I like Valentine's Day, I always have. It's easy to get behind any holiday that encourages people to enjoy nice dinners and fine cocktails all in the name of "getting in the mood." And as I was slipping on a new Gianelli suit and polishing my candy-colored Marco Vicci shoes for a pre-Valentine's Day night out, I got to thinking about all the things I love in the world.
Because isn't that what it's really all about?
And, as I'm sure you already know, one of those things that I love is the comic books. A Valentine's Day Comic Pimp column practically writes itself!
With love in the air, what better time to share your passion for comics with those you hold dearest? So this week we're going to be taking a look at some great romance comics, with varying degrees of sweet and sour, to give to your sweetheart.
Because nice dinners and fine cocktails aren't the only thing that can get your Valentine "in the mood."
(STAR01618 for Volume #1, Gone to Texas. Ask your local comic retailer for other volume reorder codes.)
Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's magnum opus, "Preacher" is a comic book that has everything. It's a horror-Western, a Roadtrip, a "buddy movie," and a dissection of the American psyche. And somehow, amongst all the blood and blasphemy, death and destruction, cussing and conspiracies, it still manages to be the one the best romances out there. Jesse Custer, a classic all-American hero like John Wayne, and Tulip prove a whole adage that "a couple that kills together, stays together." One of my favorite comics and one that proves that a romance can be as manly as a shot of bourbon straight from the bottle.
Like any great Elmore Leonard crime novel, Brian Michael Bendis's "Jinx" is a book about small-time criminals inches away from the big-time score. "Jinx" also answers a question you may never have thought to ask: what would happen on the first date of a criminal and a bail-bonds woman?
But before you run out and buy your sweetheart a copy of "Jinx," you are going to need to make sure that they've already read "Goldfish." Reading these books in the wrong order completely takes the punch out of "Jinx." And you certainly wouldn't want that would you?
(STAR15696 for vol. 1. Ask your local comic retailer for other volume reorder codes.)
Ken Akamatsu's "Love Hina" is tale of a boy who has been trying to get into to Tokyo University for three years. He forsakes all distractions (particularly of the feminine type) to study for his college entrance exams in the quiet and seclusion of his grandmother's hotel where he will be the manager. When the hotel turns out to be a girl's dormitory, Keitaro's study plans backfire. One of the best romantic comedies on the market.
Craig Thompson's "Blankets" has made such a impact since its release that I doubt that there are any readers who have not at least already heard of this coming of age romance. Still, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not bring it to the attention of those of you who may have missed all the press and accolades this book has received. True to its hype, "Blankets" is a new classic and a great book to share with your sweetheart.
Kill Your Boyfriend
(Out of print…but for how long?)
Now I know this one might be tough to find, but if you liked "Heathers," "True Romance," or "Natural Born Killers," you'll love Grant Morrison and Philip Bond's Kill "Your Boyfriend." It's a classic tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl go on a roadtrip killing spree, boy and girl fall in love.
It drives me crazy that this book is currently out of print! I wish I had a fat stack of these to sell over the Valentines' Day weekend. I shouldn't have to get this on eBay just to get my customers the good stuff. It's my hope that Vertigo will realize how much this lost treasure needs to be put back in print. And while we are talking about it, Vertigo should reprint that Peter Milligan and Duncan Fregredo mini-series "Girl,"which would have made a nice addition to this list.
(STAR15407 for vol. 1. Ask your local comic retailer for other volume reorder codes.)
Wataru Yoshizumi's bizarre story of two families that all live together as a result of the parents spouse-swapping. The daughter of one of the couples, Miki, falls for her new stepbrother, Yuu. "Marmalade Boy" might creep me out a little bit, but this twisted soap opera romance always remains a good read.
(STAR13283 for vol.1, Power and Responsibility. Ask your local comic retailer for other volume reorder codes.)
Just because "Ultimate Spider-Man" is about a boy fighting crime and crazy lizard men in his pajamas doesn't mean that it isn't a great romance story. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley give readers a whole lot to love.
Let's say that you and your sweetheart are a little more cynical and aren't into all this mushy romantic stuff. "Clumsy" is the book for you being the least romantic romance comic I've ever read. This book views a fledgling relationship under such a high-powered microscope, that every flaw and blemish is brought to the forefront in stomach churning magnitude. And yet still manages to be a very compelling read.
True Story Swear to God
But for the most pure, unabashed, and quintessential romance the comic industry has to offer, nothing beats Tom Beland's true to life autobiographical romance, "True Story Swear To God." This Eisner-nominated series is self-published, but you can get the compilation of issues 1-4 in a tradepaperback from AIT/PlanetLar. It is so addictive that you'll find yourself and your sweetie waiting with bated breath for the new issues.
