- Posted by Johanna on January 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm
- Category: Shopping Guide
Starting With Snark
This month is “Indie Edge Month” in Previews. As they describe it, it’s “our annual tribute to comics independent spirit” — missing apostrophe and all. I love the idea of highlighting excellent non-branded works, but the way it’s executed, there are a number of problems:
* The name. “Edge” implies that these books are in no way important to the center of the comic market — they’re out on the border, safely ignored most of the time.
* They can’t count. They promote a later spread in the catalog “featuring six of today’s most important small press publishers.” Those six? AdHouse Books, SLG Publishing, NBM Publishing, Sparkplug, and Fantagraphics. Those are all wonderful publishers putting out great books, but someone must have pulled out of the promotion at the last moment, or Previews ran out of space. I’d also quibble with calling Fantagraphics, successful publisher of the Peanuts reprints, “small press”, but that debate leads to lexicographical madness.
* Their sidebar. “The Majors Go Indie!” blares the headline, followed by this explanation: “Even the biggest publishers can embrace the indie spirit and produce works that are both cutting edge and not necessarily for your average readers.” That’s both sucking up and derogatory to those who would prefer to read works owned by people instead of corporations. Each of the premiere publishers then gets a book listed — for Marvel, it’s Strange Tales, in which notable creators played with the superheroes. That’s our Previews, constantly getting back to pushing the few publishers who prop up the direct market.
It’s time to order for Free Comic Book Day, May 7 this year, but I wonder — of all the many pictures shown throughout the catalog of happy people enjoying comics at previous events, there are only three that don’t feature a child, and the majority of them show people in superhero costumes. As comics’ unofficial yearly holiday, is that the image people have? That comics are for kids and people who dress like idiots? The commemorative T-shirt, attractive as Darwyn Cooke’s work is, supports that idea, showing only DC superheroes. I support a more inclusive FCBD, but as I said before, the companies seem to be depending on brands already known elsewhere.
Back in 2006, DC sued Andrea Grant over a comic called the Minx. At the time, I thought it was because DC had put out a 1998 series of that name — but now we know it was because of the company’s short-lived girl-focused imprint. Now that that’s gone by the wayside, Grant is relaunching her title from Ardden Entertainment. It sounds atrociously derivative, an alternate reality dream warrior vigilante.
It’s a pleasant surprise to see Marvel bring back CrossGen, although I have to wonder about the strategy — two four-issue miniseries hardly seem worth the trouble. By the time anyone gets interested, the stories are over. Sigil seems to be continuing the prior company universe, while Ruse carries the flag for their more diverse genre series. I’m curious about checking out the latter, just to see how good the mystery is. I hope there is some mystery, anyway, since it’s about a Victorian detective.
DC Worth Reading
When Xombi first came out from Milestone in 1994, I was too young for it — it creeped me out too much for me to appreciate the science fiction behind it. Now, I’m looking forward to trying it again. #1 is due out March 16 from DC (JAN11 0259, $2.99 US); it’s by original writer John Rozum with art by Frazer Irving. I like the description of “contemporary urban horror” with technological undertones, although the “Super Hero twist” the catalog writer is so excited about seems unnecessary.
Woo hoo! Finally! DC is collecting the darkly funny Finals, a satiric look at college involving time travel, armed robbery, and cults by Will Pfeifer and Jill Thompson, as a Vertigo Resurrected (JAN11 0317, $7.99 US, March 9) book. I wish they’d include the alternate splash page and some background by the writer on the time period it was written, but I suspect this is just a straight reprint.
Also on my “this has been requested FOREVER, I can’t believe they’re finally publishing it” list — the first Sugar and Spike Archives (JAN11 0334, $59.99 US, August 31). Now, I do wish that they’d chosen the much cheaper Showcase paperback format for these charming tales, but maybe they thought color reprinting was necessary. (Does DC have a cheaper color reprint line than the Archives for older comics?) It’s just a shame that the younger audience that might enjoy these hilarious stories probably won’t have a chance to sample them in a 60-dollar hardcover. But at least this means we’re 1) getting to read these stories, at last and 2) the Archives aren’t dead yet.
IDW Worth Reading
There’s a second Best of Dan DeCarlo volume (JAN11 0543, $24.99 US, March 23), and the first of three Alex Toth books is resolicited. Genius, Isolated (JAN11 0542, $49.99 US, March 23) will cover Toth’s life and work through the early 1960s, including “the complete Jon Fury stories” (I’m assuming that’s important to his fans), with the next book, scheduled for October, continuing from that point.
Here’s what creator ownership means: IDW is publishing a Danger Girl collection of stories originally published by WildStorm. Or turning a 52-page $6 comic from 2001 — Superstar by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen — into an 80-page $15 paperback by adding never-before-seen development art.
Graphic Novels Worth Reading
The uniquely individual Jason Shiga (Bookhunter — which is available again from Sparkplug in this catalog, so avoid those jacked-up used prices) returns with Empire State: A Love Story (or Not) (Abrams ComicArts, JAN11 0881, $17.95 US, May 4). Jimmy travels cross-country to New York to finally reveal how he feels to Sara, but she’s involved with someone else. Sounds tortured, but I’d like to see Shiga’s take on the Big Apple.
Matt Howarth presents The Downsized (AdHouse Books, JAN11 0893, $6.95 US, March 30), the story of old friends reuniting at a 50th wedding party to look at where their lives have taken them. It’s described as “The Big Chill for the new millennium”, a tagline I love even though it’s also code for “old hippies didn’t expect to wind up where they are.” A preview’s available at the link.
I haven’t heard of Laura Lee Gulledge before, but this preview post has gotten me excited about her new book, Page by Paige (Amulet Books, JAN11 0911, $9.95 US, May 4). It’s about learning to become an artist in the big city (another New York-set volume) and growing into yourself.
I’m glad to see that The Comics Journal isn’t completely dead — with issue #301 (Fantagraphics, JAN11 1193, $30 US, March 30), they debut their book format. But at $30 for 600+ pages, I can’t help but think that smaller publications more often than annually would be friendlier to their customers. That’s a huge chunk of journalism to get through.
Matthew Loux’s Salt Water Taffy series is promising its fourth volume, and the first to start a continuing story. Jack and Benny go whaling this time, as suited to their distinctive Maine setting, in Caldera’s Revenge (Oni Press, JAN11 1275, $5.99 US, April 13).
Reviews of Titles Offered Again
If you’re curious about some of the indie books available again to order in this catalog, here are previous reviews:
- Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? (Abrams ComicArts)
- Johnny Hiro (AdHouse Books)
- Electric Girl (AIR/Planet Lar)
- Paris (Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing)
- Shadoweyes (Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing)
- Halo & Sprocket: Natural Creatures (Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing)
- The War at Ellsmere (Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing)
- Hexed (Boom! Studios)
- The Unknown (Boom! Studios)
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (Boom! Studios)
- A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (Fantagraphics)
- Three Shadows (First Second)
- Fun Home (Houghton Mifflin)
- Asterios Polyp (Pantheon Books)
- Side B: The Music Lover’s Comic Anthology (Poseur Ink)
- Chiggers (Simon & Schuster)
- Mercury (Simon & Schuster)