NEWS AND NOTE
I want to open the column with this because it's very important to me, if only in a pimptastic way.
- The Pipeline Podcast now has its own column. Rather than giving you all the down and dirty details at the end of this column, you can now just link to this page. It has all of the info you need each and every week to follow the longest-lasting comics podcast on the 'net: the podcast ,itself; the complete top ten list; links to subscription options, the message board, this column, and more.
Please join me before each week's New Comic Book Day for a look at some of the week's highlights, won't you?
- Speaking of podcasts: Special congratulations to Brian Ibbott, who posted the 200th episode of his music podcast just last week. Coverville is a (generally) thrice-weekly collection of cover songs, all properly licensed and legal-like. It's the only podcast I've listened to continuously since I found podcasting back in December 2004. And, as an extra bonus, Brian is a comics fan who links to the Pipeline podcast on his front page. Whatta guy! Give him a listen, and enjoy all the great music.
- The Hawthorne High School Comic Book Convention is coming up this weekend. I hope to see some of you there on Saturday afternoon!
PUSHING THROUGH PREVIEWS
Welcome back to another jam-packed month of exciting comic books. I looked at the Marvel listings last week, and will be traipsing through the rest of the PREVIEWS catalog in this column. It's a tiring and exhausting journey, but one worth the effort in the end. There are treasures to be found and nuggets of pure comedy gold to laugh at. I skip most of those nuggets, though, to keep from getting too negative, but they still leak out here and there.
If you make it all the way through this column, then I can only salute you for your dedication to comics as an artform. The check will also be in the mail. If you find yourself skimming past sections of this column, I understand. But keep your eyes open -- you never know what you might find in here.
With all the talk lately about product placement in comics, Dark Horse's little entry into the Big Ad Money sweepstakes has been quickly forgotten. Its irregular publishing schedule likely didn't help. With the likes of Mark Waid, Matt Wagner, Kurt Busiek, Bruce Campbell (yes, the guy with the chin), and Steven Grant working on it, it's surprising it was so easily overlooked. BMWFILMS.COM PRESENTS: THE HIRE lasted all of four issues, each self-contained. Now, there's one $13 trade paperback set to collect the disparate stories. The listing in the solicitations indicates that it's available now. I don't know if the mad rush to print this has anything to do with BMW taking the films off-line, but it does seem odd that it isn't getting a regular solicitation schedule. Dark Horse, after all, is famous for soliciting things an additional month ahead of schedule.
Thankfully, I got the DVD from BMW compiling all the original short films. There's some good stuff in there from the likes of John Woo and one of the Scott brothers.
DARK HORSE: TWENTY YEARS is a twenty-five cent comic filled with Dark Horse's best-known creators swapping their creations and drawing pin-ups. Adam Hughes has HELLBOY. Eric Powell gets STAR WARS. Joss Whedon drew something. I believe WIZARD Magazine had that page already last week. For a quarter, it sounds like a quirky good time.
From the slightly deranged and feverishly creative minds of Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau comes THE PERHAPANAUTS trade paperback. This will collect their four-part mini-series starring the Chupacabra and an oddball assortment of other way-out high concepts. In addition, the book collects pinups , the original short story (mini-comic), and more. It's $16 for 128 color pages. It's the highlight of the Dark Horse listings this month for me. Who says comics can't be fun?
NEXUS ARCHIVES hits its fourth collection. Still $50. By this point, you've either committed to the format, or given up on it completely. I bought the first, but still haven't read it. I've chosen to skip the rest.
ABSOLUTE DARK KNIGHT collects both the original mini-series and its recent sequel of a slightly more controversial quality. These 512 oversized pages won't hit store shelves until the last week of August. It's $100. I think I'm going to settle with the smaller-sized hardcovers of the two books that I have right now.
John Byrne is drawing THE ALL-NEW ATOM under Gail Simone's script. They worked so well together on one of the Superman titles recently that I almost feel like I owe it to them to try this book. Unfortunately, I just don't care about the character all that much. The fact that it's a One Year Later type of thing actually diminishes from its importance. I know that makes me sound like a complete fanboy geek, but that's the kind of mood I'm in for this summer.
The final issue of the Vertigo mini-series, THE EXTERMINATORS, came out last week. What better time to solicit its trade paperback collection? Sub-titled BUG BROTHERS, it's due out on August 2nd, and will run you $10. Five issues of Tony Moore's art for ten bucks? Sold!
Correction: I'm sorry -- THE EXTERMINATORS is an on-going series. This trade just collects the first storyline. If you're enjoying the series, keep looking for more issues. They're coming. I just missed them in the catalog. My fault.
