10 Things I Like About October ’10 Comics

75 Years of DC Comics

75 Years of DC Comics

by KC Carlson

One thing I’m not exactly crazy about overall with October comics is that the giant gift book season still isn’t over yet. I am now completely overwhelmed with expensive hardcovers, during a time when many comics customers (and netizens) are trying desperately to budget their comics purchases to around $20 dollars a week. I’m not a big fan of publishing plans which have all (or most) of the major releases planned for the holiday season, especially when every single one of the publishers does the same thing. There is always so much stuff available that I want (or can ask Santa for) around Christmas, that I basically forget about half (or more) of it, simply because I cannot afford it. This is why I’ll always believe that a yearlong schedule of great books and projects will always trump a publishing plan that has everything dumped into the fourth quarter. Publishers, why take a foolish risk that your big year-end project (or three) may be the one (or many) that gets forgotten in the crush?

Now, having said that… one of the most expensive books of the year (but…):

Paul Levitz

Paul Levitz

1. 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking: There’s already been buzz about this project for months, but when I recently heard what the price tag was — $200 (of course, nicely discounted at Westfield!) — I thought they were crazy. Until I saw the picture to the left. That is one HUGE book! It’s 11.4 x 15.6 inches, 720 pages, and it weighs over 15 pounds, according to information at the publisher’s website. (Other sources may have older information.) The guy holding the book is its author, Paul Levitz. Paul is a great choice to write this book, as he was at DC for 35 out of those 75 years — and has extensively researched the rest! One of the best parts of my tenure at DC was running into Paul in the hallways when he was in the mood to share a little history/trivia. One of the more surprising: being informed that my favorite 1970s “artistic” Joe Orlando-edited runs of House of Mystery and House of Secrets were actually outsold by the more “formula” Murray Boltinoff-edited Ghosts and Unexpected titles. (The lesson being that perceived quality isn’t always what the general public will choose to buy.) I expect the book to be filled with similar “lost” facts of DC’s 75-year history. I don’t believe it will be a complete nuts-and-bolts history — this is an art book, first and foremost — but a once-in-a-lifetime look into the little-seen treasures forgotten in the DC vaults, or in collections from around the world. And not just the first issue covers that we always see. Check out the publisher’s (TASHEN) webpage for lots of fascinating sample pages.

Genius, Isolated

Genius, Isolated

2. Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth: The most eagerly awaited visual biography of the year. Written by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell and published by IDW, Genius, Isolated is a massive (400 pages!) hardcover detailing the life and work of of one of comics’ most unique talents. It’s profusely illustrated with hundreds of drawings by Toth — many rare and un-reprinted — and with extensive comments from Toth’s peers, friends, and family members. Whenever comic book creators get together to unwind and talk about great artwork, the conversation always gets around to Toth. Find out why in this amazing book. Roger Ash is hoping to get an interview with author Dean Mullaney, so look for that soon here at the Westfield blog!

Archie Statue

Archie Statue

3. Archie Stuff: I know I talk a lot about Archie Comics here, but this month’s really loaded for fans of the freckle-head! First up is Archie Firsts — a teaser of the new Dark Horse Comics line of Archie Archive editions featuring not only the first appearances of the main characters (Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie), but all of the character’s stories from Archie #1, Jughead #1, Archie’s Girls, Betty & Veronica #1, and Reggie #1 — all in hardcover. Bob Greenberger will have all the details in a few days, right here at the Westfield blog . . . Also, Dark Horse is launching an Archie line of their wonderful Classic Comic Collector Series of mini-statues (you know, the ones in the cool tin boxes!) . . . Meanwhile, IDW and Yoe Books! are presenting Archie: 7 Decades of America’s Favorite Teenagers. Written by Craig Yoe, this 224-page coffee table art book will hopefully be the first “fun” book to cover the entire history of Archie Comics. (Previous histories have been incomplete or overly academic.) With Top 10 cover categories including “Aliens and Monsters”, “Swimsuits”, “Rock ‘n Roll”, and “What Th’?!?” (Archie has had some crazy covers over the years!), this looks to be the fun Archie history. Also featuring key artist and writer biographies (Montana, DeCarlo, Lucey, Schwartz, and more), detailed character spotlights, superheroes, tons of unpublished artwork and more! . . . Over at Archie Comics itself, there’s a big three-part crossover “New Kids” story (in Archie and Friends #148, Archie #614, and Betty and Veronica #250) which introduces a bunch of new characters to Archie’s world, while World of Archie Double Digest #1 presents 160 pages of classic Archie Christmas stories!

