Author Archive

Wednesday is New Comics Day

December 17, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD BATMAN TEAM-UPS VOL. 3
Written by Bob Haney; Art and Cover by Jim Aparo
DC Comics
$16.99 | 520 pgs

It’s worth reminding you every once in a while that DC puts out great, affordable reprints of their classic material in these black and white showcase books. The latest collects some comics that are near and dear to my heart – mid ’70s era Brave and the Bold comics with art by the MAN, the late Jim Aparo. His Batman was the definitive Batman for me when I was growing up and here you get to see his take on various other characters who team up with Bats like Mister Miracle, The Demon, Aquaman and even The Joker. These are fun stand alone stories and you get 25 of them for just $17.

4. NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER VOL. 18 (of 18)
By Naoki Urasawa
Viz Media
$9.99 | 266 pgs

One of the most acclaimed manga of the past ten years reaches its conclusion with the final, 18th volume hitting the US this week. If you’re not following it, Monster is about a Japanese doctor living in Germany who once saved the life of a young boy. Eleven years later he finds that the boy has grown up into a sociopath who is plotting an inhuman massacre that the doctor hopes that he can stop. The story has moved from Dusseldorf to Berlin to Munich to Prague to a small village in Germany where the final chapter unfolds.

This book has been adapted into an episodic anime and a US film is planned for release next year. Some consider this the Watchmen of manga so if that strikes a chord with you, check it out from the beginning. If you’ve been following it all the way through, then you must be excited to see how it all ends.

3. THE BOYS DEFINITIVE EDITION HC
Written by Garth Ennis; art by Darick Robertson
Dynamite Entertainment
$75.00

The Boys is an ongoing superheroes-behaving-badly comic by Mr. Cynicism himself, Garth Ennis, and artist Darick Robertson. The book started its life as a DC comic until the Powers That Be caught wind that it was full of thinly veiled versions of their trademark characters doing awful things to each other. It has since moved over to Dynamite Entertainment and has really evolved into an excellent book.

Seventy five bucks for a hardcover collection is a tough pill to swallow but you should at least pick up the first softcover volume for fifteen bucks or whatever if you want to give it a try. I highly recommend it but I warn you that you need to be open-minded to scenes of superheroes sexually harassing each other and blithely dismembering innocent civilians in their quest to defeat the bad guys.

2. HELLBLAZER #250
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jamie Delano, Dave Gibbons, China Miéville and Peter Milligan; Art by Eddie Campbell, Rafael Grampá, David Lloyd, Giuseppe Camuncoli and others; Cover by Lee Bermejo
DC Vertigo
$3.99 | 48 pgs

Vertigo’s longest running comic book reaches it’s milestone 250th issue and to commemorate, they’ve assembled an all-star creative team to tell five holiday themed stories about supernatural con man, John Constantine. This is a little like, “John Constantine, This Is Your Life” with just about every creator that has worked on this book being brought out from behind the curtain to say hello to John again. People like Brian Azzarello, David Lloyd, Sean Philips, Eddie Campbell and original series writer Jamie Delano. Plus there’s some people that are new to the Hellblazer world like Dave Gibbons, Peter Milligan and Rafael Grampá. I think the only guy who couldn’t make it was Constantine’s creator, Alan Moore.

1. KRAMERS ERGOT 7
By Various
Buenaventura Press
$125 | 96 pgs

I’m sure when cartoonist and publisher Sammy Harkham started recruiting artists for the ambitious, over-sized seventh volume of his comic anthology/art project, Kramers Ergot, he wasn’t anticipating a global economic meltdown. But you don’t get to choose the economy that you publish in so Mr. Harkham finds himself releasing his long-awaiting $125 book to a suddenly cash-strapped public.

The thing is, this is likely going to be the comic release of the year. For the admittedly high price you get a book that is not only freaking huge (clocking in at 16×21″ and 96 pages) but it contains work by over 50 great cartoonists – both newcomers and big names – all doing original work on a tabloid size you’re not used to seeing them at. We’re talking some big names here like: Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Ivan Brunetti, Kim Deitch, Anders Nilsen, Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernadez, Johnny Ryan, Matt Groening, Dash Shaw and many more.

Besides, the Fed cut interests rates to near zero yesterday. This book might be worth taken out a loan for.

GOT TIME FOR MORE? THERE’S ALSO THESE:

SECRET WARS OMNIBUS
If you’ve got $100 to spare I’d recommend Kramers Ergot 7 as I said above. However, Kramers Ergot 7 will not show you how Spider-man got his black costume. You can only find that here in this inexplicably pricey reprint of the classic Marvel event comic.

SPIDER-MAN NOIR #1
Oh Ed Brubaker, what have you wrought? His deft weaving of noirish storytelling into books like Daredevil and Criminal seems to have inspired this new batch of Marvel comics that mixes 30s gangster movie cliches with radioactive spiders and stuff.

BEANWORLD HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Tales of Beanworld fans have been waiting ten years for a new book from Larry Marder. It’s here now.

THOR GOD-SIZED #1
Another one shot Thor in Asgard comic written by Matt Fraction.

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Wednesday is New Comics Day

December 10, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. PUNISHER WAR ZONE #1
Written by Garth Ennis; art by Steve Dillon
Marvel
$3.99

You wouldn’t be off-base to assume this is a comic adaption of the new Punisher movie that just came out last week but in fact it’s a new weekly mini-series from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon that I’m not sure has anything to do with the movie but is instead a sequel to their “Welcome Back, Frank” story arc from the Marvel Knights Punisher comic from a few years ago. If you’re more familiar with Ennis’ recent run on the Marvel Max version of the Punisher, the Knights version was what is referred to as the “funny” version of the character at least by comparison. If you’ve read Preacher by the same guys than you know what their idea of “funny” is.