IRON WEST is the name of the next original graphic novel from Doug TenNapel. It's a robotic western that lasts 160 gloriously black and white pages for $15. Given TenNapel's track record on books like TOMMYSAURUS REX and CREATURE TECH, this is an easy sell. The preview pages shown in the catalog look great, like TenNapel has added a couple of new artistic tools to his tool box since the last book. I can't wait to see what he's got next. The book is due out July 12th.
BEDLAM is a brandy-new one shot from Keith Giffen and artist Shannon Denton. It's 48 full color pages for five bucks, featuring a young minister tasked by God to stop the impending apocalypse. They're calling it 'BLADE meets THE DaVINCI CODE.' I'm not terribly sure this is my kind of material, but I'll read it based on the strength of its creators.
THE ART OF GREG CAPULLO is a new hardcover clocking in at 120 pages for $30. In other words, it's about the same size as Frank Cho's most recent art book, but in full color for an extra five bucks. I know many people think Capullo morphed into a McFarlane clone once he started drawing SPAWN, but I still think he does some great stuff of his own here and there. It's not all for me, that's for sure. You can definitely see McFarlane's influence on his art. But with McFarlane drawing as little as he does on his own anymore, I don't see that as an inherently bad thing. I think the art book will be worth a look. Is it worth $30? I'll have to tell you after I've seen it.
THE COBBLER'S MONSTER is the latest OGN from Jeff Amano. This time, he has Craig Rousseau, Wayne Faucher, and Giulia Brusco signed up to handle the art. It's the story of Gepetto on a mad tear after the death of his toy son. It's a horror take on a fairy tale classic, which looks to rely more on FRANKENSTEIN than PINOCCHIO. It's 128 pages in full color for just $15.
BOMB QUEEN just finished up its four issue run in style last week. I greatly enjoyed Jimmie Robinson's decent into depravity, madness, and multicolor violence. It's the kind of book that you'd almost expect to see Garth Ennis or Warren Ellis write in a particularly vile mood one day. Sadly, without those "big" names atop the masthead, I'm afraid the book might have been overlooked. No more -- BOMB QUEEN: WOMAN OF MASS DESTRUCTION will collect the four issues with extra bonus material in one nice trade paperback (for Mature Readers!) for $12.99 in the middle of July. I recommend this one highly if you have a steel stomach and can handle some of the dirtier aspects of it.
SAVAGE DRAGON #128 features characters from Mark Millar's WANTED series. The alternate J.G. Jones cover is even done up in the same style as that book was. I guess this means it's time to finally pull down the hardcover from my bookcase and read it, eh?
McFarlane Toys is doing a Hong Kong Phooey 6-inch scale figure. I'm not sure what, exactly, that scales to. Actual dog proportions? Actual squat bank robber perspective? I want to make fun of it, but it looks really cute.
WITCHBLADE #100 is out in July. Yup, one hundred issues. I tried to read the series on a few occasions, but I could never get into it. Paul Jenkins tried his hand at writing it, and it still did nothing for me. If you've been reading it for the past 99 issues, though, you'll want this one. There. I just promoted the obvious. Covers come from Marc Silvestri, Michael Turner, Mike Choi, and the guys in Japan doing the boobtacular animated series.
If that's not enough, there's also ART OF THE WITCHBLADE, a 32-page comic book featuring nothing but art culled from the last decade of the character's existence -- trading cards, alternate covers, sketches, etc.
On top of that, there's a BEARERS OF THE BLADE SPECIAL, a new 32 page comic timeline of the Witchblade universe.
And a Witchblade poster.
And WITCHBLADE COMPENDIUM EDITION -- the first fifty issues of the series in one spine-breaking trade paperback for just $50. If you had any interest in the series, that's a pretty good deal.
Or maybe you'll just want the 11th volume of the trade paperback series, compiling issues #86-92 in Ron Marz's run.
Or, perhaps you'll like --
Nah, that's enough. Even Top Cow isn't going to push it any further. Congrats to them for having a character last this long. It doesn't have nearly the word of mouth value that it did in the Michael Turner era, but any time you can create a character that sustains itself for this long, it's an achievement.
Wizard is also putting out a MARC SILVESTRI MILLENNIUM EDITION book. This thirty-dollar hardcover will be along the same lines as the Jim Lee edition of the same series: lots of sketchbook material, interviews, a checklist of his work, and more.
AiT/PlanetLar takes us back to the earliest days of drawing on an Apple Computer with SHATTER, the first comic ever produced completely in bits and pixels. It was done in 1985 with a one-button mouse and Mac.
