New Comics Day


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I feel like writing something about how I’m back in Pittsburgh, Pa, enjoying my weekly trips to the comics shop for new comics and how all I buy every week are mainstream comics. I mean, I want to buy some new alt or art comic book but there are none. I already have the new Crickets, I already have the new Injury, what else is there in the way of new alt comic books? I buy Criminal because it’s the closest thing to an art comic out there. And, well, cuz it’s really good. In fact, for me, the “artiest” comic out there these days is Punisher War Journal. It’s so eye-poppingly modern, post-modern, whatever, I can’t believe it. Who cares that it’s Punisher, just look at how shine-y and well made it is, the drawings just vibrate and push the action around. I really love it. It’s a well written, well drawn comic. I know, I know, it seems like I’m just being contrarian or something but I’m not. Really. Ask Dan.

This week I also bought Patsy Walker: Hellcat, Paul Grist’s Jack Staff (for some reason Grist’s econo style looked really fresh on the shelf), and the new Richard Corben Hellboy. Go ‘head, laugh. But really, these comics become my purchases just because I want some new comics to read. Anybody with me? I’m not trying to rag on alt or art comics, I’m just frustrated the market is so inhospitable to alt or art comic books (pamphlets) and that it’s months before a new one seems to appear. And I read just about everything.

On the other hand it seems like there are three or four alt graphic novels or alt anthologies that appear monthly, y’know? Weird. And I read those too, but I’m less inclined to pick them up on a goof, just to try ’em out. I’ll read the stuff by people I like in the store and then I’ll look at it again every week until I’ve decided that I don’t want it anymore. I read it already, y’know?


Comics Reporter has a few put up some interesting remarks bout this topic. Check it out.

46 Responses to “New Comics Day”
  1. Brian says:

    There was a new Tales Designed To Thrizzle out today. It was awesome. But yeah, that Corben comic looked pretty good- I think Dave Stewart’s as good as computer coloring gets but it would be funny if you wanted to talk shit on him.

  2. Frank Santoro says:

    Yeah New Tales Designed to Thrizzle and new Love ‘n Rockets –I’ll read ’em soon enough — but still… it’s like months before there is some new alt comic I want to read. I’m reading a lot of different, mainstream stuff because I like the length of comic books. They are like singles. I think I’m starting to hate graphic novels. they’re turning into those 2 hour hip hop cds that have 36 songs.

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    what the fuck when did chaykin start drawing pwj

    i know exactly what you mean about buying what’s there because nothing else is there.

  4. Frank Santoro says:

    Yes! Factual Opinion bonus track!

  5. Inkstuds says:

    All I bought today was a batman comic by Grant Morrison. The Tony Daniel art makes my eyes bleed, the story is fucked up enough to peak my interest.

  6. Jog says:

    I still can’t believe that Corben has three series going at once right now… Hellboy, his Lovecraft thing at Marvel and his ‘flashbacks’ in the new Conan series that can’t possibly be more obviously a seperate project that got folded into the main series for whatever reason… better sales, buying the main artist more time… the Hellboy stuff is the best of them. He’s been kicking some ass on that…

  7. Nicholas says:

    I know what you mean Frank. I’m into mostly arty-type comics, but enjoy picking up comics just for the sake of it so I end up getting some mainstream stuff. Who was that that said when you buy a comic you walk out of the store with a little piece of culture?

    I’ve been getting Criminal too, and I think that it’s the best of it’s kind out there. That got me turned onto Brubaker’s Captain America, which is also pretty good, and those Steve Epting covers are great. What else? Ennis’s Punisher was good but that just ended today. I haven’t been hooked by the plot line of Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men but the Simon Bianchi artwork is phenomenal. I used to get Godland but then I figured why not just go read some Kirby Essential FF or Thor. Any other good mainstream recommendations? I’ll have to check out the Punisher War Journal.

