As Americans brace themselves for tonight’s presidential debate, it’s fitting that tomorrow marks the release of IDW Publishing’s heavily promoted biographies of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama.
In a similar vein, Wednesday also will see After 9/11: America’s War on Terror, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon’s follow-up to their celebrated adaptation of the 9/11 Report.
But if politics and war — and the politics of war — aren’t your bag, you’ll also find the first issue of the new Marvel Zombies miniseries, the third installment of Grady Klein’s The Lost Colony series, oversized editions of Hellboy and I Luv Halloween, and an Owly collection. Those are just for starters, though.
To see what other titles Chris Mautner and I think are worth mentioning, just keep reading. As always, let us know your choices in the comments below.
Chris’ pick of the week: An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Vol. 2 hardcover
Despite the fact that I had already read or owned most of the comics in the first Graphic Fiction anthology, I was impressed with editor Ivan Brunetti’s ability to package together a whopping amount of stellar work and have in flow together so seamlessly. So what do you do for an encore?
Well, the stunning Dan Clowes cover, which slyly plays upon classic comics iconography is a good start. But what’s inside is an equally, if not even better, collection of wonderful work that show the full gamut of what comics can achieve. From Chester Brown’s “My Mother Was a Schizophrenic” to Phoebe Gloeckner’s “Minnie’s Third Love” to David Mazzuchelli’s “Near Miss” there’s not a bad tale in the bunch.
Even better, there’s quite a few artists whose work was new to me, like Elinore Norflus, Jayr Puga, and Eugene Teal. I’ll say what I said about the first volume: Anyone wondering what all the big deal is with these “art comics” and “graphic novels” should pick up a copy of this book. It will answer all their questions.
Kevin’s pick of the week: I Luv Halloween Ultimate Twisted Edition
Tokyopop pulls out all the steps for Halloween with an all-new edition of the disturbing and hilarious series by Benjamin Roman and Keith Giffen about a group of friends who meet every year to go trick-or-treating.
The appropriately named Ultimate Twisted Edition collects the original three volumes in a full-color, oversized hardcover that includes a bonus story, pinups, character sketches and more.
In this case, “more” means, among other things, instructions for making a Piggy mask!
Hellboy Library Edition, Vol. 2: The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom
Kevin: As the title suggests, this is the second in Dark Horse’s series of hardcovers, ideal for libraries or private collections. This oversized volume — 9″ by 12″ — collects The Right Hand of Doom and The Chained Coffin and Others, plus 30 pages of sketchbook materials.
Serenity: Better Days
Kevin: For fans of Firefly/Serenity, and Joss Whedon in general, this collects the follow-up miniseries to 2005′s Those Left Behind. If we can’t get another season of Firefly, or a sequel to Serenity, I guess this will have to do.
Kevin: One of the last books that will be released through DC’s Minx imprint, Emiko Superstar brings together Mariko Tamaki (Skim) and Steve Rolston (Queen and Country) for a tale about a girl who transforms herself from “dull, suburban babysitter to eclectic urban art star.”
Showcase Presents: Blackhawk, Vol. 1
Kevin: War comics were never my thing, but when I was a kid I liked the handful of coverless issues of ’70s Blackhawk I picked up at a flea market. This first Showcase volume collects some 20 issues from 1957-1958, by Dick Dillin, Charles Cuidera, Sheldon Moldoff and others.
Daredevil: Cruel and Unusual
Kevin: This collects Daredevil #106-110, which reunited the Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark with their Gotham Central collaborator Greg Rucka.
The Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 3: The Book of the Iron Fist premiere hardcover
Kevin: Marvel gathers the flashback issues from The Immortal Iron Fist in one convenient book, with stories of Wu Ao-Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay; Bei Bang-Wen, the Iron Fist of 1860; Orson Randall, the Golden Age Iron Fist; and Danny Rand.
Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (of 4)
Kevin: Marvel launches another zombie-superheroes miniseries, this time with Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker at the helm. I don’t get the popularity of the premise, but I guess you go with whatever works.
After 9/11: America’s War on Terror (2001- ) hardcover
After 9/11: America’s War on Terror (2001- ) softcover
Chris: Following up on their incredibly successful adaptation of the 9/11 Report, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon turn their attention to events after the Al Qaeda attacks, focusing specifically on the Iraq war. They don’t beat around the bush regarding their feelings toward the Bush administration and its handling of the war, either, so any neo-con comics fans would probably be wise to avoid the book, unless they like having something to be irate about. You can see a video of Jacobson and Colon talking about the book here. There’s a Newsarama interview with the pair here, and you can read my own extra-special review here.
Gus & His Gang
Chris: Chris Blain’s sly update on the Western got a raw deal a while back when Matthias Wivel cited the series as being an example of the sort of middlebrow French comic that aimed for clever craftsmanship and little else. Eurocomics expert Bart Beaty sorta agreed with him, though he liked parts of it.
