Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Independent Preview Review for July

Lee: Another month of indie reviews. Another assortment of strange books! What can you expect this month? Well there’s my usual love of bizarre art books and Jim’s usual gush for Boom Studios. But, in the whole list… if I had to pick one book, I would chose Complete Terry & the Pirates. It’s was to big and to influential to not look forward to reading.
Jim: What I enjoy about the indie listings is that it is very much a surprise as you never know what is coming out from these different companies. From Stewart the Rat reprints to new material by new faces.


DESTROYER DUCK SC – by Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby, & Alfredo Alcala
The mad genius behind Howard the Duck teams up with Jack Kirby! Destroyer Duck takes on GodCorp to fight for the Little Guy in this 25th anniversary collection of this historic comic. Includes the complete Gerber/Kirby run, and a new introduction by Gerber. 120 pages.
Lee: This must be the year of Kirby reprints. First, Silver Star now this. I must say that I have never read Destroyer Duck so I know nothing about it. I heard it was over the top. I heard it was fun. I own several issues because they contain the first appearance of Groo. Other than that… I have no clue. But, as a Kirby geek I will probably get it.
Jim: It does seem to be the year of reprinting everything Kirby. Between the four volume Fourth World Omnibus and Devil Dinosaur I’m Kirbyed out.

STEWART THE RAT #1 By Gerber, Colan, & Palmer
Steve Gerber and Gene Colan followed up their classic run on Howard the Duck with an original graphic novel about a walking, talking rat facing the excesses of life in Los Angeles. First published in 1980, this long-lost work is now available again, in affordable comic book format! 48 pages.
Lee: And, since we are in the land of strange reprints, we have Stewart the Rat. Again, always heard great things but never actually saw it. It is Gerber, Colan, & Palmer at the top of their games so it might be interesting.
Jim: This sounds more interesting to me. Steve Gerber was a classic counter culture type in many of his writings. His best work was always away from anything too mainstream. I have his Omega Man trade floating around that I need to read.


CRYPT OF HORROR VOL. 4 SC - A collection of vintage horror comics from the 1950's, most from the pre-Comics Code era! Spotlighting Bob Powell and Dick Briefer, and also including France Herron, Robert Bernstein, Howard Nostrand, Jack Kamen, Gene Fawcette, Harry Harrison, and Wally Wood. 120 pages.
Lee: AC’s Crypt of Horror collections is a great way to read PreCode horror. I have the first two and I really enjoyed them. Besides great art, they read well because Horror, especially precode, still reads the same. The only knock… It’s not square bound. It’s stapled like a regular comic which makes it hard to store.
Jim: I understand wanting this material, but I will stay away and stick to the EC reprints. I’m very happy that so many different books are seeing the light of day and I know it is hard to find the material to actual reprint it from. Plus the re-coloring and reconstruction work can be expensive.


JELLYFIST by Jhonen Vasquez & Jenny Goldberg
Barely conscious and muttering to himself, Jhonen Vasquez grabbed a fishbone and scrawled on the side of a cat a series of surrealist scripts never meant to be read by anyone. Two thousand miles away, J. Goldberg hears these very scripts whispered to her in her sleep by her pet ferret, devoid of any real direction beyond the dialog. Goldberg awakens to find that she has illustrated these scenes. In Jellyfist, two artists battle with interpretation - however absurd the intent or outcome - with running commentary from the creators on just how wrong or right it's all gone. The first book published as a result of ferret-aided, carved-kitten-transmitted telepathy, Jellyfist's collection of highly important nonsense just might change your opinion of almost all known things. This full-color comic will have production values and bindings far beyond what the content would dictate. 48 pages.
Lee: For those unaware, I usually summarize the adcopy for books. I do this to eliminate crap and keep the overall posting short… or at least shorter. This is one of those rare times I left the hype as it was written because it screamed WTF to me. Seriously, I have no idea what this book is about and after reading the hype I have even less interest in getting the book. I guess someone will find it appealing. Just not me. By the way, Jhonen Vasquez is responsible for “Johnny, The Homicidal Maniac” and “Invader Zim” if that helps you any.
Jim: That helps a lot as “Johnny: The Homicidal Maniac” and Invader Zim are both beloved by one or both of my daughters. It has an almost zen like quality in the hype or at least a really good high.


