Thursday, January 17, 2008

Indies Preview Review for March Part 2

Partial Color. By Jeremy Smith.
From Xeric Grant-winning cartoonist, Jeremy Smith, comes this collection of comic strips full of humor and heart. Ropeburn chronicles the everyday drudgery of a group of pizza shop employees. Other strips and art intertwine thematically, reminding us that if we look hard enough, life is truly beautiful. 32 pages. (6x6.5)
Visit the artist at and order directly thru him!
Lee: A fine collection of strips with a wonderful theme. Who hasn’t had a crappy job? Who hasn’t hated what they do at some point? This looks like a really good way to learn how to see something good in the midst of all the drudgery. It looks like fun.
Jim: Lee loves this type of material, I enjoy some of it, but I defer to Lee on this material.

- Full Color. By Alex Cox, Chris Bones & Justin Randall.
The official sequel to the cult film, Repo Man! Waldo, recently returned from Mars, is forced to choose where his allegiances lie - his boss, Duke Mantee, or the sex goddess, Velma; money or knowledge; the past or the future; Earth - or Mars? 156 pages.
The official site
Lee: Let me get this right… “The official sequel to Repo Man”. Really? The movie had a great soundtrack and starred Emilo Estavez but beyond that did we really need a comic book sequel? And who even owns the film? Just like the film, this is all vvverrrryyyyy strange. But Bones has got a nice style fitting of the story. I may have to check it out.
Jim: See for me add creators I don’t know, a premise I don’t like and a $20 price tag and this is an easy no.

STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON GN - B&W. By Matthew Maxwell, Luis Guaragna, and Gervasio/Jok.
It's 1868, and former army officer Seth Collins seeks to escape the horrors of the Civil War by traveling the frontier. Answering an urgent letter from his estranged sister, Collins finds himself under attack by a strange creature that is neither man nor wolf. When his friend and partner Webster is accused of being the beast, Collins must track down the real threat. But which will kill him first: the Wolf, or the secret that the sheriff of Silver Hand is trying to keep buried? 144 pages. (7x10)
Many, many preview pages at:
Lee: Werewolfs in the old west seem to be gaining popularity these days. I think this is the second or third one we have seen in the past couple of months. Nothing wrong with the idea, I’m just surprised to see so much of it these days. Guaragna is an Argentinean artist so I am interested in his art. The series itself seems to have started back at SpeakEasy publishers (now defunct) so kudos to the guys for still going.
Jim: Still it is very hard for me to commit to this stuff for $14. I don’t remember a lot of Werewolves in the old west, but a lot of people are doing supernatural creatures and mixing it with other things. “Revolution in Silver” from Archaia Studios had Paul Revere fighting werewolves.

Little Brown and Company
MIGHTY 12 SUPERHEROES OF GREEK MYTH HC - Full Color. By Charles Smith & P Craig Russell.
Meet the most impressive of the gods and goddesses of Olympus-and even a few monsters-and see them revealed for what they really were: ancient superheroes with the power to shift shape, move mountains, and change fate. In this innovative introduction to Greek mythology, energetic poems and dynamic comic book style illustrations create a seamless blend of the ancient and contemporary that depicts the gods in all their super-human glory. 48 pages. (8x11)
Lee: I am a sucker Russell art. He is just so incredibly talented. And an oversized collection of his art, WITH Greek themes (which he is wonderfully suited for) is almost too good to pass up.
Jim: Russell really is an incredible talent, but I prefer to read his art when it is telling stories. I find that I enjoy art books that I own, but really actually go back and look at them again.

PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF AMERICAN EMPIRE GN ED. SC - B&W. By Howard Zinn, Paul Buhle & Mike Konopacki.
Adapted from historian Howard Zinn's bestselling grassroots history of the United States, the story of America in the world is told in comics form! Now Zinn, historian Paul Buhle, and cartoonist Mike Konopacki have collaborated to retell, in vibrant comics form, a most immediate and relevant chapter of A People's History - the centuries-long story of America's actions in the world. Narrated by Zinn, this version opens with the events of 9/11 and then jumps back to explore the cycles of U.S. expansionism from Wounded Knee to Iraq, stopping along the way at World War I, Central America, Vietnam, and the Iranian revolution. The book also follows the story of Zinn, the son of poor Jewish immigrants, from his childhood in the Brooklyn slums to his role as one of America's leading historians. 288 pages. (8x11)
Lee: What a great concept! Instead of the politico’s telling history, it’s the little people who really live it. That’s great! This reminds me of Action Philosophers but with history. Definitely worth checking out.
Jim: All well and good, but they are telling a history that I know about for the most part and stuff that does not appeal to me. The story of the historian himself I’m sure is interesting, just nothing I want to read.

By Véronique Tanaka.
Just when you thought that nobody could create something new in the comic medium, here comes Metronome, a 64-page debut graphic novel by Véronique Tanaka: a silent, erotically-charged visual poem; an experimental non-linear story using a palette of iconic ligne clair images. Symbolism, visual puns and trompe l'oeil conspire in a visual mantra that could be described as existential manga if it wasn't for the fact that there is a very human and elegantly-structured tale of a doomed relationship providing a solid foundation to the cutting-edge storytelling. A gorgeous art book/graphic novel from a mysterious new artist. An experience not to be missed! 68 pages.
Official site with cool flash animation at
Lee: NBM is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers because it does so much with foreign comics. I really like when artist try to push the medium and as an art lover, this screams buy me!
Jim: Archaia also is doing a lot of foreign comics. Killer is one of my favorite books and it was a French comic. You have to look around, but you can find great stuff everywhere.

DAMNED: PRODIGAL SONS #1 - [1 of 3] B&W.
By Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt.
The start of an all new action-packed mini-series! Eddie has the unfortunate gift of never staying dead. It has come in handy as Eddie walks a tight line between different Prohibition-era mob families, between the demonic and the human, and between our world and the dark afterlife. Yet after years of playing every side in this world of crime and violence, there are those that are determined that Eddie stays dead this time around.
Lee: The first Damned series was a great combination of Prohibition Crime story and supernatural influence. If you missed it the first time, here’s a great jumping on point.
Jim: I read the first series and it was well drawn and written, but was not to my taste.

RABBIS CAT VOL. 02 GN - Full Color. By Joann Sfar.
While the rabbit is away on an errand, the rabbi's cat tags along with Malke of the Lions, the rabbit's enigmatic cousin who roams the desert with his ferocious-on-demand lion. Some believe Malka to be a pious Jew, others think he's a shrewd womanizer, but the cat will be the one to discover the surprising truth. Back in Algiers, the rabbi's daughter, Zlabya, and her new husband fill the house with their fighting, while the city around them fills with a rising tide of anti-Semitism. On a whim, the rabbi's cat, the rabbi, the sheik (also a cousin of the rabbi), and a very misplaced Russian painter set out on a fantastic journey in search of an African Jerusalem. And it turns out to be fortuitous that the rabbi's cat is not just a talking cat, but a multilingual talking cat! 152 pages. (8x11)
A five page preview at
Lee: Because I know you with question why I chose this, let me start with “This is where you go when superheroes bore you.” It has Crisp, clean art that isn’t George Perez or one of his many imitators. It has a story is that doesn’t involve muscle bound thugs beating each other up. From additional hype that I found “Rich with the colors, textures, and flavors of Algeria's Jewish community,The Rabbi's Cat brings a lost world vibrantly to life - a time and place where Jews and Arabs coexisted - and peoples it with endearing and thoroughly human characters, and one truly unforgettable cat.” It’s a subject that I don’t know about so I might… just maybe learn something too. This reads like a fairy tale for grownups. It really is too good to pass up.
Jim: It really is $23.

