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PG Previews:

October 2011

Now I do understand that publishers are looking for the safe bets and surefire bestsellers to stay in business, that creators need to earn a living and pay the mortgage somehow, even if it means not working on concepts they have originated or derivative wannabe imitations, and that readers often much prefer to stay inside their comfort zones and follow fan-favourite characters or spin-off crossovers from other media they know and love. So, for some, the prospect of yet another first issue of Wolverine & X-Men or a Star Trek mindmeld with the Legion of Super-Heroes for goodness sake is thrilling stuff. But what really excites me are those comics, manga and graphic novels that push me into my “discomfort zone”, that surprise, provoke and engage me, that affirm that this medium is wide open, forward-looking and determined to tackle anything and everything. So I’ve gleaned these goodies for you from what’s lined up to be released in October 2011 (although actual dates may vary) based on publisher advance listings. Forget Stan Lee’s dead-end promise of “The Illusion of Change”, this is “Real Change” and it’s happening right now. Join me, take a chance and take a step into the future of comics.



1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
edited by Paul Gravett
Universe/Cassell
$36.95/£20.00

The publisher says:
Over the centuries, comic books and their offshoots, such as graphic novels, and bandes dessinées have evolved into a phenomenally popular, influential, and unique art form with which we can express our opinions, our fantasies, our nightmares, and our dreams. In short: comics are emphatically no longer just for kids. This diverse, constantly evolving medium is truly coming into its own in the 21st century, from Hollywood’s blockbuster adaptations of super-powered caped crusaders to the global spread of Japan’s manga and its spinoffs, and from award-winning graphic novels such as Maus and Persepolis to new forms such as online webcomix. But comics also have a long and rich history, dating back at least to the Swiss teacher Rodolphe Topffer in the early 19th century, and far earlier in China. 1001 Comic Books You Must Read Before You Die is the perfect introduction to this dynamic and globally popular medium. There have been other guides to the best comic books, but none has embraced every genre and scoured the globe to glean the very greatest works of sequential art, graphic literature, bandes dessinees, tebeos, fumetti, manga, manhwa, komiks, strips, historietas, quadrinhos, beeldverhalen, and plain old comics. This authoritative guide is organized according to the year of first publication in the country of origin. An opening section acknowledges pioneering pre-1900 masterpieces, followed by sections divided by decade, creating a fascinating year-by-year chronicle of the comics medium worldwide.

Paul Gravett says:
OK, I’ll admit that this pick might seem like shameless self-promotion, but honestly, even if this 960-page doorstop wasn’t edited and partly written by me, it would still be one of my top PG Previews this month for its sheer global breadth and diversity. You can read the world-exclusive first ever interview with me about 1001 Comics by Rich Johnston over on Bleeding Cool which tells you more about how the book came to be and how it works. Nearer October there will be further info starting to appear on this site to preview and expand on what’s made it into this first truly international attempt to propose a ‘canon of world comics’. Of course, even with a massive 1001 entries, it’s impossible to be exhaustive or definitive putting together any list like this. So I guarantee you will not discover all your favourites within this 1001 Comics, but I guarantee you will discover some astounding new favourites and enjoy a bigger, broader perspective on how much this medium has done already and is doing right now. And sign up for the Newsletter for first advance news about the book’s special launch event.



Baja
by Ben Wagner & Nathan St. John
IDW
$19.99

The publisher says:
In this sexy, twisting thriller, Hil and Zack - a beautiful woman and a man who knows better - must escape a stalker whose fate is tied to their own. St John and Wagner play with conventions, leading readers in unexpected directions with a story that deftly weaves two tales of love, sex, greed, and betrayal. St John’s distinctive art style perfectly matches the shadowy criminal world of Baja.

Paul Gravett says:
Nathan St. John is a London-based mixed-media artist and comics creator, whom I’d somehow managed to miss before this release popped up. He’s already authored SW9 which he describes as “a story that reveals the criminal underworld of southwest London, set on the mean streets between Brixton and Stockwell” and a previous IDW book Finding Peace, written by Tom Waltz, which “contains three stories, each unique and yet all connected by a single, tragic thread - the desperate search for peace in times of both declared and undeclared war.” You can check out eight preview spreads from Baja, Nathan’s latest 148-page moody thriller in black and red, which looks like a further progressive growth spurt in this visual storyteller’s maturity. Another UK name to watch.



