Editor's Note - I broke this up into two posts for a myriad of reasons, but part 2 will be up on Sunday
Lee: Not much of a lead in this month. I just want to find something good! Maybe a strip reprint that I can recommend or some foreign stuff. Basically, stuff to make Jim cringe. Wish me luck!
Jim: The strip stuff can make me cringe, but I find it strangely heartening that some people still can appreciated what came before. I let Lee do all the choices this month as my schedule has been very hectic, so thanks for doing the searching this month buddy.
KIDS OF LOWER UTOPIA VOL. 1 GN - B&W. by Toc FetchDiscover a contemporary story of a 10-year old girl living in the Catskill Mountains, born with a talent for being awake inside her own Dreams - a tribal dreamer without a tribe in an age blind to the effulgence of life. Through the innate echoes of ritual, she draws her beloved friend closer to her own inner world and the old religion of Dreaming. These two friends live saturated with the mighty powers of insight, awareness, and love in a paradise called Lower Utopia. From the first-ever two-time winner of the Xeric Foundation grant! 90 pages.Visit Toc at http://www.tocfetch.com/
Lee: First, as the art guy… WOW this is some really nice art. Before you read more, follow the link, dig around a little and check out the art samples, both comic and illustration. Don’t worry; I’ll still be here when you get back. GO GO GO. Here, I’ll make it easy, http://www.tocfetch.com/KidsV63pg22.htm straight to the sample page.
See what I mean. Nice stuff. The art reminds me of Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival”. Now then, back to the meat of this story. It sounds interesting and I have complete faith it will be good. People who have received Xeric grants reads like a who’s who’s of indie publishing. To get a grant, you already have to be so far ahead of the game that this is almost a guaranteed winner.
Jim: You know I have to hand it to Lee that he will find some of what appears to be the oddest stuff out there and often it is a real winner. The Arrival by Shaun Tan was a really beautiful book, so if the art is on that level that is a huge plus. Still I have the trepidation based on the description of the story that it maybe a little too avant-garde for my taste. Like some independent movies that act like we are too dumb to understand their high brow conceptions and cutting edge art, when it really comes down to they can tell a story.
Side note: For more information on Xeric, visit http://xericfoundation.org/
And, a list of past winners, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Xeric_grant_winners
AMAZE INK/SLAVE LABOR GRAPHIC
SCHUMBLE SPUZZ VOL. 1: KILL THE DEVIL GN - B&W. by Ethan Nicolle. When two idiots named Gunther and Klem enter a pig race at the local carnival, neither realize that the pig they've won is possessed by the Dark Lord, Satan. After a consult with Reverend Mofo, a foul-mouthed southern baptist preacher monkey, they conclude the only way to repair the possessed swine is to go straight to the source. Calling upon the help of the trigger happy General Woodchuck and his sidekick Kernel Cornnut, the gang heads into hell. Their goal? To kill the Devil! 120 pages
Visit Ethan at http://www.comicspace.com/eef/
Lee: And, to be fair, we go from what appears to be fine literary work to super duper fanboy indulgence. I can’t say that this appears to have any real redeeming qualities other than it looks like a grand excuse for a parade of silliness. The art looks perfectly suited for this too.
Jim: Yeah, I don’t see the appeal. The cover art is unappealing to my taste and the concept while sounding silly, is not striking the right note for me to part with any $$ on this one.
LITTLE SCROWLIE VOL. 1: CALL OF CUTHBERT SC - B&W. by Todd Meister & Jen Feinberg. Chronicling the adventures of a particularly scrowlie cat and her friends in their cosmic battle with an evil straight out of today's headlines, Volume 1 collects issues #1-4 of Little Scrowlie along with bonus stories and pin-ups, while Volume 2 collects issues #5-9 in which a credit-enabled fashion zombie army is unleashed onto the unsuspecting world! 120 pages. (7x10)
From the artist http://www.chi-jen.com/
Lee: This is for fans of Lenore and the goth scene in general but I sense there’s something more than that here. I really like her line work (check out the samples) so I am going to give this a try. It looks so different from my current reads I am sure it will thrill me.
Jim: Let me know what you think of it Lee. It is definitely something different.
DEAD EYES OPEN - B&W. By Matthew Shepherd & Roy Boney, Jr. The dead are rising - but they aren't your garden variety zombies. Dr. John Requin becomes the center of a cultural zeitgeist, the unwilling eye of a cultural and social hurricane in a book that redefines the undead in a bizarre cocktail of black humor, political satire, and family drama! 160 pages.
Lots of previews at http://deadeyesopen.com/ pick comics & freebies
Visit the artist at http://roysunshine.com/indexLowTech.html ..
Lee: Really, the core concept for Zombies is satire or a means to comment of the greater society. I give writers a break when they come into the game understanding that. Other than that… I don’t know, this just intrigued me.
Jim: The premise is a really good idea and I can see great potential in this concept. This is the type of book I would love to pick up and browse through at my local comic store before buying, but most stores cannot afford to order this material on speculation. It is a shame and a real barrier for creators trying to get their work out to the general public.
SMUGGLING SPIRITS BOOK 01 - (of 2) B&W. by Ben Fisher & Mike Henderson Set in an alternate vision of the Prohibition-era, Smuggling Spirits: Book One introduces Al Stone, a bootlegger who himself on the run from an unrelenting horde of creatures that believe he holds the key to their destruction! Fans of Hellboy and The Walking Dead will want to take a trip down the highway with Smuggling Spirits! 80 pages. (6x9) 16 page preview at http://www.box.net/shared/zlfmnvmk5t
Whole lots of story at http://smugglingspirits.ambrosiapublishing.com/narchives.php
Visit the publisher at http://www.ambrosiapublishing.com/
Lee: Apparently Smuggling Spirits started as an online comic. Who knew? And now, it’s done well enough to make the move to actual paper. And, I for one am really excited. I started reading the previews and suddenly I couldn’t stop. It’s a really good story with really strong art. The contrasting use of blacks and whites is fantastic. My only comment, I wish it were larger because I know some of the detail in the art will be lost in the smaller 6x9 size. It won’t stop me from buying this though.
