PREVIEWS WITH A SPINE
There's always so much of interest in PREVIEWS that it's impossible to talk about it all. In the interests of making a speedy pass through PREVIEWS this month, I'm focusing on trade paperbacks, original graphic novels, and hardcovers. As always, I strongly advise flipping through a copy of the PREVIEWS behemoth on your own to see what might tickle your fancy. Don't forget to look through all the non-exclusive comic companies after the "Big Four." You also never know what might show up in the following "Magazines" and "Books" sections. Pre-order everything you want to read to be assured a better chance at your retailer ordering it for you.
MARVEL 1602 is the least surprising hardcover in the Marvel catalog. After all, Dynamic Forces solicited a signed edition last month. Whoops. Still, it's not like the high profile mini-series written by Neil Gaiman wasn't an odds-on favorite to see a hardcover collection. I think Andy Kubert's art will look exceptional in the format. I just wish I had had the patience to wait the year to read this book in this format in the first place. It's only $25 for the nearly 250 pages the collection entails, expected to be release on September 1, 2004.
Sometime in August, we'll get the third and final hardcover collection of Grant Morrison's well-regarded NEW X-MEN run. This one pieces together issues #142-154, including the final storyline illustrated by Marc Silvestri. While most of the die-hard Morrison fans raked the story over the coals, itcs the one I'm most looking forward to. Phil Jimenez is the solicited cover artist, though the cover mocked up in the catalog is by Silvestri's.
Perhaps the most surprising trade paperback for the month is X-FORCE: BIG GUNS, bringing together 136 pages of vintage 90s Mutant Mania. As VH1 prepares to brings us I LOVE THE 90s, Marvel prepares the same for comics fans who came up in that time. This trade brings us the first four issues of the Fabian Nicieza/Rob Liefeld series, along with the crossover issue of adjectiveless SPIDER-MAN by Todd McFarlane that would prove to be his Marvel swan song. For me, it was one of the most exciting storylines comics ever had to offer. Looking back on it now, of course, it loses much of its luster. But at the time and for awhile afterwards, X-FORCE #4 was one of the coolest comics I've ever read. Those last couple of books were drawn sideways before sideways was cool. Brian Murray's coloring style was something completely different. And Nicieza and Liefeld threw everything up in the air and brought it crashing down in a wonderfully bombastic style.
Dark Horse leads with a cool book for budding animation artists and prospective comic artists. DON BLUTH'S THE ART OF STORYBOARD promises to show you how to draw storyboards like top animation artists do. Besides being a valuable source of storytelling tips for wannabe comic artists, it might also prove to be a smart guide to a second career choice. Take a look at comic book artists today who have started out as animation artists or who use it as a second career path. Everyone from Bruce Timm to Darwyn Cooke to Keith Giffen. These skilled artists can dabble in both comics and cartoons. For $15, the 112 page full color guide will hopefully be an exciting look into the art of storytelling, one panel at a time.
Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow's HARD BOILED is back in print, thanks to Dark Horse. This is a book I've always wanted to read, and now will have a convenient opportunity to do so. $17 buys me a second chance to read the story of the psychotic tax collector leaving behind a large bodycount in wildly graphic detail.
An insane number of top-notch quality comic book artists contributed to the STAR WARS mythos in the 1990s. STAR WARS: PANEL TO PANEL is a trade paperback devoted to collecting a variety of those artists' contributions in one book. 192 pages' worth of that art sees print together now as a single $20 trade paperback.
DC Comics has a new solicitation layout that allows more page space for each title, eliminating much of the redundancy the old layout had. Inbetween the latest interminable Batman crossover comes a couple of potential highlights. The first collects Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson's recently concluded maxi-series, BATMAN: DEATH AND THE MAIDEN. All nine issues are collected for $20. I'm hoping to read through the series to get a better review in here soon.
Brand new is Ann Nocenti and Ethan Van Sciver's BATMAN/CATWOMAN: TRAIL OF THE GUN, a new two part Prestige Format series. The format – two 48 page issues – leaves one to scratch one's head and question why this isn't a original graphic novel to begin with.
Mark Millar's run on SUPERMAN ADVENTURES is grist for the mill of DC's latest manga-sized collections. Two volumes are featured, collecting Millar's stories are drawn by the wonderful Aluir Amancio's pen. Nobody had such a stylistic and appealing pen line during the run of the series. The five issue collections run only $6.95 each.
I never thought I'd see ABSOLUTE PLANETARY, so I'm proven wrong again. Still, I like the book enough that I think John Cassaday's art will be worth buying again at this size. The question is whether or not we'll ever see ABSOLUTE PLANETARY Volume 2.
I AM LEGION: DANCING FAUN is the new prestige format book with art from Cassaday. This is the new Humanoids series being bastardized to fit DC's "bookshelf friendly" format. While I'd much rather see the 64 page book in the European hardcover format, DC is giving us the cheaper format. We are, after all, too stupid to figure out how to place it on our bookshelves, where it might not match their digest sized SUPERMAN ANIMATED trades or the regular sized SUPERMAN/BATMAN hardcovers, let alone the Treasury Sized Alex Ross/Paul Dini one shots. However do books at all these variant sizes and price points sell?