Bill Griffith: Lost & Found 1970-1994
by Bill Griffith
Fantagraphics
$39.99

The publisher says:
Bill Griffith is best known as the creator of the Zippy daily comic strip, currently running in over 300 newspapers nationwide, but Zippy was conceived as an underground comix character before he became embraced in the mainstream, and Griffith himself was a seminal figure in the underground comix movement, during which he was a cartoonist, an editor, and an entrepreneur. This collection features hundreds of Griffith’s early underground comics, most of them long out of print and unavailable.

Paul Gravett says:
Amazingly to this day, Zippy still delivers a daily dose of much-needed absurdism to the strip pages of America’s newspapers, but there’s much, much more to Bill Griffth’s universe that his famous Pinhead, as this compendium proves. For one thing, unusually for the underground comix movement, Griffith came from an art school background before taking up making comics and so brings that different outlook to much of his work.  From provocative Tales of Toad and outrageous romance comics satire Young Lust and his co-editing with Art Spiegelman of the crucial underground comix anthology Arcade, to his graphic short stories in Raw, National Lampoon, High Times, New Yorker and elsewhere, here’s a chance to immerse yourself in 384 pages of “Griffy”‘s fertile and innovative cartooning capers.



Billy Fog: The Gift Of Trouble-Sight
by Guiilaume Bianco
Archaia Entertainment
$24.95

The publisher says:
Like some other kids his age, Billy Fog has to wear glasses. But when he takes his glasses off, he sees all the things that other kids can’t: ghosts and ghouls, vampires and monsters, a world of darkness and danger and above all the thing that kids aren’t supposed to see: death. A new kind of graphic novel: part storybook, part fable, part gazetteer and bestiary of the horrible and fantastic, inspired by the likes of Tim Burton and Lemony Snicket.

Paul Gravett says:
Here’s a happy result of Mark Smylie from Archaia making his first transatlantic shopping trip to the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France last January. He’s snapped up this mirthfully macabre gem, originally called Billy Brouillard, from Soleil, of all people (other more conventional fare from their catalogue is being translated by Marvel Comics). Smylie wrote me to say, “Edward, our translator, says it’s the best thing he’s translated for us yet; he described it as Calvin & Hobbes as if it were done by Edward Gorey, which I thought was a great tagline.” Mark’s right, it is! Get a taster from this short but sweet animated trailer and four samples pages on FNAC’s site. Bianco’s done three volumes already of this series, so let’s hope this first English edition paves the way for more. On top of that, Bianco recently started Zizi Chauve-souris or “Zizi Bat”, a batty new project for Dupuis written by Lewis Trondheim, currently running in Spirou



Darwin’s Diaries Vol 1:
The Eye of the Celts

by Sylvain Runberg & Eduardo Ocaña
Cinebook
£6.99

The publisher says:
Victorian England. In Yorkshire, several men and horses working on a railway line have been killed. The police suspect some kind of wild beast. The government calls on controversial naturalist Charles Darwin to help with the investigation. A reasonable move, but one that is dicatated rather by the least known part of his work: research on what other people would qualify as legendary creatures. It won’t be long before the scientist discovers that he may be right about them after all…

Paul Gravett says:
What if Charles Darwin had suppressed one particularly controversial chapter in his already highly sensitive book Origin of Species? What if his Theory of Evolution had also embraced investigating stories of “wild men, demon beasts, clawed ones”? In this 56-page ripping yarn of alternative Victorian history, we learn that Darwin spent several months studying “almases, sasquatches, werewolves”, although “they all remained elusive during my research”. So Prime Minister Palmerston recruits the scientist to identify whatever animal has somehow evolved which is now ripping to death some Yorkshire railroad labourers. In the name of capitalist progress, Darwin becomes a discreet government agent brought in to reassure the fearful. striking workforce so they go back to work. But what is this weird lethal creature, striking swiftly, always out of sight? Has some terrible new predator evolved that now stalks the English countryside? With occasionally visceral horror contents, this is a powerful, hugely entertaining period-piece, evocatively illustrated, smartly scripted and grippingly paced. It will leave you panting for the next episode. Get on board the sharpest new series this year from Cinebook. You can watch the new English trailer for it and see a few sample pages too.



