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Cross-Hatchings for July 2016

by  in Comic News Comment
Cross-Hatchings for July 2016

A little of this and a little of that. Sherlockian manga, cool stuff in the mail, and a worthy cause to which you should consider contributing.

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In the News Dep’t: I get all sorts of news releases and press packets from publishers, usually at the rate of one or two a day. Most of them I ignore; it’s all I can do to try and put a dent in the pile of actual comics and books sent to me for review. But every once in a while there’s one that I think is worthy of your attention. This weeks, buried in the giant avalanche of emails I get in the weeks leading up to the San Diego Comic-Con, there were two that I thought deserved a wider audience.

First of all, I got a nice note from sometime CBR community member Andres Salazar that the third volume of the series of graphic novels he does with Jose Pescador, Pariah, Missouri, is coming soon. It’s a weird western that I like quite a bit. (I wrote about volume one here, for those who came in late.) I also enjoyed volume two a great deal.

One of the things I like about it is that it’s completely self-funded. Each book is done through Kickstarter. I approve of indie creators finding ways to get their work out there. It does eventually end up going through Diamond and getting into regular comics retail outlets, but you generally will have to badger your store owner about it if you want to get it at your shop. Much better to order direct: here’s the online storefront to find the first two books if you want to get caught up.

Volume three’s Kickstarter goes live Monday. Here’s a video telling you more about it. I’m mostly just boosting the signal here. But the first two books were a lot of fun and I have no reason to think the third volume concluding the trilogy won’t be just as enjoyable. So there you go.

The second news item delighted me out of all proportion to its actual importance, but I don’t care. Never mind whatever Marvel and DC have cooking this week, or what’s getting rolled out at Comic-Con– for me, the best news item in July is that Hard Case Crime is starting a comics imprint.

The announcement: Starting this October, Titan will bring Hard Case Crime’s gritty, sexy, violent world to life. The first shots fired out of the Hard Case Crime comics line will be Prohibition epic Triggerman by the legendary director of The Warriors, Walter Hill, and punky neo-noir Peepland from celebrated crime authors Christa Faust and Gary Phillips.

Debuting in stores on October 5, Triggerman is an operatic Prohibition era mini-series, written by Walter Hill, director of cult 70s New York City gangland smash The Warriors, and Matz with illustrations by trusted collaborator Jef (Body and Soul). In the mean streets of Chicago, a convict is thrown headfirst into a life of bloodshed and bullets to save the girl he left behind…

Hitting stores the following week, on October 12, is Peepland – a semi-autobiographical neo-noir mini-series with a punk edge set in the seedy Times Square peep booths of 1980s New York City. Written by award-winning crime novelist and former peep show employee Christa Faust (Money Shot, Nightmare on Elm Street) with Gary Phillips (The Underbelly, The Rinse) and art by rising star Andrea Camerini (Il Troio).

Sounds promising, certainly, but that’s all we got. Right now all I have to go on is cover art and a couple of sample pages, but the pages look pretty cool. This is from Triggerman.

Really, though, the part of the press package that delighted me the most was the throwaway promise that there’s a new Quarry comic coming from Max Allan Collins in the pipeline, hidden in this introduction puffery paragraph: Hard Case Crime is the leading publisher of hardboiled crime novels, publishing the giants in the genre: Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Lawrence Block, Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, James M. Cain and Max Allan Collins, whose best-selling Quarry series is destined for TV in the highly anticipated adaptation for Cinemax in September – and for comic books in an all-new Quarry comic series from Titan and Hard Case Crime in 2017.

Quarry has become my favorite Max Collins thing, even eclipsing Ms. Tree. And it’s going to be a comic? That one’s probably going to go on the pull list. It’s been way too long since we had a regular Collins crime comic series. Damn shame Ed Barreto’s not around to draw it, it’d be perfect for him; but judging from the art on these inaugural entries, I figure it’ll be someone good that understands the material.

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Interesting Adaptations Dep’t: A couple of comics were sent to me for review that I thought were worth a mention.

The first is the latest in the attempts to adapt Sherlock Holmes to comics, and it struck me as kind of odd. It’s from Titan Comics, a straight adaptation of the first episode of the BBC’s SHERLOCK, “A Study in Pink”– but manga.