Tiny Titans/Little Archie

Tiny Titans/Little Archie

4. Tiny Titans/Little Archie: And you thought we were done… But wait, there’s more! One of the best current kids comics’ cast (say that 5 times fast!) meets one of the best classic kids comics’ cast (ditto!) when Johnny DC teams up with Archie Comics to present Tiny Titans/Little Archie, a three-part miniseries featuring the mightiest, tiny-est crossover in comics history! Plus, it’s the first new Little Archie story in many years. Aw, yeah! A huge shout out to Art Baltazar and Franco, the guys writing and drawing this mini-opus. When I actually succumbed to comic book burnout (ironically, after writing about it) a few weeks ago and completely stopped reading comics, the comic I chose to bring me back in was Tiny Titans, reading the entire run in one sitting. Now I’m back and super-charged about comics again, thanks to this amazing book! Remember, because it’s for All Ages doesn’t mean it’s just for kids. Check this book out! Kid-sized Josie and the Pussycats show up in issue #2. But where’s Little Ambrose?

Avengers vs. Pet Avengers

Avengers vs. Pet Avengers

5. Avengers vs. Pet Avengers: Oh, no! Not another comic book where the heroes all get turned into frogs and get into a fight with their super-powered “pets” because of some misunderstanding just so there’s a “vs.” in the title, when actually the frog-heroes team up with the pets because the dragons have decided to take over the Earth (which probably creates an angst-filled inner conflict within Lockheed), and then it takes four issues to tell the tale (or tail, as it were)! There’s like 17 of these comics every week! WHEN WILL THE MADNESS END!?! (And what must it smell like in that frog-sized armor?)

Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit

Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit

6. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit: The second volume of Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Stark’s (actually Donald E. Westlake’s) classic noir crime novels is now available for ordering! The previous volume, The Hunter, sold out its first printing and was one of the most-lauded books of the year, garnering multiple award nominations and winning the 2010 Eisner Award for Best Adaptation From Another Work. I’m writing this just two days before I finally get to see the special super-sized preview that IDW recently published for The Outfit (why, oh, why does FedEx not have teleportational delivery yet?!), so I can’t tell you how great Darwyn Cooke’s art looks. (But it’s Darwyn — duh! — so obviously it will be outstanding!) As far as story goes, The Outfit opens with Parker living the high life after recovering the money he was cheated out of by the syndicate. Bet that won’t last long, once the Outfit finds out! 160 pages of Stark/Cooke greatness, in color, published by IDW.

The Horror!

The Horror!

7. The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read!: Winner of the best title of the month award, as well as the only book about horror comics written by a Shakespearean scholar (at least this month). Author Jim Trombetta’s 300-page, heavily illustrated history of the pre-Comics Code horror comics of the 1950s takes us back to the days where Congress (with nothing better to do) investigated comic books as a source of juvenile delinquency, based on the say-so of a pop psychologist of the day — and it was broadcast on TV no less! The book provides a detailed history and context for these comics and their creators — plus there’s a Bonus DVD featuring the 25-minute Confidential File, a rare TV show first broadcast in 1955 about the “evils” of comic books and their effect on juvenile delinquency! OMG! How scary is that! That may be worth the price of the book itself! Published by Abrams.

Deadpoolmax

Deadpoolmax

8. Deadpoolmax #1: Y’know, most of the time I feel like I’m the only guy around who doesn’t understand the appeal of Deadpool or why he currently has more monthly comic books than, say, Nextwave. Anyone wishing to clue me in on the awesomeness of Deadpool, please feel free to use the Comments box below (although all comments must be in proper english, in complete sentences, and “Because he’s sooo awesome, dude” is not acceptable). I will be checking out Deadpoolmax #1, however, because Dave Lapham (Stray Bullets) and Kyle Baker (Letitia Lerner, Superman’s Babysitter) are the creative team and they are sooo awesome, dude! For mature or Max-type people only.

