Comics Worth Reading » Shopping Guide Independent Opinions on Comics of All Kinds Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:33:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 KC’s Previews for April 2015 Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:08:07 +0000 The Bronze Age of DC Comics cover

KC recommends items you’ll want to be aware of in the February Previews catalog, for items shipping in April or later in his Westfield columns. Part One looks at comic book collections, plus a bunch of Marvel Cinematic Universe art books. You’ll also find out why so few DC books show up on these lists. Part Two switches to collections of comic strips and the super-sized omnibus editions, as well as key books about comics you’ll want to read. One of those I’m excited about is the long-awaited Taschen The Bronze Age of DC Comics, as shown above and now due in August.

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KC’s Previews for March 2015 Fri, 09 Jan 2015 13:25:30 +0000 KC’s latest Westfield columns once again look at what’s coming up in March (or later, since books print so far ahead these days). Part One finds a problem in the latest novelization of a Marvel big event, looks at an original graphic novel sequel, and recommends some classic comic book collections, including one about garbage cleanup.

Polly and Her Pals: Complete Sunday Comics 1928-1930 cover
Polly and Her Pals: Complete Sunday Comics 1928-1930

The book KC & I are most excited about this month

Part Two starts off with a gigantic brick of a collection, moves on to classic comic strips, notes some magazine milestones, and makes DNA jokes.

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KC’s Previews for February 2015 Sat, 06 Dec 2014 15:04:53 +0000 The Sculptor cover
The Sculptor

Another month means another chance to look into the future, as KC’s Westfield columns check out the Diamond Previews catalog out this month and listing items available in February 2015 or later. (One of my most anticipated is shown above.)

Part One covers comic book collections, reprint chances to get complete stories or books you may not have seen the first time around.

Part Two looks at the giant omnibus editions that have become popular, comic strip collections, and a couple of interesting books about comics.

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KC’s Previews for January 2015 Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:33:35 +0000

Archies Pal Jughead Archives Volume 1cover
Archie’s Pal Jughead Archives Volume 1

It’s another month, so it’s time for KC to point out what he’s looking forward to in the latest Previews catalog at the Westfield Comics blog, for items coming out in January 2015 or later. (Sometimes much later.) Part One tackles classic comic book reprints, including the first Jughead Archives and an acknowledgement that the original Captain Marvel is 75 years old. Part Two looks at super-sized collections and a few interesting books about comics.

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KC’s Previews for December 2014 Fri, 03 Oct 2014 19:50:06 +0000 As happens monthly, KC has run down his picks for notable items in the latest Previews catalog for Westfield Comics. Part One explains why IDW’s Corto Maltese reprint program is so significant. KC also covers significant releases of comic book reprints.

Part Two tackles the super-sized books (omnibus editions and such) as well as classic comic strips.

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KC’s Previews for November 2014 Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:14:24 +0000 Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Volume 1 cover
Batman: The Jiro Kuwata
Batmanga Volume 1

KC’s latest Westfield column starts looking at the new Previews catalog — in which there’s an awful lot of Batman, including this oddity. There are also many collections of classic comics, many of which even have information about which comics they’re reprinting! (Sadly, that doesn’t apply to all of them.)

Update: And here’s part two, in which KC covers books about comics, the Complete ZAP, omnibus editions, and comic strip collections, with new volumes in several seminal series.

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KC’s Previews for October 2014 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:57:59 +0000 KC’s latest Westfield column is the first half of recommendations for the latest Previews catalog, the one for items coming out starting in October. Before jumping into comic book reprint books, he first shares some Comics Code memories. I learned that there was a super heroine before Wonder Woman — except she’s not American!

Update: And here’s part two, with comic strip collections and a brief history of Harvey Kurtzman.

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop July 23: Licensed Titles — Buffy, Doctor Who, and the Avengers Wed, 23 Jul 2014 03:30:29 +0000 Here’s what I recommend appearing tomorrow at your local comic shop.

