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PG Previews:

February 2010

Below are the comics, manga and graphic novels I’m most looking forward to based on publisher advance listings due to be released in February 2010 (although actual dates may vary).

Achewood Vol 3:
A Home For Scared People (HC)

by Chris Onstad
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Picking up where they left off, Achewood and Dark Horse Comics present the third volume of strips from the massive Achewood archive. As with the previous collections, author Chris Onstad includes extensive character backstories, thorough strip annotations, the celebrated alt texts, and many print-only extras in the classic Achewood style. Time magazine named back-to-back Ignatz Award winner Achewood its 2007 Graphic Novel of the Year, and legions of devoted fans consistently report that it makes them feel the way Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes did when they were young.

Paul Gravett says:
Further evidence that webcomics are continuing to revitalise the satirical and surreal strip genre.

Amelia Earhart: The Broad Ocean (HC)
by Sarah Taylor & Ben Towle
Hyperion Books/CCS

The publisher says:
Amelia Earhart developed a love of flying at a very young age… and she wasn’t about to let any man get in the way of her dreams. What began as a simple joy became something much deeper - a commitment to open doors for all women. As Amelia built a name for herself in the field of aviation - breaking numerous records along the way - she paved the road for future trailblazers, women like Danica Patrick, the first woman to win an Indy car race, and Eileen Collins, the first female space shuttle pilot. In Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean, Taylor and Towle focus on Amelia’s triumphant crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, offering us a glimpse at her relentless ambition and her tireless will to promote women’s rights. But above all, author and illustrator leave us with a sense of her deep-rooted desire to touch the sky. Read a preview here.

Paul Gravett says:
This is the latest in this first-rate line of biographical hardbacks produced by The Center For Cartoon Studies, after Houdini, Satchel Paige and Thoreau. What works especially about them is that they avoid trying to cram in an entire life and opt instead for refreshingly different perspectives and telling vignettes. Here, Sarah Taylor writes from the viewpoint of a young girl in the Newfoundland town where Earhart is due to take off on her transatlantic flight. Ben Towle’s two-colour art brings atmosphere and power, complemented by Michel Vrana’s always elegant design. Perfect for the history classroom with handy “panel discussions” footnotes to prompt debate among students, but not the least bit dull or textbook-ish to stop anyone enjoying it as a quietly empowering, fact-based docu-comic.

Captain Easy, Soldier Of Fortune Vol 1 (HC)
by Roy Crane
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Roy Crane created the first American adventure strip: Wash Tubbs. The character Captain Easy spun off into his own Sunday page in 1933, and Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 collects these full-color strips from that point until 1935. In Volume One, Captain Easy visits a lost city, battles pirates, dons a diving suit in search of treasure; everywhere he goes, he finds beautiful women. Captain Easy not only influenced roles for the likes of Hollywood actors such as Cary Grant or Errol Flynn, he influenced virtually every comics hero who followed him - Gil Kane once said “Superman was Captain Easy; Batman was Captain Easy.” Crane combined adventure and humor in a Bigfoot cartooning style: according to comic-strip historian Richard Marschall, Crane “develop[ed] expressive techniques and a whole dictionary of conventions and signs for future comic strip artists. Volume One also features some of the best and rarest Roy Crane art, as well as illustrations from his sketchbooks. It will also contain biographical and critical introductions to Crane and his work.

Paul Gravett says:
Shot directly from the glorious newsprint pages, this is going to be such a pleasure from the founding American father of the rollicking, rambunctious adventure strip genre.

Demo Vol 2 #1 of 6
by Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan

The publisher says:
The pioneering indie masterwork returns. And here’s the first of 6 brand-new, single-issue, done-in-one stories from Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders) and Becky Cloonan (American Virgin, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), each one just as powerful and emotionally charged as the original run. In “The Waking Life of Angels”, a woman is haunted by a recurring premonition; one of a person plummeting from a great height. Seriously sleep-deprived and with only fragments of images for clues, she abandons her life to travel halfway around the world in hopes of finding this person before her fateful accident occurs.

Paul Gravett says:
Good to see this one back because it’s rare to find comic books these days that can actually tell a decent, character-driven story complete in one issue.