WHISTLE BLOWER VOL. 1 SC – by Steven Noppenberger
Whistle Blower is about an individual (Fred) who worked for a U.S. Defense Contractor and learned of fraud on a contract and reported it This started a chain of events. Before it's over, Fred learns secrets about his employer's role in the Gulf War, he will survive a deadly fire, and his life will be changed forever! 64 pages.
Lee: This intrigued me because of the subject matter. There hasn’t been a lot of overt war backlash in comics which seems to make this unique. Check out the link, because the art appears good too. Without a doubt, Noppenberger is influenced by Geof Darrow.
Jim: It seems to be a good time to release this type of material as the war has no real popular standing right now.


MOUSE GUARD: WINTER 1152 #1 – by David Petersen
Mouse Guard, the indy hit of 2006, returns with a second series!
Lee: Mouse Guard returns! Catch the wave early this time.
Jim: This was an awesome series. It was almost a lyrical book and had the feel of an old time fable to it. There was an innocence and a sense of danger to Mouse Guard that really drew me in and made me think I would have loved to read this book to my kids. Of course at 25 and 21 they hardly ever stay at my house and when I try to read them a book at night they really look at me oddly. Thank god the dog lets me read to her.

Lee: Where is Archie going these days? First updated B&V and now Archie’s new best friend Raj Patel! I don’t get it. Maybe it’s more reflective of today’s growing up.
Jim: It can be viewed too ways, political correctness gone mad or trying to make Archie more relatable to today’s audience. When I went to school it was not as diverse as it was when my kids went to school. Still has Archie ever added any black people in their comics? Where is the gay kid and the rapper types.
SIDE NOTE - The cover image that we are talking about has been taken down from the solicitations. What this means - I have no idea, but still it is odd.


LORI LOVECRAFT VOL. 2: MY BLACK PAGES SC - by Mike Vosburg & Peter Ventrella
The Elder Gods have sent their demonic emmissaries to Hollywood to retrieve a book of mystic spells called the Necronomicon. Lori Lovecraft, B-movie actress and the book's current owner, must learn to wield its magic before she is destroyed by these legions of the netherworld as well as a group of inscrutable Hollywood power brokers called the Cabal. 160 pages.
Lee: Mike Vosburg is an underrated artist. This probably comes from him being paired with terrible inkers in the 80’s. His art still holds up today and this should be a nice little piece of cheesecake.
Jim: The art looks nicer then I remember Vosburg’s work looking before, and inkers can help or kill an artist. Still this looks to be a very light read.


DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #1 by Warren Ellis & Ivan Rodriguez
Warren Ellis is unleashed on this all-new, ongoing monthly sci-fi series! It is the near future. No one has a flying car. Everyone feels cheated. What America needs now is a Mad Scientist! A city with a secret is shocked out of its apathy by the return of a young technological genius who has reinvented himself as Doktor Sleepless. But perhaps he never left, and perhaps his planned new future doesn't include the city.
Jim: I bring this book up because Warren Ellis has been in a brilliant period of doing his best writing ever lately and therefore this book sounds like it could be a real winner. I’m definitely signing up.
Lee: I agree that Ellis is on a roll but this is Avatar we are talking about. And Ellis uses Avatar as his half baked ideas dumping ground. Need I mention “Wolfskin”… published by… Looks good. Sounds good. Not convinced yet.