I’ve been impressed by how well Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 is turning out with the creators, Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, on this current run. It’s a wonderful recreation of the strengths of the original TV show, and highly entertaining. Issue #5 (Dark Horse Comics, $3.50) concludes an arc co-written by Nicholas Brendon that establishes how the “New Rules” of magic work this time around.

Unfortunately, Steed And Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed #1 (Boom! Studios, $3.99, six-issue miniseries) isn’t as good an adaptation. Writer Ian Edginton gets the voices right, but the plot, about a village of retired spies, is too reminiscent of The Prisoner, and the art by Marco Cosentino is stiff and choppy, relying on the text to carry the story. Some of the likenesses are good, but sometimes the faces look misshapen or unrecognizable, and the fight scenes are difficult to follow. Shame, because it’s always fun to see the sparkling conversation between the two dapper Avengers. Here are a few preview pages:

Steed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed  #1 coverSteed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #1 page 6Steed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #1 page 7Steed and Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #1 page 8

Two more much-anticipated licensed comics debut this week, with Doctor Who comics for the two most popular recent incarnations of the time lord now available. Each can be chosen with a standard cover (Titan Publishing, $3.99), or your choice of five more expensive variants.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1 sends a David Tennant-looking Doctor to a New York City laundromat where a young woman is struggling with the conflict between her aspirations and the pressure to be loyal to her large family and work in their business. This first issue starts a five-issue arc written by Nick Abadzis and drawn by Elena Casagrande. It’s an atmospheric story, with rich characterization (for a slightly-too-large-to-follow-easily cast) but this first chapter doesn’t have much for the Doctor to do, so I wonder at the choice. I’d rather see more with the title character out of the gate, although what is here does seem in character. Oh, and it’s the Day of the Dead and there are monsters with glowing red eyes.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1 features Matt Smith and, as with the other, new characters, not known companions. It’s written by Al Ewing and Rob Williams and drawn by Simon Fraser. In this one, a woman has spent her life taking care of her mother, but now that her mother’s dead, she’s also losing her home and her job. Then her black-and-white world turns to full color when she sees the Doctor chasing an odd beastie through town. It’s distinctly opposite to the other series, which is very much a domestic, down-to-earth, horror-in-the-everyday piece. This one emphasizes the fantastic, particularly in the visuals. It’s also a pleasure to see, in the comics, a departure from the usually mostly white cast of the TV show.

Although I liked watching the Tenth Doctor more, I liked reading the Eleventh Doctor better. There were realistic emotions, but also a good amount of humor, and I got more story in this first issue, which I thought made a better introduction. Plus, there’s a strip in the back by Marc Ellerby about Amy and Rory being parents to River going out on a date. Funny!

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop July 16 Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:16:26 +0000 Here’s what I recommend appearing today at your local comic shop.

The book of the week, in terms of overall anticipation, is Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds (Ballantine Books, $25). It’s a terrific read and an affecting meditation on what it would mean to be able to reverse the mistakes you think you’ve made in your life. It’s tough to followup on the career-defining Scott Pilgrim series, but O’Malley here does a wonderful job.

A surprising discovery for me was Princess Ugg, an entertaining and light-hearted take on what it really means to be a princess. Ted Naifeh, by contrasting a barbarian and a pampered young lady, makes issue #2 (Oni Press, $3.99) quite funny.

Getting a lot more press lately is Archie Comics’ Life With Archie #36 ($4.99), which has five variant covers hit stores. In this much-promoted issue, Archie is killed taking a bullet for Kevin Keller (identified as “gay friend” in most of the news stories that have picked up on the death promotion).

I don’t think that story will stand the test of time — although it will make for an interesting future time capsule about the debates that bothered us during this decade — which makes it very different from the latest installment of Fantagraphics’ Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse reprints ($34.99). Volume 5 is titled Outwits the Phantom Blot, and it promises to be a spooky mystery. For comics originally published in the late 1930s, there’s exciting action and great cartooning here. It’s surprising to see so much adventure with a mouse, but it all somehow works. The publisher has a preview available.

