February 2012 Previews: Yes, It’s Late, But the Books Are Still Good

Books I Recommend You Consider

Tales of the Beanworld Volume 3.5 coverPopeye #1 cover
Tales of the Beanworld Volume 3.5Popeye #1
by Larry Marderby Roger Langridge and Bruce Ozella
Dark Horse, $14.99IDW Publishing, $3.99
FEB12 0047, due June 27FEB12 0338, due April 18
Finally! I’ve been waiting to see these color Beanworld stories since they were announced as part of the Asylum anthology back in 1995. New material will be included as well as the Holiday Special.This should be a lot of fun. I can’t think of a better current writer to capture the anarchic humor and observation of E.C. Segar than Roger Langridge. Shame it’s only four issues.
Princeless coverRex, Zombie Killer cover
PrincelessRex, Zombie Killer
by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwinby Rob Anderson and Dafu Yu
Action Lab Entertainment, $14.95Big Dog Ink, $3.50
FEB12 0706, due AprilFEB12 0806, due April
I enjoyed this series, the story of a princess locked in a title who rescues herself, makes new friends, and sets out to free her sisters. Reprints the four-issue miniseries plus a new Skullkickers crossover story.It’s We3 meets The Walking Dead, as this one-shot follows a group of animals trying to survive zombies. There’s the lead golden retriever, a pit bull, a well-meaning lapdog, a cat, and a sign-language-speaking gorilla. I enjoyed the animals enough to get past my dislike of zombies, especially since much of the story is about freeing one of the team from a group of humans who’s captured him, but the gorilla is the weak point, artistically. The face isn’t right; he looks like a grumpy human. The other animals are cute and brave, creating a fable about survival.
Teen Boat! coverThe Shadow: Blood and Judgment cover
Teen Boat!The Shadow: Blood and Judgment
by Dave Roman and John Greenby Howard Chaykin
Clarion Books, $14.99Dynamite Entertainment, $19.99
FEB12 0895, due May 9FEB12 0904, due April
Two great guys have put together a silly concept with the excellent tagline “The angst of being a teen; the thrill of being a boat!” Their protagonist can change into a boat, you see, in this idea that started in minicomics and now comes to book form.I’m not sure I’m ready for the new period Shadow series by Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell, also launching this month, but I’m thrilled that it means that DE is reprinting the Howard Chaykin miniseries from 1986 that tried to modernize the character. Bob Greenberger got me excited for it.
The Art of Ramona Fradon coverJerusalem: Chronicles From the Holy City cover
The Art of Ramona FradonJerusalem: Chronicles From the Holy City
by Howard Chaykin and Ramona Fradonby Guy Delisle
Dynamite Entertainment, $29.99Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95
FEB12 0951, due AprilFEB12 1003, due April 24
Speaking of Chaykin, he conducted this book-length interview with the accomplished, not-recognized-enough Fradon. It’s about time! I’ve been waiting for her Modern Master edition, but this sounds even better. Bob Greenberger, again, has the press release and some thoughts on editing the book.I’ve enjoyed Delisle’s previous travelogues, exploring exotic, remote cities such as Pyongyang and Shenzhen (both reoffered this month), so I’m eager for this volume, looking at a key world capital with a complex history and population.
Castle Waiting #16 coverAre You My Mother? cover
Castle Waiting #16Are You My Mother?
by Linda Medleyby Alison Bechdel
Fantagraphics, $3.95Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22
FEB12 1039, due AprilFEB12 1067, due May 2
After the weirdness around the Castle Waiting Volume 2 reprint, I never expected we’d see another issue of the series, but Kim Thompson has sample pages and some of the background. The bad news is that the V2 book is now out of print, and when they reprint, it will be an expanded, improved edition, so I guess I’m buying it twice.My prediction for book of the year is Bechdel’s followup to Fun Home. That book explored her father’s secrets; this one examines her distant relationship with her mother.
The Shark King coverSaturn Apartments Volume 5 cover
The Shark KingSaturn Apartments Volume 5
by R. Kikuo Johnsonby Hisae Iwaoka
Toon Books, $12.95Viz, $12.99
FEB12 1157, due April 11FEB12 1200, due May 16
Back in 2006, Johnson made quite the splash with the gorgeous Night Fisher. Now he returns with a children’s book also set in Hawaii. Honestly, doesn’t matter what it’s about, his work is stunning enough I’d check out whatever it was.This thoughtful science fiction manga explores class issues through stories illustrated with delicate lines and a strong sense of setting.

