In the past eleven columns, I have taken you through a rigorous course of comics promotion calisthenics and prescribed a weekly regimen of innovative, high performance formulas to help increase sales metabolism. These doses of easily digestible, fortified promotional supplements have the potential to take the body to its outer limits of comic pimpology. Judging by the flood of emails I receive week after week it's pretty apparent that creators, publishers, retailers and comic militants alike are all bulking up those comic muscles and flexing their public relation biceps like they never have before. But like every good trainer, I know that diversification boosts results.
So today, we're going to diversify.
Those who know me personally know that although I do clock some serious hours pimping comics at my comic book store and I wear suits everyday of the week, I grow bored of routine quite easily. Once something becomes easy I like to upscale my efforts and make it more challenging. Once something becomes static I like to turn it around and look at it from another viewpoint. Once something becomes expected, I like to play against type and throw something new at you.
Because although I love a delectable dinner and a fine scotch at San Francisco's ultra-swanky Farallon restaurant that doesn't mean I don't also love having a cheap whiskey out of a plastic cup while getting knocked around at a punk rock show. In my world high and low culture all play together in the same sandbox… just like Marvel and DC are featured just as righteously and lovingly as mini-comics and independent published comics are at my store.
Better Living Through Diversity.
So in this week's installment of The Comic Pimp we're going to switch it up. This week, we are taking a break from hopping you up on the performance comic pimpaceuticals and we're going to do something a little different. This week, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am going to talk about something to be thankful for… and that's great comics.
Unlike many of my colleagues in the field of on-line comics journalism, I'm not a comic reviewer. I make comic recommendations and I evangelize the books that I like, but I don't actually do point-by-point reviews of the books I feature in this column. That's intentional. There are a huge number of writers out there already that do comic reviews, so if you're interested in comic reviews from critics whose opinions I respect, I suggest you start by checking out the reviews of my fellow columnist here at Comic Book Resources, Augie De Blieck Jr., in his column Pipeline Commentary. Also, Randy Lander and Don MacPherson have a fine comic reviews site The 4th Rail where they provide a massive number of reviews, and for more eclectic books ArtBomb.net provides reviews on a diverse range of sophisticated graphic novels. I also tend to enjoy the reviews at Sequential Tart and the comic review staff at Entertainment Weekly are more often than not likely to have their finger on the comic industry pulse. If you want full-out reviews, get them from those guys.
In this column, if a book is featured, it's already received my seal of approval. I'm not going to delve into the deep meanings hidden in the sub-content of the book. I'm not going mention literary devices and nuances of language. I'm not going to evaluate the synergy between the art and the writing any more than to let you know that it is a kick ass comic that deserves a place in your collection. All I'm going to do is tell you what it is, what it's about and why I think it deserves a home in a great comic collection.
With that in mind, let me wish you a happy Thanksgiving and introduce you to some fairly recent comic releases that make me thankful for having comic books in the world!
by Ande Parks and Eduardo Barreto
Published by Oni Press
"Union Station" definitely deserves a space in every great comic collection. This depression-era true crime comic details all the all the gore of the 1933 Union Station Massacre, a wild shootout between officers and gangsters, including Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, to free convict Frank Nash. The Massacre left five dead, the city of Kansas City in terror, and most importantly it was also catalyst for expanding the power of the Bureau of Investigation lead by J. Edgar Hoover, and creating the modern-day FBI. Author Ande Parks might be better known for his inking but with "Union Station" he proves he's got the writing chops as well.
by Judd Winick and Farel Dalrymple
Published by DC Comics
#1 (AUG03 0204)
#2 (SEP03 0243)
Since I own a store in San Francisco you can understand why I tend to enjoy comics about San Francisco, but with "Caper" it wouldn't matter where the book took place. Because it's just a great read.
This black comedic historical crime drama deals with two debt-collecting brothers, Jacob and Izzy and their connection to the San Francisco Jewish Mafia. Judd Winick crafts a great tale as Izzy's zeal for violence grows, and brother Jacob has trouble controlling his blood-thirsty brother while still getting Boss Cohen's money. Suspenseful, intelligent and exciting, every issue of this series so far has been excellent.
by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan
Published by AIT=PlanetLar
#1 (SEP03 1995)
#2 (OCT03 2016) - in stores December 10th
Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's "Demo" is a 12 issue mini-series of snapshots into the lives of people blessed (or more correctly, cursed) with extraordinary powers. Each issue is completely self-contained and Becky shows why she's one of the industry's true rising stars by changing her art style on every single issue to reflect this. "Demo" also features the glossiest, sexiest paper I've ever seen on a $2.95 comic.