  8. pete. says:

    I’m doing the same thing for slightly different reasons. I’m not too near to a comic store, so I order the comics I actually want to read online. There’s a news stand on my block that carries mainstream books and I’ve just been almost randomly buying them. I’m getting Batman and every X Men comic and shit like that, that I haven’t bothered to look at since I was 12.

  9. Marc Arsenault says:

    I was at my mother in law’s the other day and there were a few comics lying around left by a friend of the family’s kid, including a few recent PWJs with Chaykin art, and I have to admit they didn’t grab me. Loved Chaykin’s stuff to death for ages, but something about the computer finish creeping in on the Punisher stuff left me way cold.

    I have to wonder if books like Omega (now ended) and Vinyl Underground (Simon Gane! ending soon…) are anomalies or if there will be more alternative fare from mainstream pamphlet-land.

  10. Brian says:

    Marc, did you hear about Brendan McCarthy doing a Dr. Strange/Spider-Man comic there’s supposed to come out next year? (There’s also that Marvel anthology thing where the Dash Shaw Dr. Strange comic is going to run, along with Jim Rugg doing something that’s not Brother Voodoo.) He blogged about it.

    It’s kind of funny the way that people talk about these things, like Omega, as prestige projects to last forever in the bookstore market once collected when it’s kind of the only delivery system for these cartoonists on the cheap, especially for someone like Rugg who’s interested in color.

    The color thing is interesting, actually- how many people who get the chance to do pamphlet comics but can’t do color stuff there because of the cost, even though color is a skill they’re adept at. Jordan Crane would be a good example if Uptight came out recently enough for people to think about it.

  11. Frank Santoro says:

    Corben’s new work is really great, his work looks so different in the context of what’s on the shelf in 2008. (is that a sentence?)

    maybe Chaykin is the modern Ogden Whitney in so much as he really divides people, yay or nay.

  12. Dustin Harbin says:

    Frank, I wonder if the problem is the (don’t be mad) pamphlet itself? I’m TOTALLY a bookshelf snob, but I work in a comics shop and can read anything I want for free, and STILL can’t bring myself to bother with most stuff. Even stuff like Hellboy and Omega I just wait for to come out in book form, so I can sit down and read it all at once, possibly drunk.

    The only pamphlets I really get excited about anymore are either the ones like Crickets and Uptight that are (done by guys in hats) on incredibly slow schedules, AND incredibly awesome. How could I wait 2 years to read All Star Superman Volume 2 in book form?

    Hellboy, especially, reads too fast to read monthly, especially if you’re buying it. ZIP! It takes like five minutes to read an issue, another five if you’re really drinking in the art, which I probably won’t for Corben. Bone was the same way back in the day. Waiting two months to spend 2 minutes reading an issue was monstrously frustrating. But as a book? Oh, so good.

  13. Frank Santoro says:

    I read everything in 2 seconds anyways, so, it doesn’t matter to me. But I know what your saying. It’s okay, I know you’re a snob, D.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Criminal is a lot of fun. Very clever, reasonably complex noir that’s great-looking. If you haven’t read SLEEPER, I’d recommend going back and getting those trades; same team, this time it’s superhero noir.

    I’m also reading Brubaker’s Cap and Daredevil, both of which are entertaining.

    Grist is probably my favorite mainstream artist. I liked KANE more than JACK STAFF, but the latter is still pretty fun.

    –Rob Clough

  15. Marc Arsenault says:

    Brian, trust me, I’m secretly sending invisible ‘be super awesome’ waves towards McCarthy for those S-M/Dr. Strange books.

    I finally saw Jordan Crane’s jacket on Chabon’s new book in person yesterday. That thing is nice… and doomed. More Crane in color, please.

    Clearly what Marvel did with their famous author initiative was pretty smart for bookstore positioning and media attention. Maybe they’ll balance it with a prestige line of cool arty stuff. There’s a lot of possibilities there.

    I’m voting for a Brinkman Warlock maxi-series, to be collected in a silver foil embossed puzzle box, that converts into furniture.