4. BUCK ROGERS IN 25TH CENTURY DAILIES HC VOL 01 1929 1931
By Philip Francis Nowlan & Dick Calkins
Hermes Press
$39.99

The latest hardcover offering of newspaper strip reprints brings us good old Buck Rogers. When guys my age hear the name “Buck Rogers” we can’t help but think of Gil Gerard and Twiggy and the dreamy Erin Gray…

…what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, old newspaper strips. Though the character got it’s start in a pulp novella, this comic strip is where he really took off into the public consciousness. From an artistic perspective, we’re not talking Alex Raymond or Milton Caniff levels of greatness here, but from a historical perspective this is an important one, worthy of the $40 hardcover treatment. Without Buck Rogers we wouldn’t have Star Wars, Duck Dodgers in the 24-1/2th Century, and our fond memories of Erin Gray.

3. NOCTURNAL CONSPIRACIES NINETEEN DREAMS GN
By David B.
NBM
$14.95 | 128 pgs

David B. has a bizarre dreamlike style that lends itself perfectly to a book in which he describes nineteen dreams that he’s had between the period of 1979 and 1994. If you’ve read his highly acclaimed book, Epileptic, or any of his recent work in the anthology, MOME, you know that his graphic, black and white line work is all about imagination and psychological expression and not so much about reality. That said, the art in the previews for this one look a little more reined in than some of the wacked out stuff he’s capable of. Oh and look there’s a color in there.

2. PHONOGRAM 2 SINGLES CLUB #1
Written by Kieron Gillen; art by Jamie McKelvie
Image Comics
$3.50 | 32 pgs

The first Phonogram mini-series was a popular book that presented a world in which 90s British pop music had magical powers. It made stars of its creators, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie – the latter has recently been seen doing some Marvel work. This new mini-series is a collection of single stories that each take place on the same night in the same nightclub. All revolve around music and magic and if you passed on the first series because it was in black and white you’ll be pleased that, like McKelvie’s beautifully pop-colored Suburban Glamour, this one is in full color. There’s also a couple of backup stories with guest artists Marc Ellerby and Lauren McCubbin.

1. SECRET INVASION DARK REIGN
Written by Brian Michael Bendis; art by Alex Maleev
Marvel
$3.99

I believe it was the esteemed Dr. Manhattan that once said “Nothing ever ends.”

If you went into last week’s final issue of Marvel’s latest mini-series event, Secret Invasion, expecting an actual ending to what you couldn’t be faulted for thinking was a “story” you were mistaken. Again. These things don’t end, they just lead you right into the next event. The good news is that the creative team is Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, frequent collaborators from such books as Daredevil, Illuminati and the occasional outstanding issue of New Avengers. Their run on Daredevil alone has filled me with enough good will that I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on any cash grab event they want to pull. Oh and I guess I’ll go ahead and admit that the premise here sounds pretty good too. A “dark” version of the Illuminati. A group of villains that have been pulling strings in the same way that the “good” version of the Illuminati has been doing. And the funny thing is that Namor appears to be a member of both groups.

And then there’s this stuff…

SULK GN VOL 02: DEADLY AWESOME
The second volume of Jeffrey Brown’s new anthology where he branches out into new genres like mixed martial arts fiction. I hear this one has an 80 page fight sequence.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #27
DC brings back the Milestone characters so that the JLA can beat them up, apparently.

NICOLAS GN
A graphic novel by Quebecois cartoonist Pascal Girard that deals with the true story of the death of his younger brother but in a direct, honest way that at times is actually funny.

YTHAQ FORSAKEN WORLD #1
Marvel’s latest release from their Soleil line of European reprints. This one is a classic series about the three survivors of a spaceship crash on a strange planet being pursued by deadly mercenaries.

HERBIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 02
If you’d prefer, save your money on the Buck Rogers reprints and pick up the second reprint volume of this classic strip instead.

WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ #1
A Marvel adaptation of the classic novel by Eric (Age of Bronze) Shanower and Skottie (New X-men) Young.

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Wednesday…No wait, Thursday Is New Comics Day

December 03, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week. Except this week the new comics hit on Thursday thanks to Thanksgiving. Since I’ve still got Triptofphan in my system I’m going to have to keep it short this week.

5. MARVELS EYE OF CAMERA #1
Written by Kurt Busiek; art by Jay Anacleto
Marvel
$3.99

For a book that’s been this long in the making you’d think there would be a little more fanfare for it’s release this week. It is, after all, a sequel to Marvels, the highly popular Kurt Busiek/Alex Ross “realistic” look at Marvel’s Silver Age. You wouldn’t know that from the title. Or the absence of Ross from the book. But it’s got Busiek, man-on-the-street POV character Phil Sheldon, and photo-realistic artwork by newcomer Jay Anacleto.

The original Marvels book was not really my cup of tea but you can’t deny it’s popularity so it will be interesting to see if it’s sequel takes off without Mr. Ross involved.

4. HAUNTED TANK #1
Written by Frank Marraffino; Art by Henry Flint;
DC Vertigo
$2.99 | 32 pgs

Back when we were kids war was a blast. Sgt. Rock, The Unknown Soldier, G.I. Joe. Those guys were just having fun. No one was getting hurt. But these days, war is not something we take too lightly so DC has been reinventing some of their goofy war properties as grittier reflections on today’s wars. We had the Unknown Soldier relaunch a few weeks ago and now a new Haunted Tank mini-series. It’s actually not too far from the original concept. We still have the ghost of Civil War general J.E.B. Stuart hanging out with one of his descendants in a tank but this time it’s in Iraq. And this time his descendant is an African American soldier.

3. FIGHT OR RUN #1
By Kevin Huizenga
Buenaventura Press
$3.95 | 32 pgs

Indie cartooonist Kevin Huizenga, known for his thoughtful, existential mini-comics about life in suburbia, is not someone you’d expect to be a closet video game fanatic. But in the second issue of his Ignatz book Ganges, he revealed his penchant for first-person shooter games. Now, he takes that interest to a new, experimental art book full of minimalist abstractions of the aesthetic of such games as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.

2. SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE EIGHTH GRADE #1
Written by Landry Walker; Art and Cover by Eric Jones
DC
$2.50 | 32 pgs

For years, DC has been giving us a Supergirl that is drawn like a cast member of The Hills, rather than anything that might be appropriately deemed a “girl”. Finally, through their kid-friendly Johnny DC imprint, they’re trying out a Supergirl book that you’d feel comfortable giving your daughter to read. This Supergirl is in eighth grade and is drawn in a Nickelodeon-friendly style like the recent Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam book. It’s a new monthly series that will have little Supergirl facing extra-terrestrial-related threats as well as middle-school related threats.

1. X-MEN NOIR #1
Written by Fred Van Lente; art by Dennis Calero
Marvel
$3.99

Here’s something new that will either be really neat or kind of goofy. Or both. Marvel is trying out a new series of noir versions of their characters. Murder, sexy babes, hard-boiled dialogue. How is this different than a non-noir version of their books, you say? I don’t know but the premise of this book sounds promising. A couple of homicide detectives investigate a body that has been slashed up, seemingly by claws, and has a tattoo of an X on the shoulder blade. All signs point to an upstate reform school that they proceed to check out.

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Wednesday Is New Comics Day

November 19, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. FREAKANGELS HC
Written by Warren Ellis; art by Paul Duffield
Avatar Press
$27.99 | 144 pgs

I swear Warren Ellis has at least one book out a week and it’s kind of hard to not mention them in these lists. This week we have a hardcover of the first 24 episodes of his ongoing web comic Freakangels. Set in a near-future, “post-flood” London, this steampunk sci-fi drama is about a group of disaffected youth called Freakangels who meet a girl called Alice from Manchester who tells them she’s met “the last Freakangel” and that they’re going about everything wrong.

Ellis works with artist Paul Duffield to build a compelling dystopia of retro technology. Duffield’s work combines intricate architectural renderings and punk-influenced fashion styling with really beautiful washes of light-drenched color. Will it look as good on the printed page as it does here on screen? Probably.

4. PETEY & PUSSY
By John Kerschbaum
Fantagraphics
$19.99 | 128 pgs

Petey & Pussy is a graphic novel collection of comics strips about a dog and a cat that, as the title probably hints, is definitely not for kids. Both Petey the dog and Pussy the cat are anthropomorphic characters – part cute animal; part balding, middle-aged men – that are prone to graphic violence, slapstick comedy and gross, misanthropic behavior. Not much different than any other cartoon characters, right? And John Kerschbaum draws the strip in a way that makes it feel like a classic kiddie strip. But it’s like reading a Tom & Jerry cartoon starring Larry David and Jeff Garlin.

You can preview the book here or read some strips at Kreschbaum’s site.

3. THE LAGOON
By Lilli Carré
Fantagraphics
$14.99 | 80pgs

Lilli Carré made a big splash a couple of years back with her droll and folksy Tales of the Woodsmen Pete. Her new one is a flight into gothic fantasy mixed with family drama, called The Lagoon. A family, consisting of a husband and wife, a grandfather and a daughter named Zooey are all attracted to the siren song coming from a creature hiding in a nearby black lagoon. The song offers different things to each of them and they react to it in their own way.

The Lagoon is very much an exploration of sound in a soundless medium. Carré’s inking style is looser and sketchier than the precious drawings of Woodsmen Pete, but she uses the rhythm of her line to help convey the rhythm of the creature’s song. Check out some pages.

2. SWALLOW ME WHOLE
By Nate Powell
Top Shelf
$19.95 | 216pgs

Nate Powell is a talented artist who won the Ignatz’s Outstanding Debut Award at this year’s SPX for this book, Swallow Me Whole, his first major longform work after many years of mini-comics and short pieces. Powell’s expressive inking and experimental layouts make his stories a pleasure to look at even if his subject matter tends to be down in the doldrums. Case in point: this book is about two siblings who are wrestling with OCD and schizophrenia.

It’s a foreboding, slowly-paced family drama just in time for Thanksgiving! Seriously, though, take a look at this preview. That wasn’t the last award Powell will be winning for this book.

1. CROGAN’S VENGEANCE
By Chris Schweizer
Oni Press
$14.95 | 192 pgs

I’m a big fan of ambitious projects (think: Sufjan Stevens planning to make albums dedicated to each of the 50 states – 2 down, 48 to go) and this new book fits that bill. Crogan’s Vengeance is the first of a planned 16 graphic novels (The Crogan Adventures) by cartoonist Chris Schweizer that will each tell the story of a different member of the Crogan Family Tree. It will span centuries, continents and genres and it begins here with a pirate tale set in the early 18th century where we meet “Catfoot” Crogan, an honest sailor who never wanted to be a pirate.

Schweizer, an MFA graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, has a great animation-influenced style and sense of character design. He pitched his series idea to Oni Press by showing them this family tree image he created, promising to create a story for each person pictured. And the rest is family history.

Read a lengthy preview here.

NOT INTERESTED IN THOSE? HOW ABOUT THESE?

PUNISHER BY GARTH ENNIS OMNIBUS
Collecting not the gritty and realistic MAX series but the earlier, “lighter” fare like “Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe” from the Marvel Knights run.

JACK KIRBY’S THE DEMON OMNIBUS
It’s omnibus reprint week! More mining of the Jack Kirby DC depths.

SPIRIT SPECIAL #1
In anticipation of the movie, more affordable Spirit reprints. This one has the stories “Sign of the Octopus”, “Black Alley”, “Sand Saref”, and “Bring in Sand Saref”.