Jim: This looks to be a really good book, but the 6x9 size is somewhat of a problem for me as I prefer the slightly larger standard trade. The price is right ($6.95), so I will put this on my order for February.
ANARCHY STUDIOS/HARRIS COMICS
BEST OF VAMPIRELLA: LOST TALES SC - Full Color by Various Some of the biggest and best names in comics have done short stories in long sought-after but hard-to-find Vampirella specials. Now these great lost tales are gathered in one place! Warren Ellis, Bruce Timm, James Robinson, Ray Lago, Mark Texeira, Christopher Priest, Alan Davis, Ty Templeton, Archie Goodwin, Jose Gonzales - they're all here! Includes a rare Dracula story by Alan Moore and Gary Frank, with an exclusive interview with Moore! Cover by Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies) 160 pages. (7x10)
Lee: I’m a sucker for anthologies and based upon the who’s who of creators listed this should be good.
Jim: This is a very hard book to resist, but I’m so far behind in my reading of trades and prose books, that I will pass, but may have to ask Lee to let me borrow his copy. That is one heck of a talent line-up.
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ARCHIVES VOL. 1-4 SC - Full Color. Fans can relive the first early issues of Sonic's ongoing comic book series in these special 5 x 7 1/2 editions! Volume 1 collects Sonic #1-4, while Volume 2 collects stories from Sonic #5-8! Volume 3 collects issues #9-12, then Volume 4 contains issues #13-16. Each story is meticulously restored and printed on high-grade paper - so you can feel like you're zipping right alongside the cobalt champion as he saves Knothole Village! Feel the rush! 112 pages. (5x7)
Lee: And for the kids, Sonic the Hedgehog. I would have laughed at this not that long ago but Sonic has a following. Sonic’s comic has been in print for over 10 years which is more than can be said about a lot of superheroes. I know Jim won’t get it but I might just have to buy it for my little ones.
Jim: I got it when my kids were four to six, but with them being a tad older, the time has passed for me to care about this book. What has shocked me is the number of people who will pay a decent buck (not a ton, but $10 - $30) for the back issues.
ADVENTURES OF THE FLY VOL. 1 SC - Full Color by Various Tommy Troy is a young boy whose world is turned upside down when he meets an emissary of the Fly World and is given a special ring that magically transforms him into the superhuman Fly! Considered an early prototype for Spider-Man and one of the pioneering superhero titles of the Silver Age, The Fly's earliest adventures were charted by some of the most legendary creative talent in comics: Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jack Davis, and Al Williamson! This special edition that collects titanic tales from 1959 and 1960 features a cover by fan-favorite, Joe Staton, painstaking restorations of all stories, faithful re-coloring and a foreword by Joe Simon! 96 pages. (7x10)
Lee: And, speaking of super groovey Silverage fun, you cannot have more fun that this book. The art (Jack Davis! Kirby!) alone is worth the price of the book, but the stories are good too. Sure, it’s silverage gobbeldy gook but it’s a fun read.
Jim: I know exactly what you mean, but this is a pass as it is the type of silver age material that no longer reads well.
MIGHTY CRUSADERS VOL. 1: ORIGIN OF A SUPER TEAM SC - Full Color by Various
It's a pop-art explosion as some of the wildest heroes in the history of comic books unite to form one of the most beloved super-teams of the sixties - The Shield! The Black Hood! The Comet! The Fly! Fly Girl! It's all here in this colorful collection reprinting classic stories originally appearing in Fly-Man #31-33 and Mighty Crusaders #1. These titanic 1965 tales are courtesy of such comic book legends as writer (and Superman co-creator) Jerry Siegel and artist Paul Reinman (Spider-Man) 96 pages. (7x10)
Lee: For as much fun as The Fly is, Mighty Crusaders is just painful. This book is the Plan 9 from Outer Space of the comic book world. It is so incredibly bad it’s unbelievable. BUT, I will recommend this book to all comic book wanna be writers BECAUSE you read this (take notes) and then read Kirby’s Fantastic Four (take notes) and see what worked and didn’t. You can learn as much from bad comics as you can good ones.
Jim: As I’m not planning to take Lee’s course on comic writing, fortunately I can pass on this masterpiece.
JORDI BERNET'S THE BEST OF CLARA HC - Partial Color by Jordi Bernet
Loved and lusted after all over Europe, the legendary Clara finally comes to the U.S.A. in her own volume of hilarious nocturnal adventures - many appearing here fore the first time in English! Known in her native Spain as Clara De Noche (Clara After Dark), she's a cute, carnal combination of Bettie Page and Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman. Drawn by comics maestro, Jordi Bernet, this sexy seductress with a golden heart will have you smitten and in in stitches! There is some nudity and sexual situations in this book. 98 pages. (8x11)
Some Bernet sample pages at http://www.auadpublishing.com/gallery/sp_bernet1.htm
Lee: This is a great mix of art book and story book. Jordi Bernet is one of the true grand masters of the Comic book medium. He is easily as good as Kubert and Kirby and woefully unknown in America. This isn’t for kids but it’s a really fun read. Highly recommended. BUT, an even better book is Bernet by Auad. It’s fantastic and even better than this one.
Jim: Hmmm, sounds intriguing, but still suffering from excess books that need to be read, but still... I really like his artwork (he had done a couple Jonah Hex issues)...hmmmm. Damn the killer is 98 pages for $25.
PART 2 TOMORROW