  16. Dustin Harbin says:

    Chumba-wumba! I am wounded.

    Oh, but an exception: Guy Davis on BPRD is an utter joy–that book is fun to read in book or pamphlet form. Just fun adventure comics–I wish this book had existed when I was ten. God, if I’d been reading Hellboy, Tintin, and THB when I was a kid I would have been so better well-rounded. But probably still a snob. Ta-dah!

  17. Dash Shaw says:

    I think the alt-comics series you’re looking for have largely moved online as webcomics or in the manga format- stuff like “Wet Moon” by Ross Campbell or Brandon Graham (“Multiple Warheads”, “King City”) and a lot of the Oni Press people (Scott Pilgrim). Personally, I really like the manga format. “Wet Moon” rules. I’m more excited to pick up a new volume of Wet Moon or Scott Pilgrim than any of the pamphlet-format books in recent memory. Plus I don’t think putting out something in a pamphlet format once every one or two years counts as regular serialization. The manga format and webcomics actually come out on a semi-regular basis.


  18. Dash Shaw says:


    Unrelated: I got a copy of Makoto Aida’s comic “Mutant Hanako” and you HAVE to see this if you haven’t already. It’s up your alley for-sure. You probably already have it, but I’ll bring it to you next time you’re in NYC if you don’t.


  19. Frank Santoro says:

    I dig the manga format. I guess i’m showing my age.

    To me a 32 page bi-monthly comic like, ahem, Moon Knight, was an awesome way to serialize something “experimental.” That was 1983 when I was 11.

    And I’m sure you’re right about the webcomics serialization. I just like comic books.

    Dustin, I meant “book snob…”

  20. knut says:

    Frank, is this a passive-aggressive way of whining at Dan for ending the Cold Heat pamphlet format?

  21. Frank Santoro says:

    Yes, absolutely.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Part of it’s the price point, part of it’s the format, but tabloid style minis like Princes of Time, Chimera, the Cold Heat specials, have been my absolute favorite things to buy at a comic shop for awhile now. And non-comics readers tend to love them too — when I put one of those on my coffee table everyone will read it, while a standard pamphlet or “graphic novel” will go pretty much ignored…

  23. Frank Santoro says:

    hunh. thats inneresting…
    I just want my comics to be mixed in with all the other crappy pamphlets so I can buy Cold Heat #3 for a quarter at Heroes Con next year. Thats my goal as a cartoonist, to see my own comics in the quarter bin.

  24. dylan sparkplug says:

    Oops…I was trying to correct a typo:

    I just buy stuff I like when it comes out at the store, I don’t care what format it is in. Today was a giant haul. I had to leave the new Rick Geary book and the new issue of Sci-Fi Fantasy Modeller for next week.
    I got:
    Buscemsa: A life in Sketches
    The Paintings of J. Allen St. John
    The Shadow Double Novel #20
    BPRD The Warning #2
    Hellboy Crooked Man #2
    The Punisher #59
    Mineshaft #22
    Where Demented Wented (AMAZING BOOK DAN!)

    I can’t stand Chaykin’s art. And the writing on most of those “hard assed” comics is worse than Mickey Spillane but I love Goran Parlov who draws the Punisher right now, he is a throwback artist who doesn’t deserve that shitty coloring they put on all the marvel books these days. But, anyway, that is a bunch of money to lay out and it seems like every week there are 3 or so good pamphlets and a couple books which is about all my bank account can handle. But, really who cares what format a book comes in or if other people look down their nose at you for buying Punisher? We all know you read Harper’s at home. I actually have to hold off on buying a lot of comics because I’ve got such a giant reading backlog.

  25. Marc Arsenault says:

    What do you mean by “worse”, Dylan? Mickey Spillane was a far more capable writer than most comic book hacks. Sounds like a pretty subjectivey/opiniony sort of stance. C’mon, back that up, lest ye be known for speaking ill of the dead!

