Archive for July, 2007

Go Town


Thursday, July 26, 2007

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Yes, we’re here in San Diego. Led by the inestimable Olive Panter, myself, Frank Santoro, Matthew Thurber, Marc Bell and Jon Vermilyea have arrived and begun selling here at Comic-Con. Great back issue shopping here. I’ve discovered that Carl Burgos rules! Also, sandwiches, anxiety, construction and hotels. Here are some pictures from the first day. Also, PictureBox has a new site with tons of new stuff! Shop your hearts out. And come see us if you’re in San Diego. Booth 1316.

Thurber and Bell work their magic.

The booth looketh good.
Thurber and Panter keep it casual.

Olive is proud of her Dad.
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PictureBox in San Diego


Monday, July 23, 2007

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Well, the PictureBox site itself is currently transitioning into a new beast, so this lowly blog will have to do for our San Diego announcement. PictureBox will be set up in San Diego in a beautiful booth. It will be designed and decorated by Matthew Thurber and Frank Santoro. Both artists will be signing books all weekend long, and so will Marc Bell and Taylor McKimens.

We will have tons of new stuff there by Paper Rad, Brian Chippendale, CF and many many more.

So: signings by Marc Bell, Matthew Thurber, Taylor McKimens and Frank Santoro, and good stuff.

Come see us!

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Recent Comics Reading


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

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We haven’t done this in a while.

Jack Kirby‘s Fourth World Omnibus, Volume 1
Everything went right with this book, which collects the early issues of Kirby’s “Fourth World” comics for DC (Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods, and Mister Miracle), with the stories printed in order of their original publication. Some have complained about the paper stock, which is superficially reminiscent of newsprint (I’ve heard this “choice” came down to a production mistake, though that may just be rumor), but it works very well, in my opinion. The coloring is as good as it gets for this kind of archival treatment. In terms of story, this is pretty close to the deep end for pure Kirby weirdness, and those who haven’t read much by him might be better off starting with his ’60s Marvel work. Or maybe not. The ’70s period finds Kirby’s art and bizarre ideas as close to “art comics” as he would ever get.

This has been one of the most widely reviewed comics collections of the year (deservedly so), so I won’t go on too much longer, but I do want to say that I really enjoy how Kirby throws in subplots and imagery with incredibly disturbing implications (the underground government cloning facility, the fact that the very first person they decided to clone was Superman (an incredibly incautious choice, I’d think)) in an almost offhand manner, barely commented upon by the characters. There are a lot more levels to these stories than might seem initially apparent.

Richard Sala‘s Delphine #1-2
I’m also really enjoying this new series from Sala, which is part of Fantagraphics’s Ignatz line. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t really get Sala’s work in time to follow The Chuckling Whatsit and Mad Night in their original serialized form, so it’s great to get another chance with this new series, which seems to be loosely based on the Snow White story. Sala’s done some great work with short pieces, but these Judex-like serials are where he really excels. One panel in the first issue actually made me jump (well, not really jump—I was sitting down—but the sedentary equivalent of jumping, anyway). Good stuff.

Rick Geary‘s Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Borden Tragedy
For some reason, Rick Geary’s drawing style has never really appealed to me—it seems too twee or something, I guess—but enough people whose taste I trust have recommended him to me over the years that I finally decided to give him a try. I’m glad I did. This narrative reconstruction of the infamous Lizzie Borden trial and the murders that led up to it is masterfully done, and a pretty obvious riposte to my ignorant lament that not enough comics were taking advantage of the form’s natural strengths for exploring historical topics. Geary uses a tremendous amount of innovative layouts and formal techniques (pretty much everything I imagined earlier, as well as others I hadn’t anticipated) to great effect, and this is a compelling true crime tale. In the end, it may seem like not much more than a well-executed genre piece, but when considered with the other titles in this series (which I definitely plan on sampling), that judgment may prove too harsh. And there’s certainly a place for good genre work, anyway. I’m still not the biggest fan of Geary’s drawings, but they do what he wants them to, which is what counts. (I’m sometimes repelled by Steve Ditko‘s art, for that matter, and he’s one of my favorites.)

Josh Simmons‘s House
I’ve enjoyed a few of Josh Simmons’s mini-comics over the years, but this is a real step up, and a very promising book-length debut. This short, atmospheric horror story follows three young people exploring a strange, abandoned house, and the first half of the book is filled with surprising and even exhilarating moments. I don’t want to give the plot away, but after being so pleased by the beginning of the book, I was a little disappointed by the ending, which felt too protracted and schematic for my taste. The author pretty clearly intended that effect, though, so maybe I’ll be more receptive after a few re-readings. In any case, Simmons displays an original voice, and this is inexpensive and impressive enough for me to recommend it to anyone interested in horror or wordless comics. I am excited to see what Simmons comes up with next.

