THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (2/16/11 – New Findings)


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From "Mr. A: Chapterplay"; art and story by Steve Ditko. I swear this is the last Ditko thing I'll post for a while.

Yeah, I’m still a little woozy from finishing that post yesterday (and I scanned too many images), so let’s get right to the new funnies:

Uptight #4: The newest issue of Jordan Crane’s Fantagraphics comic book, continuing the serials that started off last issue. A guy tries to cope with a woman he possibly only imagines is cheating on him — ambiguity in the visual presentation, I think — while the kid/animal characters from Crane’s The Clouds Above have an adventure in and out of the cooler at school. Big samples; $3.95.

Finder: Voice: Being the first Dark Horse release for Carla Speed McNeil’s much-admired fantasy series — a 208-page b&w softcover — as part of an extensive author-at-Dark-Horse initiative also encompassing a dedicated website and thick new collections of past books, The Finder Library, set to launch next month. Preview; $19.99.

Twilight of the Assholes: Cartoons & Essays 2005-2009: A self-explanatory book of works by Tim Kreider, 288 pages from Fantagraphics. Here’s an interview with the artist. Preview; $28.99.

The Plane Story: I don’t know much about illustrator Kevin Sacco, but this 128-page collection of (I think) autobiographical comics might be worth looking through. Sample short; $19.99.

Captain America by Jack Kirby Omnibus: One of several Captain America books out this week, no doubt slowing getting movie-related produce out on shelves. Some might prefer the Bronze Age-and-after tour of Captain America: Scourge of the Underworld, but I’ll give a little nod to this 568-page collection of Kirby’s 1976-77 tenure as writer/artist of the character. Collects issues #193-214, Annuals #3-4 and the Marvel Treasury release Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, obviously not at Treasury size; $74.99.

Johnny Red: Falcon’s First Flight: Alternatively, you could always go for this 128-page hardcover slice of ’70s British comics from the pages of Battle Picture Weekly, depicting the adventures of an ex-RAF pilot who finds himself flying for Russia. From writer Tom Tully and soon-to-be Charley’s War artist Joe Colquhoun. Introduction by Garth Ennis, who’s also launching his new a-housewife-who’s-kind-of-the-Punisher series Jennifer Blood at Dynamite this week; $19.95.

Alex Toth: The Adventures of Jon Fury… in Japan: Apparently a colored compilation of strips Alex Toth drew for his base newspaper in the mid-’50s while stationed in Japan with the Army, published by storyboard artist and illustrator Paul Power. Includes an interview with Toth, purportedly the last one given prior to his death; $11.00.

Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Vol. 8: Just another U.S. Grant hit of Marsh from Dark Horse, that’s all. Preview; $49.99.

DeadpoolMax #5: There was kind of a lot of plot last issue, suggesting that writer David Lapham probably has some long-view scheme worked up for this series depicting Marvel superhero elements as imagined by mentally damaged special forces personnel on (very) broadly parodic missions. Kyle Baker is the artist. Preview; $3.99.

Human Target: Second Chances: Because a television show kind of is a second chance for a comic! This is the second latter-day extra fat collection of Vertigo comics written by Peter Milligan, concerning a man of fluid identity. Collects issues #1-10 of the 2003-05 ongoing series, which is to say the 2004 trades Strike Zones (art by Javier Pulido) and Living in Amerika (art by Cliff Chiang); $19.99.

Detective Comics Classics: Finally, here’s an inexpensive little collection of ’60s and ’70s Batman comics that used to be a pack-in bonus for action figures. With Gardner Fox & Frank Springer, soon-to-be Star*Reach publisher Mike Friedrich & Gil Kane, and an Elliot S! Maggin/Mike Grell story summarized at the Comic Book Database as “Benedict Arnold returns from hell to battle Batgirl and Robin and the American spirit,” which is certainly better than I could do; $5.99.


6 Responses to “THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (2/16/11 – New Findings)”
  1. Richard Baez says:

    I like the way that pre-set font meshes with the Ditko – it lends it a straight-up Jack T. Chick urgency. No time for fucking around with lettering – the world needs to know and it needs to know now!

    • The little ‘straight talk from Mr. A’ final panel occurs in every episode of the Chapterplay, and after a while it REALLY gets to feeling like the uniform finale of every Chick tract where it lays down the prayers to say and how to take The Next Step… by purchasing a book titled The Next Step, which to the best of my knowledge consisted largely of additional Chick tracts in book form…

      • Richard Baez says:

        That Mr. A panel you posted down below in your current magnum opus – what looks like him greeting his antsy-pants public whilst walking what appears to be a runway – looks wonderfully emblematic of this. The fact that that black-white card/symbol/whatever (seen there and in the panel up above) is shaped exactly like a Chick tract just makes the imagination run wild.

        • It’s great how many uses he makes of the white/black card image… sometimes it’s tar a baddie gets stuck in, sometimes it’s so rotten with corruption it breaks away, causing the villain to fall… sometimes it’s just a sharp ledge, a la the falling death of the first villain in the first Mr. A story – the perspective, if skewed, typically favors Mr. A as ascended, as if bestriding gleaming art deco towers or a mighty architectural genius’ spires… or a beam of light from Heaven, Mr. A as a white-clad angel, casting evil deeper into the ‘fallen’ world… but that’s mysticism, even though a good horror comics-bred guy like Ditko can’t resist having the black end, in one panel, pouring downward into the open maw of a skull… that’s a tricky one, you have to use the Ditko context to realize it’s man tumbling downward into death rather than a diabolical, supernatural, Satanic entity spewing Evil upward from the underworld.

          Yes, a lot of potential religion in here, including the idea of religion as opiate… Reasonable men reacting to personal incursions instead of proactively working… trusting in the psychological serenity offered by Reason… a means of preventing them from navigating upwards into socio-political authority…? Ditko just doesn’t respect wealth-as-wealth or power-as-power enough (i.e. at all) to posit Reason as a ticket to material eminence…

          Yeesh, it’s like I need to be talked down from this stuff… is this how Grant Morrison comics are supposed to make me feel?

          • Jeremy says:

            I love the one page Mr. A appearances, the ones with Mr. A looming over the guilty, lecturing the reader or walking boldly through a morass of morally ambiguous people flailing about for their lives. They’re almost more entertaining than the full Mr. A stories!

          • Richard Baez says:

            You’ll end up like that guy in SHOCK CORRIDOR – “This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner is now legally insane!”

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