FABLES VOL. 11 WAR AND PIECES
Cinderella on a cloak and dagger mission. Seriously you need to be reading this book.

UNCANNY X-MEN #504
Terry Dodson draws the X-ladies as a new 4 part story arc begins, written by Matt Fraction.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #578
Writer Mark Waid joins Marcos Martin, who I think is one of the most underrated artists working in superhero comics these days.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG FIRST IMPRESSIONS HC
Reprinting a somewhat obscure but highly acclaimed Valiant comic by Jim Shooter and Barry Windsor Smith. It’s a superhero buddy comedy.

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Wednesday Is New Comics Day

November 12, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.
5. MYTHOS HC
Written by Paul Jenkins; art by Paolo Rivera
Marvel
$24.99

Mythos is a series of one-shots that have been released over the past couple of years, each retelling the origins of the big players in the Marvel Universe: The X-men, Hulk, Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Captain America and Ghost Rider (yeah that’s right – Ghost Rider, what he’s not good enough for you?) Written by Paul Jenkins and lushly painted by Paolo Rivera, the idea with these stories is to weave together various story elements that have evolved into canon over time from both modern comics and the movies into the stories that were originally told in the first issue of each character’s respective books. I hear the results were mixed as far as how effectively this was done but it’s all certainly nice to look at.

4. TED McKEEVER LIBRARY BOOK 1: TRANSIT
By Ted McKeever
Image Comics
$24.99 | 156 pgs

Ted McKeever is an artist with a bit of a cult following who’s never had a real breakthrough hit but has produced some interesting work over the years, notably his Epic series Plastic Forks and Metropol and his Vertigo book with Peter Milligan, The Extremist.

This first hardcover volume of a planned series of reprints from his career begins with his first book originally published in 1987 by Vortex called Transit. It’s about an “urban rebel” who gets caught up in a political power play that might take down his whole city. McKeever never actually finished this story until now. In addition to the original five issues this book collects the never before seen ending and some other odds and ends.

3. BATMAN: CACOPHONY #1 (of 3)
Written by Kevin Smith; art by Walt. J. Flanagan and Sandra Hope
DC
$3.99 | 32 pgs

Kevin Smith makes his long awaited return to comics this week. But it’s not to finish that Daredevil/Bullseye book he left hanging a few years ago. Or to finally do that Spider-man book he was supposed to write. Nope, he’s starting a new book with DC that has been logically limited to only 3 issues which gives him a pretty fair chance of actually finishing it.

Cacophony is a Batman comic that features the villain Onomatopoeia that Smith created during his Green Arrow run. He’s a serial killer who imitates sounds in a very comic booky way (blam, krak, sploosh, and all that). In addition to Onomatopoeia, other villains make an appearnce here like The Joker, Deadshot and Maxie Zeus.

One interesting thing to note is that the book is drawn by Smith’s friend Walt Flanagan who has appeared in many of Smith’s movies like Mallrats and Clerks.

2. STRAY TOASTERS
By Bill Sienkiewicz
Image Comics
$24.99 | 224pgs

This lost relic from the ’80′s has rarely been reprinted over the years, possibly because its weird, near impenetrable story is not for everyone. But it’s Bill Sienkiewicz in his Ralph Steadman meets Bob Peak heyday, around the time of his other classic works like Elektra:Assassin and his run on New Mutants.

It’s a serial killer story featuring a tough but burnt out detective, freshly released from the nuthouse. Oh and toasters come into play somehow.

1. FABLES: COVERS BY JAMES JEAN
By James Jean
DC Vertigo
$39.99 | 208 pgs

A coffee table art book for those comic fans that just like looking at the covers. You don’t get better than this. All of James Jean’s covers for the excellent Vertigo comic, Fables, collected in an oversized hardcover and accompanied by sketches, annotations and an afterword by Fables writer Bill Willingham.

Jean will seriously be considered one of the best, if not the best, cover artist of all time someday and the fact that he’s been producing such amazing works of art on a monthly basis for this comic is mind boggling. They are all equally breathtaking.

It was recently announced that Jean is leaving Fables soon so consider this book a farewell celebration of his magnificent run. The comic won’t be the same without him.

OH AND ALSO…

HULK: RED HULK HC
Collecting the first issues of the newly relaunched Hulk comic – post World War Hulk. Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Ed McGuiness and featuring the mysterious death of a long-time member of the Hulk comic cast and the Hulk turns red.

BIG QUESTIONS #11: SWEETNESS AND LIGHT
Anders Nilsen’s highly acclaimed comic reaches its 11th issue of gloomy, existential angst and talking animals.

BATMAN EGO & OTHER TAILS
A softcover collection of various Batman-related stories written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke, including the excellent Selina’s Big Score.

NEW X-MEN BY GRANT MORRISON ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOL. 3
The final volume collecting Grant Morrison’s crazy run on New X-men. This one has the truth about Xorn and Marc Silvestri illustrating the future.

JSA KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: SUPERMAN #1
Written and drawn by Alex Ross. This spins off from recent events in the JSA comic and of course ties in to the classic Kingdom Come series that Ross did with Mark Waid way back.

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Wednesday is New Comics Day

October 29, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Each Wednesday we run down what’s new and fresh at the store. I’m actually out of town right now and was going to skip this week but there is so much great stuff coming out that I couldn’t pass it up.

BERNIE WRIGHTSON’S FRANKENSTEIN
Written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley; art by Bernie Wrightson
Dark Horse
$29.95 | 256 pgs

WARNING: NOT A COMIC. Still, it’s got famed comic artist Bernie Wrightson illustrating Mary Shelley’s prose. Wrightson originally did these illustrations back in the ’80′s for a printed portfolio and there was briefly a version of the art and prose together that is now long out of print. In addition to the original novel you get 47 incredible black and white bull page illustrations. Plus it’s overized and has a intro by Stephen King. Happy Halloween!