From the past to the future… if you’re interested in the question of how humans might interact with creepily lifelike robots, check out Alex + Ada Volume 1 (Image Comics, $12.99). The art, by Jonathan Luna, can seem stiff and lifeless, but that’s oddly well-suited to this kind of story, and I found myself caring about the characters, written by Sarah Vaughn.

Whedon fans will want to take note that Spike: Into the Light (Dark Horse, $14.99) is an original graphic novel focused on everyone’s favorite vampire-with-a-soul written by the actor who played him, James Marsters. It’s drawn by Derlis Santacruz, inked by Andy Owens, and it’s an enjoyable stand-alone story that gives Spike some good moments. It’s set near the beginning of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7.

Spike is bumming around, being bummed, when he rescues a young woman being menaced by a couple of toughs. He winds up trying to do the right thing, rescuing some innocents, fighting some monsters, and looking for a new pair of boots. The likenesses are well-done, as is the dialogue, which makes Spike roughly charming.

Let’s end on an even higher note. Image Comics is putting out some of the most exciting comics out there, and their newest must-read series is The Wicked + The Divine ($3.50) by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. If you missed the first issue, which came out last month, there’s a second printing available this week to go along with the new issue #2.

The Wicked + The Divine postulates gods as pop stars, and it’s drawn in typically gorgeous fashion by McKelvie. Gillen portrays the absolute devotion of a dedicated fan in tangible fashion before sending us into the question of how our world would deal with these beings, plus a murder mystery added on top just to make it even more interesting. In issue #2, someone says, to a new god, “You will be loved. You will be hated. You will be brilliant. Within two years, you will be dead.” That sums it all up, except then, reading Gillen’s editorial note in issue #1 tells us that it’s his meditation on creating art, which puts it all into new light. It’s an astounding series, about youth and power and sex and fame and yearning, and I can’t wait to see more. Really good stuff.

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop July 9 Wed, 09 Jul 2014 21:20:32 +0000 Here’s what I recommend appearing today at your local comic shop.

The Life After #1 cover

Boom! StudiosLumberjanes #4 ($3.99) introduces some key new characters. After the girls run into a yeti (a yeti! fulfilling the mystical creature quota this issue), they are helped by the Scouting Lads, who are too good to be true. The crazy fun adventures continue as the mystery deepens, so don’t expect all the answers here, but it’s a fine place to join the ride. It’s by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen.

Ghosted (Image Comics, $2.99) continues with issue #11, a look into the history of Anderson, the tough blonde who’s currently a ghost. We find out, in this story by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka, how she came to be hired by Markus Schrecken, the rich ghost collector of the first storyline, and how she loves killing people. This is a breather before the next story arc, and although it’s grim, I still like the series because the grimness serves a purpose beyond shock or trying to prove the reader’s age. And Sudzuka’s art is very nice, particularly the pencil texturing during the ghost scenes.

Oni Press launches The Life After ($3.99), a new series described as fantasy/horror by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo. You’ve seen the premise before — guy in boring mediocre life discovers that it’s all a staged illusion and breaks free to the reality behind it — but what they reveal the reality to be (no spoilers here) may take the series in an unexpected direction. Plus, Hemingway guest stars. The visual effects to illustrate reality transitions, possible time travel, and maybe ascension are nicely done. (Yeah, I don’t know exactly where this is going yet.) There are three variant covers, just to make things confusing.

Charlie Brown: POW! cover

In book format, there’s a new printing of Hope Larson’s Mercury (Atheneum Books, $12.99), an oddly appealing historical fantasy involving two girls in two very different eras and a necklace that brings them together.

Amp! Comics for Kids continues repackaging well-known strips into books aimed at young readers. This week brings two. The more recognizable is Charlie Brown: POW! ($9.99), a seasonally appropriate baseball-themed reworking of Peanuts comic strips, all in color. With over 200 pages of comics, often with two strips a page, this is a substantial collection for kids to enjoy.

