids many of the problems I associate with 3D comics, particularly the disruption of sequence in provoking the illusion of depth. There are no traditionally paneled 'sequences' in 3DC, although there are overlapping pages of different sizes, requiring the reader to physically reach out toward the shimmering surfaces of the book's pages and peel back certain images to stare deeper into others. Rather than navigating horizontally or vertically, you press back.
I'm entirely an online creature, with no sophistication as to print design, so I gladly turned all responsibility for image formatting over to Milo, and the art director, François Vigneault, and Jason Little, of "3D Consultation, Conversions and Production." I quite enjoyed how it turned out - all of the image samples remain in working 3D (I had to be hand-held through the scanning process to get it right), flanking the text of the article like little windows into zones of weird drawing. Of course, the 'trick' of 3DC is that it's probably the least assaultive of Le Dernier Cri's large anthologies, insofar as the 3D process leavens the visual 'noise' of the artists into different planes, allowing an unusual logic and geography to emerge. Basically, the article is not just me explaining things, but demonstrating what I'm talking about through its visual arrangement, and that second quality is something that's built in good production.
And if you think all of that was self-centered... just wait a few days.
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. 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.
Sugar Skull: Being the third and final installment of Charles Burns' color album series, following X'ed Out (2010) and The Hive (2012), all from Pantheon. I presume the story will continue to match a young man's personal affairs with his exploration of a fantasy zone, although I tend to forget everything about this series in between volumes anyway, so reading it from the beginning will be required in this house. A hardcover release, 9" x 12", 64 pages; $23.00.
Only Skin: Not the heaviest week for new releases, but that means there's probably a reissue out there worth your attention, such as this new edition of Secret Acres' 2012 collection for Sean Ford's fine serial comic, 272 pages concerning isolation and abandonment as two siblings inhabit a town of disappearing people - and then there's the woods. Large preview; $21.95.
MEKA: Yet more in the way of French SF comics from busy Magnetic Press, this time reaching back to 2004-05 for what I believe was the professional comics publishing debut of the artist Bengal, working in collaboration with writer J.D. Morvan on a manga/anime-influenced scenario finding giant robot pilots stuck in the city they've helped smash. Magnetic has previously released the duo's Naja series as a similar all-in-one book, and will do the same for Begnal's solo project Luminae next month. A 96-page hardcover, 8.5" x 11". Samples; $19.99.
Red Moon: And turning our attention now to Argentine creators, Dark Horse has a 240-page compendium of materials released as four volumes back in 2005 by Strip Art Features - it's a '90s collaboration between the late Carlos Trillo and artist Eduardo Risso, see a girl off on a quest in a land of fairies and such. Preview; $24.99.
Bokurano: Ours Vol. 11 (of 11): If not the literal end of an era, than at lease an emotional conclusion here as VIZ wraps up one of the prolonged series with which it launched its SigIKKI line of seinen manga, initially released freely by digital means on a dedicated website but eventually just published as books - VIZ has a more detailed online strategy now, and it's heavy on youth comics and their custom Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine. Nonetheless, do enjoy this grand finale to this kids-in-robots/psychological-burden-of-combat series by Mohiro Kitō, who was something of a cause célèbre figure about a decade back when his Shadow Star ran with content edits in Dark Horse's Super Manga Blast!, but that's an older generation's controversy. Incidentally, Shogakukan's monthly IKKI magazine, the inspiration for all of this, releases its final issue at the end of this month, with some of its ongoing series (like Q Hayashida's Dorohedoro) apparently set to continue in other magazines; $12.99.
Terra Formars Vol. 2: But you know what's *never* gonna end? Shueisha's Weekly Young Jump, a seinen magazine of a different sort, known for 'mature content' youth-appeal series ranging from Takehiko Inoue's wheelchair basketball project Real to Hiroya Oku's notoriously scuzzy Gantz. This is a Yū Sasuga/Kenichi Tachibana space-war-on-huge-bugs joint, criticized for its humanoid cockroach antagonists' disquieting similarities to caricatures of black men, but highly visible nonetheless at the moment due to an upcoming television anime adaptation from director Hiroshi Hamasaki, well-regarded for the harsh SF series Texhnolyze and a subsequent nerd franchise adaptation, Steins;Gate. From VIZ, up to vol. 10 in Japan; $12.99.
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 23 (&) Durham Red: The Bitch: Two from 2000 AD, with two publishers raiding the vaults. The Dredd is Rebellion: 320 pages of comics from 1995 -- the year of the Danny Cannon motion picture, starring Sylvester Stallone -- including a rare writing appearance by Pat Mills on the title, and one of the later Garth Ennis serials, an older script only realized as its writer was starting up Preacher at Vertigo. Durham Red, meanwhile, is 144 pages from Simon & Schuster, and technically a 1987 storyline from John Wagner's & Carlos Ezquerra's bounty hunter title Strontium Dog, in which co-writer Alan Grant collaborates in introducing a sexy vampire character who would later occupy her own series; $33.99 (Dredd), $17.99 (Durham).
George Pérez's Sirens #1 (of 6): Man, first Walter Simonson does Thor over at IDW, now George Pérez writes and draws a whole lot of costumed women for BOOM! I'd flip through this just to see how maximal it can get. Preview; $3.99.
The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World: Finally, here is the first of the 'special focus' portions of writer Grant Morrison's current DC superhero effort, a "pulp" superhero piece with art by Chris Sprouse & Karl Story, their smooth look easily associated with old magazine-derived heroics via the Alan Moore-written series Tom Strong. I think future comics are set to arrive on a monthly basis; $4.99.