RAGMOP SC – by Rob Walton
The internationally acclaimed, no-holds barred science fiction/political satire and Eisner-nominated series is back in a definitive graphic novel presentation, completely revised and updated with over one hundred pages of new story and art. How will the insanity resolve itself? Underneath the laughs there is a serious story being told about corporate corruption and United States imperialism. 464 pages.
Lee: Another where did this come from book! Sounds very interesting. Lots of good reviews. Art looks clean. Lots of pages and Eisner nominated. Might have to get it to experiment. Previews can be found at the link.
Jim: This sounds like one of those art house movies that everyone says is the best thing ever done. Then you go to the movie and the popcorn is the best thing about it and that was stale. Looks a little pretentious to me.


NORTH WIND #1 by David DiGillio & Andrew Huerta
The future: mankind has suffered a disaster. Climate change has seen the earth's temperature change due to damage to the environment. Where there was once a lush, thriving planet, there is now only ice and snow. What cities are left are buried under the surface in ice caves. Skinrunners trade valuable pelts for rations and warmth and survival. Into this violent, damaged world, a hero will rise... a new post-apocalyptic hero in the vein of Mad Max and The Road Warrior!
Jim: I really love good post apocalyptic stories and Boom studios has produced some really nice little mini-series, so I will be giving this book a try. Once a company has consistently produced some interesting books I will give something a try almost sight unseen given the right premise and Boom has earned a level of trust from in that department.
Lee: Gosh… another month… another Boom Studio’s love fest. Sheesh. The only thing Jim loves more than Boom Studios is Action Philosophers and Virgin Comics! ANYWAY, Art by Huerta can be found at


C'est Bon Anthology continues with the third volume of comics from all over the world. This is an exciting blend of artists, established and up-and-coming talents, displaying visual treats and refreshing storytelling. With a cover by James Jean (Fables), the book ranges from a tale of an obnoxious head without a body brow-beating his assistant (Koren Shadmi) to a dreamlike story of a school boy carrying a gun in an old book (Yvan Alagbé). This ongoing anthology features self-contained stories and high-quality production 100 pages. (8x10)
Lee: Jim always chides me about finding very strange things. And sometimes he is right because this is a very strange thing. I have seen these before but I have never picked one up. Unfortunately I am a sucker for anthologies and one with European art and influences may be too hard to resist. The link has some samples and more links to all the contributing artists. It takes some time to get thru it all but worth the look. Gotta say that I love the cover!!
Jim: Some of the Europeon stuff is very good, but Lee is a huge art freak, so this book could be good for that, I have to have story attached to the art and the cost of entry is too high for me for this type of material.


CRUEL AND UNUSUAL SC -. By Delano, Peyer, & McCrea
What can America do with 2.2 million prison inmates? What it does best: Turn a profit. Make celebrities. Execute them live on TV. Sell advertising. And praise the Lord. A black comedy. The story lives up to its title.
Lee: Originally published in the late 90’s by vertigo, this series isn’t for the squeamish. It was over the top when first printed and I am sure it hasn’t mellowed any with age. It was color the first time around and I’m not sure how the B&W will hold up. But, McCrea did a heck of a job and a must for any fans of his work. Some sample pages can be found at
Jim: I missed this the first time around and it sounds right up my alley. I will probably be checking this one out.


Final issue! The ActPhilo posse goes out with a bang, cramming as many thinkers as they can into one 32-page comic, as voted on by the fans at! Marvel at Six Degrees of Francis Bacon! Reel from the attack of giant Confucius, a.k.a. Master Kong, on the minds (and skyscrapers) of China! Michel Foucault and Bil Keane team up for The Foucault Circus! And many, many more!
Jim: Sadly this is the last issue of one of the great all time comic books. I love these books because they are fun and educational and probably renewed my interest in philosophy after it had dimmed for many years. Colleges could get more people interested in dry subject matters by teaching them with these books. Thankfully we have Action Presidents as their next project. Also I have given the trades of these books to comic and non-comic fans alike and both have enjoyed them.
Lee: Oh my. Who knew? Action Philosophers. Any bets on if there’s a VC entry at the bottom of this list? Any takers? BACK TO THE REVIEW. Jim is right. This is a great series but I would rather see it end on a high note then drag out. Go read the trades and enjoy. Wait patiently for Action Presidents.