More modern is Pearls Before Swine: The Croc Ate My Homework ($9.99), a collection of Stephan Pastis’ snarky strip. One might think, given the title, that this would be focused on the crocodiles and their attempts to eat their zebra neighbor, but it’s just a kid-aimed collection of selected comic strips. The heavily sarcastic tone will likely appeal to youngsters, who can appreciate making fun of everything around them.

Viz has released this week several good shojo manga titles, including Midnight Secretary Volume 6 ($9.99) and Sweet Rein Volume 3 ($9.99), which I’ve talked about previously. That second title ends its run with that volume, as does Demon Love Spell this week with Volume 6 ($9.99).

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KC’s Previews for September 2014 Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:06:19 +0000 Previews July 2014

KC’s latest Westfield column is his monthly look at what’s in the current Previews catalog for purchase of upcoming items, due in September or later, through comic shops. Except that there’s an accident of timing that makes this catalog so big that he’s divided the column into two parts.

You see, given that so many books, particularly large hardcovers, are printed overseas to save money, shipping takes longer than usual. Which means that a book offered in July that would normally arrive in September is now going to show up in November. Which is when they want it on the shelves for the important holiday shopping season, particularly if it’s a big expensive collection (great for gift-giving!). Which means that although summer only started a week ago, we’re looking at lots of pricey Christmas gifts. (Five Marvel omnibuses?!?)

Anyway, this first half covers gift books not published by Marvel or DC — which still somehow means plenty of superhero material using their characters. Comics!

Update: And now the DC and Marvel recommendations are up, with lots of big books.

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Pondering Previews for June 2014 (Shipping August and Later) Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:40:41 +0000 Based on this month’s Diamond Previews catalog, here are some notable items I recommend pre-ordering from your local comic shop or Amazon.

Blacksad: Amarillo coverMisfits of Avalon: The Queen of Air and Delinquency cover
Blacksad: AmarilloMisfits of Avalon: The Queen of Air and Delinquency
by Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnidoby Kel McDonald
Dark Horse, $17.99Dark Horse, $14.99
JUN14 0012, due October 8JUN14 0052, due October 8
The American way of life, captured by Europeans using a private eye who’s also a panther (because the whole world is populated by symbolic animals). It’s gorgeously illustrated, and seeing what others think of legendary America is fascinating. Here, Blacksad is driving a Cadillac Eldorado across Texas in the 1950s.This fantasy hybrid, currently available to read online, features a young woman angry at life confronted by a talking dog. She and her friends wind up reluctant heroes, off to save the isle of Avalon. Think Sailor Moon with an Irish overlay. Nicely drawn, and moves well. First of a planned three books.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder WomanWonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics cover
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #1Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics
by Gail Simone and othersby William Moulton Marston & Harry G. Peters
DC Comics, $3.99IDW Publishing, $49.99
JUN14 0247, due August 20JUN14 0444, due August
DC launches another “digital first” (print collection of stories first released digitally) anthology, while returning a classic title name to the stands. I like these types of series more than most DC titles because they’re usually stand-alone stories by great creators aimed outside the traditional continuity-focused audience. This issue will collect three installments.Speaking of Wonder Woman nostalgia, I had no idea that there was a daily comic strip for the hero back in 1943 (or 1944, depending on which part of the promo you read — the dates don’t match). I can’t wait to read it! Particularly since it only ran a short time, so this is the complete run.
The Fade Out #1 coverDisplaced Persons cover
The Fade Out #1Displaced Persons
by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillipsby Derek McCulloch & Anthony Peruzzo
Image Comics, $3.50Image Comics, $17.99
JUN14 0463, due August 20JUN14 0499, due August 6
This sounds like the kind of noir I’d like, set in old Hollywood about moviemakers. To tie into the theme, there’s an oversized “movie magazine” variant with more “behind the scenes art and articles” (an extra eight pages).I’ve reviewed this book more fully already, but it’s a time-travel-twisted San Francisco family noir with a lot to figure out.
An Age of License coverSisters cover
An Age of LicenseSisters
by Lucy Knisleyby Raina Telegemeier
Fantagraphics, $19.99Graphix, $10.99
JUN14 1213, due AugustJUN14 1280, due August
See my review for details. Amazing, outstanding book.I recommended this one as well; check out that post for details on the versions available for Raina’s Smile sequel, including hardcover and box set.
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KC’s Previews for August 2014 Fri, 30 May 2014 19:47:34 +0000 KC’s latest Westfield column is his monthly look at what’s in the current Previews catalog for purchase of upcoming items, due in August or later, through comic shops. Highlights this month include Evan Dorkin’s The Eltingville Club hardcover from Dark Horse and IDW’s Walter Simonson Manhunter & Other Stories: Artist’s Edition. Click through to find out what KC said about these and many more titles this month.

