MORE PREVIEWS FOR NOVEMBER
Last week I covered all the Diamond-exclusive publishers. This week I delve into the back of the catalog, where publishers with less than 40% market share reside. These are the books where it becomes critically important to pre-order what you like.
Airship Entertainment kicks things off this week with Phil and Kaja Foglio's GIRL GENIUS: OMNIBUS EDITION. The series has gone straight to the web now, but this is the quickest way to catch up on things on paper, as the Foglios reprint the first three trade paperbacks' worth of material in one digest-sized black and white book. It's 312 pages for $15.AiT/PlanetLar gives us its latest high concept offering, FIRST MOON. From the creators of CONTINUITY comes the story of an eleven-year-old boy vampire -- no relation to this one -- who holds the key to the mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke. It's an historical mystery that's always fascinated me, so Jason McNamara and Tony Talbert have my most rapt attention. This one is $13 for 120 pages in black and white.
(Update: Sorry for the confusion -- FIRST MOON is about a werewolf and not a vampire. Sorry about that.)
Avatar is putting together the FRANK MILLER'S ROBOCOP mini-series into one big trade paperback or hardcover, at last. For those of us who attempted to follow this as it was published, it's been a long and winding trek. Issues seemed to show up when you least expected it, and you always had to be cognizant of which issue was next. So many variant covers popped up -- often in the long gap between issues -- that it was easy to confuse an old issue with a new one. For those of you who waited, though, you are rewarded in November. It's $30 for the trade and $40 for the hardcover (autographed by the artist). Either way, it's a hardcover book with 216 color pages in it, written by Steven Grant with beautiful art from Juan Jose Ryp.
Alan Moore's YUGGOTH CULTURES, likewise, gets a trade and hardcover reprint in November. Same price, but 100 extra pages. The difference is, this one's black and white.
Boom! Studios drops the zombies and picks up with ninjas! NINJA TALES #1 is a new anthology book filled with ninja stories (what else?) from the likes of John Rogers, Johanna Stokes, Andrew Cosby, Ron Lim, Chee, and more. It's 48 color pages for $7.
Checker Books has finally done it! They're the ones to find the last 1980s independent property worth reprinting! They've picked up THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS, written by Will Jacobs and Gerard Jones. The first trade paperback collects the first seven issues of a series that took place across something like four different companies. Yes, I think this book saw more publishers than even GROO. The second TROUBLE trade is coming in January.
Dork Storm Press celebrates with DORK DECADE: THE DORK TOWER 10TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION trade paperback. Can it live up to the example set by the FAR SIDE 10th ANNIVERSARY collection? Heck, no. Nobody ever could. But it's still a fun series from John Kovalic set in the gaming world that's taken off and become an amazing success. I admit that the main series has fallen off my radar in the last year or so, but Kovalic's characters are still eminently likable and humorous. As a bonus, you don't have to be a gamer to get all the jokes. (In lieu of that, being a comic book collector helps.)
This trade paperback collects all the original strips done for DRAGON and SHADIS magazines, complete with commentary, sketches, etc. It's $16 for 128 full color pages. Not a bad deal for fans of the book. It might not be the best place to start for a new reader, but it'll be an interesting historical artifact for the rest of us.
DORK TOWER #35 is also out in November, featuring a story from Alex Robinson in a "What If" vein.
NBM has the book of the month with MISTER I, the follow-up from Lewis Trondheim to his spectacular MISTER O book a couple of years ago. If you missed the review of that book, I highly recommend going back to it now and then pre-ordering MISTER I while you think of it.
Every now and then there comes a comic that fits perfectly into the "You Can't Make Fun Of It Because It's Not Aimed At You" category. TokyoPop provides that title this month with MY LITTLE PONY: A VERY MINTY CHRISTMAS, a new 24-page cine-manga book for the little kiddies. I bet my three-year-old niece would love it. Looking at the minty green pony smiling at me gives me the willies, though.
Udon gives us something a little different in November, with MAKESHIFT MIRACLE. This new graphic novel is written and drawn by their marketing guy, Jim Zubkavich. It originally saw shape as a webcomic, and now moves to print three years after its completion. The final product runs 200 pages. I'll have a full review of it for you next week after I finish reading it all, but I've enjoyed the first half so far. It's not going to be for everyone, but there's a kernel of wonder and adventure in there that has me hooked so far. The book is in full color for $12.99. In the meantime, you can read a few pages or even pre-order the book directly through MakeshiftMiracle.com.
W.W. Norton is the relatively-new publisher of Will Eisner's complete graphic novel library. Just last year, they put out THE CONTRACT WITH GOD TRILOGY, a single hardcover volume containing CONTRACT WITH GOD, A LIFE FORCE, and DROPSIE AVENUE. The book retailed for $30, although you can still get it at Amazon for less than $19.
This month, they're soliciting three separate books. Instead of buying the one omnibus edition, you can buy the individual stories as separate books. These are softcover editions and will run you $16.95 each. Why you wouldn't pick up the hardcover and get all of them at a fraction of the cost, though, is beyond me.
JUST TO RUIN THE eBAY MARKET
Here's a scan from the Archaia Studios Press 2006 Catalog.
This would be a bad time to put my copies up on eBay, right?
MY SPACE IS YOUR SPACE
I've finally done it; I've stumbled into MySpace.com. Yes, it's an unruly mess with some of the most horrific and insulting web design I've seen in the 12 years I've been surfing the web, but it seems to be popular. Who am I to judge?
My handle over there is PipelinePodcast, and I update the blog there whenever there's a new podcast or a column. In the week or two since I've started it up, I've learned that I have less than 100 friends.
