Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Indies Preview Review for February Part 2 of 3

Bluewater Productions
Rock N Roll Comics Vol. 02: Hard Rock Heroes SC
What goes together better than comics and rock music? Hard Rock Heroes goes way beyond Behind the Music, to tell the real life, behind-the-scenes stories of rock's most heavy hitters. Creators include Stuart Immonen, Ken Landgraf, Jay Allen Sanford, Todd Loren, Scott Pentzer, Mike Sagara, and many others. Covering bands like Guns N Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Poison, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax, Motorhead, Sammy Hagar, and more. $17.99
Lee: This has got to be a collection of the books published by Revolutionary Comics. RC was a small publisher between 1989 and 1994 that, to my knowledge, only published R-n-R comics. They were fun and were “Behind the Music” before there was a “Behind the Music.” I’m not sure I care about the bands but I like the pen-ink artists so I might try this.
Jim: ----News Alert-----News Alert-----Lee not sure about a comic that combines music and graphic story telling. Next you will be telling me that we have a black President and that Meridith Baxter is gay! I can't believe it!

Boom! Studios
Walt Disney's Valentines Classics Vol. 01 HC
Love is in the air for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest of the Mouseton/Duckburg gang this February from BOOM Kids! But will Cupid's arrows cause happiness or heartache in this collection of classic stories from Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, Daan Jippes, and Romano Scarpa featuring all your most beloved characters from the magical world of Walt Disney! $24.99
Lee: I really, really like that Boom! has started producing hc’s of all the Disney material. With all the reprint material out there, it has taken far too long to get high quality collections of Disney books. This is great for kids and adults alike.
Jim: Lee picking a Disney book about the ducks, no shocker here. Hey I like my Boom buddies and glad to see that the Disney material found a good home.
Lee: On a side note, I wonder if Boom isn’t getting to heavy into kiddie books. Granted, the Disney market comes with a HUGE established fanbase which could support the company for years to come. But, in terms of the direct market, will Boom! become associated with kiddie books only hurting whatever other books they may produce. I’m just wondering.
Jim: I don't think it is a problem because the vast majority (and I'm totally guessing here) of the distribution and outlets for the kids books is not the comic shops. Plus many companies have diverse lines and not only survive but thrive. From a business viewpoint it makes a lot of sense to not have all of your eggs in one basket (love the homilies).

Anchor Vol. 01 SC by (W) Phil Hester (A) Brian Churilla
Holy warrior, unholy war. Freak of nature, beast of burden, hulking outcast, medieval prize fighter, Viking raider, God's own leg-breaker. Seeking refuge in the crumbling ruins of an ancient monastery, a hulking brute is transformed into an immortal warrior monk standing at the gates of Hell itself to keep our world free from its invading armies. This holy warrior arises to battle all the unholy monsters unleashed during his slumber. Cataclysmic action, quirky humor, and profound pathos for fans of Hellboy and The Goon. Collects the first 4 issues of the surprise hit of the season! $9.99
Lee: Speaking of Boom!'s non-Duck related material, we have Anchor. The series that Boom! has published have been very good. Two proven creators and a low price point make this worth investigating.
Jim: I skipped the floppies, but will be getting the trade. I love that publishers are letting us try out stuff for a reasonable price and then jacking it up once we are hooked - just kiddin'

Del Rey Manga
Wolverine: Prodigal Son Vol. 01 GN by (W) Antony Johnston (A) Wilson Tortosa
Marvel Comics clawed mutant hero is given a martial-arts manga twist in this action-packed tale for the fans that have made Naruto a genuine, pop-culture phenomenon! Arriving just in time for the theatrical debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the Marvel mutant is about to face new challenges and new dangers! $12.99
Lee: Because what the world needs is another newer-differenter-more specialer Wolverine comic. And, I heard this was a huge seller in Japan! On another note, for anyone hoping to break into comics… please note how much work Antony Johnston (Bleeding Cool) is doing to break into the industry and has yet to get on with Marvel/DC.
Jim: The hype is a little frelled up as it says arriving just in time for the theatrical debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Also regarding breaking into comics I have been writing this blog for over three years and yet no one has come knocking at my door.

Drawn & Quarterly
John Stanley: Library Melvin Monster Vol. 02 HC by (W/A) John Stanley
Continuing Drawn & Quarterly's John Stanley archival series, Melvin Monster Volume 2 is about the oddball monster boy who just wants to be good, go to school, and do as he is told. A satirical and funny sendup of the monster craze of the 1960s, Melvin Monster is a classic kids comic of the Silver Age. Designed by Seth. $19.95
Lee: The first Melvin Monster was awesome and I loved every page of it. Actually the kids and I both loved it. The only comment, there really should be some type of commentary about Stanley and his work to put this book in perspective. Other than that, this is really good stuff.
Jim: On this not, I want a Sugar and Spike collection - in color, but this I'm skipping.
Lee: For the record, I'm typing this before Jim responds to my comment. I'm guessing that Jim say "Thanks but no Thanks." I know I'm right so I'll just recomment right now... You're missing out and you should try it. You will like it. All the cool kids (remember when you were a cool kid?) are trying it. So you should try it!
Jim: I'm now the cool guy and I still rock! I'm sure the material is good, but again it is still a pass.

