by KC Carlson
MARVEL COMICS by the numbers:
“New” comics being launched this month:
Captain America #1 by Rick Remender and John Romita, Jr.
Fantastic Four #1 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley
FF #1 by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred
Indestructible Hulk #1 by Mark Waid and Leinil Frances Yu
Man, that’s a lot of #1s to sample! I’ll be checking out All-New X-Men (happy that Stuart will be making a ton of money) and Indestructible Hulk (as Mark Waid’s personality and the Hulk’s are occasionally similar — “No Diet Coke?!? MARK SMASH!”). And I’ll check out anything that Fraction or Aaron write. As for the rest, well, I guess I’ll wait and see — like a lot of the rest of you.
(Some of these will be replaced with new #1s next month. I can’t imagine that Marvel won’t publish books with “Avengers” in the title. That would be really dumb.)
New creative teams:
Avengers Assemble #9: Kelly Sue Deconnick and Stefano Caselli
Journey Into Mystery #646: Kathryn Immonen (yay!) and Valerio Schiti — now Sif-centric! Bye-bye, Loki!
Change is the new normal at Marvel, it seems.
DC COMICS: Nothing much interesting happening here. (Perhaps DC is getting out of Marvel’s way.) Except behind the scenes, where several creators are leaving their DC titles over “editorial conflicts”. For example, titles credited this month to Rob Liefeld will not be by Liefeld, as he has stopped working for DC. Wow, I never in a million years thought I would ever feel sorry for Rob Liefeld. Granted, it only lasted five or six seconds… but still.
Good comic books require good editors to motivate and respect creators. Ask Archie Goodwin. Ask Diana Schutz. Ask Bob Schreck. Ask Weezie Simonson. Ask Axel Alonzo. Ask Steve Wacker. Ask Karen Berger. Regardless of their starting motivations, the Before Watchmen books are succeeding because Mark Chiarello is overseeing them all and editing several.
Pushing text files around at Wizard or working at Marvel during their most creatively bankrupt period ever (the 90s) does not automatically make you a good comic book editor. DC, please look into this. Your comics are not going to run on inertia forever.
DC does have a couple of things worth mentioning this month, mostly coming out of Vertigo and elsewhere. The original Books of Magic mini (by Neil Gaiman, John Bolton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson, and Scott Hampton) is finally being collected in a hardcover. And Top 10 (Alan Moore, Gene Ha, and Zander Cannon) is getting the Absolute treatment. (I hope it’s annotated!)
BEYOND THE BIG TWO
47 Ronin is part of the reason that Stan Sakai is taking a short break from Usagi Yojimbo. This five-issue series, written by Mike Richardson, retells one of the best-known tales in Japanese history — the legend of the 47 Ronin and their epic mission to avenge their disgraced master. It’s a story that has been retold through the ages, and Richardson and Sakai have meticulously researched the legend. Plus, the project is being done in consultation with manga giant Kazuo Koike (Lone Wolf and Cub) to get everything just right. The artwork that accompanies this announcement is gorgeous, especially the beautifully colored cover by Sakai (watercolors?). You’ll be hearing a lot more about 47 Ronin during next summer’s award season! Published by Dark Horse and Highly Recommended.
Perhapanauts: Danger Down Under: The long National Nightmare is finally over! Our pals Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau are back producing a new five-issue Perhapanauts series, Danger Down Under. This team is made up of various mythical types — including a ghost, a witch, and a chupacabra — who investigate other supernatural beings. There’s plenty of suspense, humor, and good old-fashioned adventure in the series, and this will make for a great starting point. Here, the ‘nauts are in Australia tracking down a missing Bedlam team when all hell breaks loose — probably literally! All of our favorite characters are back (except for one, who gets a Requiem here. Sniff.). And there’s an alternate cover by Jim Starlin! Perhaps you might take a chance on this charmingly scary comic! Published by Image.
The Fantastic Four 100 Project: if you didn’t pick it up at your favorite convention this summer, now is your chance to get one of my favorite fund-raising projects. The Marvel 100 Project gathers up (at least) 100 different comics creators from all over comics to offer up their interpretation of the title subject. This time around it’s the cover of Fantastic Four #600. Just a few of the folks contributing are Alan Davis, Mike Deodato Jr., George Pérez, Joe Sinnott, Adam Kubert, Steve Epting, Dale Keown, Steve McNiven, and many, many more. ALL the proceeds go to The Hero Initiative to assist comic creators who have fallen on hard times. If you love comics and want to give a little back, this is one of the most painless ways to do that.
Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland (IDW): There have been several million Judge Dredd collections over the years (and that’s just on Earth!). But this looks to be a great one, collecting all (or almost all*) of the Dredd stories drawn by the renowned Brian Bolland. All are written by John Wagner, and many of the stories are classics, including “The Cursed Earth”, The Day The Law Died!”, and “Judge Death.” It’s a 248-page hardcover, designed by Ashley Wood. And before you ask, the interiors are in glorious black and white, because that’s how they were published in the first place. (Besides, B&W Bolland = Drool!)
