Saturday, February 21, 2009

Indies Preview Review for April Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Part 2 on the monthly Indies Preview Review

Boom! Studios
Potters Field HC by (W) Mark Waid (A) Paul Azaceta
Legendary comic writer Mark Waid teams up with new superstar artist Paul Azaceta (Daredevil, B.P.R.D.)! Outside New York City is Potter's Field, where the unnamed dead are buried. Now, a mysterious man has taken it upon himself to name the unnamed in this cemetery! Using a network of underground operatives who don't know each other, he fights to save the unsaved and solve the mysteries of the unjustly slain! Special Over-Sized Edition collecting the critically acclaimed three issue mini-series and the Stone Cold one-shot into one volume, for fans of the "new crime comics" movement like Criminal! Introduction by Greg Rucka! $24.99
Lee: This was a great little series and I am surprised to see it get the hc treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that it is because it’s well worth it. But, at the same time, $25 for four issues is kinda pricey.
Jim: I loved this work also, but four issues for $25 is a little steep. I want to see the format on this before I say yea or nay.

Drawn & Quarterly
32 Stories Complete Optic Nerve Special Definitive Ed. Box Set by (W/A) Adrian Tomine
Adrian Tomine's first book, 32 Stories, collects his inaugural mini-comics in a special, redesigned edition. This one-time printing includes facsimile reprints of the seven mini-comics packaged in a slipcase, as well as an additional pamphlet containing a new introduction and notes by Tomine. Between the ages of seventeen and twenty, Adrian Tomine self-published a series of "mini-comics": small, hand-assembled booklets that he wrote, drew, and distributed himself. Entitled Optic Nerve, these comics were comprised of short vignettes and stories which displayed a youthful energy, an unabashed sense of experimentation, and the first hints of the distinctive, realist style that Tomine would go on to perfect. This special edition of 32 Stories presents those rare, early mini-comics for the first time in archival facsimile form: all seven issues in their entirety, faithfully reproduced and collected in one box. $19.95
Lee: If you are a fan of Tomine’s work then this is not to be missed. I’ve never quite “gotten” his stuff so I’ll miss it. But, if I were a fan I would really want it.
Jim: I never even heard of this creator I'm sorry to say and with so many other "wants" that I have I will let this slide.

A Drifting Life SC by (W/A) Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Over four decades ago, Yoshihiro Tatsumi expanded the horizons of comics storytelling by using the visual language of manga to tell gritty, literary stories about the private lives of everyday people. He has been called "the grandfather of Japanese alternative comics" and has influenced generations of cartoonists around the world. Now the visionary creator of The Push Man and Good-Bye has turned his incisive, unflinching gaze upon himself. Over ten years in the making, A Drifting Life is Tatsumi's most ambitious, personal, and heart-felt work: an autobiographical bildungsroman in comics form, a massive 840 page book edited and designed by Adrian Tomine. Using his life-long obsession with comics as a framework, Tatsumi weaves a complex story that encompasses family dynamics, Japanese culture and history, first love, the intricacies of the manga industry, and most importantly, what it means to be an artist. Alternately humorous, enlightening, and haunting, this is the masterful summation of a fascinating life and an historic career. $29.95
Good Bye HC by (W/A) Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Good-Bye is the third in a series of collected short stories from Drawn & Quarterly by the legendary Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Drawn in 1971 and 1972, these stories expand the prolific artist's vocabulary for characters contextualized by themes of depravity and disorientation in twentieth-century Japan. A philanthropic foot fetishist, a rash-ridden retiree, and a lonely public onanist are but a few of the characters etching out darkly nuanced lives in the midst of isolated despair and fleeting pleasure. $19.95 A nine page preview can be seen here
Lee: I am such a comic historian nerd that I am actually interested in these books. Don’t get me wrong, when I first saw this, I wasn’t interested in the least. Seriously, early Manga? Not to mention Manga Comix. You have to be kidding me! Then I read the description again… and thought about it. And, darnit if it doesn’t sound interesting now! There’s something about seeing the seedy, underside of another culture that appeals to me. Especially, when that culture is Japan which I know so little about. Against my better judgment I will probably end up getting one of these books.
Jim: This does sound like fascinating material. It's funny because the Optic Nerve material before did not strike the right chord, but this material does.

Fantagraphics Books
Late Bloomer HC by (W/A) Carol Tyler
The biggest, richest and most delightful collection of Tyler's work to date. In "Migrant Mother," Tyler tells the grueling story of a cross-country trip with the flu and her terrible-twos toddler using her trademark combination of rueful humor and empathy. The full-color "Just A Bad Seed" is a meditation on a problem child who might not be such a problem after all, while "The Return of Mrs. Kite" chronicles a family crisis - how her widowed grandmother fell in with a beau of questionable character. "Gone" (also in full color) is a stirring meditation on all kinds of loss, and "Why I"m A-gin" Southern Men" is a classic rant that dissects that particular breed of male - or at least a certain subspecies of "ex"es - with pitiless wit. Other stories include "Sweet Miss Lee" (a reminiscence of an immigrant roommate and her fate), "There's Something Wrong with a Perfect Lawn" (a tale of suburban obsessiveness), "Little Crosshatch Mind" (where artistic impulses come from), and "Uncovered Property" (discovering the power of sexuality at an early age). Tyler works equally well in delicately crisp black-and-white penstrokes and lushly watercolored paintings (this book features over 30 pages of her stunning full-color work). All told, the three-dozen stories here cement Tyler's reputation as a cartoonist to be reckoned with. $28.95 Visit Carol at her official website here
Lee: If you’re looking for slice of life greatness then this looks like the book for you. I’ve been on a tear with SoL books lately so I’m in. Actually, there’s more goodness from Tyler below so I might actually have to choose but I don’t think I can go wrong with either choice.
Jim: I appreciate Lee's enthusiasm but do not share his love. Where Lee see slice of life, I see almost boring.