De Profundis
by James Jarvis
PictureBox
$19.95

The publisher says:
The acclaimed British illustrator James Jarvis unveils his first new narrative in five years. This highly anticipated graphic novel follows a beaked artist who travels through a wilderness to arrive at an abandoned city. Wandering the empty streets there, he encounters a mysterious, priestly being who commissions him to decorate a temple to nameless gods. De Profundis might be considered a departure from Jarvis’ previous projects; in this book, he has constructed a personal narrative with artwork that combines his interest in medieval woodcuts and Dutch De Stjil.

Paul Gravett says:
I included James Jarvis’s previous BD-like comic album with Russell Waterman from 2006, entitled Vortigern’s Machine and the Great Sage of Wisdom, in my book Great British Comics. With De Profundis (Latin for “from the depths”), Jarvis’ makes his solo graphic novel debut. He has moved away from the cute-grotesque, toy-like characters and multi-panelled, balloon-filled pages and opted for a wordless and more graphic approach. As James explained to me, “It’s more in the Frans Masereel tradition than a page-divided-into-boxes comic but it’s sequential, so I guess it counts.” His cover harks back to Goya’s etching from Los Caprichos entitled “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, showing his anxious Smurf-blue artist crouched at his drawing table, plagued by flapping, crawling, toothy critters. Entering a harshly geometrical and clinical cityscape, he spots some graffiti, freshly painted on the white walls, simply shapes of a circle or triangles. Tempted by another blank wall to have a go himself, he is chased off by a white-coated man, blue like him but beaked and lizard-legged. The city’s sole inhabitant corrals the artist into taking the stuff of his nightmares - assorted strange birds, demons, dragons, snakes and other animals - and filling up the vast interior walls of a building with elaborate drawings of them. But how will our hero manage when this menacing menagerie joins his waking world to create chaos? In loose. liberated lines and a limited palette of flat colours, Jarvis communicates the urget and urgency of making your mark and crafts a quirky allegorical fable about the artist’s search for inspiration and independence. 



Everything: Comics from 1978-1981
by Lynda Barry
Drawn & Quarterly
$24.95

The publisher says:
From her first comics published in the Evergeen State College school paper to her influential weekly comic strip, Ernie Pook’s Comeek; from her bestselling creative how-to memoir comic books, What It Is and Picture This, to her novels, graphic memoirs, plays, and awards in between, Lynda Barry has been part of the North American alternative comics scene for thirty years. Everything collects all of the seminal Ernie Pook’s Comeek, some of which has been out of print for decades, and includes her earliest books, such as Girls and Boys and Big Ideas, and features an introduction penned by Barry, complete with photographs. Reflective of the early 1980s before the appearance of Barry’s well-known characters Marlys and Arna, the comics in Everything Volume 1 cover the more adult subjects of bad love, bad perms, being single, Prince, and miserable break-ups - resulting in one of the most oft-quoted Barry sayings: “Love is an exploding cigar which we all willingly smoke.”

Paul Gravett says:
Barry is one of the very greatest American comic artists of our age, the Queen of “AutoBioFictional-Ography”. Peter Stanbury and I ran a few of her pieces in Escape magazine back in the Eighties when she was little known in the UK. This first 192-page hardcover in a projected complete reprinting of Barry’s output should help (re-)acquaint more readers with her brilliant cartooning. Click here to download a six-page pdf preview including work from this time by her peers Matt Groening (also her college-mate) and Gary Panter.



Feel Better Now
by Jonathan Hickman
Image
$3.99

The publisher says:
If you’re a highly qualified psychologist in Los Angeles, the fake problem capital of the world, sometimes you get bored. And, sometimes, this means you screw with your patients. For the first time in three years, Jonathan Hickman is writing and drawing a creator-owned comic. Known for the boundary-pushing stories like The Nightly News and Pax Romana, this one-and-done book is the first of three Plus! stories, will not be collected for over a year, and is intended to have a shelf life of several months.

Paul Gravett says:
Hickman has been getting Marvel fans excited scripting titles like Fantastic Four. Maybe some of True Believers will try out these Plus! stories, where he can really cut loose, drawing as well as writing uncomfortable material of his own. All power too him.