COMPLETE TERRY & THE PIRATES VOL. 1: 1934 1936 HC – by Milton Caniff
The first in a six-book series, collecting the entirety of Caniff's groundbreaking newspaper adventure strip, Terry and the Pirates. The Sunday pages will be reproduced in their original color, alongside the daily black-and-white strips. Volume One contains more than 800 consecutive strips, from the series' beginning in October 1934 through the end of 1936. 368 pages. (8.5" x 11")
Lee: LLLLLOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEEEE IIIIIIIITTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! If you have even a smidge of interest in newspaper strips, start here. If you want to see who is listed as an influence on everyone from Romita Sr, Steranko, to even Toth, start here. Easily as good as Eisner and should be on every collectors shelf.
Jim: I know Lee is right about this, but I’m just not that big of a fan of the strips. Of course the more I read about them and actually read them, the more I become interested.

SCARFACE: SCARRED FOR LIFE SC – by John Layman (w), Dave Crosland (a & c)
Tony Montana, is back, you stinking cock-a-roaches, in the savage sequel to the legendary '80s-era Miami gangster movie, Scarface. Our blood-soaked tale picks up where the movie left off, as Tony survives-just barely-and has to claw and kill his way back to the top of the sun-drenched Florida underworld. It ain't gonna be pretty... and a whole lot of $#@&% #%$*ers are gonna die! Brought to you by John Layman (Marvel Zombies) and Dave Crosland (Puffed). 128 pages.
Lee: I’ve heard good things about this. Ending was weak but the rest of the issues captured the flavor of the movie perfectly. If you liked the movie, then you will like this. AND, the art by Crosland… great stuff! Scarface scans can be seen in the “Meat at work” sections. HEY I DON’T MAKE THE CRAZY WEBSITE NAMES UP!!!
Jim: I have heard good things about this book also, but I have an issue with glorifying someone who was such a base and cruel killer and therefore have no interest in the story.
Lee: trouble with “glorifying someone who was such a base and cruel killer”??? You apparently don’t play video games my man. This is nothing compared to those things. AND, this is any worse than Ellis’s Wolfskin and it’s “buckets of blood” your words not mine!
Jim: Wolfskin is not a real person and that makes the difference in my book.

ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS HC by Chris Ryall (w); Ashley Wood (a & c)
Only the Eisner Award-losing pair of Ryall and Wood would presume to pair such ridiculous creatures as rotting, undead zombies with such personality-deficient and coldly metallic creations as robots. Who could possibly win in such a battle? You, the reader, that's who, in this oversize hardcover graphic album collection of the sold-out original miniseries. This collection also compiles a three-part prequel storyline, Ash covers, and assorted pin-ups, all displayed in an amazing new format. 64 pages. (8 3/4" x 13 1/4")
Lee: A nice oversized hc. Didn’t hear much about the miniseries but oversized hc filled with Wood’s art can’t be all that bad.
Jim: The actual series I read and was unimpressed. The art is nice, but that is not enough to win my hard earned dollars.

SUPER BAD JAMES DYNOMITE SC by Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Xavier Cook, Mitchell Marchand (w), Robert Reed, Darren Huang, Ming Chi Cheng (a)
Part Shaft, Black Belt Jones and Superfly all rolled into one... minus the cool and the black belt, Dynomite is the hapless hero who finds himself locked in an ongoing struggle against a nasty, one-handed pimp named Kane who has kidnapped his girl, gotten him locked up, and has a real flair for the dramatic. 136 pages.
Lee: This is one of those comics that suffers from a lack of positive webpresence. By this I mean, the cover looks good, the premise sounds good, but all I find are mixed reviews. For all you up’n’coming creators that read this… if you get mixed reviews then post art samples ALL OVER THE WEB!! There’s too much competition these days and most books can’t survive a mixed review. The only way I will waste money on a book like this is to see the pretty pictures. But no samples = no buy.
Jim: I had the chance to read an issue of this book and it was reminiscent of Little Annie Fanny artwork from Playboy, but the humor was weak and the story only had a couple of good laughs, not worth your time or money.