TOKEN
Written by Alisa Kwitney; Art and cover by Joëlle Jones
DC MINX
$9.99 | 176 pgs

Although DC decided to kill Minx, their young adult lined aimed at the teenage girl market, there’s been a final spurt of releases recently in order to get out some already solicited books. The last of them is Token and it is one that I, myself, was most looking forward to since it featured artwork by newcomer Joëlle Jones (12 Reasons Why I Lover Her) whose expressive, animated linework is a pleasure to look at and perfect for Minx’ target audience.

Set in South Beach in the 1980s, this tale of romance and culture clash is about a young Jewish girl who meets a Spanish “old soul” named Rafael.

JOKER HC
Written by Brian Azzarello; Art by Lee Bermejo and Mick Gray;
DC Comics
$19.99 | 128 pgs

Brian Azzarello who is known for his stylish crime comics like 100 Bullets, brings his noirish flair to Gotham City with a graphic novel that seems to pull some inspiration from the superhero/crime hybrid film that we call The Dark Knight. Much like the Lex Luthor: Man of Steel mini that this same creative team brought us a few years back, this book stars the bad guy, in this case The Joker, in an attempt to get at a new definitive take on the character. A tough objective when, for good or bad, even the cover draws comparisons with the definitive take given us by the late Heath Ledger.

Even if you take this as a cynical attempt at drawing close to the cinema version of the character you have to be intrigued by what a writer like Azzarello whose skills lie with rhythmic dialogue and gritty violence will do with this story.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL HC
By Gilbert Hernandez
Dark Horse
$19.95 | 128 pgs

Gilbert Hernandez has been rolling out an interesting spin-off of his Palomar stories from Love & Rockets that started with the graphic novel Chance In Hell and continued with this six issue mini-series from Dark Horse. At one point in Love & Rockets, chesty and lispy Fritz had a brief career as a B-movie actress. Well, why not do graphic novel adaptations of her entire filmography, right? This one is about a young girl who takes to wearing a devil mask and runs around peeping into the bedroom windows of her neighbors and even her own father and stepmother.

BAT MANGA SECRET HISTORY OF BATMAN IN JAPAN SC
By Chip Kidd, Saul Ferris and Geoff Spear
Pantheon
$29.95

Apparently, in 1966 during the Bat-mania generated by the popular TV show of that time, Batman was licensed to the Japanese magazine Shonen King to produce a bunch of Batman manga. Translated and published in the West for the first time, this collection of stories by Jiro Kuwata is designed and edited by Chip Kidd and, like many Kidd projects, is accompanied by nice photographs of kitschy vintage toys.

The stories themselves feature Batman and Robin fighting mutant dinosaurs and aliens and the undead and other things like that. So basically if you’ve been thinking that Grant Morrison’s current run on the main Batman title doesn’t go far enough with it’s unearthing of 50s and 60s era Bat-zaniness than this book is going to blow your mind.

FRANKLY, ALL OF THIS STUFF IS JUST AS GOOD:

TRAVEL SC
Picturebox gives us a new wordless graphic novel by manga creator Yuichi Yokoyama about three men travelling on a train. This one is all about the beauty of architecture, design and scenery.

OR ELSE #5
The last issue of Kevin Huizenga’s Or Else was an oddball masterpiece and I expect more of the same from this issue. This collection of minis includes tales of religious fanaticism, household insects, and things to do on Tuesdays.

BOURBON ISLAND 1730 GN
Lewis Trondheim releases yet another graphic novel with First Second Books, this one involving pirates and ornithologists in search of secret treasure and rare dodo birds. Oh and they’re all anthropomorphic animals.

MCCAIN THE COMIC BOOK
OBAMA THE COMIC BOOK
If you’re one of those mythical “undecided” voters who somehow have not made up their mind with less than a week to go before the election than maybe reading these new comic biographies about the two candidates will help steer you in one direction or the other. This is actually the second set of Obama and McCain comics to come out in the last couple of months so someone out there must think this is a good idea.

Seriously though, make up your mind and get out there and vote.

KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND NEW PTG
A new printing of a somewhat obscure Grant Morrison and Philip Bond work from the mid ’90s about teen sex and rebellion in middle class England.

GARTH ENNIS BATTLEFIELDS: NIGHT WITCHES #1(of 3)
A new Garth Ennis war comic published by Dynamite (who also put out his excellent The Boys series). This is the beginning a three part story about female Soviet bomber pilots during WWII.

EMPOWERED TP VOL 04
A new volume of Adam Warren’s highly addictive and highly cheesecakey satire of cheesecake in superhero comics.

ASTONISHING X-MEN GHOST BOXES #1
A one-shot to fill in some gaps in Warren Ellis’ ongoing Astonishing run. This one has artwork by Alan Davis and Adi Granov.

HELLBOY IN THE CHAPEL OF MOLOCH ONE SHOT
As a special Halloween treat, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has chosen to write and draw his first Hellboy story in 3 years. This one takes place in a spooky Eastern European chapel and is sure to look great.

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Wednesday is New Comics Day

October 22, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. SUPERMAN NEW KRYPTON SPECIAL #1
Written by Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Sterling Gates; Art by Gary Frank and Jon Sibal, Renato Guedes and Wilson Magalháes, and Pete Woods ;
DC Comics
$3.99 | 48 pgs

Current Superman writers Geoff Johns and James Robinson team up with all the Superman artists for this one-shot special that acts as part 1 of a 9-part event that will be running through both Superman and Action Comics. Of course even though it’s considered “part 1″ the story actually picks up where Action Comics #870 left off but if you read The Daily News last week or looked at just about any comics news site you probably already know which longtime Superman character got killed off in that issue. The story does also pick up on various story threads that have been running through the Superman titles for the last couple of years as well so I’m not going to say this is new reader friendly but Johns knows how to handle an event like this as evidenced by the highly popular Sinestro Corps War that ran through the Green Lantern books a while back. So if you’re looking for a way into the Superman books and maybe are feeling a little bit of withdrawal from All Star Superman having ended a couple of weeks back than this is probably your best bet for some Kryptonian fun.