Glitz-2-Go
by Diane Noomin
Fantagraphics
$19.99

The publisher says:
The original Twisted Sister in one definitive tome. Glitz-2-Go finally collects nearly 40 years of comics stories by Diane Noomin, best-known for her work as cartoonist and editor of the women comics anthology Twisted Sisters. Noomin’s career in underground comix began in 1972 and included appearances in Wimmen’s Comix, Young Lust, Short Order, Arcade, Real Girl, Lemme Outta Here, El Perfecto, True Glitz, Aftershock, Mind Riot, Titters and Weirdo. Glitz-2-Go stars Noomin’s signature character, DiDi Glitz, the frustrated middle-aged glamour-puss and anxiety-ridden suburban Sisyphus. All of her stories, beginning with her debut Restless Reverie in 1974’s Family Fun Comics, are finally back in print for the first time in over 30 years.

Paul Gravett says:
A long-overdue compilation of DiDi Glitz’s exploits which reveals that, unbeknownst to many, Diane Noomin was actually developing over the years and across several titles a surprisingly cohesive character study and one of key long-running satirical sagas spawned by the underground comix movement. According to ‘DiDi’s Priority Pie’, the order of her interests are prioritised as follows: Fascinating, Devastating Love Affairs 21.7%; Utterly Gorgeous Outfits 19%; Lavish Interior Design Schemes 17%; Wig-Cleaning Services 10%; Sausage Anchovy Pizzas 6.2%; Delicious Bubble Baths 4.5%; and ending up with Politics, Career and Sex on 3, 2, and 1%.



Government Issue:
Comics For The People - 1940s to 2000s

Richard Graham
Abrams ComicArts
$29.95

The publisher says:
Since the 1940s, federal and state government agencies have published comics to disseminate public information. Comics legends Will Eisner and Milton Caniff produced comics for the army. Li’l Abner joined the navy. Walt Kelly’s Pogo told parents how much TV their kids should watch, Bert the Turtle showed them how to survive a nuclear attack, and Dennis the Menace took ‘A Poke at Poison’. Smokey Bear had his own comic, and so did Zippy, the USPS mascot. Dozens of artists and writers, known and unknown, were recruited to create comics about every aspect of American life, from jobs and money to health and safety to sex and drugs. Whether you want the lowdown on psychological warfare or the highlights of working in the sardine industry, the government has a comic for you! Government Issue reproduces an important selection of these official comics in full-reading format, plus a broad range of excerpts and covers, all organized chronologically in thematic chapters.


Paul Gravett says:
This promises to be a fascinating trawl through America’s oddball oddities of official comic books of the informational and educational variety, some of which I highlighted in The Leather Nun and Other Incredibly Strange Comics. Further evidence of the efficacy of the medium to transmit facts and messages directly into our brains.


Hark! A Vagrant
by Kate Beaton
Drawn & Quarterly/Jonathan Cape
$19.95/&pound12.99;

The publisher says:
Hark! A Vagrant takes readers on a romp through history and literature - with dignity for few and cookies for all - with comic strips about famous authors, their characters, and political and historical figures, all drawn in Kate Beaton’s pared-down, excitable style. This collection features favorite stories as well as new, previously unpublished content. Whether she’s writing about Nikola Tesla, Napoleon, or Nancy Drew, Beaton brings a refined sense of the absurd to every situation.

Paul Gravett says:
Beaton’s pleasure at mashing up historical and fictional figures with modern sensibilities is infectious and has won her a massive following on her website, some 1,2 million hits each month. For this collection, she laces her three- or four-panel Python-esque comedy strips, drawn with brusque brio and grouped under categories like “15th Century Peasant Romance Comics”, with this sort of wry commentary: “Ah, the French Revolution. It’s one of those things where the utter madness of it all lends itself to great comedy, usually of the madcap variety. I guess your large-scale terrors are easier to handle if someone is slipping on a banana peel.”  You can download a 6-page preview pdf or visit her site, to see if she tickles your funnybone as much as she does mine.



Hellraisers
by Robert Sellers & JAKe
SelfMadeHero
£14.99

The publisher says:
Hellraisers is the story of four of the greatest boozers of all time: Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed. Robert Sellers and JAKe cleverly weave the four biographies seamlessly into one fast-paced adventure of drunken binges, orgies, parties and fun. Told through the eyes of Martin, a wannabe Hellraiser, the story begins in a typical London pub at Christmas time. One by one, each of the four Hellraisers take this disillusioned soul of a personal tour of their childhoods, rise to stardom and chaotic personal lives.

