Coming Up: Books Due in February 2006

Kudos to Diamond! In their usual “buy your sweetie comics for Valentine’s Day” page, they say “no matter if you’re a guy or gal” in listing comics “perfect to share with a loved one”. The range of listings is good, too, with plenty of romance manga covered. I recommend losing the Broadsword Comics pinup prints, though, and it’s strange that DC doesn’t have anything listed.

Put the Book Back on the Shelf cover
Put the Book Back
on the Shelf
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I blush to admit that I have no idea who Belle & Sebastian are, but I love the idea of doing an anthology inspired by a band’s works. Especially if Image can get cross-promotion with music magazines and stores, as they’re planning to and have smartly scheduled for. Put the Book Back on the Shelf (DEC05 1753) has a great creative lineup, too, with stories by Andi Watson, Rick Spears & Rob G., Jamie S. Rich, Ande Parks, B. Clay Moore, and many more.

I’m glad to see favorite Jimmie Robinson return, even if his new miniseries Bomb Queen (DEC05 1754) sounds a little iffy. It’s billed as social commentary, but the lead character’s thong is pretty minimal and displayed prominently in much of the preview art.

Welcome to Heaven, Dr. Franklin cover
Welcome to Heaven,
Dr. Franklin

About Comics continues bringing forgotten classics back in print with Welcome to Heaven, Dr. Franklin (DEC05 2728). It’s a reasonably priced collection of strips by William Messner-Loebs about God being replaced by a Roman emperor.

The superhero and genre parody humor in Ted Noodleman, Bicycle Delivery Boy (DEC05 2759) isn’t to my taste, but I must commend writer Jim Keplinger on putting together a comprehensive collection. It includes short stories published in Digital Webbing Presents, now in color; all the weekly strips that ran online; new stories by other writers and artists; and the 24-hour comic done by artist Ryan Ottley (Invincible). It’s a great example of how to do these kinds of packages, although if not many people are fans of the character or you’re not able, for whatever reason, to reach out to those who might enjoy the concept, it might be overkill.

Mouse Guard (DEC05 2813) is a must-have. Archaia Studios Press is putting out this charming 6-issue bimonthly color series, about the adventurous mice that protect the borders of their territories and guide travelers from one village to another. The soft palette beautifully captures the woodland setting, as three Guardsmice search for a missing peddler and fight a snake. They’re cute, with individual personalities, principled, and fierce. (I’m reminded of Reepicheep.) I’m not previously familiar with the work of writer/artist David Petersen, but it’s lovely, with expressive detail.

In the new issue of Tom Beland’s True Story Swear to God, #16 (DEC05 2924), he attends his first convention as a published artist. This should be a hoot!

Othello Book 7 cover
Othello Book 7
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The Del Rey manga series Othello concludes with book 7 (DEC05 2947).

The first thing that struck me about IDW’s new miniseries Supermarket (DEC05 3067) was the amazingly vibrant color palette. Check out the cover or the preview and see what I mean. Artist Kristian Donaldson is new to me, but writer Brian Wood is right at home with a story about a teenager caught by a powerful inheritance in a city ruled by crime families. Pella’s unexpectedly thrown back on her own devices and must struggle to find out what’s going on and how to survive it.

That’s a classic conflict, made special by the near-future culture, the art, and the presentation of character and information. The setting comes alive through neon touches everywhere, filling out the background while jazzing the eye, and Donaldson’s cityscapes are enveloping. The story’s about commerce, class, and the privilege of the moneyed. Ethics are flexible, based on what makes you uncomfortable and what one thinks is more “evil”, and violence is pervasive yet unexpected when it affects you. I’m already caring about Pella, rooting for her to somehow win through overwhelming circumstance.

Two under-appreciated experienced professionals, Steven Grant and Tom Mandrake, are behind Moonstone’s Pat Novak for Hire (DEC05 3113). A difference in generations is also part of the plot, with a retired PI dealing with the return of a past case.

Brownsville cover
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Neil Kleid and Jake Allen’s Brownsville (DEC05 3126) debuts from NBM. It’s a story of the Jewish gangsters that made up Murder Incorporated in the 1930s. I believe these guys cared enough to get the history right, an essential underpinning to such an endeavor, and it sounds like a fresh take on the crime genre.