The sample pages of SHATTER I've seen so far have aged very well. It reminds me a lot of some manga work, with well-detailed architecturally-correct backgrounds, and shading techniques that look like DuoTone and the like, but which were really done by whatever pixel-rendering techniques were available at the time.
About the only thing that doesn't age well is the lettering, done with a Mac-standard font with square balloons and fat tails.
I'm reading this one as an historical artifact. If the story lives up to the art, it'll be a delightful bonus. It's 156 black and white pages, in total, for just $15.
Tech geek tangent time: I can remember getting a Koala Pad for my Commodore 64 a couple of years after this book was published. It's the forerunner of today's Wacom Tablets, but very much more primitive. Just the thought of attempting to draw an entire comic with a mouse is mind-numbing. The fact that someone pulled it off back them is impressive.
Tucked neatly away in the middle of Slave Labor Graphics' voluminous solicitations lies STRANGE EGGS PRESENTS: BOXING BUCKET ONE SHOT. If you missed the hilarious and pun-filled quest for life on the part of this small group of eggs in last year's short STRANGE EGGS novella, I almost have to feel sorry for you. Don't let this second opportunity slip by. The book is 48 black and white pages for $4. Enjoy it while it lasts.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: I'm 2 for 2 this week. Last year's book was called EGG STORY, and it's not the book this one is following up on, though the creator of the great EGG STORY is contributing a story to it. OK, back to the column now. . .
I don't normally pick anything up out of Antarctic Press' solicitations, but the ad for TWILIGHT X: WAR Volume 1 is certainly eye-catching. Take a look at page 229 for the whole thing, which prints -- in color -- over 50 pages of art from the book, all looking very cool. Lots of air strikes, military ships floating across the sea, and some tanks treading ground. It's all done in a very uniform monotone color scheme, which lends a natural feeling to the art. For only $15, the 224-page color book by Joseph White might be worth a try.
Arcana has a couple of books worth noting this month. First comes DRAGON'S LAIR #1, a 68-page issue reprinting the original first three issues of the series done by Val Staples' gang in the late CrossGen days. The book is solicited as part one of four, so I expect they'll be finishing off the original six-part series this way. This compilation issue will run you $5.
And Shannon Denton and Keith Giffen return -- remember them from the Image pages a few hundred words back? -- with GRUNTS #1 of 3. It's a World War II book, which means it won't be available in Germany. That's $4 for 32 pages in color.
Auad Publishing -- will I ever get past the "A" publishers in this increasingly silly-named parade of companies -- is offering again a book I never noticed the first time. BERNET is a hardcover book featuring 11 stories from one of Europe's finest creators, Jordi Bernet. You may remember him from his SOLO issue not too long ago. It's beautiful stuff, and 240 more pages of it for $25 is quite a tempting offer.
Along with that comes a new book, THE BEST OF JORDI BERNET'S CLARA. That's another hardcover, but with only 98 pages for $25. Clara, it would seem, is a character Bernet works on back at home with a bit of a seductress/Bettie Page vibe to her. The book does include sexual situations and some nudity, so it's only for mature readers.
Avatar raises art to another level with LADY DEATH: FETISHES 2006 SPECIAL. Variant covers are titled "Angelic," "Devil Girl," "Latex," "Lace," and "Leather." No, I'm not kidding. I really wish I were, but these things will sell and make a monkey out of me yet.
I really hope I'm done with all the "A" publishers now. . .
Yes! I am. Onto the "B"s and beyond!
Boom! Studios leads off with the JOHN DOE PREVIEW BOOK from Mark Waid, Derec Donovan, and Paul Azaceta. This is a lost Gorilla project, which you can read about over here. The thing that perhaps excites me the most is that Waid has a character named "Augie" in the series. That's all it takes to increase any title's sales by one, you know.
Burlyman Entertainment releases new issues of both of their titles, DOC FRANKENSTEIN and SHAOLIN COWBOY. I always look forward to the next bit of inspired madness from Geoff Darrow.
BuyMeToys.com is leaping on the bandwagon in a big way this month. It's not enough to publish a book based on THE WIZARD OF OZ or ALICE IN WONDERLAND anymore. No, everyone else has already done it. Instead, this company is bringing us THE OZ/WONDERLAND CHRONICLES. Two great tastes that they hope taste great together. Part of me wonders, ever-so-cynically, if they'll throw a zombie or two in there to help boost sales. Even a Phil Noto cover isn't enough to attract me to this one. And I feel slightly dirty for publicizing a web site because it's the publisher's name, also. ::sigh::
Cinebook returns with a new edition of LUCKY LUKE, titled BILLY THE KID. It's a 48 page translated paperback for just $10, featuring "the cowboy who can shoot faster than his own shadow." If I'm not mistaken, it comes to us from my brethren in Belgium, co-written by Asterix's Goscinny.