- Full Color. By Chuck Dixon & Enrique Villagran.
When inner-city housing projects are invaded by a band of werewolves, an animal control officer named Abby Ruiz must join forces with a former cop-turned-landlord in Dexter Bullens to bring down these savages before the tear everyone to shreds! 32 pages.
Lee: Is there any major publisher that Dixon hasn’t written for? Has he ever written a bad story? Oh well, the name alone sells me and a great idea doesn’t hurt either.
Jim: Chuck Dixon really has written for more publishers then any other writer I can think of, yet I cannot think of a Marvel comic he has written. Chuck Dixon writes great action stories and great comic nine times out of ten. I know it is werewolves again, but I’m checking this series out.

GUNPLAY #1 - Full Color. By Jorge Vega & Dominic Vivona.
Gunplay is the haunting tale of a Buffalo Soldier named Abner, condemned to roam the Old West with a hellish curse slung at his waist: a demonic shooting iron that forces him to kill once a day or suffer soul-searing pain. His salvation lies in earning the trust of a boy he's never met; a boy with an angonizing secret of his own. This 32-page preview invites readers to ride alongside Abner as he transforms from nightmare gunman to high plains folk hero. Priest provides prose back-up stories in each issue, chronicling the Legend of Abner. 32 pages.
Interview with the creators and sample pages at
Lee: This is from the 2007 Comic Book Challenge winner so I am interested. It’s 32 pages for 99 cents so I can’t be hurt to bad.
Jim: I love the idea of the comic book challenge and then seeing the winner get something published is especially cool. For a $1 it is worth checking out.

MAUS: SURVIVORS TALE VOL. 01 SC - B&W. By Art Spiegelman.
It is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity. Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us. 160 pages. (6x9)
Lee: Another one of the Ultra classics of modern graphic novels, Maus is a must read. I read the library’s copy but I need to get one for myself. It is such a moving story and incredibly well done that you should be ashamed if you haven’t read it. Seriously, ashamed!
Jim: And I am I’m ashamed. It is on my list of things to buy and read one day.

- Full Color. By Geoffrey Hayes.
How can Benny be a brave pirate when his pesky little sister, Penny, wants to tag along and is always asking for a hug? He tries to lose her, but when he does, he starts to feel a little lost himself. With rare warmth and humor, veteran children's author/illustrator Geoffrey Hayes insightfully catches the essence of sibling bonds and tensions. Hayes has written and illustrated over forty children's books, including the popular series Otto and Uncle Tooth Mystery Readers (over a million copies sold) and the classic Bear By Himself. 32 pages. (6x9)
Official site with previews at
Lee: This is most definitely a book for new readers. Not new to comic books but new to reading. But, this is right up my alley. I am always looking for books that I can share with my kids and this is perfect because they are just learning to read. AND, because it’s a nice HC I can keep it forever and share it with my grandkids some day. Or, Jim, you could buy it now and share with your grandkids right away!!!
Jim: HA, HA, HA. Love the old jokes. I’m just surprised with where Lee lives that his Mother isn’t his aunt.

ATOMIC ROBO #6 - [6 of 6] Full Color. By Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener.
Atomic Robo is trapped in an underground complex, his Action Scientists are captured, and he's surrounded by a vast army of reanimated cyborg soldiers. Things can only go downhill from there! Baron von Helsingard won't let a little thing like being killed seventy years ago stop his latest scheme to destroy Atomic Robo! 32 pages.
Lee: It comes out every month and it’s good every month. Hop on the bandwagon everyone!
Jim: Get the trade if you missed the mini-series. A true bright light in the comic world. Making comics fun again.

SCORN #1 - [1 of 4]
Full Color. By Kevin Moyers & Philipp S. Neundorf.
On a quiet July night in Chicago, 19 year-old Michael Riggs witnesses the murder of his best friend at the hand of notorious gang leader Robert Torres. Michael becomes obsessed, and nothing can stop him on his vicious and bloody rampage of vigilante justice! 28 pages.
Lee: Always support the little guys!!! We reviewed this here.
Jim: Read the review Gwen and Lee did a good job reviewing this title.

