Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Even as some attendees unpack from last week’s Fables Con: Fabletown & Below in Rochester, Minnesota, other folks are checking off their to-do lists before heading off to Anaheim, California, later this week for WonderCon.
Meanwhile, our contributors rattle off their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, from Bad Machinery, Vol. 1, to Superman Vs. Zod to East of West #1.
Fables Con, unsurprisingly, delivers ‘Fables’-related news
Rochester, Minnesota, was the hub for all things Fables — indeed, all things related to “mythic fiction” — as it was the location over the weekend for the first Fables Con: Fabletown & Beyond, hosted by Bill Willingham. ROBOT 6’s Michael May will have a report from the convention later this morning, but there were several noteworthy announcements to emerge from the event: Willingham and Frank Cho are collaborating on a full-length fantasy novel for a major, yet unnamed, book publisher; Vertigo will publish The Fables Companion, a deluxe hardcover written by scholar Jess Nevins; Gene Ha, Chris Sprouse, Renae De Liz and Phil Noto will join Adam Hughes, Chrissie Zullo, Mark Chiarello and Karl Kerschl as artists for the fall graphic novel Fairest in All the Land; and the highly anticipated Fables video game from Telltale Games will be released this summer.
This week, it’s all about WonderCon
WonderCon returns Friday to Anaheim, California — hey, blame continued renovations to San Francisco’s Moscone Center — for three days of comics, cosplay and celebrities. In addition to special guests like Brent Anderson, Amanda Conner, Matt Kindt, Ann Nocenti, Jeff Parker, Jeff Smith and Jim Steranko, the convention features a comics programming schedule with panels dedicated to DC Comics (including Scott Snyder on “Batman: Zero Year”), IDW Publishing, Bongo Comics, Viz Media, Thrillbent and Valiant Entertainment. So expect a handful of publishing announcements.
Oh, yeah, and Joss Whedon is bringing the cast of Much Ado About Nothing with him for a Saturday panel, placing Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg (among others) together on one stage.
ROBOT 6 contributors name their top choices from among the comic books, and comics-related books, scheduled to arrive in stores this week. We welcome readers to highlight their picks in the comments below.
The Complete Zaucer of Zilk, by Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy
I’ve written about Brendan McCarthy a fair bit over the years; I’ve interviewed him at least three times, too. One thing I don’t remember ever stating anywhere is that few creators can end a story so satisfactorily. He’s just really good at endings. Some writers can start a story well, and can’t produce a decent ending to save their lives (I’m not interested in embarrassing anyone here, but, y’know, look at the big summer event books from the Big Two over the last decade or so and plenty of examples should come to mind). I look back at the works McCarthy has done over the past few decades, and most were finite pieces, and all had great endings. Sooner or Later, Rogan Gosh, Skin … he was even the only guy who produced an issue of Solo for Mark Chiarello that bothered to tie up all its anthology pieces with a really fitting denouement. His 2010 Spider-Man/Dr Strange team-up miniseries Fever ends on the sweetest note of nostalgia-tinged catharsis. I know this is a strange thing to praise a creator for, but … anyway, if you haven’t read Zaucer yet, do take this second bite at the cherry. It’s got everything: genuine scares, laughs, thrills, amazing art and, yes — wait for it — a great ending that’ll stay with you. — Mark Kardwell
East of West #1
A read of CBR’s recent interview with writer Jonathan Hickman told me all I needed to know about the series. He is clearly relishing the open road he has by pursuing a creator-owned collaboration with artist Nick Dragotta. Two snippets really stand out: “the art dwarfs the writing” and “the real difference between Image books and company books is we do what we want, live with the consequences, and reap whatever rewards we can.” As much as I clearly love mainstream comics, I am smart enough to recognize that creators unfettered by editorial mandates are telling the best stories they possibly can. Plus, anytime Dragotta gets close to anything remotely dystopian, the fun is just beginning for the reader. — Tim O’Shea
Bad Machinery, Vol. 1: The Case of the Team Spirit
In a perfect world, this first Oni Press collection of John Allison’s wonderful webcomic would be only the next step in the cartoonist’s path to multimedia domination, one that includes a Bad Machinery animated series with a cult-like following, inescapable merchandising, and the inevitable, if ultimately divisive, live-action feature. OK, maybe not all of that – you just know American actors would be cast in the roles of the English schoolchildren – but Allison certainly deserves buckets of acclaim and money. His all-ages mystery/comedy comic is that enjoyable. If you’re unfamiliar with Bad Machinery, it’s the cartoonist’s follow-up to his long-running webcomic Scary Go Round, set in the same fictional West Yorkshire town of Tackleford, where two groups students from Griswalds Grammar School (one made up of boys, the other of girls) solve mysteries, sometimes in competition with each other. This for volume naturally collects the first case, which involves the haunting of the Tackleford football (soccer) club. Presumably the series’ preamble is also included. — Kevin Melrose
It Girl & the Atomics, Round One: Dark Streets, Snap City
I’m not a huge fan of the superhero genre, but the creative team on this series, writer Jamie S. Rich (You Have Killed Me, Spell Checkers) and Mike Norton (Battlepug), is enough to pull me in. This is sort of a spinoff of Mike Allred’s original Madman Atomic Comics, which premiered in 2000 and ran for a couple of years; Rich was the editor, so he knows the universe inside and out. Madman was sent into space in the last issue of that series, so this focuses on one of the Snap City superheroes, It-Girl, who can take on the characteristics of anything she touches. This volume collects the first six issues, and for trade-waiters like me, it’s a satisfying read. The art is smooth and accessible, and Norton’s It-Girl is solid and convincing, a superheroine you could actually encounter in real life. — Brigid Alverson