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Pondering Previews for May 2014 (Shipping July and Later) Mon, 19 May 2014 03:35:22 +0000 Based on this month’s Diamond Previews catalog, here are some notable items I recommend pre-ordering from your local comic shop or Amazon.

Finder: Third World coverLegal Drug Omnibus cover
Finder: Third WorldLegal Drug Omnibus
by Carla Speed McNeilby CLAMP
Dark Horse Books, $19.99Dark Horse Manga, $19.99
MAY14 0074, due September 3MAY14 0102, due September 10
The Finder story from Dark Horse Presents is collected in color, making it the first Finder book in color. Carla’s storytelling and linework is so strong that I never thought about the series being black-and-white, so I’m very curious to see how this turns out… in addition to just loving her art and series and so being thrilled at a new book.Collecting the three previous volumes of the unfinished manga series under one cover… in preparation for a sequel due in 2015! It’s some beautiful paranormal-themed work with hints of boys’ love.
Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5 coverRagnarok #1 cover
Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5Ragnarok #1
by Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuelaby Walter Simonson
DC Comics, $2.99IDW Publishing, $3.99
MAY14 0389, due July 2MAY14 0444, due July 23
That isn’t the real cover, because presumably the real cover will show this issue’s guest star, who is (excitement building) Wonder Woman! This has been a fun, funny series, and I can’t wait to see a story with the Amazon princess training Daphne and Velma.Walt Simonson loves drawing warriors and dinosaurs, so what better than his own series about the Twilight of the Norse Gods?
Street Angel coverChiggers cover
Street AngelChiggers
by Brian Maruca and Jim Ruggby Hope Larson
AdHouse Books, $19.95Atheneum Books, $10.99
MAY14 0979, due JulyMAY14 1060, due June 11
It’s been ten years since this nuevo punk miniseries originally shook up the comicsphere. Be interesting to see how it reads today. I’m sure it’s still immediate and energetic.I really like all of Hope Larson’s work, and what better time than summer to revisit this story of girls at camp?
Jellaby: Monster in the CityBarnaby Volume 2 cover
Jellaby: Monster in the CityBarnaby Volume 2
by Kean Sooby Crockett Johnson
Capstone Press, $12.95Fantagraphics, $39.99
MAY14 1239, due August 6MAY14 1400, due July
I find it odd that the book is listed on the Previews site but can’t be found on Amazon or the publisher’s website yet. Still, after enjoying the first book, I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.I’d heard good things about this classic comic strip for years, but even so, I was highly impressed with book one. I particularly enjoy the satire; even though this strip was published in the 1940s, making fun of the government is still timely.
Magic Trixie coverMonster: The Perfect Edition Volume 1 cover
Magic TrixieMonster: The Perfect Edition Volume 1
by Jill Thompsonby Naoki Urasawa
HarperCollins, $8.99Viz Media, $19.99
MAY14 1444, due June 11MAY14 1671, due July 16
Jill Thompson’s playful series about a little witch ran three books and ended due to low sales, but it’s still charming in the volumes we got. All are available for reorder this month.Now that Urasawa’s works (such as Pluto) are better known here, and with TV series interest, his serial killer series is coming back into print in double-sized volumes
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KC’s Previews for July 2014 Wed, 30 Apr 2014 21:28:23 +0000 KC’s latest Westfield column is his monthly look at what’s in the current Previews catalog for purchase of upcoming items, due in July or later, through comic shops. Glad to see the Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew Showcase is finally coming out. While I was proofing, we almost had an argument over the Alias Omnibus, by the way.