*IDW doesn’t mention this in their material, but Roger and the Internets (not to be confused with Josie and the Pussycats) discovered that a storyline within “The Cursed Earth” made allusional reference to McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. These companies were not amused, so an agreement was worked out with IPC (the original publishers of Dredd) to never reprint this storyline again. All reprinted versions of “The Cursed Earth” thus have been incomplete. We’re guessing that’s what IDW is talking about when they state “… there’s one we can’t publish. Ever.” in their solicitation copy.
Bob Greenberger will have more background on this book soon, right here at the blog.
Kid Stuff for Adults: This month features three new books about the creators of much of what we loved as children. Full Steam Ahead: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball is a new hardcover biography of the Disney animator and director (one of the legendary “Nine Old Men”) by Amid Amidi (Cartoon Brew) with an introduction by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles). Walt Disney called Kimball a genius, but Kimball was more than just an animator. He also founded the notorious Dixieland Jazz band Firehouse Five plus Two and operated his own railroad in his backyard. Hugely researched, this book will also cover Kimball’s work in fine art, graphic design, and magazine cartoons. 240 pages. Published by Chronicle Books.
Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat is a look at Dr. Seuss’ (Theodor Geisel) “secret” artwork. By day, he created his famous children’s books and illustrations, but at night, Geisel let his imagination run wild in what he called his “Midnight Paintings” — creating a body of little-known work now known as “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss”. Author Caroline W. Smith has researched and collected this rare art, and this book publishes much of it, juxtaposed with the art from the children’s books. This is a 320-page high-quality hardcover art book.
Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal: Henson kept a detailed and extensive journal of his life, including sketches, storyboards, doodles, and both professional and personal photographs of his life and work. This new book, written and compiled by Karen Falk, draws heavily upon this diary and includes many surprises, such as early drawings of favorite characters and his other magical work. 192-page full-color hardcover with extensive illustrations.
Coolest Item for Millionaires: IDW’s MAD: Artist’s Edition is 176 pages of stuff from the original MAD comic book — all reproduced from the original artwork and printed at full size (15” x 22”)! Features work by Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Bill Elder, Jack Davis, and Basil Wolverton. Something (stories or covers or both) from every issue of the original MAD (#1-18) is represented in this drool-worthy book. Darn, I already got new shoelaces for my birthday!
Barnaby Volume One: Saving the best for (almost) last. Barnaby is an almost forgotten comic strip by Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon) that ran for approximately 10 years in the 1940s. (This complete series will comprise five volumes.) Full of whimsy, satire, and wit, the strip is well-remembered by everybody who ever encountered it. Roger’s recent interview with the editors of this new series from Fantagraphics will tell you everything else you need to know about the strip. As for me, I’ve been reading about Barnaby in comic strip histories and encyclopedias for over 40 years without ever encountering more than a handful of individual strips. I can’t wait to hold this book in my hands. Thank you, Fantagraphics!
Most Useless Item of the Month: Spawn #225, which blatantly rips-off the original Watchmen #1 cover for no good reason (except Watchmen is currently HOT!). Plus, it comes with two alternate endings: one if Barack Obama wins the election and one if Mitt Romney wins the election. (Huh?) Subsequent issues will apparently be affected by the outcome of the upcoming election. (Wha–?) First of all, does anybody really believe that something that Todd McFarlane is involved with will be released in a timely fashion? Laughably, this is scheduled to ship on November 7 — the day after the election. (Of course, there is no year mentioned, so Todd left himself an out.)
Plugs: Roger’s interviewing J.M. DeMatteis very soon about his new fantasy series from IDW, Adventures of Augusta Wind. Bob Greenberger’s talking about the Iron Man Omnibus in a bit. (I might also, as well.) And everybody’s talking at me, but I don’t hear a word they’re saying. Only the echoes of my mind.
CLASSIC COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS
Alex Toth’s Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures (Hermes Press): Collecting some of Toth’s finest work, completely restored for high-quality, full-color printing. Collects Dell Four Color #882, 920, 933, 960, 976, 1003, and Dell Zorro #12. Also includes extensive supplemental material, essays, original artwork, and a special photo section. 240-page full-color hardcover.
Batman Chronicles Volume 11 TPB (DC): Continuing collecting Batman solo stories in chronological order. Includes Batman #20-21, Detective Comics #82-85, and World’s Finest #12, all from the 1940s. Includes appearances by the Joker and the Penguin. 168 pages, full color.
The Complete Torpedo Volume 1 (IDW): First in a series of volumes collecting the popular and influential Torpedo by Enrique Sanchel Abull and Jordi Bernet. Torpedo is a hit man in 1930s NYC, and the series is a darkly humorous look at the criminal life. This first 144-page TPB also includes the first two Torpedo stories illustrated by Alex Toth, with a new translation by Jimmy Palmiotti. Recommended.