Paul Gravett says:
JAKe brings the perfect cocktail of blockish, black grittiness and spot-on caricature to his portrayals of this quartet of celebrity rebels. In fact recently, he has been drawing them live on stage, appropriately, at Latitude Festival and Empire’s O2 film-fan farrago, in accompaniment to Robert Sellers’ spoken-word performance. Hopefully, they will be doing this double-act again in November to promote the book as part of Comica Festival.



Klaus
by Richard Short
Nobrow
£15.00

The publisher says:
Visually informed by Short’s love of classic comic strips, especially Charles Schulz’ Peanuts and Tove Jansson’s Moomin, Klaus explores the un-adventures of the eponymous character, a pensive anthropomorphic cat, and a vexatious supporting cast of humanoid rats, inappropriately specie-d romantic interests and Klaus’ libertarian doppelganger Otto. Weaving literary allusions, metaphysical ruminations and physical comedy through crisp, cartoonish artwork Short has transplanted the spirit of the classic comic strip into a new, slightly stranger body.

Paul Gravett says:
Richard Short is another British creator new to me. He kindly sent me two of his self-published “hastily made” minis of Klaus from late 2010. He advised, “I think only around half of these have made in into the Nobrow book”. It takes little time reading them to realise that Short is mastering the four-panel webcomic format with a deft wit and imagination. Klaus is not quite a “proper cat”, so for example he doesn’t eat the Great Auk mother’s chick which he hatches but rears it, and sleeps for as much as 16 hours a day -  “I’m not your average cat.” The expanding ensemble cast includes the yang to his yin, black cat Otto, and foils Alan/Terry/Barry, the curious rat-tailed homunculi. The cumulative effect is pleasantly mind- and mood-altering. Philosophical, bizarre and funny, often all at once, Klaus is a great addition to the fine feline tradition in comics from Felix and Krazy Kat to The Rabbi’s Cat, and is no relation, by the way, to Gunnar Lundkvist’s existentially challenged Swedish moggie on two legs, Klas Katt



MetaMaus:
A Look Inside A Modern Classic, Maus

by Art Spiegelman
Pantheon/Penguin
$35.00/£25.00

The publisher says:
In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize-winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago. He probes the questions that Maus most often evokes - Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics? - and gives us a new and essential work about the creative process. MetaMaus includes a bonus DVD that provides a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus linked to a deep archive of audio interviews with his survivor father, historical documents, and a wealth of Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches.

Art Spiegelman says:
MetaMaus is built around a series of taped conversations with Hillary Chute. (She is currently Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Chicago and was previously Junior Fellow in Literature at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.) In 2006, after reading her lucid takes on my work and that of others, I gave her free access to my rat’s nest of files, archives, artwork. notebooks, journals, books and dirty laundry. She soon became my chief enabler and associate editor in a project I kept resisting. (It was hard to revisit Maus, the book that both “made” me and has haunted me ever since; hard to revisit the ghosts of my family, the death-stench of history, and my own past.) Her relentless enthusiasm, diligence, and intelligence allowed this project to happen.

Paul Gravett says:
This is an exciting, exacting 300-page exploration and examination of a 300-page graphic novel by the author himself. It stands as a revealing true companion volume to Maus, in the identical format but in full colour. There are copious amounts of rarely seen or unseen sketches, photos, prints and comics (several from The New Yorker), a pair of Spiegelman family trees showing the members before and after the War, a transcript of a 1972 conversation with his father Vladek, three meaty interviews, and a great deal more. The accompanying DVD includes a home movie, audio interviews, eight years of notebooks and over 7,500 drafts and documents and yet more “supplementary supplements”. Spiegelman will have a major retrospective exhibition at next January’s Angoulême International Comics Festival, where he is the President, and this will then tour, initially from February to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Plans are also afoot for a wide-ranging comic art exhibition at the Jewish Museum London next summer, which will of course include Spiegelman’s work.



