Coming Up: Books Due in February 2007

Going through the Previews catalog reminds me of how disconnected I’ve become from the comic market these days. There are very few series I’m following in traditional stapled comic format —

True Story, Swear to God #5 (Image, DEC06 1892)
X-Factor #16 (Marvel, DEC06 2349)
Action Philosophers #8 (Evil Twin, DEC06 3558)
Castle Waiting #5 (Fantagraphics, DEC06 3562)

— and with so many options for buying graphic novels and manga, no need to preorder. That’s my way of trying to explain why I haven’t felt the need to write up this kind of post in the past few months.

But when I saw this, I had to applaud the publisher. IDW is doing a second Maze Agency collection (DEC06 3706, $24.99). When I reviewed the first book, I concluded that we probably wouldn’t see any more, and I’m thrilled to find out I was wrong.

There’s little specific information given about artists and issues reprinted, but no one would be buying for that, anyway. The appeal is the way writer Mike W. Barr manages to craft entertaining mysteries and appealing characters.

Also of note this month is Divalicious (DEC06 3884, Tokyopop, $9.99). Webcomic writer T Campbell (Penny and Aggie, among others) and As If! artist Amy Mebberson take on the star system of American pop music, a subject ripe for drama, soap opera, and parody.

Elk's Run cover
Elk’s Run
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I’m thrilled to see Elk’s Run (DEC06 3960, Villard Books, $19.95) finally collected, and from a “real” publisher, too. Those guys, after everything they went through trying to get their story out, deserve all the success they’re going to get. And we’ll finally get to know what the secret of that mysterious West Virginia town is.

If you’re looking for a new manga series to try, I got the chance to see a preview of Backstage Prince (DEC06 3988, Viz, $8.99), and I enjoyed it. It’s a straight romance between an ordinary girl and the loner actor she falls in love with. He reciprocates her feelings, but he’s not sure how to relate to anyone, let alone a girlfriend. Together, they have to figure things out. I thought the characters’ emotions were nicely believable.

I was also asked to review a PDF version of Character Sketches 2007, an eight-story Australian anthology (DEC06 3592, Gestalt Publishing, $7.95). I can appreciate why creators would find anthologies desirable, especially if the book is intended to serve as a kind of portfolio piece, but… I don’t look forward to them, and they no longer seem to serve any purpose (gathering attention, sampling, tryouts) that a website doesn’t do better.

Most of the pieces are professionally done (although as with any anthology, I thought there were a few not up to the quality of the rest), but I don’t appreciate the exploration of the grotesque, so I didn’t make it through all of the stories. Those I did, I finished, thought “hunh”, and moved on. I don’t expect to remember or go back to any of them, so I can’t recommend purchasing the book.

It’s unfair of me, I know, that I’ve lost my curiosity to discover new artists and support experimental works. These days, I want the filter of a publisher selecting work; I want to know that they’ve passed certain barriers to entry to deserve my attention. If I invest time in a story, I want a bigger chunk than just a few pages, too — a series or at least a graphic novel.

9 Responses to “Coming Up: Books Due in February 2007”

  1. Ralf Haring Says:

    My single issue purchases for February: newuniversal #3 and Thunderbolts #111. But I still preorder most of the collections because the discount is still usually better than if I waited and used Amazon.

    I’ve heard people pushing Elk’s Run, so I’ll be ordering that as well after having skipped the issues.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I tried Newuniversal #1, but I just didn’t care enough to follow it. I’m not looking for more superhero books, though, unless they immediately grab me. (So I’m not blaming the comic.)

    Preordering to get a discount is a fine thing; I tend to wind up with credit at various stores, though, so I like the flexibility of being able to pick up things wherever I can find them.

    I hope you enjoy Elk’s Run!

  3. David Oakes Says:

    “These days, I want the filter of a publisher selecting work; I want to know that they’ve passed certain barriers to entry to deserve my attention.”

    Isn’t that exactly what an anthology does better than a website? Proof that someone went to the trouble to collect this work – and pressumably exclude others – and believes in it enough to risk money on publication?

    (And as ubiquitous as the web may be, comics – and books, perhaps even moreso – remain a “buy it when I see it” kind of product. People may buy clothes electronically, or comparisson shop for cars on the web, but comics are something you want to hold in your had, literally weighing your interest. (Amazon has lessened this for books, though plenty of bibliophiles remain. Oddly, sequential cliffhanger comics, where you know you “have” to get the next issue, and almost always pre-order, don’t seem to be cracking web-sales. Go figure.)

  4. Johanna Says:

    I was assuming that this was one of those “everyone who’s included chips in” set ups, but you’re right, it could be otherwise. I didn’t care enough to do the research — I was carried away with my rant. I’m coming around to Tom Spurgeon’s way of thinking, that the barriers to entry in comics are too low. I do agree that I want to see more comics before I buy them, because I’m not as eager to find new works as I used to be.

  5. James Schee Says:

    I’ll follow some friends smaller stuff in single issue format, but everything else I wait on.

    Most sad thing I’ve heard of in the newest Previews is that Checker is doing some trades of the later CrossGen stuff. Not that they are responsible for it, but too bad most of that work is what those creators didn’t get paid for.

  6. Bill D. Says:

    If Amazon listings can be believed, we’ll also see volumes 3 and 4 for The Maze Agency in April and August respectively, IIRC. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  7. Johanna Says:

    Oooh, that’s exciting news, if that happens!

  8. StevenRowe Says:

    I note that Im reading three of the four on your list – indeed, it’s almost like “one of these things is not like the other” – so what’s the appeal of X-Factor?
    – which i admit to never having read…

    (and nostalgia or “mindless fun” are certainly valid answers)

  9. Johanna Says:

    X-Factor is a good superhero book. It’s got a fascinating mix of characters trying to do the right thing. It tells stories instead of solely pandering to fanboy nostalgia or staring down the continuity navel. (When it does acknowledge the greater universe, it does so in a way that’s welcoming to all readers and often makes more sense of the events than the main books.) It uses superheroes to tell us more about humanity. I hope you give it a try.




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