Dogem Logic #1
by Alan Moore & others
Knockabout Comics
$3.99 / £2.50

The publisher says:
Forty years after the uproarious heyday of the alternative press, writer Alan Moore is launching the 21st century’s first underground magazine from his home town of Northampton, a community that is right at the geographical, political and economic heart of the country; one which has half its high street boarded up and is at present dying on its arse, just like everywhere else. Drawing upon an overlooked and energetic pool of local talent as well as numerous friends and co-conspirators from comic books, the arts or entertainment, Dodgem Logic sets out to provide a splash of subterranean exotica in a bleached-out cultural and social landscape. Published every other month by counter-culture veterans Knockabout, Dodgem Logic is a forty page full-colour spectacle that, in addition, has an eight-page local section in each issue, thus inviting other areas to publish regional editions by providing their own inserts.

As cheap and beautiful as a heartbreaking teenage prostitute, Dodgem Logic has a cover price of £2.50, with its content similarly tailored to the fiscal toilet-bowl that we are currently engaged in sliding down. Regular columnists provide delicious, inexpensive recipes, wide-ranging medical advice, simple instructions for creating stylish clothing and accessories from next to nothing, guides to growing your own dinner by becoming a guerrilla gardener, and, in the first of Dave (The Self-Sufficient-ish Bible) Hamilton’s environmental columns, a bold experiment in living with no money. The same approach to helping readers deal with socio-economic meltdown and a blitz of repossessions is there in upcoming features on the present-day resurgence of the squatters’ movement, or in our communiqués from the Steampunk/ Post-Civilisation gang on how to start rebuilding culture and society before those things have broken down completely and our children are reduced to battering each other to a bloody pulp with their now-useless X-Boxes in a dispute over the last tub of pot noodles.

Not only seeking to give practical advice on getting through a rough stretch, Dodgem Logic is also committed to alleviating the attendant sense of anguish and despair by brightening the world with the astonishing cartoon-work of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen‘s sublime Kevin O’Neill or that of underground legend Savage Pencil; the musings of Father Ted, The IT Crowd and Black Book’s own Graham Linehan or of the nation’s sweetheart, the implacably positive Josie Long; even a delirious commemoration of the lunar landing’s anniversary by the masterful Steve Aylett. In addition to a variously-hosted women’s column launched by Lost Girls co-creator and erstwhile underground cartoon artist Melinda Gebbie, Mr. Moore will himself be contributing a lead feature on the history of underground subversive publishing from its origins in the thirteenth century, along with various illustrations and words of advice. All these and many other sterling features, including a free CD of magnificent home-grown Northampton music over fifty years, will be contained in the historic premiere issue, sporting an hallucinatory front cover by digital artist Tamara Rogers and debuting this November. Wake up and smell the fairground ozone! No ramming!

Alan Moore says:
I first used the name Dodgem Logic on a fanzine that I attempted to do back in 1975, when I was in my early 20s. To be honest it doesn’t really mean anything specific, it’s just suggestive of what we’re going for. On the first issue we’ve used the tagline ‘colliding ideas to see what happens’, which is as much of an agenda as you’re going to get from us. It’s the idea that, if we just connect all these various diverse people and enterprises that we’re in touch with, then there might be something quite lovely and extraordinary come out of the interaction. Read more here…

Paul Gravett says:
What can I add to all this, except to say that the mag does include three new pages by Kevin O’Neill, Savage Pencil and Moore himself all in sterling form, and that attending the launch party at a Working Men’s Club in Northampton was an unforgettable experience, for the in-your-face teasing burlesque show and some fine live music, topped off by Alan’s moody performance singing with Downtown Joe Brown and The Retro Spankees: see it here.

Necessary Monsters
by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey & Sean Azzopardi
AiT/Planet Lar

The publisher says:
There exists a world of horrors beneath the one we know, where creatures of nightmares stalk humanity. To police this world there is The Chain; a covert agency of monsters and killers, charged with keeping the human herd from ever growing too thin. But now a new threat, the creature known as Harps Bane, has gone rogue and four of The Chain’s best agents must stop him. In this world of horrors there are no heroes and no villains; only monsters. Some more necessary than others. Online preview here…

Paul Gravett says:
Serialising this online, Brit duo Goodbrey and Azzopardi have developed their own dark concoction of lean, pointed prose and sharp visuals into a perturbing, unpredictable panaroma of hell.