4. UNKNOWN SOLDIER #1
Written by Joshua Dysart; Art by Alberto Ponticelli;
DC Vertigo
$2.99 | 32 pgs

Oh God, now I’ve got that weird song by The Doors stuck in my head. The Unknown Soldier is a classic DC property that got his start in an old Sgt. Rock story set in WWII. Garth Ennis rebooted him as an undercover CIA agent about ten years ago. Now, writer Joshua Dysart relaunches the series and sets it in strife-ridden Northern Uganda in 2002 with the bandaged hero being a pacifist doctor named Moses Lwanga. When Moses is attacked by local butchers he finds a voice in his head that unleashes a mysterious knowledge to kill that was hidden inside him.

Dysart went to Uganda for a month to research this project so you have to appreciate a comic writer going to such lengths for his story. Makes you wonder why Geoff Johns hasn’t been to space yet. Slacker.

3. SPIRIT FEMMES FATALES TP
By Will Eisner
DC Comics
$19.99 | 192 pgs

If you’ve seen the trailers for Frank Miller’s upcoming The Spirit movie then you won’t be the least bit surprised that the movie tie-in would contain a collection of classic Spirit stories that all focus around his various sexy antagonists: P’Gell, Sand Seref, Silk Satin, etc. There’s no telling how people walking out of the theater after Miller’s over-sexed take on these stories will rectify what they saw with Will Eisner’s still-seductive but slightly more quaint and of-its-time depictions of the Femmes Fatale here. Of course, let’s not overlook the fact that these are some of the great classic comics of the Golden Age and Will Eisner is arguably the most influential comic creator ever so I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with what they find here.

2. WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDS
By Mawil
Blank Slate Books
$14.99 | 64 pgs

German cartoonist Mawil releases an English translation of his autobiographical tales of romantic disasters, We Can Still Be Friends, through the new publisher Blank Slate Books. If you’re a guy and you’ve ever fallen hopelessly for a girl and then proceeded to mess up your chance with her really badly then you’ll love this book (OR it will bring back some seriously painful and embarrassing memories. Yay!) Mawil’s stories will connect with all of us wannabe Casanovas due not only to the relatable nature of his lovelorn stories but to his charming cartooning style. Fans of the work of both Jeffrey Brown and Lewis Trondheim will want to give this a try I’m sure. You can read a quick little preview here.

This one won’t be in the shop today but put in your order here by placing a comment if you’re interested.

1. HEAVY LIQUID HC
By Paul Pope
DC Vertigo
$29.95 | 240 pgs

Paul Pope’s early Vertigo series Heavy Liquid gets the recoloring treatment as well as some extra pages in this new hardcover release. Set in New York City of the late 21st century, Heavy Liquid is about a private detective named “S” who is hooked on a drug/art form called Heavy Liquid. It’s a sci-fi detective story with ruminations on art and love and draws parallels to Philip K. Dick and Dashiell Hammett. Pope is comic’s rock star right now whose appeal is currently breaking out of the comics world and into the New York art and fashion scene as witnessed by DKNY’s recent clothing line based on his work.

Of Pope’s oeuvre, I’m not sure that this would be considered his best work but I also don’t think you can go wrong with any of his books.

AND THERE’S MORE...

FINAL CRISIS #4 and SECRET INVASION #7
If superhero event books were about finishing first with your regular artist intact than Marvel’s Secret Invasion would be on its way to a clear win. Only one issue to go there while delays have slowed down DC’s Final Crisis and seemed to have cost us the work of JG Jones who is replaced by Carlos Pacheco this issue.

NORTHLANDERS TP VOL 01 SVEN THE RETURNED
Brian Wood’s new series of angsty 20-somethings who just happen to also be Vikings living in the 11th century get collected in a nice, affordable $9.99 trade.

WARREN ELLIS AETHERIC MECHANICS GN
A new Ellis book from his “Apparat” line. It’s an early 20th century detective story set in an alternate universe.

FRENCH MILK GN
An auto-bio comic by American cartoonist Lucy Kinsley about living in Paris and going shopping with her mom or something. Ah to be young and in Paris. Actually this has gotten some very good word of mouth.

TRAINS ARE…MINT
This is another book from new publisher Blank Slate Press and was up for an Ignatz award. It’s also been nominated in my own awards show for Book Titles That Make Me Smile. This is a travelogue book set in Northern England. This one also won’t be in the shop today but place an order. The reviews on this one are very good.

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Wednesday is New Comics Day

October 08, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. ENDER’S GAME: BATTLE SCHOOL #1
Written by Chris Yost; art by Pasquel Ferry
Marvel
$2.99

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to read many novels and prefers to wait until they get made into films or comic books then this is your day. If you’re a fan of Orson Scott Card’s immensely popular 1985 sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game, you’re also very lucky. Having much success with translating Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels into a series of comics, Marvel is at it again with the first part of an adaption of Card’s futuristic story of a brilliant 8 year old who may be Earth’s last hope against a potentially devastating alien invasion.

If you prefer to wait for the movie, there’s no telling when that will happen though Card has said that this comic is the first step to moving this story to a visual medium and you could do worse than having artist Pasquel Ferry on board for that.

4. POHADKY
By Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek
Drawn & Quarterly
$13.95 | 128 pgs

This week’s thing of beauty might very well be this illustrated “folk tale” from two artists, one Ukranian and one from the Czech Republic. Both pull on elements of their culture’s rich artistic history to create a collection of sad, lower-case-”g”-grim fairy tales. Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek are artists that reside in Toronto and work in the animation industry as the studio known as Tin Can Forest. You can get a taste of their work by perusing their website.