    And it sounds like your wallet can handle a lot! That’s like at least 4 times what I spend on a Wednesday (which is usually once a month), and that includes an armload of bargainbin stuff.

    Just for the record, I guess, the only regular ongoing I’m getting now is probably Ex Machina, which does read infinitely better in the collections.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Single pamphlet comics are waaay too expensive now. So many of them are so slow paced that you still feel like your waiting for the next issue even while your reading the new one. This applies to ‘alt’ as well as superheroes.

    The growing trend in making the g-n/collection a ‘beautiful object’ seems to be the way forward (although the next Kramer’s seems to be taking this too far). Instead of waiting a year (and paying £10.00 a pop) to see Rusty Brown to walk from the bathroom to the kitchen, I’d rather wait until he finally gets it over with so I can get the whole thing, and have the satisfaction of reading a book.

    The same applies to increasingly ‘ambient’ (ie. inert)fantasy/superhero stuff. How I miss the narrative density of a Stan Lee or Englehart!

    I only buy one pamphlet comic now – Eightball – and I’m not even sure that there’s ever gonna be another issue!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Apart from some of American Flagg, Chaykin sucks!

    Please keep him away from movies – Frank Miller’s done far too much damge already…

  28. DerikB says:

    I’ve almost completely given up on pamphlets with some rare exceptions. One that has been coming out on a fairly regular basis lately is Reich by Elijah Brubaker (Sparkplug). I’m highly impressed with its schedule. When it started I was expecting it o be like Crickets or Uptight or one of those other “never comes out” books.

    Of course, I’m also one of those people who gets everyone via mail. I dislike all the stores that are within comfortable driving distance of me.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I was actually browsing in my local comic shop yesterday (Batman, Hellboy and Watchmen seemed to make up half the shelves – yawn).

    Then I remembered why I hate ’em – there was so many over-35 fat guys (with B.O.), it took far too long to squeeze from one end of the shop to the other. Being ‘new’ comic day, half of the sweaty fatties were engaged in animated chat about toys/games/movies of comic ‘properties’, so there was also a lot of slobber to complement the sweat. They also seem to slow down the queue talking similar shit to the clerk. It was like a sketch from ‘Family Guy’.

    Occasionally there’s elfin teenage girls browsing the manga/graphics section – they seem to be fulfilling a different kind of stereotype. At least they seem to wash more often.

    Give me the internet any day…

  30. Dustin Harbin says:

    Yeah, SRSLY. You NEVER run into weird people saying goofy stuff on the INTERNET.

    So no more Cold Heat’s in pamphlet form? I recently finished 1-4, and am trying to figure out what order to read the specials in. The Jim Rugg special is by my bed and looks SO AMAZING that I’m kind of slobbering in anticipation. No offense to Anonymous.

  31. Frank Santoro says:

    I don’t care if you like the stores or not or if you like pamphlets or not. Why can’t anyone stay on topic and comment on the post I wrote?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Check out “Elk’s Run”!!

  33. Tucker Stone says:

    I just wish there was a company that could put out something cheap and weird each week–something that had no attempt at serialization or continuity, or regular characters. One week it’s political robot congress, next week it’s a bad first date with beavers on the moon, one week it’s just gratuitous violence directed at poor people–just something that could guarantee a surprise each week. Instead it’s picking from this or that sad-ass anecdote about dead cats and crying, apartments in New York, or super-heroes being babies. I just want a comic shop where there’s always something that’s unexpected and surprising, innovative and weird and fresh each week. And I want it to be drawn by Greg Land, because he’s an American treasure.

  34. Matthew J. Brady says:

    For an arty sort of pamphlet, I highly recommend Joshua Hagler’s The Boy Who Made Silence. That series is beautiful and strange and kind of incomprehensible, but with some amazing art. I can’t get enough of it.