Top Cow First Look

Top Cow First Look

9. The Round-Up: Here a few other things you might want to check out this month: Top Cow is offering up the best value in comics this month with the Top Cow First Look TPB, collecting the first issues of six new comics — for only five bucks! Six comics anywhere else would normally run you $18-$24 dollars . . . Dynamite’s new Warlord of Mars series based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novels could be interesting . . . Xenozoic: The Complete Collection compiles the amazingly beautiful Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz in a 352-page trade paperback by Flesk. Flesk is also listing a new Jim Silke Jungle Girls collection of paintings . . . Yo Gabba Gabba!: Comic Book Time! from Oni features work from Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Mike Allred, J. Bone, J. Torres, and more and features all the show’s characters, including current media star Muno (featured in those Kia Sorento ads with his pals Sock Monkey, robot, and teddy bear — how do you like me now?!) . . . Animation fans should check out the new Walt Disney Animation Studios Archive Series hardcovers . . . Chaos War #1, Turok #1, and Fables #100 may all be worth checking out. And if you really love Death, don’t miss Action Comics #894. . . I hear that Bruce Wayne is back this month. Did I miss something? Was he gone? Did we miss him?

10. Silly stuff: I’m not exactly recommending these, but here’s some of the goofy things that made me laugh this month, while trawling through hundreds of items looking for the good stuff.

Hardy Boys: Crawling With Zombies

Hardy Boys: Crawling With Zombies

* The Hardy Boys: Crawling With Zombies (a picture is worth a 1,000 words!)


Steampunk Palin

Steampunk Palin

* Steampunk Palin (not that I think it will ever get published, but the cover is great!)

* and a tip of the hat to comics’ perennial 8-year-old, Mark Millar, for naming his new magazine CLINT. “Clint”, you see, is a formerly banned word in comics, from the days when old, imperfect printing technology would occasionally cause the letters of some all-capital hand-lettered words to run together and inadvertently make new (and often not-so-nice) words. With all the leaps and bounds comics are making in critical acclaim and public acceptance, there will always be guys like Mark fighting like hell to keep them in the gutter.

Oh, and one last thing this month. Those of you Legionnaire fans who have been wondering whatever happened to artist Jeff Moy, he’s making his return to comics (while holding down his day job at Raven Software) in the pages of Image Comics and Jane Wiedlin’s Lady Robotica! Issue #4 is on the current order form.

KC Carlson: Less war. More Foofa!

The photo of Paul Levitz comes from the Comic Shop Locator site.

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  1. Thad Says:

    I think that, for the most part, Deadpool’s fans will agree with you that he’s totally overexposed at this point — but that’s pretty common with ANY character who has a movie coming.

    I’d love to see more Nextwave too, but I think Deadpool/Nextwave is a perfectly good comparison to bring up; they both fill the underexploited (well, underexploited prior to the Deadpool-gets-six-books-a-month trend, anyway) niche of superhero comedy, with a healthy dose of metafiction, deconstruction, and batsh*t craziness.

    Deadpool’s got a bit of a Chuck Jones vibe to him; he’s indestructible, and that’s used to comic effect. He’s ultimately likeable because he wants so desperately to be a good guy; he’s funny because he always fails, spectacularly and violently, because he’s psychotic and just plain not that bright.

    I didn’t read a lot of the Joe Kelly stuff (and, while this might not win me any friends among Deadpool fans, what I’ve read of it isn’t my cup of tea), but I’m quite liking the Daniel Way run, and I thought Christopher Priest did great things with it (most notably, Deadpool sharing an apartment with two other supervillains and bickering with them constantly, including an angry fanboy argument about who would win in a fight between Bugs Bunny and Dracula).

    So, those are my thoughts on Deadpool, off the top of my head, a bit rambly, and with too many parentheses. Don’t know if they’re enlightening at all, but there they are.