3. SULK #1: BIGHEAD AND FRIENDS
By Jeffrey Brown
Top Shelf
$7.00 | 64pgs

Jeffrey Brown is known mostly for his touching, very personal memoir comics like Clumsy and Unlikely but he’s also got a very weird sense of humor and a willingness to use his crude, DIY artistic style to tackle any sort of genre that strikes his fancy. In his new pocket-sized graphic novel series, Sulk, Brown starts off with a superhero story featuring the very emo Bighead – a superhero more likely to get taken down by his own feelings than by a super villain. This new anthology style series will take on more than just the superhero genre in future issues. Look for Jeffrey Brown’s take on mixed martial arts in issue #2 and future issues will try out the fantasy genre as well as meditate on the comics form itself.

Preview the story of Bighead here.

2. IMMORTAL IRON FIST VOL. 3: THE BOOK OF THE IRON FIST
Written by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Roy Thomas, Len Wein; art by Travel Foreman, Leandro Fernandez, Khari Evans, Gil Kane, Russ Heath, and more
Marvel
$24.99

Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s relaunch of Immortal Iron Fist has been one of the most enjoyable books Marvel has put out in the last couple of years. What makes the book so great, among other things, is the idea they’ve presented that over the centuries there have been sixty-six different men and women who have carried the mantle of Iron Fist. Throughout the present day story of current Fist, Danny Rand, we’ve seen intriguing flashbacks to many of these previous Fists. The third hardcover volume collects issues #7 and #15-16 which focuses on some of these Iron First of old like Wu Ao-Shi, Bei Bang-Wen and fan favorite Orson Randall, the Iron Fist of the WWII era. There’s also some one-shots collected here like Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death and The Origin of Danny Rand featuring some classic 70s-era stuff.

1. THE MAN WHO LOVED BREASTS
By Robert Goodin
Top Shelf
$4.00 | 32 pgs

No, no, I haven’t started dipping into the Eros catalog or anything. The Man Who Loved Breasts is a one-shot comic by a guy who has worked on such wholesome TV programs as Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, for crying out loud.

This short story, published by Top Shelf (ahem), is about a man stuck in a job he hates who decides to pursue a living in a field that speaks more to his heart. You can see where this is going. Or maybe you can’t, which is where it gets interesting. Either way, it sounds like a story with universal appeal.

Robert Goodin’s comic work has appeared in various anthologies like Mome, Typhon and McSweeny’s and his fluid linework, full of character and energy, is definitely a product of his animation experience. See for yourself.

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Wednesday is New Comics Day

October 01, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. THE SPIRIT VOL 2 HC
Written by Darwyn Cooke, Walter Simonson, Gail Simone, Jimmy Palmiotti and others; Art by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone, Chris Sprouse, Jordi Bernet, Eduardo Risso and others
DC Comics
$24.99 | 176 pgs

Will Eisner’s The Spirit, a classic and highly influential comic strip from the Golden Age of comics, has become open to artistic interpretation of late. Frank Miller will have his take on the big screen soon but there’s no way it’s going to be as fun or as great to look at as Darwyn Cooke’s take in DC Comics’ new ongoing The Spirit book. This second hardcover volume collects issues #7-13, completing Cooke’s run on the series.

In addition to Cooke’s take on the character here we also get short stories from folks like Chris Sprouse, Jordi Bernet and Eduardo Risso.

4. THE ALCOHOLIC
Written by Jonathan Ames; Art and cover by Dean Haspiel
DC Vertigo
$19.99 | 136 pgs

Jonathan Ames is a novelist who, in addition to some fiction work, has published three collections of non-fiction columns originally written for The New York Press about his life experiences. In his first graphic novel, The Alcoholic, he writes about the fictional “Jonathan A.” who wrestles with writing and drinking and other out-of-the-ordinary daily problems that may or may not be similar to exploits the non-fictional Jonathan A. has experienced himself. Dean Haspiel, who has done some great work on Vertigo’s Harvey Pekar books as well as his own web comics over at ACT-I-VATE should be expected to do some outstanding work here too. See for yourself.

3. MY BRAIN IS HANGING UPSIDE DOWN
By David Heatley
Pantheon
$24.95 | 128 pgs

Like last week’s release, Sublife from John Pham, we get another graduate of the MOME school of artists (as well as other anthologies like Kramers Ergot and McSweeney’s) entering the publishing world in a big way with his first hardcover collection of stories. David Heatley is a weird egg who uses his simplistic-looking art style to tell brutally honest, at times cringe-inducing stories about himself. For instance, one story collected here entitled “Sexual History” obsessively details every sexual encounter Heatley has had since grade school. Another, called “Black History” examines his feelings about race by obsessively detailing every encounter he’s ever had with a black person. Heatley also, to great effect, has a number of dream diary stories like those that have appeared in MOME. Once again he’s not afraid to put every embarrassing thing he dreams about onto paper.

2. THE NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE
By Jesse Reklaw
Dark Horse
$15.95 | 256 pgs

Speaking of dreams, Jesse Reklaw found a unique way of getting some bang out of the narrative buck of dreams. As a cartoonist for the alt-weekly comic strip, Slow Wave, Reklaw asks his readers to email him their dreams and he turns them into 4 panel comic strips which he publishes with the dreamer credited as co-author. The Night of Your Life collects these little dream stories which contain familiar favorites like the one where you show up at school with no clothes on or the one where you’re in the Old West and Teen Hitler pulls a knife on some girl you just met.

Check out a few samples here.

