May 2013 Previews

I’ve been meaning to go through the May Diamond Previews catalog for two weeks now, but I kept putting it off. I’m still barely timely, since today’s the last day — consumer orders are due to shops today. I wonder why I’ve been dawdling about it, and then I stumble across something that reminds me of how much I sometimes despise the whole process. Exhibit A: a full-page ad for the digital version of Previews that calls it an “evolution”, one that they want to charge you $3.99 for. I can possibly see an argument for Diamond being reimbursed for printing and shipping costs for the paper catalog version — although it is typically short-sighted to charge people to buy things from you — but a digital version? That costs you nothing, since you have to produce the catalog for retailers anyway? Why should they charge for that, let alone almost full cover price?

Although I don’t read a lot of their titles, I admire Dark Horse’s tenacity and the way they’ve kept going all these years. However, I can’t get excited about their big plan, announced here, of putting out more superhero books. The world has more than enough of those, thanks. I understand, I think, why they’d want to do that — that’s about all that the direct market is set up to cope with, still, and they’re going to have to do something when the Star Wars comics go away. (You know it’s coming. Probably not immediately, but Disney now owns them, and you saw what happened to The Muppet Show comics that used to come from Boom!.) Given how targeted much of their releases are to the traditional direct market, relying heavily on horror, science fiction, Conan, and video game and other licenses, it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re keeping with that young male approach.

Batman 66 #1

Moving to DC’s section, I stumbled across Batman and Catwoman #22 (MAY13 0162, $2.99). “Oh, neat!” I thought, “I wonder how long that teamup has been running?” Then I realized it was a relabeled Batman and Robin. Now that Robin is dead, Batman is apparently rotating through a bunch of other characters who likely hate him, creating a tracking and filing nightmare for the obsessives as the book goes from Batman and Batgirl to Batman and Nightwing. Also, I suspect the cover artist (Patrick Gleason) doesn’t realize just how hot those spotlights are.

The Batman 66 title (MAY13 0204, $3.99) I’ve been looking forward to is now available for order. So there’s one DC comic I can look forward to. Oh, wait, I forgot Batman: Li’l Gotham #4 (MAY13 0239). Cuteness works for me, too.

I haven’t heard a thing about Right State (Vertigo, MAY13 0262, $16.99, due August), but I liked Mat Johnson’s Incognegro, and after the departure of Saucer Country, I’d like to see more comics take on politics in an entertaining (as opposed to hectoring) way. Andrea Mutti draws the original graphic novel thriller about an attempt to assassinate the second African-American President.

I am stunned to finally see the solicitation of The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer: Volume 8 (NBM/Eurotica, MAY13 1198, $15.99, due July), the new conclusion to the adults-only furry sex series. The previous book came out five years ago, and the reprint series started in 2005! (I first heard of the comic in 1989 or so, when a friend of mine got the picture disc featuring music by Reed Waller’s band.) I guess patience really is a virtue. I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up.

Watson and Holmes

Be sure to check out the first issue of Watson and Holmes (New Paradigm Studios, MAY13 1211, $2.99, due July). There were previously two issues released digitally, but the series by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi was so well-received that it’s moving to print. It’s a good read, an African-American take on the Sherlock Holmes setup. Jon Watson is an overworked intern at an emergency clinic in Harlem. Holmes had dreds, a fedora, and the annoying certainty you expect from the character. The art’s astounding, gritty and dramatic. You’d think with Sherlock and Elementary and all that people would be tired of another take on the character, but this one is fresh and interesting. Some of the conventions of the genre — the motherly housekeeper Mrs. Hudson, the use of street kids as Irregulars to gather information — actually make more sense in this setting. There’s a lengthy preview online.

Stumptown Volume 2 (Oni, MAY13 1214, $29.99, due September) collects the mystery by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth. It’s gripping, with a strong sense of place and culture, updating the traditional PI-style story for Portland and the music scene.

I’ll miss Bakuman, the crazy manga series about two young creators. It was nice having new volumes to look forward to, since I enjoyed reading a soap opera about making comics. Volume 20 (Viz, MAY13 1321, $9.99, due August) completes the series.