Dynamite Entertainment is reprinting Tim Truman's SCOUT now in a series of trade paperbacks. The first volume will be $20, collecting seven issues' worth of material. I think we can turn the lights off in the room now -- all the creator-owned 80s properties are being reprinted now.
Devil's Due brings us Phil Noto's latest artistic offering in G.I. JOE SCARLETT: DECLASSIFIED. This 48 page one shot gives us the character's origin story written by Mike O'Sullivan. More importantly, it gives us better than 40 fresh pages of Noto's art. That's all I ask for.
Digital Manga Publishing presents PROJECT X: THE CHALLENGERS, a 208 page manga telling the story of the creation of "cup noodles." I'm intrigued. Seriously. I love a good true story behind fabulous business success, and this one looks to fit that bill. It's all yours for $12.95 on June 22nd.
Gemstone goes back to the well for more of CARL BARKS' GREATEST DUCKTALES STORIES. This second volume reprints -- at full size, not digest size -- at least three of Barks' original stories which were later adapted to episodes of the daytime animation-saving series, DuckTales. "The Giant Robot Robbers," "The Golden Fleecing," and "The Unsafe Safe" are all in this one, for just $10.95. If you're a DuckTales fan who's never read Barks' stories before, this is the perfect entry point for you. It's a great selection of stories, and much of them should be warmly familiar and comfortable for you.
Even more interesting is WALT DISNEY TREASURES VOLUME 1: 75 YEARS OF DISNEY COMICS trade paperback. Aping the design of the Disney DVD collections of classic animated shorts, this book pieces together stories from throughout Disney's history. Included in this 160 page volume are never-before-reprinted stories from Floyd Gottfredson and Romano Scarpo (starring Mickey Mouse, naturally). Plus, you'll get complete stories from Carl Barks ("Race to the South Seas"), Don Rosa ("Fortune on the Rocks"), and more. It's all brought to you by David Gerstein, who did the mind-blowingly wonderful MICKEY AND THE GANG: CLASSIC STORIES IN VERSE paperback last year. It's only $12.99 and in full color.
WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES features a new William Van Horn Donald Duck story with three of Van Horn's favorite characters: Uncle Rumpus, Woimly Filcher, and Baron Itzy Bitzy.
Oni debuts a new series, WASTELAND, by Antony Johnston and Chris Mitten, with a double-sized issue for the regular $3 price. You can read more about it here. And POLLY & THE PIRATES gets the trade treatment for just $12.
(Is it starting to show, yet, how very very tired I am at looking at this catalog right now?)
SAF Comics brings us T.S. BLAKE VOLUME 1: SENTIMENTAL DETECTIVE. It's a new (to the States) translated graphic novel from Carlos Trillo and SHE-HULK artist Juan Bobillo. 48 pages in a hardcover wrapping will cost you $13. I've never read the book before and have no inside information on it. The blurb in PREVIEWS doesn't tell you much more than the title, "Sentimental Detective," automatically clues you in on. Given the creators and the format, though, I can't miss it.
TwoMorrow's next MODERN MASTERS book looks at Walter Simonson's career. I expect a good chunk of the book will be dedicated to this THOR work, as is the cover. It's another 128 pages for $15, a steal in today's comics landscape. Don't forget that the John Byrne edition from the series is due out sometime soon, as well.
Wildcard Production gives us GUMBY #1. Normally, that wouldn't excite me. The fact that Rick Geary is drawing it with Bob Burden and Steve Oliff, though, makes it worth a look. It's a 32 page color comic for $4.
Back in the magazines section of previews, there are new issues of BACK ISSUE ("Ladies' Night"), DRAW! (Kyle Baker, part 2), and WRITE NOW! (X-MEN 3).
One last thing: If you want to think too hard about things, CARL BARKS AND THE DISNEY COMIC BOOK is a 272 page critical study of the man's work. It's subtitled "Unmasking the Myth of Modernity." If this stuff floats your boat, check out page 391 of PREVIEWS for ordering info.
Don't forget -- The Pipeline Podcast will be updated tonight (Tuesday). Click on the link for all the podcasting information.
This column will return next Tuesday with another look into the world of comics today.
My blog, Various and Sundry, continues its Nintendo Wii watch, American Idol run downs, link dumps, DVD talk, and more.
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