I dunno, I thought Gus was great; a lively, funny satire of the genre, featuring a trio of hapless bank robbers who are seemingly more concerned with scoring with women than attaining any riches. It’s the men’s continued attempts to find sex and maybe love, and their utter confusion in doing so, that makes the book so delightful for me, though certainly Blain’s exquisite art work doesn’t hurt matters much. Previews can be found here.
Labor Days, Vol. 1
Kevin: The action-comedy by Philip Gelatt and Rick Lacy centers on Benton “Bags” Bagswell, who operates a chores-for-hire business in London. When his girlfriend dumps him, he finds himself in possession of a mysterious videotape that thrusts him into a world of deceit and betrayal. You can read a 24-page preview at the Oni Press website.
The Lost Colony, Book 2: The Red Menace (offered again)
The Lost Colony, Book 3: Last Rights
Chris: Grady Klein’s oddball take on American history — all of the main characters live on an isolated island either somewhere along the Mississippi or just off the U.S. coast — has received comparisons to Asterix, though it’s much darker and more serious about its subject matter than anything Goscinny and Uderzo ever attempted.
This third volume in the story follows up quickly on the last, with one character wanted for murder, while a conniving visiting preacher woos a married woman and causes general unrest among the populace, particularly the black population. Through it all the central character, a little girl, is lied to again and again by just about every adult she comes across. So, yeah, it’s a cheery book. You can read an excerpt here. For those who haven’t been following the story, First Second is offering the second volume again.
The Man Who Loved Breasts
Chris: This is a new 32-page comic from Robert Goodlin about … well, I think you can guess what it’s about, and it ain’t the weather. Still, Goodlin’s a funny, talented guy, so if you don’t mind the sexual humor, it’s worth checking out. Did I mention the back-up story is called “George Olavatia: Amputee Fetishist”?
The Merchant of Venice
Chris: Gareth Hinds’ adaptation of Shakespeare’s play comes to comic shops via Diamond, though I think it’s been available in book stores for months. I haven’t seen the book, but I believe he sets the whole thing in more modern-day Venice, which is an interesting take. Not enough cartoonists take a stab at adapting famous works, and I’m curious to see how Hinds handles the Bard.
Moomin: The Complete Tove Jannson Comic Strip, Vol. 1 hardcover
Chris: In case you came to the Moomin party late, D&Q is offering the first volume once more.
Owly, Vol. 5: Tiny Tales
Chris: More from Top Shelf, although about as far removed from Goodlin’s book as you can get. This is a hodgepodge collection of tales featuring the utsy-cutesy owl and his friends, most of which first appeared in the various Top Shelf Free Comic Book Day selections of the past few years. The Owly books have generally held little appeal for me, but then, I’m not its target audience.
Chris: If the PR info is to be believed, the title of the book translates as “folk tales” or “storybook.” Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek (and no, I’ve never heard of them before either) thus provide a collection of Grimm-like stories, dealing with “greed, loss and submission.” It’s from Drawn and Quarterly, and that’s about all I know. Has the potential to be quite good though.
Presidential Material: Barack Obama
Presidential Material Flipbook
Presidential Material: John McCain
Kevin: The biographies of the presidential candidates that have gained so much media attention for IDW Publishing at last hit shelves. And just a day after the second presidential debate!
Sulk, Vol. 1: Bighead & Friends
Chris: Not content with releasing a new graphic novel or two every year, Jeffrey Brown goes the serialized-pamphlet route with this new 64-page series. The first issue features Brown’s superhero parody Bighead and his cast of misbegotten characters. So expect lots of silly stabs at the mainstream, especially with villains named Beefy Hipster. Preview here.
Tezuka’s Black Jack, Vol. 1
Chris: Word on the street is that initial orders of this Osama Tezuka classic are not … strong. I’ve blathered on about Tezuka here and elsewhere enough that at this point I feel like I’m really repeating myself, but let me repeat myself: Tezuka is a genius. His works are alive and throbbing in a way few American comics can ever hope to do, and Black Jack is no exception. But if my words won’t sway you, perhaps this preview will change your mind.
We Lost the War but Not the Battle
Chris: When not making winsome movies starring folks like Jim Carrey and Jack Black, director Michel Gondry apparently likes to make comics. This is one of them, a surreal tale, courtesy of PictureBox, of four friends who find themselves embroiled in a literal war between the sexes, or something like that. What would James Thurber say?
You Ain’t No Dancer, Vol. 3
Chris: Kazimir Strzepek, Kate Beaton, Ken Dahl and Lucy Knisley are just a few of the contributors to the latest edition of this annual anthology from New Reliable Press.
Schulz and Peanuts
Chris: David Michaelis’ controversial biography of Charles Schulz arrives in a spiffy new paperback format.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.