REICH #2 - B&W. By Elijah Brubaker.
This issue two begins with bad news for Willhelm Reich. Although his professional life is on the upswing as he lectures at the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society in 1923, his persecution complex begins to show itself, while his frankness causes professional complications. This issue deals with the time surrounding the writing of Reich's manuscript, The Function of the Orgasm." 24 pages. (6x9)
Visit Elijah at
Lee: OK. Reading the hype I have no idea where to go with this. But looking at the cover art and comic samples on Elijah’s website… I’m sold.
Jim: Yeah, it sounds very intellectual and I’m sure it has some interesting ideas, but that is a big pass for me.

Lee: Space doubles has always entertained so far. Go buy it! It’s better than Ultimates 3!
Jim: We definitely like these guys and can’t wait for the issues to start hitting the stands. Of course Lee is damning them with faint praise, but check our reviews here and here.

B&W. By Ulf K.
Top Shelf is proud to be one of the five international publishers simultaneously releasing Hieronymus B., the all-new graphic novel from the award-winning German cartoonist, Ulf. K. The winner of the Max and Moritz Prize for Best Cartoonist at the International Comic Salon in Erlangen, Ulf K. is best known for his endearing silent stories, and this graphic novel - featuring tales of the loveable and humble clerk, Hieronymus B. - tales sure to charm everyone. Ulf K. has been telling (silent) stories of Hieromymus B. for ten years now, and it's time that the American comics audience got a glimpse of this amazing cartoonist. 64 pages. (5x7)
Previews at
Lee: Another favorite publisher, Top Shelf, is releasing this wonderful graphic novel. Come on people, it’s time you read something new! And, what better way than a book that is already a proven winner.
Jim: Top Shelf does publish some interesting works and if this type of material is of interest to you order it from your store.

Lester, an orphaned 10-year-old, goes to live on his Uncle's farm. Their relationship grows increasingly strained and Lester befriends the town's gas station owner, damaged former hockey star, Jimmy Lebeuf. The two escape into a private fantasy world of superheroes, alien invaders, and good old-fashioned pond hockey. This is the first volume in a trilogy of graphic novels set in a fictionalized version of Lemire's hometown of Essex County, Ontario. 112 pages. (6x9)
Preview pages half way down the page… Lee: What can I say, I like crazy Canadians! There is something about this that just seems good and sad all at the same time. It’s worth a look.
Jim: See I have this whole thing about Canadians and e-bay that is just too long of a story to get into, bottom line I will take a rain check on this one.

By Rafael Nieves & Ken Holewcynski.
In a far-flung dystopian society, where mankind and machine-kind co-exist in an uneasy alliance overseen by a shadowy government, one man is rebord with the power to heal a people - or destroy them! His name is Orlak. He awoke one day with no memory of his past and no plans for his future. His hands have been replaced with flesh-ripping steel and when he sleeps, he finds them covered in blood. He is, in his own words, a puzzle with ten missing pieces. Collecting the stories from Caliber Presents, Orlak: Flesh and Steel, and Calibrations. 88 pages.
Previews at
Lee: I love apocalypse stories and I love dystopian futures. We need more books and stories like 1984 and Brave New World!!!! Anyway, this falls right into the category and Holewcynski’s art has a nice clean style. I might take a chance on this one.
Jim: The premise actually does not interest me.

Full Color. By Mike Kalvoda
The past - you all know the fairy tale The Pied Piper of Hamlin, but the story you thought you knew was only the beginning. You know The Piper exacted a steep price on a town that cheated him out of his bounty, taking all the village children away in the dead of night. But left untold was the unspeakable revenge the townspeople exacted on The Piper. A revenge that gave birth to a terrible curse, a curse that transformed The Piper into an immortal being of terrible power! Present day Florida - a gifted musical student is teased relentlessly at the boarding school he attends. When a mysterious stranger presents him with a book that includes an ages old incantation he unleashes the curse and summons the one being that will do his bidding for the steepest price. It's time to Pay The Piper! 32 pages.
Jim: I bring up this book because Zenoscope is starting to actually produce some interesting material beyond their covers. Return to Wonderland has been a good read and I hope this will also be interesting.
Lee: Ummmm… yeah.