Orchid #1
by Tom Morello & Scott Hepburn
Dark Horse
$1.00

The publisher says:
From the mind of musician Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and The Nightwatchmen), Orchid is the tale of a teenage prostitute who learns that she is more than the role society has imposed upon her. When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed. Human settlements are ringed by a dense wilderness from which ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. The high ground belongs to the rich and powerful that overlook swampland shantytowns from their fortress-like cities. Iron-fisted rule ensures order and allows the wealthy to harvest the poor as slaves. Welcome to the world of Orchid. Each issue is being promoted with a new song by Morello.

Paul Gravett says:
This caught my eye, and in the wake of Umbrella Academy‘s success, for example, this latest musician-turned-comics writer may well also deliver something fresh and unexpected. For one dollar, it’s worth a gamble on this first floppy.



Pablo Apple Tree 1
by Luke Astorigin
Blank Slate Press
£6.99

The publisher says:
Pablo Apple Tree is a village in England, independently governed by a public computer called Pablo. Luke Astorigin creates a manga sci-fi inspired technological vision of the future, where every desire is catered to by an omnipresent overseer. In this opening volume, we meet Lania, a resident of Pablo Apple Tree engaged in a long training sequence with Pablo. As the story evolves, it challenges readers with questions of trust, self, and motivation in a world where needs are instantaneously met.

Paul Gravett says:
Stylish design in a chic, limited palette entices us to this unnerving techworld and its inhabitants, starting inside a sort of X-Men Danger Room setting where tightly-wound Lania comes for her adrenaline fix among Tron-like combatants and 3D sound effects. More interesting than the ensuing fight scenes are her dialogues with master programme Pablo and her internal drive to be “transported to that magical place.” The final four pages take her out in the wider world and a mystery sighting. Yep, this is to be continued, but it’s an attractive and intriguing opener for this second in the Chalk Marks line. Appetite definitely whetted.



Princess Knight Volume 1
by Osamu Tezuka
Vertical Inc
$13.95

The publisher says:
Set in a medieval fairy-tale backdrop, Princess Knight is the tale of a young princess named Sapphire who must pretend to be a male prince so she can inherit the throne. Women have long been prevented from taking the throne, but Sapphire is not discouraged and instead she fully accepts the role, becoming a dashing hero(ine) that the populous is proud of.

Paul Gravett says:
Vertical continue their top-class translations and productions of Tezuka’s masterpieces with this vital Fifties work that paved the way for so much in shojo or girls’ manga that followed including the cross-dressing and gender-bending tropes still prevalent today.



Sita’s Ramayana
by Samhita Ami & Moyna Chitrakar
Groundwood Books
$24.95

The publisher says:
The Ramayana is an epic poem by the Hindu sage Valmiki, written in ancient Sanskrit sometime after 300 BC. It is an allegorical story that contains important Hindu teachings, and it has had great influence on Indian life and culture over the centuries. Children are often encouraged to emulate the virtues of the two main characters - Rama and Sita. The Ramayana is frequently performed as theater or dance, and two Indian festivals - Dussehra and Divali - celebrate events in the story. This version of The Ramayana is told from the perspective of Sita, the queen. The story is exciting and dramatic, with many turns of plot. Magic animals, snakes, divine gods, demons, sorcerers and a vast cast of characters all play a part in the fierce battles fought to win Sita back. And in the process the story explores ideas of right vs. wrong, compassion, loyalty, trust, honor and the terrible price of war.

Paul Gravett says:
First issued in India by Tara Books, this brings Indian folk art traditions together with the modern graphic novel for an intriguing take on the legendary poem.



Snarked #1
by Roger Langridge
Kaboom!
$3.99

The publisher says:
Journey with Langridge as he pulls the carpet out from under such Lewis Carroll classics as The Walrus and The Carpenter, Through the Looking Glass and The Hunting of the Snark, creating an all-new world of humorous grandeur. Join Princess Scarlett as she and her baby brother Rusty outwit the villainous royal advisors and team up with the infamous Walrus and Carpenter to set sail in search of their father, the Red King, who has been lost at sea for six months. It’s a rip-roaring industry event you won’t want to miss.

Paul Gravett says:
Alice doesn’t live here anymore, but Carroll’s other creations acquire a whole new world of adventures in Langridge’s ebullient new creator-owned romp. There’s a one-dollar zero issue circulating in stores now to give you a preview.



