THE MONTHLY RUN DOWN
The new PREVIEWS catalog features books scheduled to ship in October 2004. As always, I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself and giving it a thorough once-over. You'll find things, I'm sure, that I'm not interested in that you might be. And, hopefully, this column will point you to a few items that you might have missed. Be sure to pre-order the items you're interested in from your retailer, to increase your chances of seeing it in two months on the shelves or in your reserve bin.
Dark Horse: When any franchise catches fire, what's the first thing you should do? Why, expand into a companion book, of course. Whether it's a "Tales Of" type thing, or a spin-off of a supporting character, this practive is a time-honored way to test how deep the market is. Such is the case with CONAN. As the ninth issue of the on-going series is solicited this month, Dark Horse is dipping its toe in the water to see how much fan support there is for the character. Is it just Kurt Busiek's writing and Cary Nord's art carrying the franchise through? Or is there a real love for the Conan universe?
We'll find out in October with CONAN AND THE DAUGHTERS OF MIDORA. This is a new one shot drawn by Mark Texeira and written (and inked) by Jimmy Palmiotti. It's five bucks for the 48 pages, but should be worth a look.
Along the way, the reprints of the classic Marvel series have reached the sixth volume, with art by the likes of John Buscema and Neal Adams.
The popular TALES OF THE VAMPIRES mini-series from the writers of the BUFFY TV show is being collected for the end of November. The five issues present an anthology of tales, most of which are very entertaining, even for the most casual fan of the Buffy universe. Retail price is $16.
DC's attempt to publish everything that Image, Marvel, and Dark Horse isn't already publishing continues in October with the introduction of the CMX line of manga titles. That's in addition to the recently-added Humanoids listings, 2000 A.D. books, MAD Magazine, WildStorm, and all the various families of DCU titles. It's a dizzying spread of pages, but at least it's very well organized.
The ARKHAM ASYLUM ANNIVERSARY EDITION gets a special hardcover treatment for $30. That includes Grant Morrison's annotated script for the series, plus plenty of behind the scenes extras. I don't get excited for much of what Morrison does, but this is an attractive packaging of a book originally acclaimed 15 years ago. I think I'll give it a chance.
The SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT maxi-series is collected into hardcover form for October 20th. This very subtle reboot/ret-con of the Superman mythos seems to have snuck under the radar in many ways. The initial headlines on the series was the triumphant scripting of Mark Waid. After that, things got quiet, as issue after issue came out and changes - some subtle and some not so - were made to the earliest days of Kal El's stay on this planet. It'll be interesting to see if the series gets a second life in this collected edition. Maybe it'll stir up old hornets nests again.
SOLO finally debuts, with an issue from the pen of Tim Sale. Writing assistance comes from Brian Azzarello, Jeph Loeb, Darwyn Cooke, and Diana Schutz. This series is bi-monthly, dedicated to giving one artist 48 pages to tell whatever stories he or she wants. Howard Chaykin, Darwyn Cooke, and Mike Allred are amongst the upcoming artists for the series, which is being directed by Mark Chiarello. It's a great concept and I hope it sells well enough to last for a little while. The $3.95 price tag includes no interior ads.
TOM STRONG'S TERRIFIC TALES finally gets the ABC hardcover collection treatment at the end of October. The first six issues are included in the first volume, which clocks in at the usual $24.95 price tag. I'm looking over at my bookshelf now and seeing the ABC selection all together. It's a nice looking part of my collection, with some of the best comics stories of the past decade. Alan Moore is an amazing writer, and this is "just" his lighter work. Let these books be your gateway drug to FROM HELL and WATCHMEN and V FOR VENDETTA and D.R. AND QUINCH. . .
Image: If Dark Horse can't feed your CONAN cravings, then Image wants to help. They have the ARTHUR SUYDAM: CONAN SKETCHBOOK coming the second week of the month for $15. It has 64 pages of black and white images. The book is signed and limited and numbered and whatnot.
Bo Hampton's painted THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW graphic novel is being re-issued in time for the Halloween rush. This one is $8 for 64 pages. For those of you who own the original printing of this from a decade ago, there's an extra 16 pages of new stuff in this reprint, meaning lots of sketchbook stuff.
Art Thibert is back to drawing his own stuff. If you forgot his BLACK AND WHITE series from the earlier days of Image, or the solo art he did on one of those DC books with the word "TIME" in it from before that, or even the way that the end of Jim Lee's original X-MEN run looked more like Thibert's work than Lee's -- well, you know what to look for in QUANTUM MECHANICS, a new 48 page "graphic novel."* The art is more cartoonish this time, and a bit more energetic. The character designs remind me of P. Craug Russell's work. The solicitation text is too tiny to read, but the art is pretty and Thibert's booth in San Diego was colorful. The story seems to have debuted in the latest KOMIKWERKS booth, which is why you can see a page of it on their site.
(* I have a problem with calling a 48 page one shot a "graphic novel." Without getting too far into another of the usual debates on semantics, I have a tough time calling a 48 page book anything more than a "special" or a "one shot.")
Gaijin Studios' disappointing THE RIDE series returns for a second go-around. This time, they have Chuck Dixon writing one of the stories, so there's renewed hope. Cully Hamner also returns. This is a single issue for $2.95.
