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Pipeline, Issue #479

COMING SOON FROM IMAGE

I have two Image books to review here, but I'm not sure if they're due out this week or next. You've been warned.

FELL #6 gets a special award for the proper use of diabetes in a storyline. As a shot-taking diabetic myself, any mention of the disease in a storyline is going to pique my interest. When a writer can do it correctly, it's a nice bonus. Warren Ellis makes the diabetes work in FELL because his script only uses a single data point from his research. It's a point that's more or less dead-on, particularly from my own experience.

The issue works as another entry into the disgusting world that Ellis and Ben Templesmith have created in Snowtown. This time around, Rich Fell's day off is interrupted by a domestic dispute call that, as anyone who's ever watched an episode of COPS can attest, is never as simple as it would seem. Things degenerate from there.

The reason that this series works as well as it does is the offbeat charm and humanity that Ellis weaves into the stories. Those who complain that every one of his stories stars a cigarette-toting Brit with a bad attitude and aptitude for futuristic high-tech toys should try FELL out. It's deliberately retro, by comparison. Fell has a bit of an attitude borne of his work, for sure, but he's relatively laid back, with a delightfully dry sense of humor and a very relatable sense of horror to the world around him.

The nine-panel grid format helps make the comic feel dense, and the rapid fire dialogue is a delight to read in modern comics. The dialogue is often fueled by the panel layout. You can't have long soliloquies in a comic with a new panel eight times per page. You get a lot of nice back-and-forths, instead, with the kind of rapid banter you see in an Aaron Sorkin show, or on GILMORE GIRLS.

There's something else I picked up on in Chris Eliopoulos' lettering this month: there's a typographic restraint in the book. There's only one font at work in the comic. The balloons are deliberately kept off the panel borders, to keep from drawing attention to them. And, most importantly, there are almost no bolded words. I'm sure that's part of Ellis' script, but it's an interesting choice. While some writers use bold words to indicate important elements of a word balloon, most use it to show emphasis in the characters voice. The word that is stressed in the speech pattern is bolded up. That ensures the reader understands the dialogue the way the writer created it. I only noticed this lack of bolded words as I read this month's issue and caught myself bolding the words in my head as I read the piece. After you've read this issue once, try it again while paying special attention to how naturally the rhythm of the dialogue flows.

FELL #6 is due out this week or next, and will be only $1.99, as usual. It's 16 pages of story with a four-page letters column in the back. I think it's some of Warren Ellis' strongest stuff.

Also out this week or next is THE WALKING DEAD #30, which takes a break from the hellaciously brutal last couple of issues to show us what's happening back at the prison. Hint: Lots of people are anxious for Rick and Company's return, while others are still fighting amongst themselves. It's more than just a break in the action, though. By the time the issue is over, you'll realize that Robert Kirkman just set up everything he needed to set up for the conclusion to this storyline. I don't know how it'll all turn out, but I think I have a good idea of where he's headed now. And it won't be pretty.

In the back of the book, there's a color section. Kirkman is running the five-page teaser for CRIMINAL that creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips put together to run as an on-line PDF hype file. As nice as it looked on the screen, I think it looks even better here in print. CRIMINAL is in the Marvel listings of the current PREVIEWS for books due out in October. I didn't mention is last week while I was emphasizing the trades and hardcovers, but it's definitely worth a look. Just seeing this preview makes me want to break out SLEEPER to read again.

(I should note that CBR carried a press release announcing this comics hyping crossover a couple of weeks ago, too.)

Quick bonus third review: CASANOVA #3 is out this week. Get it. More crazy fun with attitude. Nice art. Just pay attention to the art details so you can follow the different timelines the story jumps around in. Everything else falls nicely into place, as Fraction bends over backwards to tell a deceptively simple story in an interesting way.

COMING LESS SOON FROM EVERYONE ELSE

Finishing off this month's look at the PREVIEWS catalog for books shipping in October:

TwoMorrows Publishing is letting loose with MODERN MASTERS: MIKE WIERINGO, co-written by Eric Nolen-Weathington and Wieringo's TELLOS partner, Todd Dezago. I'm a little behind on my reading right now, so I'm only about halfway through the John Byrne volume. By the time I make it through the Walter Simonson book that came next, I should be ready for Wieringo's. It's only $15 for this installment.

Also, ROUGH STUFF returns for a second issue, featuring the art stylings of Paul Gulacy, Jerry Ordway, Alex Toth, Matt Wagner, and more. That's $7 for 100 pages.

Airwave Comics is giving Alan Moore fanatics one more interview to read. ALAN MOORE'S EXIT INTERVIEW is a 96-page conversation conducted by Bill Baker for $10, covering Moore's last quarter of a century of writing and the comics world surrounding it. There has been a lot of Moore scholarship and analysis in the past couple of years, but I get the feeling this book will still offer something new to read. We'll see in October.

Archaia Studios Press gives us MOUSE GUARD #5, of a six part series. I expect most of them will be up for sale on eBay the following day, long after everyone has caught on to how popular a series this is and have started picking it up for themselves. Ah, the delightful ironies of speculation. . .

Boom Studios has let Keith Giffen and his pals loose again. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!: MONSTER MASH-UP is the latest one-shot to offer rewritten captions and dialogue balloons to public domain comics featuring monsters. This time around, some of the comics feature Steve Ditko art, and the rewriting will be done by Dave Johnson, Johanna Stokes, and Joe Casey.