Eerie Archives Volume 12 (Dark Horse): 272-page hardcover collecting Eerie #56-60. Features work by Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson, and Richard Corben.
Harvey Horrors Collected Works: Chamber of Chills Volume 1 (PS Artbooks). By popular demand, the PS Artbooks collections of classic ‘50s horror comics are now available in affordable softcover editions, beginning with this volume! This 180-page, full-color book reprints issues #21-25 (aka the first five issues), originally published in 1951/52. Note: these softcover volumes do not include the supplemental material from the earlier hardcovers — just the stories!
Harvey Horrors Collected Works: Chamber of Chills Volume 4 (PS Artbooks): Final Volume! Reprinting issues #20-26 from 1953/54 of this classic horror series. Also includes supplemental material about the stories and creators. 288 color pages, hardcover.
Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Sub-Mariner Volume 1 (Marvel): Collecting Sub-Mariner Comics #1-4 — now in softcover! Features work by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Paul Gustavson, Basil Wolverton, and Mickey Spillane! (Hard-boiled water!) 288 full-color pages.
Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Jungle Adventure Volume 3 (Marvel): Collecting Lorna the Jungle Girl #13-16, Jungle Tales #5-7, and Jungle Action #4-6, featuring Lorna, Jann of the Jungle, Leopard Girl, Lo-Zar, Jungle Boy, and Man-oo the Mighty! Illustrated by Atlas’ best good girl artists: Jay Scott Pike, John Romita, Sr., Don Heck, Joe Maneely, and others. Plus, there’s monkeys! 280-page full-color hardcover.
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 5 (Marvel): Collecting X-Men (Vol. 1) #43-53, Avengers (Vol. 1) #53, and selections from Ka-Zar #2, 3, and Marvel Tales #30 — all in glorious full-color softcover! So you won’t hurt yourself if you drop it on your foot! Hardcovers are heavy! (Says someone who just moved all his collection cross-country!)
Showcase Presents: Weird War Tales Volume 1 (DC): Collecting Weird War Tales #1-21 from the early 1970s, featuring work by Joe Kubert, Robert Kanigher, Russ Heath, Alex Toth, Sam Glanzman, Alfredo Alcala, and others. 576 B&W softcover pages.
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: “A Christmas for Shacktown” (Fantagraphics): The third volume in Fantagraphics Carl Barks’ series features great Donald stories for the early 1950s, including the classic title story, “The Golden Helmet”, The Guilded Man”, and ten of Barks’ wonderful 10-page stories — plus extensive notes and supplements. 240-page full-color hardcover.
CLASSIC COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking (Fantagraphics): Not a strip collection per se, but something that most Peanuts fans won’t want to miss. This 56-page full-color hardcover features two original (and hard-to-find) Christmas-themed Peanuts stories, first produced for national magazines. “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking” is from 1963 and “The Christmas Story”, featuring Linus and Lucy explaining the meaning of the holiday to Snoopy, is from 1968. Notes about the stories are also included. An excellent gift book for any Peanuts fan!
Complete Dick Tracy Volume 14 (IDW): Entering into even more crazy and violent storylines from Chester Gould, this volume includes stories featuring Crewy Lou (and Bonnie Braids) , Little Wings, and Mr. Crime. If you love child endangerment, you’ll love this volume! Includes strips from 1951-53. 256 pages in glorious B&W hardcover.
Lil Abner Volume 5 (IDW): Introducing Fearless Fosdick, creator Al Capp’s hilarious parody of Dick Tracy! Plus Shadrack Throwback, “The Monster,” Madame Lazonga, and Joan L. Sullivan. Includes daily strips and full-color Sundays. 272-page hardcover.
The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 5: 1943-44 (Hermes Press): This popular series featuring five complete continuities about comics’ first masked adventurer by Lee Falk and Wilson McCoy continues! Reprinted from King Features’ original syndicate press proofs. Also includes a 16-page full-color supplementary section. 272-page hardcover with dustjacket.
Opus by Berkeley Breathed: The Complete Sunday Strips from 2003-2008 (IDW/LoAC): Not quite as “vintage” as most of the collections in this section, but important nonetheless. Collects the entire run of the Opus solo strip (spinning out of Bloom County and Outland), with surprising extras. 288 full-color and oversize pages, hardcover. Speaking of Outland, the Limited signed and numbered edition of that Complete Collection is also listed this month.
The Sunday Funnies Volume 1 and 2 (Dark Horse): Collecting beloved classic strips including Tarzan, Gasoline Alley, Buck Rogers, Alley Oop, Krazy Kat, and seldom-seen strips like Bobby Make-Believe and Tales of the Jungle Imps. Each volume is made up of three full-size newspaper sections (96 pages in all) in full-color and oversize (22” x 16”).
KC Carlson asks: Can you be allergic to cardboard boxes? I’m seeing them everywhere lately. Big giant stacks of them. Rooms full of them. Luring me toward them with their sweet four-color siren song. But I know they secretly want to fall on me and kill me. Evil boxes. I’ve got your number…
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.