  35. Tam says:

    Isn’t the Hellcat comicbook charming, Frank? Lovely art and I think I’ve fallen in love with Patsy Walker. Shameful to admit you feel that way about a comic character, but there you go… First comic book since Gaiman’s Death that my sister’s liked! Except Persopolis, which doesn’t REALLY count, somehow…l

  36. Eric Reynolds says:

    I go to the comic shop once every couple of months. I went today on my way home. I was ready to buy. I left empty-handed. I routinely am tempted to buy things just for the helluva it. A couple of months ago I bought the first couple of issues of Secret Invasion and Final Crisis just to see what all the hubbub was about. I don't usually read these crossovers. Final Crisis was just impenetrable to me. I truly don't care. Secret Invasion was mildly clever but ultimately kind of repetitive. It's like an epic episode of Three's Company. Today I saw a few things from Fanta that would catch my eye as a fan like Abandoned Cars and Thrizzle. But the only thing I glanced at today and passed on was a Conan comic with a nice Joe Kubert cover. I totally get where you're coming from, Frank. The only non-Fanta/D&Q/Buenaventura/Picturebox comics I've "collected" with any serious interest the last year or two have been Speak of the Devil, Apocalypse Nerd, Omega the Unknown, and Rasl. I wish there was more.

  37. Dash Shaw says:

    Tom Spurgeon wrote that he “doesn’t buy” that there’s a lot of alt comic series online and asks if anything is of the quality level of Injury, Crickets, etc..
    When Daniel Clowes was doing Lloyd Lewellen he was evolving/learning in a serialized book. Everyone was
    seeing him develop on a book that came out on a regular basis. Or Paul Pope evolving in THB. This is
    what’s happening in webcomics: look at Romantic’s
    Perfect Stars:
    She’s been doing this for years and you can see her growth/change over the course of this. The alt-comics being mentioned (Uptight, Crickets) just don’t come out
    on a regular-enough basis for this to occur. I don’t understand how Uptight and Crickets is a return to the alt-comics everyone enjoyed years ago– who has fond memories of being 11 years old, picking up a comic that comes out once every couple of years?– So you may not feel that these online comics are the same quality level, but I feel that many of them are, and they’re certainly creating a more similar experience to the alt-comic series everyone enjoys.
    Two of the books that Pantheon is publishing in 2009 are webcomics collected: “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge” and my “BodyWorld” webcomic. “A.D.” and Bertozzi’s “Persimmon Cup” have been running regularly for a long time, and it seems strange that nobody’s noticing that- Bertozzi did the “Rubber Necker” series printed and now he’s doing “Persimmon Cup” online- consistent new work, different format.
    Serialized pamphlet-comics aren’t selling well. That’s what I’m told, anyway. Webcomics don’t have to sell well, because most of them are free. Don’t you realize how exciting that is?
    Would Poharex sell well?
    Probably not, but it’s a totally freaking entertaining comic to me. And if you click around on a lot of these free webcomic hosting sites, I think there’s a huge amount of strange, unusual work that is existing outside of any concern for sales.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’d like it if more alt pamphlet books were out there. I like them too. But I don’t think there’s reason to complain. There are exciting things happening even if it’s not in the format people enjoyed before.
    Crap I have to shut up now. Sorry.

  38. Frank Santoro says:

    maybe our generation (the ones that “grew up” on 80s alt comics) is just, well, getting left behind. As Dash points out, there are good comics being serialized on the web. But, for me, that isn’t as fun as the ‘community” that I had growing up at the awesome BEM store in Pittsburgh. I know, I know, you dear reader, don’t or didn’thave a cool shop near you but so what, yadda yadda yadda I still like pamphlets and I still like new comics day, and no RSS feed is going to replace the real interaction I’m missing these days.

    I was just hanging at at Copacetic Comics with my old pal Bill Boichel and we sat around talking comics. Thats how I know so much about comics, hanging out and talking comics in a comics store.