1. TOP 10 SEASON TWO #1 (of 4)
Written by Zander Cannon; Art and Cover by Gene Ha
DC Comics
$2.99 | 32 pgs

When you say that title out loud it just sounds like numerical gibberish doesn’t it? If you’re not familiar with the original Top 10 series or any of it’s various spin-offs it’s a superhero book done in the style of a police procedural drama like Hill Street Blues or NYPD Blue and set in a world where everyone has superpowers. It’s the brainchild of Alan Moore who unfortunately is not the writer of this new series but original series artist Gene Ha does return for this new “season”. Writer, Zander Cannon, will be familiar to Top 10 fans as the artist of spin-off series Smax among other related books. Some familiar characters join some new additions like a new police commissioner and a rookie cop who will no doubt help lead new readers through this world.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…

FOUR EYES #1
Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara begin a new series about a boy in Depression-era Brooklyn who is befriended by a dragon. Probably not the best time to put out a comic about the D-word but don’t hold that against these guys.

NO HERO #1
Another unique look at the dark side of superheroes from Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp. This one is about people that will do anything to get superpowers.

BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2008 HC
This year’s anthology is notable for it’s distinct lack of Paul Pope’s Batman Year 100 because DC’s legal department apparently felt it wasn’t “best” enough to stand with the likes of Chris Ware, Seth, Alison Bechdel and more.

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Wednesday is New Comics Day

September 24, 2008 By: Rich Barrett Category: Uncategorized

Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.

5. BLACK SUMMER TP
Written by Warren Ellis; art by Juan Jose Ryp
Avatar Press
$24.99 | 192 pgs

So, would it be weird to gear up for this Friday’s first Presidential Debate by reading a book about a superhero that assassinates the President of the United States and starts a Civil War between the military and the scientifically-enhanced heroes it created? I guess that since the President depicted is more similar to our current President than either of our potential future ones then it’s probably okay.

Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp are true to form here as they deliver extreme superhero violence full of blood and guts and hi-tech machinery and then the blood and guts and hi-tech machinery get all blown up. Over and over again. This trade paperback collects the original mini-series.

4. TAMARA DREWE
By Posy Simmonds
Houghton Mifflin
$16.95 | 136 pgs

Posy Simmonds is a British cartoonist who has run two highly successful strips in the newspaper The Guardian that take 19th century romantic novels and give them a 21st century modernist spin. The first strip, Gemma Bovery (a reworking of Madame Bovary) was collected as a graphic novel to much acclaim and now her second strip, based on Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Maddening Crowd gets the same treatment.

A quiet, writers retreat is turned on it’s head when Tamara Drewe, a sexy gossip columnist, comes to town bringing along her sorrow at the recent loss of her mother and the drama of her recent break-up with her rock star boyfriend. Everyone from the local married men to a couple of teenage girls become infatuated with Tamara. Tamara Drewe is a British manners comedy in which the upper class gets all raunchy against their better judgment. The strip was done in the berliner format which you can see by viewing a page here at the Guardian website.

3. SUBLIFE #1
By John Pham
Fantagraphics
$8.99 | 64 pgs

Readers of the anthology MOME, may remember John Pham’s “221 Sycamore St.” which ran in the first few volumes of that book. Pham now has his own anthology, called Sublife, which will be printed twice a year from Fantagraphics and will contain serialized longer works accompanied by shorter, self-contained pieces. This first volume contains the first chapter of the previously seen “221 Sycamore St.” (about somewhat connected groups of people living out their bizarre lives at the title address) and “Deep Space” an equally weird sci-fi story.

The book is printed in two-color and it’s two kind of weird colors at that. You can preview a few pages here. Pham’s dream-like renderings and experimental style of storytelling should make this a challenging and maybe even disturbing read.

2. RED ROCKET 7
By Mike Allred
Image Comics
$16.99 | 280 pgs

Mike Allred, creator of Madman (that’s singular, nothing to do with the Emmy winning television series except for a penchant for 60′s-era aesthetics; in fact, if they make a Mad Men comic someday, Allred might be a good choice to draw it), published a labor of love about rock and roll a decade ago that is getting a 10th anniversary treatment here. In the original 7 issue limited series, Red Rocket 7, Allred told the history of rock and roll – from the 50s up to and beyond the grunge era – “through the eyes of the seventh clone of a man from a distant world”. The entire series is collected here with some extras. I ‘m pretty sure it does not contain the rock album that Allred recorded nor the movie called Astroesque that he filmed to accompany this book. It does have an intro by future Madman film director Robert Rodriguez though.

1. TEZUKA’S BLACK JACK VOL. 1 HC
By Osamu Tezuka
Vertical
$24.95 | 288 pgs

The flurry of repackaged Osamu Tezuka releases in the past year have been building towards this one. Black Jack, Tezuka’s manga series from the 1970′s is considered his third most famous work (after Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion) and has been translated and reprinted before but this hardcover deluxe edition marks a new reprint with a new translation and a new sequential ordering of the stories that it contains, based on Tezuka’s own preference. The series is made up of about 250 self-contained 20-or-so page short stories that all deal with a gifted but scarred surgeon named Black Jack who goes around performing wild surgeries and saving lives. Tezuka, who at one point in his life was a licensed physician, loved doing doctor dramas and poured plenty of realistic detail into some fairly unrealistic stories here.

Jog the Blog has an excellent review of this volume.
If you don’t do hardcovers you can wait a week or two for the less deluxe-y softcover to arrive.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

ABSOLUTE RONIN
The $99 hardcover treatment for the classic Frank Miller book that most people have never read (myself included).

DAREDEVIL #111
“Jumping On Point” Alert! Also, Lady Bullseye, which I assume is a new character and not a post-op version of an old villain.

ABE SAPIEN: THE DROWNING
A spin-off of a spin-off.

BACK TO BROOKLYN #1 (of 5)
Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti do crime comics, Brooklyn-style.

MARVEL BOY HC
Grant Morrison and JG Jones’ much loved mini-series from the ’90s gets collected now that the character has shown up in Secret Invasion.

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