For those of you who are already waiting impatiently for the next issue of True Story Swear to God, you can see Tom Beland and the comic in person as it is produced at the Isotope this coming Wednesday, February 18th.
And speaking the comics love, in response to last week's Comic Pimp column, Librarians have been writing to me expressing their affection for the funny books.
These Librarians also wanted me to pass along some more resources for comic publishers and some clarifications on last week's information.
Mike Pawuk, an active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) wrote to let me know that though much notoriety is given to the Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) list that YALSA compiles annually, YALSA has a few other graphic novel friendly lists of recommended books for Young Adults that are given equal weight by Librarian's when selecting books for teens. These lists are the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.
YALSA's Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
The Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers is a list of books that Librarians can recommend as recreational reading to teens ages 12-18 who do not like to read.
Books are evaluated based on their subject matter, cover art, readability, format and style with special attention to what might appeal to teens. These books are often shorter books or books, like graphic novels, that do not appear to be reading intensive (in other words, they have short chapters, few words on a page, illustrations, or just not a lot of words in general). Graphic novels, therefore, are a good bet.
Like the BBYA list, anyone except, of course, the book's publisher may nominate an appropriate title by filling out the nomination form. All nominations must be received at least sixty days before the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in January to be considered. Books must have a copyright date during the current calendar year or have been published from July to December of the previous calendar year to be considered.
Nominations need to be seconded by a Quick Picks committee member. How this happens is the committee chair informs the committee of any nominations and waits sixty days for a second from a committee member. If none of the committee members second the nomination, the title is dropped from consideration.
There are usually between sixty to eighty titles chosen for this list and there is a separate list complied of the top ten books from the Quick Picks list.
YALSA's Popular Paperbacks for Young Adult Readers
YALSA also compiles between one and five lists of recommended paperback titles selected from popular genres, topics or themes. These lists are called Popular Paperbacks for Young Adult Readers.
Each year a committee selects between ten and twenty-five paperback books for each of the selected themes or genres.
As always, anyone besides the publisher of a book can nominate a paperback book using the nomination form. Books that have been on the Popular Paperbacks list previously are not eligible, but the publication date of the title is not considered. This list is all about popularity, so even the literary quality of the book takes second chair in consideration for this list.
The themes or genres for the 2005 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults lists are "Fairy Tales, Heartbreak, Horror, and Oddballs."
Ray Olson, the associate editor of Adult Books for Booklist informed me that recently, due to popular demand, Booklist has a special section dedicated solely to graphic novels. Unless there are no graphic novels reviewed in a particular issue of Booklist, the graphic novel section will always be there.
For editing purposes, this new graphic novel section is considered part of the Adult Books section of the magazine. Consequently, violence is not an issue, but as I mentioned before quality is always the key. Booklist will not review books that the editors consider of poor quality, unless they suspect that the book will sell gangbusters. If the adult editors feel that the graphic novels is good for young adults they add a Young Adult repeat note to draw school and Young Adult Librarians' attention to the book. Since there is a new graphic novel section, all Librarians specifically interested in adding graphic novels to their collection, typically the Young Adult Librarians in public library setting, would refer to this section.
Ray Olson is, in fact, in charge of the new graphic novel section of Booklist, so you should send your submissions to him.
American Library Association
Attn: Ray Olson, Adult Books Associate Editor
50 E. Huron
Chicago, IL 60611
Mr. Olson is a comic fan and wants to assure the publishers that "no submission will not be considered for review." But remember, your book will only be reviewed in Booklist if the editors want to recommend it for purchase.
Finally, Mr. Olson said that Booklist likes to review your graphic novels as early as possible. This means that you can send a pre-publication copy of your graphic novel for review. If you have submitted pre-publication materials for review, once your book is published, you will need to send two copies of the finished product to Booklist.
Thanks, Ray, for sharing your love of comics with the Library community!
If you still need more reassurance that marketing to libraries will boost sales on your book, here's one publisher who has seen it in action. If a Booklist review can jump graphic novel sales by a factor of 10, it's certainly something I think every publisher would be interested in knowing more about!
Now that's what I can call givin' the love and getting' it back.
If this Valentine's Day themed Comic Pimp didn't have enough candy hearts and flowers for your insatiable comics desire, check out the love over at Sequential Tart this month, where they interview comic creators like Warren Ellis about comics and love, find out if the romance genre is dead, and even review the entire line of Tokyopop's manga romances. Good stuff!
And before I go hit the swank restaurants and sexy nightspots in high style, here's a toast from the Comic Pimp to a holiday season all about enjoyment of an intimate kind, and wishing everyone out there the luckiest of luck. If you know what I mean…
As always, feel free to pontificate on industry issues, preach the gospel of great comic books or discuss this article on the Comic Pimp Forum