If that's not enough for you, PLANETARY BRIGADE: ORIGINS #2 is due out in October, with art from Julia Bax on the Giffen/DeMatteis' script.

Digital Manga Publishing came to most people's attention, I think, for their release of a manga detailing the rise of the Cup O Noodle soup. They're back now with PROJECT X: CHALLENGERS - SEVEN ELEVEN. This one tells the tale of the Japanese businessmen who brought 7-11s over to Japan, and all the drama that it took to get there. Why go to an expensive business school when you can learn from manga?

Gemstone's UNCLE SCROOGE #359 prints up Don Rosa's "The Incredible Shrinking Tightwad" complete in the issue for $7.

They're also offering the first of their EC ARCHIVES lineup, WEIRD SCIENCE VOLUME 1. It's a pretty looking hardcover package, but $50 for 212 pages is a little too rich for my blood right now.

Hill and Wang have me a little apprehensive about GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY: RONALD REAGAN. It's a new 128 page black and white biography of Reagan's rise from B actor to President. The solicitation text gives me hope that it won't be a simple slamming of the man, but the proof is in the pudding and all. It's $17 and hardcovered, if you want to take that chance. Andrew Helfer and Steve Buccellato are the creators on it.

IDW is doling out the reprints of comic strips now, too, with THE COMPLETE CHESTER GOULD'S DICK TRACY, Volume 1. Hey, if Snoopy can save Fantagraphics, why can't Dick Tracy help IDW? The format ain't bad: 352 pages for $30. It's probably the most reasonably priced item IDW has ever published. There are 500 strips in this book, collecting the series' first year and a half of existence.

For those waiting on the trade, Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson's SUPERMARKET gets its softcover collection in October for $18. It's full color and 104 pages.

Olympian Publishing gives us DAN BRERETON'S NOCTURNALS, Volume 1, the first of a three part hardcover series to collect the entirety of the horror series thus far. This first book runs 224 pages for $30, or $40 for an extra 16 pages of full color sketchbook material. The premiere outing includes the original six issue mini-series, material from DARK HORSE PRESENTS, and a new story. Follow-up volumes should come every six months or so.

For more on the series and the hardcover books, check out this article.

Oni Press offers up 12 REASONS WHY I LOVE HER, a new original graphic novel by Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones. I saw some of the preview art available from this book at the Oni table in San Diego last month. It's beautiful stuff, and I can't wait to see the whole thing. As you might suspect, it's a romance book told in 12 parts, but it uses different storytelling techniques along the way. We'll see how it all comes together in October. The final book is $15 and runs 160 pages.

Poorhouse Press has new printings of Will Eisner's two instructional books, COMICS & SEQUENTIAL ART and GRAPHIC STORYTELLING. These are two must-reads for anyone interested in analyzing sequential art of any type. Read this before you read Scott McCloud's UNDERSTANDING COMICS. It works well together, but I think Eisner's book is a more straightforward instructional tome, as opposed to McCloud's higher-level look at the techniques employed by comics storytellers. The softcovers are now $23 each.

Too Hip Gottago Graphics is compiling the first four issues of WAHOO MORRIS into one trade paperback. It's only $10, but Craig Taillefer does a nice job with his story of rock and roll with a bit of the occult mixed in.

Shonen Jump brings us up to the eighth volume of the all-too-fun HIKARU NO GO series in October. Once again, it's only $8 for a 216 page batch of fun stories. In fact, I think it's time to go back and read through the whole series again. Hikaru is a charming character, even when he acts like the little kid he is.

Finally and at last, those are the comics worth watching in October. As always, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy of PREVIEWS at your local comic shop, take a flip through it, and pre-order what you want to see in a couple of months. It'll help out your retailer, the creators, and yourself with one simple action.

LINKS AND NOTES

  • Imagine watching the first season of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES in one setting. Depending on your point of view, it would either be a brain-frying experience, or the ultimate geek experience. Well, Amy Payne did it, survived it, and lived to tell the tale.
  • If you're as curious as I am about the odd GOTHAM CENTRAL trade paperback collections, look no further than this week's edition of Lying In The Gutters. Rich pinged Ed Brubaker and got the official word on why certain issues are being left out. It's not a contractual thing. It's a point of preference. Click through and scroll down for all the details.
  • While I'm cribbing from Rich this week, I have to point out the cool-looking iCOS dashboard widget for the Mac (and now in beta for Windows) for the new comics release list.
  • Finally and most happily, happy 15th anniversary to my friendly neighborhood local comic shop, Dewey's Comic City. Dan Veltre and crew have survived 15 years in Madison, NJ as of today. I remember all the little mom and pop comic shops that opened in the Northern NJ region at about that point -- not too many of them survived their original six month or one year leases. Dewey's is doing it right.

The Pipeline Podcast has its own homepage now. The Pipeline Recording Studios have recently moved, so please forgive some of the hollowness of the sound until I get everything reset.

My blog, Various and Sundry is still updating daily, mostly with commentary on reality TV shows lately, including Hell's Kitchen, Rock Star: Supernova, and Big Brother All-Stars. There's also been a lot of Mac talk there lately, if you're interested in that kind of thing.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 700 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

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