THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (2/9/11 – Autobiography Strikes Back)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
“Hello, this is Chris Ware, listen, I’m stuck in a Charlton comic… no, LISTEN, I am trapped inside a late 1960s Charlton comic book, ’67, ’68… the same way it happens every time! Every fucking time! It is absolute hell in here, the paper quality is garbage, the coloring is off-register… no, no I’m subsisting on onion gum and trick black soap. Yes, I’ve built mighty astronaut muscles in double quick time, can we just… Steve Ditko. D-I-T-K-O, I think it’s a superhero thing, everybody’s talking about ethics. Look, you’ve gotta hurry, I – I think I’m a self-portrait. Wha- yes, I’ll hold, thank you.”
(I do believe Jordan Crane’s Uptight #4 is set to show up at some stores this week — ‘some stores’ meaning Midtown Comics in NYC — despite its absence from Diamond’s nationwide list, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested in continuations of both the serials from issue #3.)
On the Line: A 6″ x 6″, 48-page Image collection of artist and type designer Rian Hughes’ comic for the Guardian newspaper (written by Rick Wright), apparently informed by the sharp-angled stylings of Gene Dietch. I primarily recall Hughes’ comics work for the clean line-type work in the Grant Morrison-written Dare (and the other materials collected in Knockabout’s Yesterday’s Tomorrows collection), so this should be neat to see. Samples here (scroll down); $12.99.
Mid-Life: This is a new semi-autobiographical work from Joe Ollmann and publisher Drawn and Quarterly, as showcased in Tom Spurgeon’s interview with the artist a few days ago. A man remarries and has another child in middle age, leading to much stress and some infatuation. Preview; $19.95.
Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness: This is a new U.S. edition (published by Bloomsbury USA) of a 2010 Blank Slate Books collection of comics by Darryl Cunningham, focused on true tales from working in a psychiatric ward and the artist’s own experiences with depression. Samples in this Bart Croonenborghs review; $15.00.
Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins, On Stage Vol. 8: Covering the period from May 5, 1966 to November 19, 1967. Covering it with DRAMA. Introduction by David Apatoff; $24.95.
The Original Johnson Vol. 2 (of 2): From IDW and ComicMix comes the second half of Trevor Von Eeden’s comics biography of boxer Jack Johnson – I don’t think any of this particular material was released online, as was the first 100+ pages of the project; $19.99.
The Secret History Omnibus Vol. 2: In case you’ve been waiting on the hardcover collections of this Jean-Pierre Pécau-written immortals-navigate-world-history series, published in English by Archaia, here’s your second shot. Compiling issues #7-14, corresponding to one original album each, with a whole lot of art by the redoubtable Igor Kordey. Tome 21 is due in France next week, so expect another one of these bricks soon enough; $34.95.
Genkaku Picasso Vol. 2: Just about everybody appeared to dislike vol. 1 of this Usamaru Furuya youth manga series, but – ahh, I thought it was all right. Part if it was I just enjoyed the game Furuya — of Short Cuts and the upcoming Lychee Light Club, along with several considerably more ambitious and well-regarded scanlated works — appeared to be playing with his lead artist character’s appearance, adding lucrative ‘feminine’ design tropes in a manner that makes him look as ugly as his defiantly standoffish attitude to basically everyone. Also, he keeps a dead would-be girlfriend in his pocket like an otaku fetish doll, except when diving into people’s minds to solve their personal problems, a feat accomplished in reading their psychologies like early 20th century editorial cartoons and monkeying with the non-labeled component parts to some occasionally useful effect. I mean, it’s certainly not a Best of 20XX contender, but as an eccentric, faintly self-effacing take on a pop comics premise it’s got some daffy entertainment value; $9.99.
Bakuman Vol. 3: On the other hand, I didn’t keep up with this world-of-manga-creation series from the creators of Death Note after vol. 1 (review here), but just the other day I was gently urged to give it another shot, on the basis that vol. 2 evidences a considerably more shaded aspect of the vehement popular-success-at-any-cost focus and rampant, defiant chauvinism of the opening chapters, complete with the introduction of an even less overtly pleasant writer/artist rival for the series’ teenage creative team. Now I’m even farther behind; $9.99.
Slam Dunk Vol. 14 (of 31): I mean, it could be some of the commentary I got on that review was spot-on — and since I don’t read ahead in scans, basic structural information is probably going to be more accurate than anything I can guess — and Bakuman is basically a sports manga of a fairly orthodox character, only with ‘making comics’ as the sport and, impliedly, the young sportsmen in the lead picking up some character-building lessons as they grow into men via organized conflict. I’ll also add – here’s one of the great sports manga of the ’90s; $9.99.
Biomega Vol. 5 (of 6): And rounding out the Japanese week, Tsutomu Nihei nears his end; $12.99.
Creepy Archives Vol. 9: In which, oddly enough, this Dark Horse series of Warren magazine reprints (#42-45) begins to line up temporally with Dynamite’s similar, younger line of Vampirella magazine reprints, seeing an influx of Spanish artists from the Selecciones Illustrada studio begin to arrive on the scene. With Richard Corben, Tom Sutton, Frank Brunner, Dave Cockrum, Mike Ploog, Rafael Auraleón, Felix Mas, Luis García, Jose Bea and others. This volume appears to feature an introduction by Richard Arndt, whose bibliographic lists of b&w horror magazines and early independent comics series are utterly invaluable; $49.99.
DC Universe Legacies #9 (of 10): I haven’t kept up on this summary-of-continuity-as-it-stands series from writer Len Wein – it’s ‘common man throughout fantastic history’ device just hasn’t been clicking with me. Still, there’s been some nice art scattered around from the likes of Joe Kubert and Frank Quitely, and this issue’s got a backup story from Bill Sienkiewicz; $3.99.
Deadpool Team-Up #885: Likewise, this particular Deadpool comic has art from Philip Bond. Uh, there isn’t really eight hundred Deadpool comics out there – for instance, this week there’s a Wolverine #1000 anthology comic, and an issue #5.1 which I believe indicates a ‘stepping aside’ to allow new readers an opportunity to get acquainted. Preview; $2.99.
SpongeBob Comics #1: The editor of this United Plankton Pictures anthology comic (distributed by Simpsons specialists Bongo) is Chris Duffy, who put together a pretty impressive slate of artists for Nickelodeon Magazine back in the day, so you might want to keep an eye on it. Debut contributors are James Kochalka, Hilary Barta, Graham Annable, Gregg Schigiel and Jacob Chabot; $2.99.