Spaceman #1 of 9
by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
DC/Vertigo
$1.00

The publisher says:
Set in a post-apocalyptic near future, Spaceman tells the story of Orson - a hulking, lonely loser who spends his days collecting scrap metal and dreaming of the startrekking life he was promised. That is, until he finds himself at the center of a celebrity child kidnapping case. Seeing his chance to be a hero, Orson takes matters into his own hands…but will his actions only cause more heartbreak?

Paul Gravett says:
Azzarello and Risso, the team that reinvigorated the crime comics genre with 100 Bullets, reunite here to try the same makeover on science fiction. Another dollar promo worth checking out to get in on the launchpad for what could be a future hit.



The Cisco Kid
by Rod Reed & Jose Luis Salinas
Classic Comics Press
$24.95

The publisher says:
Based on the Western character created by legendary short story writer O. Henry in his 1907 short story The Caballero’s Way, The Cisco Kid starred in a comic strip that ran for fifteen years. Volume One will reprint this classic American comic strip from its beginning on January 15, 1951 to January 31, 1953 with an introduction by Sergio Aragonés, rarely seen Salinas artwork, biographical information and more!

Paul Gravett says:
Of course, Eduardo Risso is one of Argentina’s stellar comics illustrators, as spotlighted last year in my Comica Argentina exhibition. Go back sixty years, and his equivalent was Jose Luis Salinas, a master of cowboy adventures, who captures facial expressions and body language sublimely.



The Someday Funnies
edited by Michel Choquette
Abrams ComicArts
$55.00

The publisher says:
The Someday Funnies is the long-awaited collection of comic strips created in the early 1970s by world-famous artists and writers such as C. C. Beck, René Goscinny, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby, Moebius, Art Spiegelman, and Gahan Wilson. What started out as a special insert for Rolling Stone took on a life - and mythology - of its own as writer/editor Michel Choquette traveled the world, commissioning this visual chronicle of the 1960s, only to find himself without a publishing partner or the financial support to continue. Forty years later, readers finally get to experience this legendary anthology as Choquette celebrates the birth, death, and resurrection of The Someday Funnies - 129 previously unpublished strips by 169 writers and artists.

Paul Gravett says:
A veritable “Who’s Who” contributes to this dream project that amazingly is seeing print some forty years after it was conceived. Michel Choquette is an inspiring guy, pursuing everyone from Salvador Dalí to Neil Simon for his humungous anthology, and while they failed to deliver, he did get comics by Federico Fellini and Thomas Wolfe, to name-drop just two. Choquette will hopefully be over for Comica Festival when we hope to reunite some of his British contributors like Allen Jones, Ralph Steadman and others to celebrate this remarkable achievement.



Troop 142
by Mike Dawson
Secret Acres
$20.00

The publisher says:
Troop 142 follows a group of campers and counselors at a week-long scout retreat in the woods of New Jersey. It is a story as much about adults as it is adolescents, the blurred line between childhood and manhood, and the consequences of authoritative posturing. Dispensing with idyllic notions, Dawson describes the hilarious and brutal truths about boys and men, the hypocrisy of institutional morality and the resilience of Spam and the human spirit.

Paul Gravett says:
Troop 142 is Mike Dawson’s follow-up to his Freddie and Me autobio piece on Queen. The boy scout motto may say “Be prepared” but nothing could prepare you for the humorous but sometimes harrowing experiences of one week at this scout summer camp in Eatontown, New Jersey in 1995. Forget any notion of what a scout is supposed to be: “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” The fact that the many of these pubescent boys’ fathers are among those trying to maintain order if anything only makes matters more tense and complicated. As one junior scout comments: “‘There’s something odd-looking about grown men wearing these uniforms.” Over one long week, children and adults alike frequently find it hard to cope to these “rites of passage”, from mischievous tricks, practical jokes and rituals like the Golden Dildo and Grunge Sponge Award to bullying, victimisation, homophobia and worse. Our main narrator is bespectacled, white-collar Dad Alan Levine, whose sons Jason and David talked him into coming up to camp. From the outset, Alan feels distinctly uncomfortable with silences in conversations, and with the blue-collar guys like Bill and Charlie who run the summer camp and bluster, “We’re all men of the world.” It starts off bad enough for Alan’s younger boy David, whose punished for lying by being assigned latrine duty all week: “My brother was right… this is like being in ‘Kiddie Army’”. From there, Dawson charts how things go from bad to worse, day by day, from Sunday to Saturday. He drops in full-page intense establishing panels, detailed with textures and nature, like a Tezuka manga shot, to really make you feel you are there. His Sacco-like floating narrative captions, slanted askew, add to feelings of reportage and chaos. Often funny, occasionally painful or poignant, Troop 142 shows how males of whatever age “develop” differently, some more worldly and extroverted than others, and how they deal with the pressures of masculinity and conformity. For some readers this 272-page graphic novel may bring back fond childhood memories of summertime larks; others maybe prefer to forget or sigh in relief that they luckily escaped this purgatory. So much for “Boys will be boys.”