6 Responses to “May 2013 Previews”

  1. James Schee Says:

    I actually liked some of the ideas of DH’s CGW characters, though the execution at the time left something to be desired. The first couple of issues of Duane Swierczynski X series have been good.

    An interview with the people behind the books asked the same question you asked “Why superheroes?” They made a fairly decent point that for the most part DC and Marvel superheroes can only have so much happen, since they serve such a variety of purposes outside comics. Something these characters, at least to this point, have not.

    I hope the SW comics don’t leave, hopefully as WB learned about DC with the cartoon books, it is better to outsource those concepts elsewhere. To people who can give them the focus the concepts deserve to be successful.

    DC’s Digital First series are the best things they are doing. I don’t like everything they do, I’m looking at you Injustice which reads like Dan Didio’s dream DCU, but that’s okay because I shouldn’t like everything from a line. But what I do Lil Gotham, Smallville, and Adventures of Superman is wonderful.

  2. Ralf Haring Says:

    They’ve already announced the Star Wars comics are going to move away from Dark Horse.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for confirming that, Ralf.

    James, I agree about the digital first books. It’s as though trying to address a wider audience made them actually think outside the fanboy bubble!

  4. Simon Says:

    Well, this is the second month in a row my Diamond preorder has been $0.00, largely due to what you often call “stupid publisher tricks”, Johanna.

    Last month it was DC: they’ve decided to extend their crossover plague to Vertigo, with a forced coupling of The Unwritten and Fables. So I decided to vote with my wallet and drop Vertigo entirely (Unwritten, Fables, Fairest, Sweet Tooth, etc.). Though I reserve the right to finish reading them in torrents (in order to preserve my investment in the dozens of TPBs I already bought). From now on, neither Marvel (dropped aeons ago) nor DC (only Vertigo survived) won’t get any from me, I’m tired of their marketing insults to intelligence.

    This month it’s Dynamite: they’ve decided to raise their TPB price 30%, wiping preorder discounts. I’m not a fan of Garth Ennis or Dynamite (both have a mostly-potboiler output), but I really liked Ennis’s War Stories at Vertigo (especially the one drawn by David Lloyd) and I followed them to their Battlefields reincarnation at Dynamite. From 2008 to 2012, the first six stories have been released as three $3.50 issues, promptly collected in $13 TPBs. An 80-page TPB for $13 was 50% steeper than usual collections, but acceptable from a minor publisher. I bought.

    However, the 7th volume is now solicited at 80 pages for $17. I thought, Shirley that’s a typo? Maybe they decided to collect both the 7th (Green Fields) and 8th (Anna Kharkova) stories into a 160-page softcover? Or maybe it’s a hardcover? Nope, no typo: I was told I just had to preorder from Amazon or such sites to get a 30% discount and pay only $12. (Indeed, is currently taking preorders at “$12.01 & Free Shipping on orders over $25″; they even solicit volume 8 already at 31% discount for October.) I quit.

    Maybe they’re following the marketing saying, “Never give a sucker an even break”: if people are ready to pay $13 for this in the bookstore market, why not make them fork a comparable sum in the discounted direct market too? Just raise that Diamond cover price from $13 to $17 so that discounted preorders will end up around $13 too (depending on store discount). Now, a retailer preordering one for the shelves may balk at trying to move an 80-page booklet cover-priced $17, so I suppose Dynamite must reckon their Diamond preorders were mostly from readers anyway?

  5. Johanna Says:

    Dynamite told you to preorder from Amazon? That’s odd, that they would promote that retailer.

    The diversity of my comic reading has been cut back for similar reasons — if I have to preorder to get the price I’m willing to pay, I’m only willing to commit to things I’m sure I’m going to like. The end result is sticking with the same old favorites.

  6. Watson and Holmes Ends Print Serialization, Returns to Digital » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] enjoyed the issues of Watson and Holmes I’ve read. It’s a new, urban take on the classic Sherlock Holmes […]




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