Fantagraphics Books
Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century SC
Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium. Best American Comics Writing is the first attempt to collate the best criticism to date of the graphic novel boom in a way that contextualizes and codifies one of the most important literary movements of the last 60 years. This collection begins in 2000, the game changing year that Pantheon released the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring. Originally serialized as alternative comics, they went on to confirm the critical and commercial viability of graphic literature. Via its various authors, this collection functions as a valuable readers guide for fans, academics, and librarians, tracing the current comics renaissance from its beginnings and creative growth to the cutting edge of today's artists. This volume includes Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) in conversation with novelist Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Chris Ware, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), John Hodgman (The Daily Show, The Areas of My Expertise, The New York Times Book Review), David Hajdu (The 10-Cent Plague), Douglas Wolk (Publishers Weekly, author of the Eisner award-winning Reading Comics), Frank Miller (Sin City and The Spirit film director) in conversation with Will Eisner (The Spirit's creator), Gerard Jones (Men of Tomorrow), Brian Doherty (author Radicals of Capitalism, This is Burning Man) and critics Ken Parille (Comic Art), Jeet Heer (The National Post), R.C. Harvey (biographer of Milton Caniff), and Donald Phelps (author of the landmark book of comics criticism, Reading the Funnies). Best American Comics Writing also features a cover by nationally known satirist Drew Friedman (The New York Observer, Old Jewish Comedians) in which Friedman asks, tongue-in-cheek, if cartoonists are the new literati, what must their critics look like? $19.99
Lee: I’m not sure I would be really interesting in this book if it weren’t for the blog. But both of us, Jim to a greater extant than I, use the blog to both praise and criticize comics. I wouldn’t mind reading other criticism to see how to write it better. If only to improve my own meager writing skills. Besides that, this looks like an awesome oral history of comics in the past decade.
Jim: I agree with Lee. My writing skills are not all I would like and when writing the blog often you are publishing with very little chance to edit your own work. Plus it sounds like a great review of the last few years.

Percy Gloom HC by (W/A) Cathy Malkasian
Cathy Malkasian has made the jump from animation to the printed page with a graceful, delicate leap. Humorous and bewitching at the same time, Percy Gloom is a unique gem of a story. Occupying an unreal world of secret societies, benevolent families, and bureaucratic security, lazy-eyed Percy Gloom fights to overcome the loss of his wife, Lila, to a truth-pointing, lotharian, cult-leader. Approached by his doctor to help protect some special people and given advice by some talking goats, Percy comes to terms with his place in the gloomy world and finds himself reaching enlightenment (literally). $18.95 Visit the previews here
Lee: This book has actually been out for awhile but I’m just finding it now. It has great reviews and the art has a very surreal feel to it. Fantagraphics is one of the best when it comes to Indy books so I’m ordering it.
Jim: Lee brings up a point which is very important in ordering stuff with limited information, which is what you often have to do with indie material and that is the publisher. Once you know a publisher and you understand at least a little what they do and how they do stuff, you can take a bigger chance by trying stuff trusting they will not put their name on a sub standard product and Fantagraphics has a long and proud tradition of publishing quality products.

Tomorrow... the conclusion


  1. Uh... guys, not to sound churlish or anything, because I do enjoy your trips through Previews, but:

    — The WOLVERINE manga is a resolicit. It was published in April '09 (yes, in time for the Wolvie movie).

    — Bleeding Cool is run by RICH Johnston. No relation.

    — As for me, I "broke in" almost ten years ago. Not everyone gets into comics with the sole desire of writing Pants-Man, y'know?

  2. Antony-

    All comments are duly noted and it's all my fault.

    I knew the Wolverine Manga was a re-solicit but I didn't pick it the first time around. If it's a slow month, or the mood strikes me to comment then I do. In this situation, I wanted to make a point...

    Which wasn't made very well considering I identified the wrong author. Once again my bad.

    Finally, while I completely agree that not everyone wants to write read pants man, most people do. And most don't realize, or refuse to realize, how hard it is to write Pants-man.

    No matter how you "break in" it's hard work and that was really the point of my comment.

    You're one of the rare success stories and that just makes the rest of us envious. Myself included.

    Sorry about the name thing!

  3. Antony-

    Sooooo, since I didn't comment about the content of the Wolverine Manga....

    Is it any good? We always welcome unbiased creator opinions about their own work!

    Plug away!

  4. It's the best Non-Japanese Manga Reinvention of Wolverine ever, and that's a promise ;)

  5. Actually Antony is the brains behind Bleeding Cool, I am just his meat puppet.

  6. You promised not to talk about that in public, darling.

  7. Hey Lee,

    Haven't seen any sales impact on IRREDEEMABLE, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?, 28 DAYS LATER, or THE ANCHOR (or any of the other older-skewing books we do) due to BOOM Kids!.

    I think retailers and fans don't really conflate the two because we'd been publishing since the summer of 2005 and only launched BOOM Kids! about 9 months ago.

    But that's just a theory!

    Love the column! Keep 'em comin'! And Happy New Year!