Minetaro Mochizuki’s Dragon Head, Vols. 1-4
What is wrong with me? Everyone else in the world, from Dan to seemingly every comics reviewer on the Internet, is raving about this manga, but four volumes in, I’m still indifferent. So far, the story follows two high-school students trapped in a train tunnel after some kind of apocalyptic incident, and their struggle to survive and escape. It’s all put together extremely well, but follows the J-horror/apocayptic fiction formulas so closely that I’ve never once felt surprised. I’ve been assured by others that the series gets better as it goes, but I’m about ready to give up. This feels a lot like any number of “good” television shows (Lost, Heroes) that I don’t feel like I have the time to follow, and I don’t think the fact that these characters are drawn is going to keep me going. I am probably wrong about this series.

Finally, in the so far, so good files:

Osamu Tezuka‘s Apollo’s Song
I haven’t finished this yet, but I’m loving it, and I’m really glad that Vertical is putting out these relatively obscure Tezuka titles. When the Phoenix volumes came out, I wasn’t really ready for them. The bizarre and wonderful storytelling in this, Ode to Kirohito, and Buddha has given me new eyes.

Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman‘s Golden Age Doctor Fate Archives
This book is too expensive if you can’t find a deal somewhere, but so far, this is nothing but great, brainless, golden-age fun. I can’t read too many of these stories at once, but it’s terrific in small portions.

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This is Just a Warm-Up


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

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I can not wait to see what Dada poet/standup comic/Internet legend/funny-book reviewer Abhay Khosla is going to say about Cold Heat. Even if he hates it, this will be awesome.

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Contemporary Jazz Fans


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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Please advise.

Can this possibly be any good?

I want to know before I buy it like a sucker.

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Okay, Just a Little More Hype


Monday, July 16, 2007

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The ultimate mark of COMICS COMICS is that I can hand it to any comics fan, and no matter their interests or depth of knowledge, they will both learn something new and have an established belief challenged.

—From an excellent review of the last two issues of Comics Comics by Rob Clough
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What People Are Saying About CC3


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

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As most of you know, this is the week Comics Comics 3 is supposed to be shipping to finer comic stores, and early reviews are in!

Tom “The Comics Reporter” Spurgeon calls it “lovely-looking … full of engaging essays where writers stake out a unique aesthetic position and then defend it. A lot of comics coverage leaves off that first part. The third and best issue.”

Joe “Jog” McCulloch
(who, as a contributor to the issue, is perhaps not completely trustworthy) calls it a “fine newspaper of comics information and festivity”, and further claims, “It’s a scientifically proven fact that a copy of Comics Comics can heal a multitude of diseases if pressed against the offending portion of the body, though it’s gotta be a sick body part, not just offending.”

Last but not least (well, technically, I guess it is least), Newsarama’s Chris Mautner ranks the issue as “pretty good”. But he also says there are “lots of crack reviews”, which sounds very good to me.

Next post: less hype, more blog.

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So I Guess


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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It’s the Robert A. Heinlein centennial or something. He wrote some good stories and books, and I think his reputation is deserved, but for the most part, Heinlein was never my cup of tea. Too weird, and not in a way I could really identify with. Everyone was so competent all the time. Stranger in a Strange Land was pretty mind-blowing when I was thirteen, though. Nipples going “spung” and all that. Or was that from a different book? (Kurt Vonnegut wrote about Stranger for the New York Times here.)

Anyway, Jesse Walker recently posted a link to a comic strip adaptation of one of Heinlein’s novels that ran in Boys’ Life magazine (the magazine “for all boys”, but really a propaganda vehicle for the Boy Scouts).

Which reminded me that Boys’ Life was one of my earliest sources (besides the Sunday newspaper) for regular cartoon reading. Most of it wasn’t very good. I never found Pedro (the magazine’s burro mascot) amusing, no matter how hard I tried. Lots of lousy camping-based gag cartoons. And Tom Swifties are not only not comics, but also not funny.

But the long-running adaptation of John Christopher’s Tripods series? That was some spooky stuff.

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Comics Comics 3 Out in Stores


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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This is just to remind you that the new issue of Comics Comics should be arriving in stores this week!

This time around:

*Sammy Harkham interviews Guy Davis (and they collaborate on a beautiful new cover)

*The legendary Kim Deitch explains the Meaning of Life

*Dan has some bones to pick with the Masters of American Comics show

*David Heatley and Lauren R. Weinstein in conversation (they also collaborated on a brand-new oversize drawing)

*The long-awaited (by me) conclusion to my article on Steve Gerber

*The beloved Joe McCulloch on Mutt and Jeff

*An illustrated list from Renée French

*An amazing back cover by Marc Bell

*Plus a terrific new redesign from Mike Reddy, the debut of our new letters page, hilarious Matthew Thurber cartoons throughout the issue, somewhat more careful proof-reading, reviews of The Avengelist, Casanova, “Curse of the Molemen”, GØDLAND, The Immortal Iron Fist, Reading Comics, Ronin, Self-Loathing Comics, Swamp Preacher, and more!

We will also try to offer it for sale here on the site very soon.

Does YOUR favorite store carry Comics Comics?

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Behind the Magic


Thursday, July 5, 2007

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Check out the new short video thing at the Cold Heat site.

Color separations!

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