So, please, if you're on MySpace and don't mind taking pity on me, friend me.
(When did "friend" become a verb, anyway?)
The direct URL to my page is http://www.myspace.com/pipelinepodcast. I give you that because MySpace's search function is so incredibly useless that you'll never find me otherwise.
FINALLY, A REAL PODCAST URL!
You can now access The Pipeline Podcast directly through its own URL. I thought long and hard about what Dot-Com to purchase for this. I had to wade through a list of possibilities and find one that hadn't been purchased already.
Finally, I arrived at the URL you can now use to directly access The Pipeline Podcast:
How terribly imaginative of me.
That link will take you directly to the show notes of the most recent podcast. From there, of course, you can subscribe to the podcast through a half dozen different services, go through the archives, contact me, etc.
Special thanks to those of you who've left feedback at iTunes and Podcast Pickle and the other Podcasting sites. It's much appreciated, and I'm always interested in more. So, please, keep writing!
SWORDS, SANDALS, AND CHAIN MAIL BIKINIS
While I've enjoyed the few issues of CONAN I've read by Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord, I have to admit that the swords and sandals and/or sorcery thing just ain't my cup of tea. I know it attracts some fairly heavyweight art talent to it, but that's just not enough for me. If I want people speaking in strange tongues about oddly-named places and races, I'll go with some sort of science fiction. That's just how I'm wired.
But I gave SAVAGE RED SONJA: QUEEN OF THE FROZEN WASTES #1 a fair shot this past week, and was entertained by what I read. Yes, at first I did find it ironic that the book begins with an internal monologue from Red Sonja talking about how much she hates the cold -- while wearing a bikini in the snow! But you know what? That's one of the tropes of the genre. She walks around in a chain mail bikini swinging her sword and speaking slightly funny. That allows the artist to go wild with striking visuals, and gives the writer a bit of a challenge on the dialogue side of things.
If you can't handle the genre, don't read the book. If you can get past that, then you'll be entertained, I think, by the story that begins in this issue. Frank Cho and Doug Murray start things off in a sparsely-wooded snowy battle of two tribes of some sort. One thing leads to another, and Red Sonja is saving an underground ring of slaves. (Ah, the life of a comic book heroine.) It's a bit more bloody and monstrous than that, of course. There's plenty of puncture wounds and decapitations and generally awful looking souls, but there's enough personality shown by Sonja in the book -- of a quick-to-act character who relies perhaps too much on her sword -- to make things interesting and drag the reader along on an interesting adventure.
The art is by the one-named wonder, Homs. It's particularly good in the first half of the book, which is dominated by the sword fights and barbarian fisticuffs. The snow drifts and wind-swept terrain add a strong atmosphere to the book which I liked. Some of that initial magic is lost in the underground scenes, but the action more than makes up for it. Homs draws deceptively solid characters, paying attention to shadows and anatomy, but leaving room for Will Murai to step in with the colors to finish it all off. Murai adds more subtle shadows and depth to the art throughout the book.
SAVAGE RED SONJA is not a book I would have thought to pick up before this, but I think I'll stick around to see how Cho and Murray complete the storyline. In the back of the book, there's an ad for an upcoming one-shot titled RED SONJA: MONSTER ISLE. Roy Thomas wrote it with art from Pablo Marcos, who I first saw in the pages of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION more than 15 years ago. The selling point on that book is, believe it or not, the coloring from Caesar Rodriguez. I fell in love with his work in the early CrossGen days, and we just don't see enough of it today. In a studio that included Frank D'Armata and Justin Ponsor, I still think he was the best of the bunch. His work on the preview page for this one shot would indicate that he's playing with an animated look -- keeping the colors bright, while knocking out the black linework with his colors. It looks great.
Well, the truth is a bit of half and half here. Volume One of the MAX series has been out for a long time now. Volume One of the Marvel Universe-friendly series is solicited now for November 2006 release.
Volume Two -- collecting the rest of the MAX series, as well as the HYPERION mini-series -- has not been solicited yet, ironically enough. It was referenced on a panel in San Diego this summer, and Barnes and Noble lists it as a December 28th release. We'll have to wait and see if it shows up in next month's PREVIEWS.
I imagine they're putting out what is effectively the third volume first to get people caught up on the series before the Ultimate Universe crossover begins in December. The Mature Readers Only series will follow shortly for those of us old enough to read it, and old enough to appreciate reading a story in its proper order.
So, overall, about half of Dark Horse's listings are for November, not "most of." If you're just looking at the trades and hardcovers -- a bias I admit to at the front of the column -- then it's "most of" and not "half."
Lies, darn lies, and statistics, eh?
I mentioned the problems Dark Horse has with the artwork in the title and the swastika-looking symbol that appears in the comic. In every monthly issue and every trade paperback, there's a warning about the artwork that might be considered obscene or inflammatory by someone not well-versed with the issues of translating Japanese right-to-left comics with American left-to-right. But the pages aren't being simply flipped, as I may have led you to believe last week. The panels are being cut apart and reordered, basically, to make left-to-right reading possible. The symbol on the back of Manji's garb is a Buddhist sauvastika, not the Nazi Swastika.
I'll be back next week with an explanation for why I fear comics, and lots more!
Did I mention that MySpace page yet?
What about the new URL for The Pipeline Podcast?
OK, good. Just wanted to make sure.
My blog, Various and Sundry is still updating daily, with a big week ahead. It's the finales of ROCK STAR: SUPERNOVA and BIG BROTHER ALL-STARS this week, along with big announcements from Apple and Nintendo. Can you stand all the excitement?
More than 700 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.