On The Odd Hours
by Eric Liberge

The publisher says:
The highly successful series of graphic novels co-published with the Louvre museum in Paris continues. Liberge invites us on a guided tour of the museum by night, when the works of art come alive. Our guide: a deaf night watchman who somehow manages to communicate with the souls of those ethereal and timeless works of art. A visual tour de force of the frighteningly fantastic. See a preview here.

Paul Gravett says:
The British Museum are working this year with manga maestro Hoshino Yukinobu on their first comic related to their collection, but the Louvre have been commissioning themed graphic novels on an annual basis, starting with De Crécy and Matthieu (both out from NBM) and now we can discover Liberge, previously available in English in Heavy Metal, which translated two of his four-album series Mister Mardi-Gras Ashes in the Fall 2006 Halloween Special and Fall 2008 Eerie Special (thanks to Doom4 for that heads-up).

Other Lives (HC)
by Peter Bagge

The publisher says:
Meet three certified geeks: a self-loathing journalist who has a seemingly normal girlfriend, a conspiracy theorist who still lives with his mother and an unemployed gamer who lives in his car. These strangely likable misfits find that dark personal secrets can sometimes be a virtue in Other Lives, a hilarious original graphic novel by award-winning creator Peter Bagge (Hate). The story also explores people’s identities, both real and created, and how the two become confused and conflated through the Internet and role-playing games. See a preview here.

Paul Gravett says:
An interesting departure for Bagge, as he tackles the escalation of social networking, aliases and second/third/fourth lives we can choose to lead, when we may not be fulfillng our ordinary “first life” that well.

Ristorante Paradiso
by Natsume Ono

The publisher says:
A charming tale of a mother/daughter reunion, a burgeoning romance, and a little restaurant in Rome. In exchange for playing “the daughter of an old friend”, Olga offers Nicoletta a place to live and an apprenticeship at the restaurant. Nicoletta fits in well among the vibrant personalities at Casetta Dell’Orso. She gets along particularly well with the kindly headwaiter, Claudio, a divorced man who, after years, has still never taken off his wedding ring. As Nicoletta’s feelings for Claudio become complicated, she finds a sympathetic ear in Olga, leading the estranged pair to form a friendship neither expected. But as they grow closer, the pressure exerted by the secret they share becomes too much to bear.

Paul Gravett says:
Yes, it’s been converted, more or less intact, into an attractive-looking anime, and this has probably has helped to prompt a welcome translation of this sophisticated single-volume manga with her refreshingly atypical style and characterisation.

Strange Tales (HC)
by Paul Pope, Peter Bagge, Molly Crabapple, John Leavitt, Junko Mizuno, Dash Shaw, James Kochalka, Johnny Ryan, Michael Kupperman, Nick Bertozzi, Nicholas Gruewich, Jason, Max Cannon, Jacob Chabot, Jonathan Hickman, R. Kikuo Johnson, Matt Kindt, Tony Millionaire, Jim Rugg, Brian Maruca, Jhonen Vasquez, Jeffrey Brown, Chris Chua, Becky Cloonan, Paul Hornschemeier, Jonathan Jay Lee, Corey Lewis, Stan Sakai & Jay Stephens

The publisher says:
At long last, the wait is over. Marvel is proud to present the debut of this hotly anticipated anthology showcasing Marvel’s greatest characters re-imagined by the best and brightest talents working in independent comics today. Don’t miss what’s sure to be one of the most exciting collections of comics short stories ever produced. Every issue stars a stunning array of the best, most exciting cartoonists on the planet - showcasing the Marvel Heroes as you’ve never seen them before. Featuring the long awaited Peter Bagge Incorrigible Hulk!.