Underwire
by Jennifer Hayden
Top Shelf Productions
$9.95

The publisher says:
Underwire collects the wise and witty autobiographical comics of an eloquent new voice on the comics scene: Jennifer Hayden, politically incorrect mother of two. These everyday observations about marriage, motherhood, and modern life are so perfectly captured, you’ll start to feel like a member of the family yourself! Here’s the wisdom that comes with wearing an underwire - and you don’t have to own a bra to enjoy it! These stories are about the little things that give us the big picture.

Jennifer Hayden says:
I am not your average comic creator. I am a Mom, I do laundry. I cook dinner. (Bady. Trust me.) I swear at my kids. I take the dog to the vet. I do yoga because I have a bad back; and while I am at it I thank the Goddess for one more day. ... I went into comix to tell a woman’s story - both to women who read and make comix, and to women who have never read a comic at all. Underwire is about my life - with my daughter, with my son, with my husband, with myself. It’s about the weird shit I think about when I’m supposed to be acting like a grownup. It’s about that moment when you look at something that just happened and it seems to echo down an emotional tunnel to another time and place. Middle age is full of this shit - it’s like being on mushrooms. Excellent.

Paul Gravett says:
It’s a pleasure to see the so-called everyday anew, as filtered through the perceptions of Jennifer Hayden. Her cartooning in hyperdecorated six-panel grids is zesty and feisty, her short autobio tales, thirty in eighty pages here, always take a fresh angle or metaphor, and I like her sharp, surprising turns of phrase. She closes two yarns here with: “And we straddled the ancient power of estrogen and let it bear us upward”, or “And love sends my heart up in flames.” Hayden’s is a delightful voice - why should Mums stay mum in comics?


Wally Wood’s EC Stories: Artist’s Edition
by Wally Wood
IDW
$125.00

The publisher says:
The third in the IDW Artist’s Edition series, focuses on one of the all-time greatest comic book artists, and at the absolute peak of his creative powers: Wally Wood. What Bill Gaines achieved with EC Comics was quite likely, pound for pound, the finest comics line ever produced, and Wally Wood was one of their mainstays, who set an incredibly high artistic standard. An oversized, hardcover collection, Wally Wood’s EC Stories: Artist’s Edition will present Wood’s art the same size as it was originally drawn, and in a book measuring an amazing fifteen inches by twenty-two inches. As with all of IDW’s Artist’s Editions, the art presented will be scanned from the original pages to ensure the highest possible quality reproduction. While appearing to be in black and white, each page was scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art - for instance, white-out corrections and blue pencil notations.

Paul Gravett says:
There can be no better way to appreciate the artistry of Wood at his finest than these actual-size facsimiles of his actual artwork boards. Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer and Walt Simonson’s Thor have also been given this same sumptuous reprinting. So who else do you think has work that deserves this treatment?



Will Eisner: Conversations
edited by M. Thomas Inge
University of Mississippi Press
$65/$25

The publisher says:
Will Eisner: Conversations collects the best interviews with Will Eisner (1917-2005) from 1965 to 2004. Taken together, the interviews cover the breadth of Eisner’s career with in-depth information about his creation of The Spirit and other well-known comic book characters, his devotion to the educational uses of the comics medium, and his contributions to the development of the graphic novel.

Paul Gravett says:
UMP’s Conversations series, in pricey hardcover or more reasonable softcover, has built up into an invaluable resource highlighting key creators in their own words. It’s worth mentioning that as well as Eisner’s essential 224-page entry, there is also out this October a 240-page Alan Moore gatherum edited by Eric L. Berlatsky. Buy them both, buy them all!

Posted: August 22, 2011

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