Reading these columns, I find myself wondering, how can the catalog be getting bigger and bigger all the time?!? It’s ever more difficult to pick good choices, particularly when you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to feel like reading in two (or many more, in some cases) months.

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KC Recommends Some Purchases This Week Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:02:58 +0000 The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2 cover
The Uncanny X-Men
Omnibus Volume 2

People who know KC and I often say, “How lucky, you’re each comic fans, so you can share your hobby!” That’s true, but there’s so much diversity in comics these days that there isn’t necessarily a lot of overlap. For instance, I made a list of recommendations that I’d be looking for at the local comic shop this week, and this time around, so did KC (as his latest Westfield column). KC’s list points out some gorgeous super-sized reprint collections, such as the one shown here, as well as a data-gatherer favorite (which unfortunately has fallen prey to Diamond’s spotty delivery record on import items). However, our two lists have nothing in common. Oh, well, more to share, right?!

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop April 16 Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:29:53 +0000 Here’s what I recommend appearing today at your local comic shop.

Katie Skelly’s Operation Margarine (AdHouse Books, $12.95) is a retro-flavored story of girls on the run. Margarine, troubled rich girl, and Bon-Bon, tough chick, take off through the desert together seeking freedom and escape. It’s like a feminist Russ Meyer movie. The flat, simple lines used by Skelly give the whole thing the feel of a fable. She talked with Tim O’Shea about making the book.

Fantagraphics’ first Uncle Scrooge collection, Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: Only A Poor Old Man ($29.99) has now been reprinted and is available again. We recommend it.

I wanted to like Family Ties (NBM, $13.99) by Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon, the team behind The Broadcast, but I couldn’t follow the art at key points. It’s a great concept — a version of King Lear set among a crime family in Alaska, with the aging boss father facing dementia and two ambitious daughters — but the artist’s style is so scratchy that, combined with a dark grey wash, I sometimes couldn’t tell the characters apart. (It doesn’t help that there are a bunch of interchangeable tough guys without clearly explained relationships.) When he lays off the murk, there can be panels capturing significant emotion, particularly as the boss’ son comes to cope with losing his father while he’s still alive.

Rounding out the week is the much-anticipated first collection of Sex Criminals at a bargain price (Image Comics, $9.99). Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky present a story that’s a lot more than it sounds like, although even just the concept is dynamite: a girl who discovers that time freezes for everyone but her when she orgasms finds a boy with the same ability, and together, they decide to rob a bank. Nothing goes as expected, but instead of snarky/smarmy sex comedy (although there’s some of that, too), the first issue was an insightful portrait of a young woman discovering her body and trying to figure out just how different she was in a world that didn’t support either of those. Comics rarely has meaningful portraits of significant relationships — this is one. For adults only, obviously.

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KC’s Previews for June 2014 Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:33:40 +0000 KC’s latest Westfield column is his monthly look at what’s in the current Previews catalog for purchase of upcoming items, due in June or later, through comic shops. He explains:

The books on the list this month are scheduled to ship beginning in June, but a great many will be hitting in August, just before comics’ biggest phenomenon — Comic Con International: San Diego — or just COMIC-CON! as most people hysterically refer to it. Traditionally, publishers save their best book projects to release right around Comic Con. That unfortunately causes an overall glut, and often fans miss something important.

Recommendations this month include a super-deluxe Marvel Masterworks set, one of which is a collection of the parody comic Not Brand Ecch, which KC explains the history of. KC also recommends some super-sized collections and even some books from this decade!