Paul Gravett says:
This is a guilty pleasure for creators and readers alike, and this is the sort of Marvel Universe I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. It’s like DC’s two Bizarro volumes but from the House of Not-That-Many-New-Ideas-At-All-Lately. Unless you’re obsessed with hardcovers, I’d plump for the four comic books frankly, especially as they also don’t have any distracting adverts.

Temperance (HC)
by Cathy Malkasian
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Do ideas of war and enemies hold people together? Is a culture of conflict too seductive not to be irresistible? These are the questions 2008 Eisner Award Winner Cathy Malkasian explores in her second graphic novel Temperance, a fully realized, multi-layered world, inhabited by vivid characters and master craftsmanship. After a brutal injury in battle, Lester has no memory of his prior life. For the next thirty years his wife does everything to keep him from remembering - and re-constructing - a society, Blessedbowl, that elevates him as a hero. Blessedbowl is a cultural convergence of lies, memories, stories, and beliefs. Its people thrive on ideas of persecution, exceptionality, and enemies, convinced that war is lurking just outside their walls. Malkasian creates a densely textured social context, masterfully conveying the idiosyncratic physical domain with its spiraling structures and quasi-medieval architecture along with intimate yet plastic portraits of her characters in a rich, tonal pencil line. Temperance is a galvanizing work of empathy and violence by one of today’s most thoughtful and accomplished cartoonists. Be there.

Paul Gravett says:
I’m reading a preview of this one right now and it’s a remarkably emotive allegory with, to my mind, undertones of the fearfulness and polarisation engendered by today’s media. Cathy’s Percy Gloom was an impressive debut, but here I sense her animation roots are much less pronounced and her grasp of what comics can do and what she can say with it are growing and growing. 

The Book Of Grickle (HC)
by Graham Annable
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Get ready for the most extensive journey ever into the brilliant mind of Graham Annable. A classically trained animator with credits in film (including as a storyboard artist on Coraline), television, and video games, Annable has for years spent his free time creating some of the funniest, most poignant comics anywhere. As befits his animation background, Annable’s fluid art pulses with life, in stories that practically jump off the page. Alternately poetic and hilarious, Grickle presents a strange twist on the everyday with heart and humor. If you’ve experienced Grickle before, this is the greatest collection yet. If you haven’t, there’s no better introduction than Book of Grickle.

Paul Gravett says:
Like Cathy Malkasian, Graham Annable is another toon person, so he ought to know something about pacing, sequence, movement, storyboarding, all that animation stuff. I’m convinced that, no matter what the rewards and fame and glamour of film and television, most artists working in animation long to enjoy the solo control, creativity and sheer flexibility of no-motion comics. You can feel that enjoyment in Annable’s every frame.

The Comics:
An Illustrated History Of Comic Strip Art

by Jerry Robinson
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
From Jerry Robinson, legendary creator of the Joker, seventy-year veteran of the comics industry, and prominent figure in monthly books, daily strips, and comics journalism, comes a comprehensive history of the truly American art form. The Comics is a fully reworked and updated edition of the 1974 classic that chronicles the origins and evolution of comic strips, from prior to the Yellow Kid through today, and highlights the game-changing contributions of such creative luminaries as Milton Caniff, Walt Kelly, Hal Foster, and Winsor McCay, among countless others. A fascinating resource of enduring excellence for fans of the art form, historians, and casual readers alike, this edition has been extensively revisited by Robinson and tells the stories behind the newsprint page.

Paul Gravett says:
For me, this was one of the landmark works of reference, background and insight on America’s newspaper strips, it certainly me gave a real window at the time it came out. Alongside Brian Walker’s two-volume history, this single tome offers the other principal overview of this field.

The Invincible Gene Colan
by Clifford Meth
Marvel/Aardwolf Publishing

The publisher says:
It is a stunning visual tribute and biography of one of the most brilliant, sublime and influential comic artists in the genre’s history, Gene Colan. Including observations from Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Walter Simonson, Marv Wolfman, Tom Palmer and John Romita Sr, it also contains tons of Gene’s beautiful, eye-popping art. Aardwolf Publishing will have exclusive signed/numbered copies as well as the extremely limited double-lettered remarqued, book-plated edition (each containing a unique sketch from the hand of Gene Colan).

Posted: December 16, 2009


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