- Posted by Johanna on July 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm
- Category: Shopping Guide
Technology upgrades often make me feel that Hollywood expects me to keep buying material I already own to avoid being obsolete and to be able to keep watching favorite films in new formats. Mark Evanier says that it’s all a game to see how many times they can make him buy Goldfinger; with me, it’s Serenity. After upgrading my regular DVD to the Collector’s Edition, I just recently finally went to Blu-ray.
That’s all just introduction to say that Dark Horse is putting out a comic that promises to explain the biggest gap in the Firefly franchise — what was the story of Shepherd Book? Lots of hints were dropped, but in November, Dark Horse brings out Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale (JUL10 0030), written by Joss’s brother Zack Whedon, to answer our questions. It’s $15 for only 56 pages, but in hardcover.
When Jason Little put out Shutterbug Follies in 2002, I had high hopes for the promised continuing stories with the lead character. But then the publisher quit doing graphic novels and he moved the character to the web. Now, finally, here comes another book: Motel Art Improvement Service (JUL10 0050, $19.99, Dark Horse, due November). It features Bee taking a cross-country bicycle trip. Accident causes her to work as a motel housekeeper, where she investigates various crimes in Little’s “bubblegum noir” style. You can read a sample at beecomix.com. Thankfully, it appears that the formats are similar between the two books.
With Dark Horse and now Image doing first-issue reprints of long-running titles (or those with sufficient trade paperbacks behind them to justify the promotion) for a dollar, it’s clear that publishers realize that they need to provide starting points and good deals to readers. But I find myself wondering just how effective they are. If you’re aware of the property, you can presumably flip through one of the book collections at your comic shop, library, or bookstore. If you’re looking for cheap comics, you’re not going to be satisfied by something that by definition isn’t going to be a satisfying read on its own. (And there are even cheaper options to sample elsewhere.)
I’d ask “if they’re ads, why not just give them away?” but I know the answer to that one. Putting some minimal value on them prevents the uninterested but greedy for ordering them into stores and/or taking them just because they’re free. But I’m still wondering: Are dollar comic tastes successful? Or do they help convince authors that the publishers are doing something to keep their books selling? (Or both, I suppose.) On the other hand, it can be difficult to find a good starting point if you’re new to comics and have been hearing about long-running series but aren’t sure if they’re for you. $1 to read an actual issue of Usagi Yojimbo or Hellboy may be just what you need.
I was getting a bit discouraged, flipping catalog pages but not finding anything that looked like what I wanted: unique perspectives of high quality and solid craft, stories made to be told in comics, not brand extensions or licensed properties. Then I found Oni, which is promising the return of the Hopeless Savages. Ah, I’ve missed that loving, creative punk family.
Greatest Hits (JUL10 1089, $19.99, due October) is 360 pages collecting “all the existing Hopeless Savages material” — which I assume means the three books plus the B-Sides comic. More exciting: “new adventures in 2011!”
That’s not the only anticipated return from Oni. Back in April, I noted that Oni’s hardcover reprint of Past Lies might be an interesting sign of something — and so it turned out to be. The second Amy Devlin mystery, All Saints Day (JUL10 1091, $19.99) is also due in October.
Alex Robinson’s Tricked (JUL10 1148, $19.95, Top Shelf, due September — which makes it the only one coming out in the standard two months after solicit, and it’s a reprint) gets a dynamite new cover, shown here, designed by Matt Kindt (Super Spy). How eye-catching! The cassette is a great choice for this interconnected soap opera that involves a rock star and memory and fans and collectibles and history. Also, this is a good reminder to me to reread it.