Hope Larson (Salamander Dream) returns with Gray Horses (DEC05 3139) from Oni Press. It’s about growing up, being on your own in a new city, learning experiences, and what dreams can teach us. Larson’s sense of design is incredible, with unusually fluid and organic panel borders and a fondness for softly complex colors.

Gray Horses cover
Gray Horses
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I’ve already reviewed Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? (DEC05 3307), Liz Prince’s Ignatz-winning debut mini-graphic novel.

How is it possible for Del Rey to put out the manga Gacha Gacha while Tokyopop is putting out Gatcha Gacha? And should I feel weird that I’m not buying any of Tokyopop’s books this month?

I noticed something… DC has the largest number of big-name books being written by staff members that they’ve had since the 80s. Bob Harras on JLA, Peter Tomasi on JSA Classified, Joey Cavalieri just wrapped up Flash, and Paul Levitz returns on JSA. A lot of what’s left are penned by the same few loyal travelers, Geoff Johns and Judd Winick. This is likely due to them putting all their eggs into the basket of making over their universe, and using fewer outside writers means fewer people to have to communicate changes.

Also interesting: DC’s CMX manga imprint currently has 21 titles, 2 of which have already concluded. Usually, they offer a handful, 5 or 6, new volumes for sale each month. This month, they’re listing 13, more than 2/3 of their ongoing books, 5 of which are advance-solicited for March. Are they trying to win more shelf space by increasing their output? Do they want to get books out before licenses expire, or do they need to increase revenue for some reason? Odd.

6 Responses to “Coming Up: Books Due in February 2006”

  1. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Belle & Sebastian are a Glaswegian band who specialise in tuneful and twee-yet-endearing story songs. They’re a very good fit for this sort of project, and worth a listen in their own right anyway. Andi Watson’s stuff is very Belle & Sebastian indeed.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I like tuneful. I shall have to find some samples. Thanks!

  3. Sebastian Says:

    In spite of the name the band sounds a bit too soft-poppy for my tastes (and before, I confused them with “Sin with Sebastian”, whom I like even less). Didn’t order that one, though I was sorely tempted. But my order reached $150 without it, so another $20 were too much. Blame the Comics Journal. They have *two* numbers in this Previews. That’s almost worse than what CMX did.

    “Mouse Guard” sounds fun. The book is in quadratic format, if I’m not mistaken?

    Other notable (IMHO) titles on my own order list:

    * The 2nd issue of “Tails”, a story about a young couple working at an animal shelter. The art is adequate and some of the storytelling was a bit unpolished, but had an interesting approach. The line “Are you a nipple?” alone made issue one worth the price for me (coming from a baby kitten, entirely innocent).

    * A new issue “Thieves & Kings”.

    * #1 of a new Hellboy 2-parter. Not from Mignola.

    * “The Portent”, a new series at Image. Graphically very interesting, IMHO. Preview pages at Newsarama.

    * “Hammer Kid”, a one-shot with art by Jack Lawrence (“Lions, Tigers and Bears”). Even though it comes from Alias.

    * Color “Bone”, vol.3 is resolicted from October.

    * I have avoided Narwain so far, even though they tempted me with names like Takeshi Miyazawa and Ben Dunn, but mixed together and with unknown artists in unpredictable ways. Now they’re putting out a crossover between their “Jenna” and Antarctic Press’ “Ninja High School”. Oh, well, it’s only 3 issues anyway.

    * Oni has “Love as a Foreign Language” vol.5.

    * Marvel has four one-shots in their unexpected “I (love) Marvel” Valentine’s Day push. I can’t quite figure out if they’re serious or not, but their solictation sounded so weird I just ordered them all. To start soliciting that other new series, “Marvel Romance Redux” (some kind of sarcastic rewrite of old romance material, I understand), in the same month seems like a bit of bad taste, though.

    * Marvel also has another “Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius” one-shot: “Everybody loves Franklin”.


  4. James Schee Says:

    Hmm I may have to look for some B&S tunes as well. I like Andi Watson’s first page at:

  5. Joey Valdez Says:

    Mouse Guard looks good – mice acting like Knights Templar – that’s fresh!
    Any thoughts on Action Philosophers and/or Too Much Coffee Man?

  6. Johanna Says:

    I have several issues of Action Philosophers waiting to be read that I bought with my own money, which is the start of a recommendation.

    TMCM I never got into, possibly because I don’t drink coffee.




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