I am fortunate enough to have gotten AIT to loan the Isotope the bluelines for issue two, and for me this is where the book really takes off. Becky flexes her manga muscles on this issue and turns in a stunning performance that really brings Brian's bleak story home and makes reading issue number 3 an entertainment necessity for both me and every one of my customers.
Catwoman - Crooked Little Town TPB
by Ed Brubaker, Brad Rader, Cameron Stewart, Rick Burchett and Michael Avon Oeming
Published by DC comics
I'm just going to assume you're already reading Ed Brubaker's incredible "Catwoman" series because you were told either on the Internet or at your local comic store how good this series is. If not, you should get yourself acquainted with the new Catwoman. You need to start with volume one, "Catwoman: Dark End of the Street TPB (STAR 16235) you can read about it here
This "Catwoman" trade paperback collects Catwoman 5-10 and also includes a new story penciled by "Powers" artist Michael Avon Oeming. This is great superhero stuff, cut with undiluted crime drama, and is one of the reasons that comic fans think Ed Brubaker is at the top of his game right now. Read it and you will too.
by Gordon Rennie and Frazer Irving
Published by Rebellion
Before there was the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, there were the "Necronauts"… or at least that's the story I was told at a party at San Diego Comic Con. Supposedly the script and several pages of this book floated around the British comic industry without a publisher for years, and were maybe even given to Mister Moore himself. Once League of Extraordinary Gentlemen became a hit, publishers noticed the similarities between the concepts and the Necronauts were quickly scooped up and ran in British super-anthology 2000ad.
Is the story true? I don't know and frankly, I don't care.
What I do care about is that "Necronauts" is a great read with a cool concept and it has stunning artwork by Frazer Irving. You just can't do much better than that. In my book anytime Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft band together to fight monstrous terrors of this world and on the astral plane you've got a great read. "Necronauts" is perfect for all students of the otherworldly, and also for anyone who just likes good comics.
Less Than Hero
by Jason McNamara and Tony Talbert
Self-published by Polite Strangers
Rough but completely charming piece of surreal San Francisco nightlife. "Less Than Hero" pretends to be an irreverent look at superhero worship but it's so much more than just that. Containing 12 concurrent storylines and several handfuls of sad, pathetic and oftentimes ugly characters, "Less Than Hero" explores the daily lives of punk rock junkies, back-stabbing friends, circuit boys, religious cultists, sex clubs, and "normal people" whose lives are even more surreal than any superheroic adventure could ever be. Jason McNamara writes great tragic human drama and Tony Talbert makes it real in his pseudo-Steve Ditko style.
Order your copies of "Less Than Hero" 1 and 2 directly from the boys at www.politestrangers.com
Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place
by Brian Azzarello and Joe Kubert
Published by Vertigo
Joe Kubert is a legend.
And for good reason too, Joe Kubert has drawn some of the greatest comics ever made for more decades than many people reading this column have even been alive. He's taught generations of great comic artists the mastery of the craft and whenever he puts pen to paper he continues to set standards by which other artists are held. When the legendary Joe Kubert came out of retirement to re-visit one of his most classic characters and to do the definitive Sgt. Rock story with "100 Bullets" author Brian Azzarello in an ultra-sexy hardcover graphic novel… you just knew it was going to be amazing.
And it is. I loved every single panel and every single word balloon that Azzarello and Kubert gave me. Simply a glorious read that will appeal to comic readers from all ages and all walks of life. Heartbreaking, intense and visceral.
… oh yeah, and Sgt. Rock kills some Nazis, too. So you know I like that.
Looking back on the Bombaby Bollywood Bash
Last week, we talked about the care and feeding of an in-store event like the Isotope's Bombaby Bollywood Bash and this week, you get to see the benefits that you can reap from giving proper care and attention to these events.
The Bombaby Bollywood Bash was a resounding success. The crowds' every sense was imbued with the Bollywood aura, from Slave Labor's Director of Sales Deb Moskyok's Chai Tea cookies, and the palatial Indian dcor of the Isotope, to the spicy liquid libations, and DJ Chai-Walla's awesome mix of Eastern melodies and Western beats.
From the moment "Bombaby" creator, Antony Mazzotta, walked into the Isotope, he was the center of attention, signing books, chatting with new fans, and drawing sketches. Antony and our friends at Slave Labor were blown away by the event turn out and by the universally positive response to the book. By the end of the evening, the complete run of the prerelease of Bombaby was sold out, our guests were exhausted, and DJ Chai-Walla had a whole new group of fanatical followers.
To talk about this article, give thanks for great comics or to pontificate on other comic industry issues, check out the Comic Pimp Forum here.