TILTING AT WINDMILLS SC A Guide Towards Successful & Ethical Comics Retailing by Brian Hibbs
Lee: If you ever wondered what it was like to work at a comic store… read this. Hibbs runs “The Comix Experience” in San Fran and “The Savage Critic” on the web. He’s a good writer and this should be a fun read.
Jim: Having owned a store for four years I have found his articles to be interesting, but he will get into the minute details that could bore you.


An eclectic, enthralling collection of comics by Rian Hughes, master illustrator and designer, the man who has done more for comic book design than anyone else! Contents include his collaboration with Grant Morrison on the classic British character, Dan Dare, a post-modern masterpiece which sets an aging, retired Dare in the economically depressed 1980s. Published in an embossed casebound edition, the book features an introduction by comics guru Paul Gravett. This edition is limited to 3,000 copies worldwide. 256 pages.
Lee: Another book that really needs art samples posted on the web for me to get it. This book is expensive but the art inside sounds like it is going to be gorgeous. But, I need more. I included the link to the artist but it gave me nothing of interest. Too bad because it sounds like it might be worth checking out.
Jim: This again is one of those books that as an art fan I can see why Lee is driven to check it out, but if Lee is going to part with any of his millions (thousands??, hundreds?? – quarters in a jar) for it, then neither I am.


DARK MISTS: COLLECTED ED. SC by Eade, Garbett, & Yi
Kyoto, Japan. 1936. While a shroud of impending unrest hangs over Europe, in Japan the number of Yakuza members is close to outnumbering the Japanese army. In a government experiment, a group of geisha ladies are recruited to inform on the conversations they observe between the murderers and politicians. However, the geisha's actions result in one of their member's brutal and bloody murder. 100 pages.
Lee: And here we have the trifecta! Another book that has great covers and no interior pages posted anywhere…. And just as I finish typing that I find a six page preview at
The obvious question is why isn’t the preview at Markosia???? Oh well. Could be good. Could be bad. Who knows.
Jim: The Shadow. --- I will have to check this out. It sounds interesting and the last Markosia book I tried out Breathe was good enough to continue getting the mini-series (light on story – nice art). Also everyone should check out the link. I loved the sound effects when I was turning the page, made it “feel” more like actually reading a comic or a book online.


APOCALIPSTIX VOL. 1 SC by Ray Fawkes & Cameron Stewart
Mandy, Megumi, and Dot were on track to be one of the greatest rock bands in the history of mankind and then... Armageddon happened! Well, with a name like "The Apocalipstix," you know these girls aren't going to let a Doomsday get in the way of their world tour! The trio are heading for whatever clubs and bars are left standing and no pirate, mutant, or environmental collapse is going to get in the way of their next gig! 144 pages.
Lee: Well, I’ve never heard of this series but it has some good names attached to it. Ray Fawkes is the Shuster Award nominated writer of Mnemovore. Cameron Stewart was the artist on Catwoman and G. Morrison’s Sea Guy. Might be worth checking out.
Jim: Cameron Stewart is severely under looked. Having said that the premise of this book does not appeal to me.

MULTIPLE WARHEADS #1 by Brandon Graham
WolfWar 3 ended almost 50 years ago, and snow has been falling on Dead City for almost as long. A war-torn wasteland that stinks of radiation dust and broken dreams, it's the town Sexica and Nikoli call home. But not for long. They're packing up their cyber-organic-hybrid car and hitting the road. Soon maybe all of the pain, mayhem, and space ship crashes that have plagued their lives will be reduced to nothing more than memories.
Lee: This has potential to be a great book. To quote the old Snap Judgements review site “it was his unusual art style …. Almost impossible to describe, it reminds me at times of Paul Pope, Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse and about a dozen other cool indy guys, but all with enough stylish tweaks to be something all his own.”
The cover looks excellent ta boot.
Jim: It has a quirky sounding feel to it, but I’ll wait for your review after you read it.


