THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (10/20/10 – Veterans United)


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This scene comes courtesy of WildStorm-affiliated colorist Jonny Rench, who died this past weekend at the age of 28. I recalled him easily from the work pictured above, the 2007-08 miniseries The Programme, written by Peter Milligan and drawn by C.P. Smith. I can best describe Smith’s art as ‘heavy realism’ in the shadowed, deliberately posed manner of Jae Lee, whose own work typically divines much impact from its interaction with colors by José Villarrubia or June Chung; Rench colored Smith on the first five of twelve issues. In keeping with the broadly satirical nature of Milligan’s drug-kissed scenario — seeing literal Russian superpowers rise up to gift an uncertain terrorism-era America with the certainty of national competition — Rench blasts most all displays of superhuman force with garish, fuzzy, sickly colors. Otherwise, Smith’s photo-still figures are bathed in one or more hue.

It’s one of the more peculiar-looking longform series to see release from DC/Marvel in a while, enough so to wedge the visual team’s names in my memory. And it’s unfortunate my recall should be sparked again by such sad news, but there you go.

Onto the upcoming works:

X’ed Out Vol. 1 (of 3): In which Charles Burns, having now long ago finished a defining alternative comic book serial, turns his attentions quite specifically to the Franco-Belgian album format, complete with a semi-self-contained structure per volume and the presumed extended waits between volumes. It’s an all-color journey into the late ’70s, as Hergé graphics and punk culture intermingle into something presumably surreal, centering around a guy looking for a dead cat that’s up and walking. Hardcover, 56 pages, from Pantheon; $19.95.

Picture This: Being Lynda Barry’s follow-up to her excellent 2008 autobiography/guide-to-autobiography/philosophical tract What It Is — again from publisher Drawn and Quarterly — this time honed in on the act of drawing. Absolutely worth glancing through, at the very least. Preview; $29.95.

Dragon Puncher Vol. 1: New from James Kochalka and Top Shelf (who also have a fourth volume of the Johnny Boo series of kids’ books this week), this is a 40-page hardcover comics/photo blend about a kitty that intends to beat the hell out of dangerous things. Preview; $9.95.

40: A Doonesbury Retrospective: In which Andrews McMeel Publishing give the Garry Trudeau strip of the title a deluxe 696-page slipcased special edition, pairing assorted trimmed storylines from across the breadth of the feature’s run with close to 20 reflective/explanatory essays by the artist. Perfect for crushing a loved one’s stocking to ruined scraps; $100.00.

The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World’s Most Beloved Comic Strip: On the flip side of the gift book coin, here’s a 64-page Little, Brown and Company publication that looks to be set up like those art magazines (Esopus, I’m thinking) where there’s all kinds of pull-out things and plastic/paper stocks to simulate handmade materials. Only relating to Peanuts here, with sketches, prints, cels, stickers and whatnot; $35.00.

Blab World Vol. 1: Completely forgot this was coming up – a new iteration of the long-lived Monte Beauchamp anthology, now a 128-page 10″ x 10″ hardcover published by Last Gasp. I think there might be more of a focus on articles in this one, with features on the skull motif in pre-Code comics and mid-20th century books, the cover art of Weirdo, propaganda caricatures of WWII, and more; $24.95.

Dodgem Logic #4 & #5: No, not a double issue, just Diamond and North American distributor Top Shelf catching up on this Alan Moore-fronted culture magazine as its sixth issue prepares to drop in the U.K. I haven’t got hold of issue #5 yet, but #4 contains a long essay by Moore on the history of science fiction, its 20th century steeping in American exceptionalism, and the conservatizing effect fan frenzy bulwarks like Star Trek and Star Wars have had on the genre at large, among other related topics; $7.00 (each).

Kick-Ass 2 #1: Meanwhile, from the pages of Mark Millar’s own damn magazine, comes the latest from him and John Romita, Jr. & company, now in smaller, thicker comic book form; $2.99.

Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus Vol. 1 (of 4): Certainly the manga republication event of the week, this is Dark Horse’s new 576-page layout for the much-admired 1996-2000 collect ‘em all monster hunting magical girl shojo series/merchandising bonanza from comics collective CLAMP, which a decade ago served as one of the critical Tokyopop licenses at the time building up to the bookstore boom. A lot of fond memories surround this one; $19.99.

Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 3: Also cute – CAT MANGA; $13.95.

Vagabond Vol. 33: For those of you not following Takehiko Inoue’s swordsman manga in the three-in-one VizBig editions, here’s your latest hit, now completely caught up with the Japanese editions in anticipation of the series finale sometime in 2011; $9.95.

20th Century Boys Vol. 11 (of 24): The latest translation of Naoki Urasawa, kind of skimming beneath the surface of online comment right now; $12.99.

Vertigo Resurrected #1: Speaking of thick comics, DC has recently begun putting out these fat DC Comics Presents compilations of assorted materials for under ten bucks, and this looks to be a Suggested for Mature Readers sibling. The centerpiece is Shoot, a heretofore unpublished (if well-traveled online) Warren Ellis/Phil Jimenez/Andy Lanning issue of Hellblazer in which John Constantine rants on the topic of schoolyard violence, pertinently implying that some students would rather die than put up with all the shit. Ironically, this type of subject is back in the media spotlight these days, but not in so sketchy a form as the Columbine shootings which persuaded Vertigo not to publish the material in the first place. Vertigo is rather tight-lipped about the actual remaining contents of this 96-page item, but it appears to be a grab bag of shorts from the imprint’s various themed anthology series of the ’90s (Flinch, Weird War Tales, etc.), picked for maximum name value. Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Jim Lee, Brian Azzarello, Bernie Wrightson and others are promised; $7.99.