Youll Never Know Vol. 01: A Good and Decent Man HC by (W/A) Carol Tyler
THE ACCLAIMED GRAPHIC NOVELIST DELVES DEEPLY INTO HER FATHER's WWII EXPERIENCES. You"ll Never Know is the first graphic novel from C. Tyler (Late Bloomer) and sure to be one of the most acclaimed books of the year. It tells the story of the 50-something author's relationship with her World War II veteran father, and how his war experience shaped her childhood and affected her relationships in adulthood. "You"ll Never Know" refers not only to the title of her parents" courtship song from that era, but also to the many challenges the author encountered in uncovering the difficult and painful truths about her Dad's service - challenges exacerbated by her own tumultuous family life. You"ll Never Know is Tyler's first first full-fledged graphic novel (after two volumes of short stories). Unlike many other graphic memoirs which have opted for simple, stylized drawings and limited color or black and white, You"ll Never Know makes full use of Tyler's virtuosity as a cartoonist: stunningly rendered in detailed inks and subtle watercolors, it plunges the reader headlong into the diverse locales: her father's wartime experiences and courtship, her own childhood and adolescence, and contemporary life. The unique landscape format, and the lush variety of design choices and rendering techniques, make perusing You"ll Never Know like reading a family album - but one with a strong, compelling, sharply told story. You"ll Never Know's release schedule and format emulate those of Chris Ware's hugely successful Acme Novelty Library: three beautifully designed, large-format hardcover volumes released annually to complete a trilogy of astonishing breadth, depth, and sensitivity. $24.99
Lee: I was going to combine this with the other selection from Tyler but this was different enough to warrant its own comment. First, is the story. With so many soldiers returning from Iraq in such a damaged state, I imagine this will resonate with those families. Second, the format sounds outstanding! I like the use of a variety of styles and large format. This just sounds like a really good package.
Jim: Damn it sounds like I should like it, but no again not for me.

Portable Grindhouse: Lost Art of VHS Box Vol. 01 SC
Harken back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when the advent of rental videos astonished the movie-going consumer who could only feed his addiction by going to the theatre or watching chopped up movies in bewteen commercials on TV. Like vinyl, here is the revenge of another analog cast-off: the VHS is once again insinuating itself into American culture, and this book celebrates the anarchic design art of those early VHS boxes.The Lost Art of the VHS (Vol. 1) reprints some of the most louche, decadent, minimo-pervo artwork to ever grace a VHS box, featuring such movies as From Beyond, Penitentiary II, Beast of the Yellow Night, Cop Killers, Bay of Blood, Escape from Death Row, and Cocaine Wars. A feast for exploitation cognoscenti, The Lost Art of the VHS is a portable grindhouse. Readers will be agog at the plethora of supertrash movie titles, and then move on to rediscover the anarchic box designs. Throughout, editor and cultural historian Jacques Boyreau succinctly narrates the household-piercing story of VHS: "On par with the jukebox, disco, and neon, VHS reformatted the world's product-intake and boosted a libertarian aesthetic that conquered TV in the same way TV conquered comic books in the 1950s, and allowed us to hold movies in our hands. Posters in the lobby could advertise, even fetishize a movie; credit sequences could identify the participants, but somehow, VHS box-art "became" the iconic equivalent of the movie."The Lost Art of VHS is published in a VHS "format," slyly packaged inside a facsimile VHS box, and contains almost a hundred reproductions of VHS art with commentary. $19.99
Lee: I’m not sure I’m going to get this but it sounds really interesting. I’ve read interviews with Dean Motter who lemanted the advent CD because it killed the album cover. Album covers used to actually be pieces of commercial art and now the covers are so small you can’t do much with them. But, I remember going to the video store and see all the trash cover on the boxes they’re talking about. Watched many a bad movie because it had cool cover art. As I said, I’m interested but I’m not sure I’m going to spend the money.
Jim: Oh I'm sure. I'm sure not going to buy this crap. I know some of this stuff maybe interesting, but come on this was all throw away art design for a small format. There is not a single VHS tape cover that I can even recall making an impression on me.
Lee: It doesn't appeal because you're not an art guy. These covers were excellent showcases for up and coming artists. Some made it and some didn't. But, if you're interested in commercial art then this is a good venue.

