Coming Up: Books Due in March 2006

I know, I screwed up. I wanted to publish this yesterday, when orders were to shops, but I wasn’t done with it in time. (I had to help my father with his computer. He’s just gotten high-speed internet, but apparently, the personal firewall he was using considered all traffic from that source bad, so we had to remove that package and install the software recommended by the cable provider. Plus Ad-Aware and Spybot, because he didn’t like my first suggestion for safe surfing: “get a Mac”.)

Many of the titles recommended below can be advance-reordered or even picked up now.

99 Ways to Tell a Story cover
99 Ways to Tell a Story
Buy this book

Like, for example, 99 Ways to Tell a Story (JAN06 3560). If you only listen to one thing I say this month, get this book. It’s hidden away in the Books section under How-To, which is sort-of but not entirely accurate. What it really is, is Matt Madden’s Exercises in Style — the same short comic page told in 99 different approaches. He uses different characters, more panels, or different techniques (like close-ups or flashbacks). There are strips that follow classic comic genres (war, romance, manga, 50s EC horror) or characters (including the Yellow Kid, Krazy Kat, and the Rarebit Fiend). One of the pages shows how to build a comic while another is a palindrome that reads the same backwards and forwards. It’s a fascinating exploration of the interaction of format and content, and anyone interested in the comic medium should own a copy.

A Few Perfect Hours cover
A Few Perfect Hours
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I’ve reviewed Josh Neufeld’s travel book A Few Perfect Hours — it’s reoffered from Alternative (JAN06 2811).

Who would have thought? Archie reads manga, or as it’s described in the blurb for Archie #565 (JAN06 2854), “a manga comic book”. He’s caught reading in class, so he has to write an essay on the subject, which means a hopefully not-too-didactic story telling kids what they likely already know.

Toupydoops #1 (Lobrau Productions, JAN06 3131) postulates a Hollywood run by comic book publishers, where unusual characters audition for guest appearances and try to find agents to get their own titles. Toupydoops reminds me of Smith Brown Jones; he’s got that same goofy alien out-of-place look. He’s come to LA to try for the role of a villain in Invincible with his buddy, a frat-boy-type idiot, and their cigar-smoking grumpy pet monkey. The art’s well-done, but there’s not much to the story if the gags don’t work for the reader, and most didn’t for me. I wanted more than a simple translation of the movie business to comic books. I also wish I cared more about the lead; he’s two-dimensional so far (although we do get much more of a sense of him in issue #2, which was an improvement over #1 in almost every way). Plus, the pet monkey was a pointless drag who seemed to have wandered in from some other project.

I didn’t care that much for Off Road (offered again by Oni, JAN06 3188), but some guys loved it.

Queen & Country Declassified Volume 3 cover
Queen & Country
Declassified Volume 3
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I do care a lot for work by Chris Mitten (The Tomb, Last Exit Before Toll), which gives me even more reason to look forward to Queen & Country Declassified Volume 3 (JAN06 3186). Although not by series creator Greg Rucka, I get the impression that writer Antony Johnston is very well suited for the subject of intrigue and the threat of terror.

I’ve also just reviewed Banana Sunday (JAN06 3184), a book of adorable fun about a girl and the three talking monkeys she’s responsible for.

Banana Sunday cover
Banana Sunday
Buy this book

Once upon a time, publisher Siruis Entertainment put out a wide range of good comics, including my favorites Akiko, Artesia, and Scary Godmother. Now, they appear to be nothing but Poison Elves. Ick. Although I do think the Poison Elves Encyclopedia contained on a limited edition logo USB keychain drive (JAN06 3227) is a very clever idea, if pricey.

If I cared more, I’d count up how many of the titles Speakeasy offers in this catalog are still with the publisher, but I don’t. Instead, I’ll just say that you shouldn’t bother ordering The Adventures of Bio Boy or anything by Chuck Satterlee, since those creators have severed ties with the troubled publisher.

Bill Jemas is back writing a seven-cent comic with a blurb that tells you nothing about the premise or story beyond that it’s “sci-fi storytelling… in the tradition of the Twilight Zone”. Yep, that’s our Bill, all hype and fluff. Don’t expect to see this one on the shelves much — the cheap comic gimmick has worn out its welcome, with people realizing that even seven cents is too much to pay for something you don’t care for. Unless retailers are getting this one for free, I don’t see them having much faith in stocking this product.

East Coast Rising cover
East Coast Rising
Buy this book

East Coast Rising (JAN06 3257) has sold me based on one thing: it’s by Becky Cloonan, Eisner-nominated artist of Demo. It’s an OEL manga about pirates in a sunken New York City — weird, but intriguing.

Thank you, Tokyopop, for making it easy for me to find out what NOT to order. Yubisaki Milk Tea, for instance, is blurbed “the long-awaited fan service spectacular!” Right, cross that off the list. Along similar lines, why would anyone want a Love Hina novel? Wasn’t it the art (and all the panty and nude shots) that attracted fans to that series?

Box Office Poison cover
Box Office Poison
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Alex Robinson’s Box Office Poison (JAN06 3353) and Tricked (JAN06 3354) are both back in print from Top Shelf. Both are sprawling novels of a large cast of young adults looking to find themselves. Tricked is tighter, simply because it was written as an original graphic novel instead of a collected series, but both are worth reading. I’m just sorry my copies don’t have the cool-looking coordinating pastel-tinted covers.