In conclusion
Lee: There was a lot of new stuff this month. A lot of old stuff that I liked too. I am enjoying the Indies section more and more because there is so much new and different out there to enjoy.
Jim: And if we continue to try and cover this amount of material every month it may have to be a three part post. My concern is that if we put too much into one post then people may gloss over some of our picks and I want to actual generate some other people looking at this material and maybe buying it.


  1. Looking at the prices of these European comics, they seem to quite expensive. I can think of a couple possible guesses like:
    * It costs to repackage and translate for English speaking markets
    * They are that good they are worth more money
    * Publishers are simply cashing in on this little niche of uber cool comic readers
    * This is a sign of the actual expense of direct to trade when it isn't offset by a serialised market (the thought that terrifies me most as I wait for the trade).
    * I am just seeing things, they are very affordable.

    Any suggestions?

  2. Tyrone-

    It's probably a little bit of all of those items. The one you forget is the small print run. Us Uber-Cool Euro readers are not nearly as populous as the generic Avengers or Superman reader. Which means costs have to go up to break even.

    Too, alot of the Euro stuff I pick is HC. To me that makes a difference because I know it will last, but alas... that too adds cost.

    Are you reading lots of Euro or just interested? There are places to start that are cheaper than some of those listed.

  3. The small print run point makes sense. It's just a shame that some of these are 64 pages for a significant sum. Something like HIERONYMUS B is black and white, and from the solicitation it is reasonably wordless yet is is going for $US14.99 (US). You really are almost immediately limiting your appeal to the mainstream with that sort of entry price. Being down here in Australia my LCS would probably sell that to me for near $24 (AUS). So now I have to think more than twice about what looks to be a truly interesting read.

    Oh well. That's the nature of the beast. I'll still try to get a couple. Sandman Absolutes and Starman is not helping this month either.

    I am interested in European comics. I find that comics from different regions have a very different feel, which is probably pretty obvious. But often times with American entertainment it can almost feel a little predictable due to so much exposure to it formulas. Also the 22 page comic is inherently restricted to a certain flow as a result of its length. It is nice to read different flowing books, whether they be Indie GN's, manga or European stuff. So if you have any recommendations for some strong European comics that a slightly more affordable then feel free to list a few. Or you can continue to list the interesting ones as you are in each months pass through Previews as that is costing me enough as is.

    Recently I have read that french Dungeon Parade, Notes For A War Story, Exit Wounds, and Killer. All were very good. I have heard good things about Black Sad...and I have read plenty of Asterix as a kid. So that is the extent of my reading as far as I can remember.

    Note: I am not poo pooing American comics. There is an incredible amount of great books. I just finished the second volume of the Essex County trilogy. It was awesome.

  4. AAAHHHH The Essex Trilogy. Excuse me Tyrone, I need to comment for a second..


    Sorry about that. I'm back. The Dungeon series is excellent. I am in the process of getting the rest now. Anything by Lewis Trodiem (sp?) and Sfar are worth the money. Recently, 'The Professors Daughter' and 'Klezmir' were both very good.

    The entry price on Euro books is very high. High by US standards and very high by Canada or Aussie standards. You definitely have to be choosy. I'm just so bored with most of the American books that I am forced to read foreign if I want something new and exciting. I wish it were easier but it really isn't.

    Oh yeah, MetaBarons is AWESOME! If you haven't read that you really should.

    I can send you more details about the books I mentioned if you wish.

  5. Thanks for the offer, I think I might be able to track down more than enough books from the names you mentioned. The trick will be finding the cheapest version I can.

    If it also helps my wife, who struggled to understand my comic habit for a while, found the Essex County Trilogy an excellent early comic. In fact Owly and Korgy were also favourites. So Top Shelf has done well in our household.

    I just finished reading my Maus HC. It was draining. I think I may need a day off after that book. It was incredible. So after I recover from Maus I will start to track down some of the books you mentioned.

    Thanks again for the ideas.

  6. Chuck Dixon here.
    Hey, I HAVE written for Marvel. Lots of Conan, Punisher. Some Hawkeye and What Ifs and a two year run on Moon Knight.
    Thanks for the kind words. Big Badz will not disappoint!