Prince Valiant Vol. 01: 1937-1938 HC
HAROLD FOSTER's LEGENDARY MEDIEVAL EPIC, FINALLY IN ITS DEFINITIVE EDITION. Universally acclaimed as the most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time, Prince Valiant ran for 35 years under the virtuoso pen of its creator, Hal Foster. (Such was its popularity that today, decades after Foster's death, it continues to run under different hands.) The giant Sunday-funnies pages (Valiant ran only on Sundays) gave Foster a huge canvas upon which he was able to limn epic swordfights, stunning scenes of pomp and pageantry, and some of the most beautiful human beings - male and female - ever to appear in comics. And he matched his nonpareil visual sense with the narrative instincts of a born storyteller, propelling his daring young hero from one crisis to another with barely a panel to catch one's breath. Prince Valiant has previously been widely available only in re-colored, somewhat degraded editions (now out of print and fetching collectors" prices). Thanks to advances in production technology and newly available original proof sheets, this new series from the industry leader in quality strip classics is the first to feature superb restored artwork that captures every delicate line and chromatic nuance of Foster's original masterpiece. Comic strip aficionados will be ecstatic, and younger readers who enjoy a classic adventure yarn will be bowled over. Book One will be rounded out with a rare, in-depth classic Foster interview previously available only in a long out-of-print issue of The Comics Journal. $29.99
Lee: It’s Prince Valiant. Wheee! I picked this because I know Jim is a huge PV fan. Me, not so much. I like old strips but this never clicked for me. I’ll be sure to look at Jim’s copy when I visit him.
Jim: This is one of the easiest buys for me in a long time. My father's passion for this strip is what led me to get involved in it. This strip has so many positives, Hal Foster's beautiful art, a great story and a character that ages. WELL WORTH THE MONEY.

Henry Holt
Joey Fly, Private Eye: Creepy Crawly Crime GN by (W) Aaron Reynolds (A) Neil Numberman
Have you ever had one of those moments? You know – you’re trying to find a stolen diamond pencil box for your beautiful butterfly customer, your mosquito witness won't give you any information, and your clumsy scorpion assistant has just tampered with your only bit of evidence? Joey Fly has those moments a lot. In fact, he's probably having one right now. But that won't stop him from solving the mystery in Creepy Crawly Crime, his fantastic first graphic novel! It's crime in the insect world, in this debut graphic novel for ages 8 and up. $9.95 Visit the artist and see some of his other comic work here.
Lee: I picked this because my kids are young and I'm always looking for material that will interest them. This looks great and the art seems to fit the silly tone perfectly.
Jim: This is a book I would check out if I had younger children. I like the sense of whimsy the cover indicates.

Hermes Press
Ross Andru and Mike Esposito's Up Your Nose SC by (W/A) Ross Andru, Mike Esposito
Another classic satire magazine in the vein of MAD and Cracked in the 1960s and early 1970s, Hermes Press" complete Up Your Nose reprints the magazine's 2 hilarious, laugh-filled issues in glorious black-and-white, with additional artwork and documentary material with a fascinating interview with co-creator Mike Esposito. Features "Thelma of the Apes," "The Ace of Spades," and "Count Varicose." Digitally remastered to look better than the original. $19.99
Lee: Is it me or is every satiric comic from 1950-70? First there was Trump, then Humbug, and now this. Granted, this is supposed to be very good but, as previously stated, satire doesn’t always age well. If nothing else, this is supposed to be some of Andru’s & Esposito’s best art.
Jim: I think once MAD starting selling everyone joined in. This type of material only goes so far and for me this is a pass. To be extra mean Andru & Esposito's best art may still not cut the mustard.

Oni Press Inc.
Big Book of Barry Ween Boy Genius SC by (W/A) Judd Winick
Meet Barry Ween, the smartest living human. What does a ten-year-old boy do with a 350 I.Q.? Anything he wants. Cranky, egotistical, arrogant and foul-mouthed, Barry in general wants to conduct his experiments and be left alone, but it never seems to work out. Hurdles that Barry must outmaneuver range from time warps, to art thieves, to inter-dimensional warfare with gorillas, to accidentally turning his best friend into a dinosaur. This massive volume collects all 12 issues. $19.95
Lee: Wheee fun! It’s the return of Barry Ween! And I couldn’t care less. I know that lots of people found this fun and exciting but I always thought it was juvenile humor at its worst. I never understood the appeal. Since Ween was published, Winick hasn’t written anything all that exciting so this is an easy pass for me.
Jim: I have like bits and pieces of Winick's work. He had a nice run on Green Arrow and Green Arrow / Black Canary, but otherwise I'm not a huge fan of his work. I don't hate his work, just his name on a project adds nothing to it at this time.

OKAY PART 3 is Coming Up Next Week - so check back daily!


  1. Man, I have to save some money for HC's. That Prince Valiant book is awesome looking! Thanks for mentioning it, I rarely get that deep into Previews.

    What was the quality of DC's new HC format (Superman: Kryptonite story), because I want to save for the original Swamp Thing HC too.

  2. DC's new HC format is going to become a great debate I imagine. The paper quality is lower but so is the price point. I really like it because it reminds me more of the original issues. It's similar to the Kirby New Gods hc's if that helps.