I don’t buy a lot of comic-related merchandise, but the Owly t-shirts (JAN06 3358-3366) are must-haves. They’re very comfortable, well-made, and adorable! The girl’s white shirt has Owly all in shades of pink; the baby blue has a blue Owly; and the men’s green is olive-colored with Owly in more natural shades of brown. I loved the pink one so much I bought a green one as well.

Viz manga I plan on buying:
Hana-Kimi Book 11 (JAN06 3407) — romantic ghost, Christmas dance, and cross-cross-dressing!
Sensual Phrase Book 13 (JAN06 3408) — ooh, the band is going to London!
Crimson Hero Book 2 (JAN06 3409) — it’s girls against boys volleyball competition!

Bizarro World cover
Bizarro World
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Ignore the clueless blurb for Bizarro World, now available in softcover (JAN06 0305). It sounds as those DC’s catalog copy writer hasn’t ever seen the book. It’s not about Bizarro — it’s about great creators best known for their independent and alternative comic work taking on DC’s iconic characters in fresh and unusual ways.

Showcase Presents the Superman Family cover
Showcase Presents
the Superman Family
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I’ve been saying for years that I wanted a cheap way to get the earliest Lois Lane comics, including those that appeared in the original Showcase series. Now, DC almost satisfies me with Showcase Presents the Superman Family (JAN06 0297). Unfortunately, the majority of this volume is Jimmy Olsen comics (of which I find a little goes a long way, although the best are terrific sources of unintentional hilarity), with only one Lois story included. $17 for a black-and-white version that I really only want one piece of isn’t as great a deal as I’d like. I know, I know, fans are never happy.

Essential Ant-Man cover
Essential Ant-Man
Buy this book

American Virgin #1 (JAN06 0371) sounds like the book Vertigo needs to get people talking again. It takes on some of the key issues of today’s society — sex and conservatism — with an immediately understandable and intriguing premise. A young adult who’s made a career out of preaching virginity is captured by terrorists, changing his life and calling his ideals into question. It’s got a great writer, Steven T. Seagle, and an up-and-coming artist with huge skill, Becky Cloonan. The preview even made me want more.

Five years ago, we used to argue on Usenet as to whether there’d ever be an Ant-Man Masterworks (JAN06 2085), given that the material isn’t all that great and that there’s already been an Essential collection. Now, those who really wanted one have had their wishes granted… and I’m flabbergasted. Reprints Tales to Astonish #27, 35-52. (The Essential covered up to #69.)

I think I must have The Manga Guide to Sudoku (JAN06 3589) because I love them both.

11 Responses to “Coming Up: Books Due in March 2006”

  1. Sarah Says:

    How do you find that the green Owly shirt fits? I don’t wear white t-shirts and especially not ones with pink on ‘em, too.

  2. Danny Says:

    I’ve tried the “get a Mac” approach as well, and been met with ‘well, i can get a Dell, ’cause it’s cheaper and all my friends have one’. Been a little frustrating.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Sarah, the green Owly shirt is a man’s cut, so it’s loose, not fitted, but I like it.

    Danny, I think I may have actually made some progress on that front, but he’s not looking for a new computer for another few years.

  4. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Johanna, I actually liked Love Hina for the story as much as for the artwork. I will admit that it was about three books too long.

  5. Bob Says:

    Actually, the breakdown of the SUPERMAN FAMILY book seems to work out okay for a Lois fan. The only LL issue it reprints has already been reprinted (in colour) twice in modern times, so any Lois fan should already have it, can skip this volume and come in with v2, which should have about 200 pages of Lois, most unreprinted recently.

    As a Jimmy Olsen fan, I kind of resent that little bit of Lois polluting the end of my book (especially given that it’s non-Schaffenberger Lois), but I’ll get over it.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Where have the reprints appeared, Bob? I must not have been paying attention.

  7. bob Says:

    SHOWCASE #9 was reprinted in ESSENTIAL SHOWCASE back in 1992, along with a bunch of other early stories from the anthology, and again as part of the MILLENIUM EDITION one-shots in 2001.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Thanks! I’m pretty sure I have those, so I’ll read the story there. I appreciate the pointers!

  9. Kevin McShane Says:

    Hey Joanna-
    I just wanted to drop you a note thanking you for including Toupydoops in this list. Sorry the story or the humor didn’t strike you, but thank you for being so honest about it. That’s exactly the type of feedback I need. Hopefully, in the future, I can put out some Toupy stories more to your liking. In the meantime, thanks again for taking the time to read it. I really appreciate it.


  10. James Schee Says:

    I’ll have to look for that Lois Lane reprint as well, as its the only reason I’d get that Superman Family book.

    Some of the selctions for the Showcase line have left me scratching my head a bit. Metamorpho, Jonah Hex, and now in next month’s previews Haunted Tank?

    I wish Identity Crisis’s success would spell a Showcase edition of the Elongated Man stories, but know I’m dreaming there.:)

    Oh and I’ve been a happy Mac convert for… 3 or 4 years now. I need to look into that high speed internet stuff. (Psst you were still in time for DCBS)

  11. Lyle Says:

    American Virgin was the most interesting-sounding of the new Vertigo titles for me, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Plus, IIRC, it’s being edited by Shelly Bond who’s work frequently turns out to be stuff I really, really like.

    There are things I like about the Mac, mostly the security concerns (I like the way I hear OS X handles administrator rights) but I like playing games on my machine and plenty of the games I’ve liked were PC-only, limiting my choices and give me pause (I paused further after hearing a Mac-using friend’s complicated explanation of what he had to do to add custom content for The Sims).

    Plus, when I consider applications I’d have to replace, the cost gets prohibitive. (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Excel are so frequently used for me).




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