Update: And here’s part two of the column, covering paperbacks, books about comics, and collections of classic comic books and strips.

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop March 5 Thu, 06 Mar 2014 04:27:48 +0000 What an amazing week! It took me so long to tell you about it because I couldn’t resist reading a bunch of these outstanding titles first. Here’s what I recommend from your local comic shop.

Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules!) has been making and publishing comics since he was 15 years old. The Dumbest Idea Ever! (Graphix, $11.99) is his autobiographical story, in comic format, of how that came about. He was a star athlete and high-achieving student in Catholic school, but a bout of illness derailed his plans. He found comic books and realized he could tell his own stories, starting with tales of kids he knew. I think teens will particularly enjoy this story of someone like them, someone with a life where everything doesn’t go right but who followed their creative urge anyway.

Another anticipated all-ages title this week is the supersized hardcover Muppets Omnibus (Marvel, $59.99). It collects all the Roger Langridge comics previously published by Boom!: the original four-issue Muppet Show miniseries, The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, the 12-issue (#0-11) Muppet Show Comic Book series, and the four-issue The Muppets that came out through Marvel (the Four Seasons stories). This is a wonderful way to get more stories with the characters beyond the movies and TV show. It’s a terrific job of work by Langridge with faithful portrayals of the beloved cast. I hope stores are stocking up now before the release later this month of Muppets Most Wanted.

If you’re looking for older reprints of animal characters, Hermes Press is collecting the Pogo stories from Dell’s Animal Comics as Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics Volume 1 ($49.99). In addition to the 27 five- to ten-page stories, this book also has a profile of Kelly and his treatment of the South and race, particularly the character of Bumbazine, a young black child, seen here. The earliest stories were about Albert the Alligator, and Pogo was just supporting cast. Since the stories predate the better-known comic strip by a good deal, at the beginning, Pogo looks nothing like the character you’re thinking of. Instead, he resembles a real possum, which looks strange, although you can see the look develop as the stories progress.

If you’re interested in the history of comics, there are two collections of works by pillars of the field Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Following the genre-focused books Crime and Science Fiction, Titan Publishing has the The Simon and Kirby Library: Horror ($49.95). If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, Fantagraphics has Young Romance 2: The Early Simon and Kirby Romance Comics ($29.99). I found the previous collection a fun time capsule, and I’m eager to see more.

Also from Fantagraphics, Nijigahara Holograph ($29.99) is an amazing manga. I’m still trying to figure it out — I think I need several more reads to know what’s going on, particularly before I review it — but it’s remarkably drawn and enticingly enigmatic. There’s a group of kids who do something horrible, then the story shows us some of them grown up, and there are lots of butterflies, which are maybe souls or maybe symbols of the line between life and death. It’s a twisty tale that requires the reader to participate in figuring out its mysteries.

The sci-fi manga comedy Thermae Romae, the story of an ancient Roman architect who time travels through water to modern Japan where he learns to build ever-better bathhouses, concludes with Volume 3 (Yen Press, $40). It’s as funny as ever, although as the story wraps up, the plot elements change fast. Nice presentation, too, in an upscale hardcover.

For lighter reads, two shojo series I’m enjoying are also available. Strobe Edge (Book 9, Viz, $9.99) is a teen soap opera with the most basic of premises: how do you handle liking someone who might not like you back? Midnight Secretary (Book 4, Viz, $9.99), on the other hand, is a more adult tale of a woman in love with her boss, who’s also a vampire. Sexy!

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KC’s Previews for May 2014 Tue, 04 Mar 2014 23:56:43 +0000 KC says hi

KC’s latest Westfield column is his monthly look at what’s in the current Previews catalog for purchase of upcoming items through comic shops. These items are due in May or later. (Mostly later, since he’s covering reprint books and collections, which take longer to print overseas and ship here.) Highlights this month include Fantagraphics’ complete witzend (Wally Wood’s prozine); The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo, a benefit book from Dark Horse; and the Marvel Rarities Masterworks.

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