Odd, isn't it? The same month they release the $50 ABSOLUTE PLANETARY slipcase hardcover edition, they're shrinking the size of the Humanoids presentation for Cassaday's latest book because the traditional format wouldn't fit on my bookshelf.
Also shrinking down is Luc and Francois Schuiten's THE HOLLOW GROUNDS, composed of NOGEGON, CARAPACES, and ZARA. NOGEGON is the most remarkable of the three stories, taking place on a palindromic world, complete with palindromic storytelling. It's a neat trick with beautiful art.
If you want to get a real look at Francois Schuiten's art, I'd suggest taking a look at what NBM has to offer this month. I'll talk about that in a little bit.
Image Comics features a collection of the witty Robert Kirkman/Matt Tyree mini-series, TALES OF THE REALM. Most readers overlooked it at CrossGen, and then lost it completely when it went back to self-publishing. If you like Kirkman's work and his sense of humor, in particular, you'll find lots to like in this book. It's the story of three actors trying to make it big in the land of make believe. For only $15, it's a steal.
Doug ("Creature Tech") TenNapel's new graphic novel is called TOMMYSAURUS REX. It's $12 for 112 black and white pages. I didn't need to read anything past that to put it on my reserve list for August. If you need to know more, though, it's the story of a boy coming of age -- and his dinosaur.
AiT/PlanetLar's big August OGN release is BAD MOJO, a book that defies description, despite having such a cool description. It's the story of a baseball player who's been hexed to die every day. Needless to say, this upsets his life and he wants to get better.
Slave Labor Graphics is forcing me to say something I never thought I'd say: I'm looking forward to the comic book adventures of BILL AND TED. Evan Dorkin's cult classic is coming back to print in two trade paperbacks. BILL & TED'S MOST EXCELLENT ADVENTURES Volume 1 is 158 black and white pages for $13.95. It appears that they're sucking all the color off the pages for this edition. That can work. I hope it's not just black and white photocopies of the color pages. That doesn't work all that often.
Archangel Studios proudly presents RED STAR VOLUME 3: PRISON OF SOULS. Remember RED STAR? Image, then CrossGen, then self-published. I stopped buying the single issues in favor of the gorgeous oversized trades, and it's that time again. It's $25 for this collection of five issues.
Cartoon Books is publishing the Door Stop of the Month. It's BONE: THE ONE VOLUME edition, collecting every last issue of Jeff Smith's book under one cover. That's 1300 pages for a tidy $40. There's been some question as to how they can make a book like this that will physically hold up. I have a couple of computer manuals that are 1300 pages that have held up to quite a beating over the years. Their paper stock, though, is fairly flimsy. That's not such a problem with a computer manual and its type, but I wonder how it would hold up with something like BONE's art.
The book is very tempting, but I think I prefer the separate hardcover collections. Less intimidating. But good for Jeff Smith for giving this a shot.
Gemstone Publishing is starting up a new title. MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES is in the same digest size format as DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES. For just $8, you get 128 full color pages of story. It's a great value, particularly for the youngsters. DDA, I believe, skews much younger than the classic WDC&S and U$ titles Gemstone currently puts out. This looks likely to fall right in line with that one.
OVERSTREET'S COMIC PRICE REVIEW on the next page has a great Vampirella cover on it from Dawn Brown. Does this mean she's coming back to comics? Let's hope so... I'd love to read a LITTLE RED HOT Volume 3.
NBM, as previously mentioned, has the much-anticipated (by me, if nobody else) THE BOOK OF SCHUITEN, covering 136 oversized and full color pages of the great Belgian's art. At the same time, DUNGEON VOLUME 1 collects (in full color, for the first time) some of Lewis Trondheim's funny work aside from MR. O, the book that Darwyn Cooke referred to in Philadelphia as the graphic novel of the year so far.
Oni has a big month in August. Besides a new mini-series from Sam Kieth, they also have CBR's own J. Torres' latest book, SCANDALOUS. With art from Scott Chantler, this book takes a look back at 1950s Hollywood and the gossipmongers that cover it. If that ain't enough, look for Greg Rucka and Mike Hawthorne's QUEEN AND COUNTRY, Volume 6: OPERATION: DANDELION trade paperback. The hardcover will follow a month later.
SAF Comics, my other favorite European reprinter, is bringing back BOY VAMPIRE for a third volume, featuring more of Eduardo Risso's artwork. There's some pretty good stuff in that series.
I've finally corrected the link below to the Pipeline Message Board. If you've ended up somewhere else in the past couple of weeks, I apologize. It should be straightened out from here on out. ("Moving forward" as we say in the corporate world.)
Pipeline Commentary and Review returns on Tuesday with a couple or three thousand more words related the world of comics.
Over at Various and Sundry this week, you'll get my disappointment at the new season of THE DREW CAREY SHOW, this week's installment of AvrilWatch, a memo to VH1's producers, the latest HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY movie update, and a lot more.
More than 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are also still available at the Original Pipeline page.