  39. d. morris says:

    When I worked at a comic book store last summer, I noticed this myself though I didn’t think much of it. Whenever I would want to buy a single issue of anything, I’d generally end up buying a superhero book or some oddball mainstream book because I couldn’t find an alt comic I had not already bought. If I wanted something alternative, I would end up getting a graphic novel. Then again sometimes I find it a satisfying in reading a story in huge chunks. I don’t mind getting thicker books but I’m with you, what’s wrong with putting up a single issue every now and then?

  40. shitpak says:

    current chaykin, 2 thumbs down(or maybe one middle finger up). come on, look at that war journal shit. smeared fake airbrush. everyone Chaykin draws looks like a Republican.

    goran parlov in Punisher, a thumb up….too bad its over. ennis seems to be the only one who likes Parlov.

    pamphlet comics rule…. so easily organized….

    except variant covers. i hate them. they trick me into buying the same comic twice thinking its a new issue… especially when it comes out a month later. i am like grandma paying her bills twice.

    what are alt comics?
    alto saxaphone…..

    i ride my bike 7 miles every wednesday to hang at the comic shop.

    long live corben, though conan went downhill after Busiek left. current hellboy makes me happy.

    i like green lantern corps. its full of evil. i think it has literally rained body parts at least once in each of the last four issues. i kid you not.

    i am excited about clay mann penciling an issue of DD. latest story in DD is real good. very pamphletly paced……

    lets be frank…

  41. dylan sparkplug says:

    I’d recommend trying some local mini comics or working your way through the Previews and looking for stuff online that your store can order.

  42. dylan sparkplug says:

    Also, Frank, did you check out that Silver Surfer series a few months back? It was fucking great. The art is gorgeous.
    Huat is one of my new favorites and that Villarubia coloring works really well with his art. I need to check out their Ghost Rider.

    Seriously about finding new stuff, it is funny to me that Tom is like “Show me good new books” when he reviews and links to about a million good new books. I guess they aren’t all monthly pamphlets but using that criteria to expect art is like expecting Terrence Mallick to keep pace with Michael Bay. I think you are also compacting all the fun times you had as a kid with comics. Or time is compacting them because when you are a kid everything is new, now you’ve seen a lot more stuff. I think the key is to keep an open mind and not just buy books from Fantagraphics (sorry Eric).

  43. Anonymous says:

    Hey Frank,

    Forgot to mention the Ignatz line from Fantagraphics/Coconino. I think you might really dig Sergio Ponchione’s GROTESQUE (2 issues are out now) a lot in particular.

    –Rob Clough

  44. Frank Santoro says:

    “I think you are also compacting all the fun times you had as a kid with comics.”

    most definitely.

    Still, I’m just into dumb comics
    these days. the tide has turned.

    I still like heavy, long form dense comics, new and old, but bad novels are bad whether they are “graphic novels” or not. Literary graphic novels often lean on the text/image monotony and spoonfeed readers like they’ve never read a comic before. nowadays I feel like these comics are made for this elusive “new audience” who’ve never really read a comic before. (new mass market readers?)

    Does that make sense? I just think a lot of untalented writers and screenwriters in particular are using comics like storyboard pitch campaigns for their poorly thought out concepts.

    So, I’m switching back to my own backyard’s poorly thought out concepts like Punisher, hahaaa

    And yes, Grotesque is very enjoyable.

  45. knut says:

    It dawned on me the other day that so much of our knowledge of comics is basically an oral history. Like Frank said, he knows a lot about comics because he hung around the store talking comics.

    I just recently read some mainstream comics for the first time in probably 4 or 5 years, and of course I was totally confused. It made me think how even though I never read “everything” I always seemed to know what was going on. You just pick things up by going to the comic shop (especially on Wednesdays.)

    The internet is just not the same. Maybe the comments section on this board is kinda close, but the message boards are something bizarre.

  46. Dustin Harbin says:

    If anyone is still reading this thread, I just saw this cool memory lane walk from Chris Pitzer regarding his relationship over the years with various comic shops, etc. I apologize for the lack of hand-wringing over the pamphlet/book brouhaha. Chris isn’t very controversial.

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