Batman and Robin #15: The penultimate issue of writer Grant Morrison’s run on the title, soon to transition itself into the new Batman, Inc. after Bruce Wayne finally pops back into the present continuity. The last issue for artist Frazer Irving too, whose composing-in-color digital approach has been really fruitful of late; $2.99.

DMZ #58: While not the penultimate issue or anything, this Brian Wood-scripted urban conflict series from Vertigo is set to wrap in about a year. Note the always-welcome Daniel Zezelj as this issue’s guest artist; $2.99.

The Spirit #7: And for ever more veteran guests, be aware that the backup short for this issue of the latest Will Eisner revival attempt re-teams Jan Strnad & Richard Corben after I can’t remember how long. It’s a Halloween special, you see; $3.99.

The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read!: Finally, your book-on-comics selection, a 304-page Abrams ComicArts softcover from Jim Trombetta, surveying selected pre-Code comics and images, with a bonus dvd presenting a 1955 episode of the television documentary/interview program Confidential File relating to the ills of comic books. Introduction by YA author and occasional comics writer R.L. Stine; $29.95.

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14 Responses to “THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (10/20/10 – Veterans United)”
  1. DerikB says:

    I’ve become so obsessed with Vagabond lately (people do not talk it up enough), I may have to switch from the VizBig volumes to the normal ones. Oddly Inoue currently has the series on hiatus for mysterious health reasons, just like Yazawa has Nana (the other series I’ve finally been catching up on) on hiatus for health reasons. Some kind of manga curse.

    • Yeah, the series was actually supposed to have ended sometime this year, but Inoue’s slowed down because of his health. Yazawa unfortunately has a recent history of apparently not inconsiderable (if never specified) illness; this isn’t the first time NANA has gone on hiatus for a while.

      Sometimes I think I talk it up a little too much, but Inoue’s SLAM DUNK is also a really fun series, if clearly earlier work and very foresquare a boys’ manga… never got into his REAL, actually, which always feels like an uneasy blend of pop comics sports combat and self-conciously ‘serious’ subject matter… although the basketball scenes are really well-done, of course.

  2. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Slam Dunk is a lot of fun, but it’s a hard sell even to that tiny readership that likes sports and comics because it came out at a time when basketball was making inroads into multiple asian markets rather than *after* such a time, so the incremental building of skills is excruciatingly slow in a way that I’d enjoy a similarly-paced series about cricket but someone really into cricket would probably pull their hair out.

  3. GMS says:

    Would you say X’ed Out is worth it? I’m really on the fence about it. I feel sort of odd saying that considering how much I love Burns. But 20 dollars for 56 pages just seems a little steep to me.

    • Having just sat down to read it last night, I’d say it’s worth it on the basis of being probably the only comics Burns will have out for a while. It does feel like a good deal of setup – my mind is probably playing tricks here, but it seemed even less of a self-sustained unit than most issues of BLACK HOLE, maybe because Burns is juggling several plotlines in this one, leaving all of them just a little ways past getting started; most of the enjoyment comes in picking out how the plotlines (really parallel-ish layers of reality) bleed into one another like waking life informing dreams.

      But yeah, there’s probably not going to be another venue for seeing this work for a good while… it’ll make for several readings too, tentative as they may feel, given the just-past-go nature of the project…

  4. patrick ford says:

    Hard to be excited about the prospect of paying for hardcover periodicals like the new Burns book, and the new issue of Palookaville, but in the case of Burns and Seth I’ll be buying these , and the eventual collections.
    In the case of Palookaville there is content aside from Clyde Fans.
    It’s a certainty that all of Clyde Fans will eventually be collected under one cover. That will be all the issues of Palookaville, the first Clyde Fans book, and then I’d assume a Clyde Fans volume 2, followed by the complete Clyde Fans.

  5. T. Hodler says:

    I may be wrong, but I could have sworn that I read somewhere that Burns doesn’t plan on ever collecting the three X’ed Out albums into a single book.

    • DerikB says:

      That would be in line with a bande dessinee approach. They don’t tend to collect the volumes. That said, I’ll wait on the word on volumes 2/3 before picking up the series.

    • GMS says:

      I really wouldn’t have a qualm with X’ed Out not being collected. It would keep with the Tintin/Herge allusion very well, as derikb said.

      It seems odd for me to say that considering I griped about the cost of the book. But I’m a sucker for sticking to a common theme. If Burns wants it so that X’ed Out is not collected, not power to him.

  6. Marc Sobel says:

    Not only is the new Johnny Boo out, as you mentioned, but at least 7 of the publishers also released their annual Halloween mini-comics. As a father of a three year old boy, these are great! My son still reads last year’s Little Lulu and Caspar minis. You’ll be particularly interested to know that they released a Smurfs issue this year.

  7. X’ED OUT is pretty great, I gotta say. I read it last night. Worth it for the craft alone.