There are variant covers and it’s packaged as a regular newsstand monthly comic, not a digest… but it’s definitely a manga. So we have here a piece of British television that was adapted for comics in Japan and then came back to a British publisher to be translated and marketed as a comic book by American comics retailers. Seems like it’s going the long way around, since the effect is to make a comic book that feels glacially slow and way too short.

It’s fun to look at the art and see that the artist has done very good likenesses, but that’s all there is to this, there’s nothing else new here. That’s all this is, a translation. It’s not in color or anything, there’s no added story or extras other than a variant cover, and really anyone interested in this comic will already know the story.

Moreover, the format is annoying. I think I’d much rather have just had a the actual manga digest translated into English. The experiment that western comics publishers keep trying and failing at, to cut up manga books and repackage them as standard 32-page comic books, just is not a good idea. Eclipse proved that in the 80s and I thought everyone knew it by now. It’s not just the need to flip the page compositions to left-right instead of right-left, or the difference in proportion. The PACE is all wrong. Manga is published as paperback books, usually. Cutting it up into comic-book sized slices is slicing too thin. Even in these days of decompression, we are used to more story in 32 pages than we get here. So I can’t really recommend this, though it makes me wonder if there’s original SHERLOCK manga stories not adapted from TV episodes out there somewhere. That’d be something I’d be interested in; if I’d be interested enough to get over the grating clumsiness of reading it in 32-page chunks like this one, I don’t know, but it’s unlikely. As far as I’m concerned, the Holmes comics to beat are still Scarlet in Gaslight and Watson & Holmes.

Much better done, all the way around, is Titan’s reprinting of the Elric adaptations Roy Thomas did with Craig Russell. I had read about these but somehow never got hold of the actual books and so I’m thrilled they’re back in print.

I almost never buy a book just for the art but Russell is on the short list. I didn’t read this book so much as just admire it, the first time through.

Even better, they are appearing in the correct order. This was the first one published, as part of the “Marvel Graphic Novel” series from way back when, but it’s actually volume three as far as the Elric stories themselves are concerned, and that’s how Titan’s putting them out. The previous two have been out since last year and can easily be ordered online.

These jumped around quite a bit in their publication history– originally coming from Marvel, then First Comics, and probably one or two in between I’m forgetting. So I’m very pleased to see them back in the right order, with newly remastered color, as a set, the way they should have been done in the first place. All are hugely recommended.

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Stuff I Had Nothing to Do With Dep’t: The new episode of PODCASTA LA VISTA, BABY is up and this time it’s all about Predator.

It is hilarious. Wait till you hear the explaantion for why we’re not overrun with Predators. (Hint: a social media campaign on their homeworld.) I laughed so hard I almost sprayed my beverage all over the monitor. But don’t take my word for it. Listen for yourself here.

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Do Something Nice Dep’t: Linda Medley is putting together volume three of the wonderful Castle Waiting. But she needs some help.

Full disclosure– we know Linda personally, she is a lovely person and she has been a great friend to my school cartooning program over the years, as well as to a number of others in the area. She ALWAYS makes time for school stuff and she is great with students.

Lately she is having the same struggles many creators have been having the last couple of years, trying to stay ahead of things like medical bills and housing. Now, I know it feels like we’re all taking turns sometimes– we’ve dug in for Bob Larkin and Stan Sakai and Gene Colan and on and on. Julie and I even had our turn in the hotbox last year. It feels like a constant refrain and it’s tiresome. I get it.

But this is Linda Medley, trying to fund her brilliant Eisner-winning book, so it’s not like an act of charity. Think of it as pre-ordering something really awesome. The fact that doing so will stave off a housing and a medical crisis for her is just a bonus.

Because the world just should have more Castle Waiting. As far as we are concerned that’s really the bottom line.

So she’s got both a Patreon– if you want to do a small monthly subscription— and an Indiegogo– a one-time thing — set up to keep a roof over her head and stay current with her physical therapy while she wraps up the new book. Either is a help. There are also some very nice prints and cards available here. I guarantee you that if we weren’t pretty much in the same boat ourselves, we’d be all over the Oz cards. Julie would be in heaven.

Even so, we kicked in a little for the Indiegogo becuause that’s all we can do at the moment.

Well, other than broadcast it here. So here it is. Do something nice and GET yourself something nice. Win-win.

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And that’s all I’ve got, this time out. See you next week.

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