For the past months, I’ve been walking through the monthly Previews catalog from Diamond Distributors to spotlight some of the more interesting and more inane comics that might’ve slipped past your attention. I admit, it’s gotten a little tedious for me, so I’m going to try injecting a little more of myself into this month’s article and see how it goes. I’m only listing books that actually caught my attention, briefly why, and handicapping the chances of myself actually purchasing said book. Also, a caveat that I’m a trade-waiter, so if you don’t see your favorite serial here, it doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. I’m very anxious for Dark Horse to collect Citizen Rex, for example, but it won’t be mentioned elsewhere in this article.
Cartoon Books solicits the new Scholastic Graphix edition of the Bone prequel Rose. I already own the original edition of this book, but having seen the very nice Graphix editions, I rather like them and it’s only $10.99 in softcover. 25% that I upgrade to this editon.
I’ve long enjoyed Garth Ennis’s war comics, so Dynamite’s listing for The Complete Battlefields HC has my attention. The entirely of The Night Witches and Dear Billy are included. The Tankies #1 is as well. Help me, comics readers: was Tankies only a one-shot? In hardcover, it’s more than the cost of Night Witches and Dear Billy in individual softcovers. 25%. Kinda wish the library’d get these stories in stock.
Fantagraphics has a monster month, with four (five, actually) strong listings. I’ve received the last three Complete Peanuts box sets for Christmas gifts, and I’ll push to make this year’s Complete Peanuts 1971-1974 the fourth consecutive to make the grade. Very low chance of purchase unless I don’t find it under the tree Christmas morning. On the subject of Charles Schulz, Fantagraphics is published his kid Monte’s second novel, This Side of Jordan. It’s not a comic, but the solicit uses the magic phrase “Southern Gothic,” catapulting This Side of Jordan to a solid 50%. Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips vol. 1 rates a mediocre 35% likelihood of purchase, though I’ve long wanted to read Crane’s strips. In a slower month (or later this year), it’ll get a much longer consideration. If the percentages seem low, by the way, here’s why: Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition. 1200 pages, two hardcovers in a slipcase, every Usagi story from the first seven trades, color cover galley, career-spanning interview. $95, and I have no idea how I’m going to afford it, but 100%, I will have it. It’s the best adventure comic ever, after all. Finally, Fanta has Love & Rockets: New Stories #2. This is the second time I’ve had this debate with myself, but I think I’m going to hold out for eventual book collections of solo Bros. stories.
The fine folks at First Second offer three promising titles. First, The Color of Heaven is 100%, based purely on the first book in the trilogy, The Color of Earth. Impressive book, and since Heaven’s the concluding chapter, I’ve got to see how it ends. Cat Burglar Black and Stuffed! both sound promising. I’ve never read Richard Sala, but I trust :01, so I’ll rate Cat Burglar Black 75%. Stuffed! is black humor and Nick Bertozzi art. 75% also.
Flesk Publications tickles my love for old school illustrative comic art. Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic is 100%, with the only question, do I want the softcover or the hardback? Williamson’s perhaps my favorite comics illustrator ever, so there’s no debate here. I’m getting this book in one form or another. Mark Schultz: Various Drawings vol. 4 is the latest Schultz sketchbook from Flesk. I’ll have to rate it 33%, based on my owning only one of the previous volumes. Gorgeous work, but $20 for a 48 page sketchbook is a little hard for me to justify.
IDW scores a 100% book with Hero Comics: A Hero Initiative Benefit Book. The solicit here in Previews is almost useless, an American Flagg! story by Chaykin, Art Adams’ (hopefully the real one) take on classic Marvel covers, and variant covers by either Matt Wagner or J. Scott Campbell. But it’s a benefit for the Hero Initiative, and that’s really all I need to sell me on it. I’ll be looking for the Wagner cover.
Ten or so years ago, I read Man-Eating Cow Bonanza vol. 1-2 from New England Comics, and my college self really enjoyed them. Maybe I should pull those books out from wherever they’re currently buried to see how they hold up, as NEC solicits The Man-Eating Cow & Chainsaw Vigilante: The Complete Works for August. The talented Zander Cannon worked on the Chainsaw Vigilante stories, and having the Cow stories in one book might be nice, although I thought NEC did a mediocre job on their recent Tick: The Complete Edlund compilation. 25%. For $35, I’d like something a little higher end, guys!
Pure Imagination jumps on Flesk’s Al Williamson coattails with Al Williamson: Forbidden Worlds: 160 pages, collaborations with Frazetta, westerns from Charlton and never-before-reprinted sci-fi yarns. Stop already, you had me at Williamson, even though the production on Pure Imagination’s last Williamson collection was a little on the poor side. 100%.
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, by Josh Neufeld, has six true stories of Hurricane Katrina survivors. I don’t know Neufeld’s work much, but let’s say intrigued and call it 15%.
The Complete Essex County collects all three of Jeff Lemire’s Essex County books into one edition. I read all three from the library (what, you didn’t read my NYPL reviews here on Blog@?!) and enjoyed them, particularly the very powerful second book Ghost Stories. The last book faded a little bit, I felt, pulling down the overall percentage a little bit. Let’s say 25%, with a good chance at a second look later this year when Usagi’s already off the bank account.
From the front of the catalog, at Dark Horse, Bryan Talbot’s Grandville is 100%. Talbot’s resume demands immediate attention to all future books. His Alice in Sunderland remains one of the top ten (maybe even five) comics of all time. The Groo Treasury, giving over 330 pages of Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones’ barbarian comedy, rates a solid 50%. I’ve always liked Groo, but never been completely in love with it. That Sergio Aragones is always a treat, though!
At DC, DMZ vol. 7: War Powers is about 75%, I’d say. I have to read vol. 6 (I have it, just been too busy to get to it yet), but the series has so far been a real gem. Unless 6 totally craps the bed, War Powers and future editions of Wood’s war opus are money in DC’s bank. I already own the earlier two-volume edition of Sleeper Season Two and I hate to reward DC for releasing it in that stupid split-version by buying the newer, preferred single-edition book, but it’s going to be hard to turn down a one-book copy of Sleeper Season Two. 45%.
And a little credit to DC, I already have hardcover editions of Superman: Kryptonite and The Alcoholic, so both would rate the softcovers listed in this catalog highly, but I already got ‘em.
Nothing from Image this month. Sorry, guys. A few serials that may be promising down the road, and several cool-looking kids books that I’d definitely get if I had a young one.
And Marvel, well, I’m just overwhelmed by the number of titles in their catalog. I skipped large sections of it, and this whole Dark Reign thing seems way too all-pervasive for me to seriously consider massive portions of their line. Damn the shared universe, I say! Nothing this month, though they still get my dimes when they drop softcover editions of the Spidey, Fantastic Four and Thor Marvel Masterworks (get caught up, Marvel, so I can have some Kirby Thor!) and those PAD Hulk books.