Snarky Comments

I greatly admire Darwyn Cooke’s skill with art, layout, and design, but seeing him work on favorite pulp novels (Parker: The Score, IDW, $24.99, May 16, FEB12 0313) is like watching Jill Thompson or Amanda Cooke draw adaptations of the Harlequin romances they read as teens. The material is so stereotypical and time-bound; I wish he was doing original work, new stories, instead.

Flipping through Previews is an exercise in seeing how much violence, horror, murder, crime, and zombies you can tolerate. Comics are so much more, but you can’t prove it by looking at the periodical series in the front of the catalog.

Thoughts on Marvel

There’s something to be said for the simplicity of making Marvel’s next big event, Avengers vs. X-Men, just about a big fight. Forget supposedly meaningful themes like government registration or capital punishment, this boils down the company’s output to a key theme of the genre: powered characters punching on each other.

Marvel’s learned from the rule that movie tie-ins sell more comics before the film comes out. (Once the movie’s released, interest drops, presumably because movie-goers have gotten their itch scratched and don’t really want to read comics on an ongoing basis.) So they’re pumping out the Avengers tie-ins now, in time for the collections before the film. (John Carter of Mars isn’t going to finish in time, though, since it’s only on issue #2 of 5 and the movie’s out next month.)

Oh, dear. The Twelve finally wraps up this month with issue #12 (assuming they come out on time between now and then; FEB12 0615, $2.99), and Marvel is promoting it as “All your questions are answered and nothing can prepare you for what’s next!” Next? This is a 12-issue miniseries. Shouldn’t it have an ending, not just a setup for more to come? I may be reading too much into this, but I’m still feeling burned by Mystery Men not bothering to provide a satisfying conclusion in its five issues, instead ending with a pitch for more that is likely to never appear.

8 Responses to “February 2012 Previews: Yes, It’s Late, But the Books Are Still Good”

  1. Ralf Haring Says:

    I’m not too interested in Cooke’s work on Parker either, or on the Watchmen stuff.

  2. Laur Says:

    re: Cooke working on Parker novels – I totally agree! I love Darwyn’s style and his design sensibility is beautiful but reading Parker is such a chore for me that I’ve decided to just stop.

  3. Chad Says:

    As a fan of Darwyn Cooke and the Parker novels, I take some issue with your comparison of them to Harlequin romances. Donald Westlake was a much better writer than you’re giving him credit for.

    That said, I 100 percent agree with this statement: “I wish he was doing original work, new stories, instead.” For a while there, it looked like that’s what was coming, and then the Parker announcement was made, and now we’ve got the Before Watchmen stuff coming down the pike.

    I’d really like to see what Darwyn Cooke would come up with all on his own.

  4. Johanna Says:

    The point of the comparison was to select something both time-bound (aka old-fashioned) and very specifically gender-targeted. I think of those violent pulps as “romance novels for boys”; it’s not a statement as to quality within that genre.

    I’m honestly surprised not to see more disagreement with my opinion on this, given how award-winning the Parker books are. Maybe those people just don’t come here.

  5. Sebastian Says:

    Eh, missed this when it was posted. Still, I wanted to mention one other comic I noticed in the February Previews, because I haven’t seen it get many mentions elsewhere, yet (well, Paul Gravett did). It’s “But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist” by female cartoonist Margaux Motin from France. It’s published in English by SelfMadeHero in May. I read this when it was originally published in France, in 2009. I really liked her style, right off, in art and in humour. Her art may insofar be a bit unusual as she doesn’t use panel borders very often. Her characters move about freely on the page.

    She’s got a blog and many of her works were published there first, before being collected: http://margauxmotin.typepad.fr

    A more concentrated overview of her art style can be seen here, though: http://www.virginie.fr/illustration/margaux-motin

    She’s also done some interesting advertising work, mostly for fashion (in “Elle”, for example). Some examples are here: http://margauxmotin.typepad.fr/margaux_motin/book-pro-publicité.html

    I just hope they manage to produce a good translation, since much of her humor is based on the snarky dialogue. And I wonder how they will deal with that very French handwriting she uses in all of her strips.

  6. Johanna Says:

    I’m glad to hear you recommend that title — I’m eagerly anticipating a review copy of Anthropologist myself.

  7. From the Mailbag March 27: Fantasy! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] a good week for kids’ books, with Toon’s Shark King ($12.95) arriving. I’ve been anticipating this one since I found out it was R. Kikuo Johnson‘s return to comics. Looks like a fabulous, funny […]

  8. From the Mailbag March 27: Fantasy! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] a good week for kids’ books, with Toon’s Shark King ($12.95) arriving. I’ve been anticipating this one since I found out it was R. Kikuo Johnson‘s return to comics. Looks like a fabulous, funny […]




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