NEXUS #99 (SPACE OPERA ACT 1) by Mike Baron & Steve Rude
Ylum teeters on the edge of explosion. Dueling religions threaten to plunge the tiny planet into an orgy of blood-letting. Nexus wants only to be left alone to attend the birth of his son. Even Nexus may not be able to stop the jackals who surge back and forth like an angry sea. Assassins stalk Sundra and her child. An excellent jumping on place for new readers and old friends.
Jim: Funny to see this book try again, it is the book that would not die. I believe it started as a Capital Comic, Then with First, Dark Horse is Archiving it and now Steve Rude is self publishing. I will try it out as it had a certain bizarre charm to it years ago and I want to see if they have recaptured any of the old magic or is it just a time worn out concept. Still kudos for never saying die.
Lee: I don’t know. For me, Nexus ran it’s course years ago. Still I agree that nice to see it still on the shelf.


STORMBRINGERS #1 by Marks, Stinsman, & Spence
The morning after a torrential lightning storm three-dozen women across the mega-metropolis of New Frontier wake up with superhuman powers and abilities from a strange phenomenon known only as womb energy. They are forced to scatter underground into hiding while being hunted down by a strike force of vivisectors looking to use them as guinea pigs for a secret superhuman ops program.
Jim: Award for strangest concept every. Super powers generated by womb energy. HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA. This just cracks me up, but good luck with this book.
Lee: And just when I thought there were no new ideas…


BLUE BOLT REPRINT SC – by Jack Kirby & Joe Simon
PHANTOM LADY – by Matt Baker
Lee: These are great reprints of classic 50’s material. Classic cheesecake by Baker and Cassone. Some early Simon and Kirby!!! You can’t go wrong with these. Highly recommended!
Jim: The fifties is an era that has not been mined for enough reprint material. I guess it was too few capes at the time, but some fun work was done by great (and almost unknown to today’s fans) artists.

This issue of Alter Ego spotlights Roy Thomas during the 1970s! It's a you-asked-for-it follow-up to issue #50, on Roy's stint as Marvel's editor-in-chief and one of the company's major writers. Plus, there's art and reminiscences of both Buscemas, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, John Romita, Howard Chaykin, Frank Brunner, Mike Ploog, Bernie Wrightson, Bill Everett, George Pérez, Frank Robbins, Barry Smith, Frank Thorne, Herb Trimpe, and a passel of talented writers (including a guy named Stan)!
Lee: A silverage fanboy’s dream. Having grown up on 70’s Marvel (Unlike Jim’s 50’s DC) this looks great. Stories about the bullpen and loaded with art. Something to look forward to.
Jim: It was 60’s Marvel’s smart a$s. I personally think Roy should write a book about his experiences, he was around at a key moment in comics history and had to follow Stan Lee on many books.
Lee: 50’s/60’s. Whatever! You’re still old as dirt.

Lee: Well, that concludes the indies picks. Another good month on the “nontraditional” front. I already picked my indy book of the month but the book that most intrigues me is Knockabout Comics “Yesterday's Tomorrows.” I am an art junkie and this just looks soooo good. Still can’t spend the money on it without a preview or two but I am really interested by it.
Jim: For me the book of the month from the indies is Doktor Sleepless by Warren Ellis from Avatar Press. Will this be a real book or another Warren Ellis Avatar special?


  1. Anything titled FUTURE SCIENCE JESUS has to be awesome.

    It is an ongoing sci-fi future romp that will be using a "wiki" online for fans to interact about the things in the book.

    I proclaim it the one to watch for this summer kids.


    Praise Ellis.


  2. Ragmop is pretentious? Goodness. You need to go read it.

  3. Ted - I said looks pretentious. I was going off the hype, to be fair I should read it, but Lee and I are reviewing based off the solicitation.