The most exciting listing in the Image section is that for TALES OF TELLOS #1. Todd DeZago and Mike Wieringo's engaging and much-missed fantasy world returns this fall in a new three issue mini-series. This is set to appear monthly (for three issues) on your store shelves in the regular 32 page comic format. Wieringo is only handling cover duties, but DeZago is writing the interiors, with art from Craig Rousseau, Kelly Yates, and Steven Bird.
Even better yet is the tease for TELLOS: SECOND COMING, the return of the series scheduled for early 2005. This series should plant the seeds for that one. Time to pull those two trades off my shelves and refresh my memory again. It's worth the time.
Marvel celebrates Wolverine's 30th anniversary with lots of Wolverine books. They're nothing if not subtle.
The most troublesome of them, for me, is the WOLVERINE: WEAPON X prose hardcover. The sample page included is not truly representative, I hope, of the final product. For starters, the indentations aren't all even down the page, and at least one paragraph doesn't have a blank line in front of it. The first sentence is passive. Nothing grabs my attention than a lead sentence with the verb "had gotten" in it. That's followed a couple sentences later by a sentence starting with an unnecessary conjunction.
How's this for gripping prose? My tongue tripped just reading it in my head: "The gunrunner leaned against a crate of fragmentation grenades, his Prada suit incongruous in the junkyard setting."
I also seem to remember some sort of rule about beginning or ending a paragraph with a line of dialogue. Don't include it in the middle of your paragraph, which is also something that happens on this page. All rules are meant to be broken, of course, but there's no reason to do so here.
Any text which includes a sentence like "Suddenly the grease monkey on Logan's left pulled a wrench out of his stained coveralls." worries me. For starters, wouldn't you put a comma after "Suddenly?" Also, if the action is happening so quickly as to be "sudden," then why lengthen the prose by including unnecessary details such as the stain on the coveralls or the side from which Logan is being attacked?
Finally, we have this doozy: "Gurgling, he went down, to clutch at his neck in a widening pool on the concrete floor."
"To clutch" would sound better replaced with "clutching," don't you think?
Shouldn't there also be a direct reference to "pool of blood" in there, too? Right now, it reads like his throat is forming a widening pool.
Hopefully, this is the rough text from the novel, or perhaps a dummy page they used in designing the solicitations. I hope. Otherwise, I'd suggest picking up on of Greg Rucka's novels, instead.
I don't know what scares me more: that the author, Marc Cerasini, has been on the New York Times best seller list, or that his major by-line that Marvel hypes is for O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN HERO, AMERICAN TRAGEDY.
You can see the author's bibliography at Amazon.com Draw your own conclusions.
Happy Anniversary, Canucklehead.
The oddest Marvel solicitation in this month's cycle has to be STOKER'S DRACULA. This is Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano reuniting to finish a book they started some 30 years ago. I never knew about it until just now, but the preview pages are gorgeous. I don't think I've ever seen Giordano work in gray washes.
However, it's a four issue series at 48 pages a shot. Why didn't they just go straight to a graphic novel format with this? The art is pretty enough to warrant a direct hardcover edition. I know Marvel doesn't believe that format will work for them, but it's a shame.
I guess sales on TOMB OF DRACULA are strong enough to warrant this project. Tying the first issue into Halloween isn't such a bad idea, either.
MARVEL AGE HULK #2 is drawn by Comic Book Idol winner Patrick Scherberger. It's only $1.75. Pre-order today! Scherberger debuted this week in MARVEL AGE: SPIDER-MAN #9. Check it out on the stands.
Sadly, the SHE-HULK #8 cover pictured in the MARVEL PREVIEWS catalog is cropped in PREVIEWS. It's one of the best covers I've seen in a while. Marvel is slowly moving away from the pin-up covers, although it's starting on the fringes before moving in.
In hardcover news, MARVEL 1602 has an October release date, as does the second MARVEL MASTERWORKS volume collecting the Claremont/Byrne X-MEN run. If that's not enough, there's also a BEST OF WOLVERINE collection, including the Claremont/Frank Miller mini-series, Barry Windsor-Smith's excellent WEAPON X serial from MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, and more. Those first two stories are enough to sell me, though. It's only $30. It should be noted that this is a different BEST OF WOLVERINE book from the one Wizard put together, which includes Steve Skroce's BLOOD DEBT story, Chris Claremont/Jim Lee's classic WWII storyline with Black Widow and Captain America, and Peter David/Todd McFarlane's HULK #340, amongst others.
Wizard, meanwhile, has a new hardcover special of its own in THE BEST OF SPIDER-MAN. In the same format as their previous X-MEN release, this one includes the complete THE DEATH OF JEAN DeWOLFF and "The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man," one of the most revered Spider-Man stories of all time. (It was a clunker for me, but I read it after a decade of build-up. It couldn't possibly meet those expectations.) The other two stories are from John Romita Jr.'s earlier tenure on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Mike Mayhew paints the cover, looking like a slightly warmed over McSpidey #1 variant.
THE SECOND HALF OF THE CATALOG
Welcome to the half of the catalog that most retailers never look at. There are some treasures within, if you don't mind sorting through the rest of the mindless drudgery. It's worth it, though.
FOLLOWING CEREBUS #2 has some nifty features in it, including an essay on storytelling techniques in the series through the years, a 1973 interview by Sim with Barry Windsor-Smith, and a six page CEREBUS story that hasn't been seen in 20 years. For only $3.95, it might be worth a shot. The magazine (40 pages) is a joint production of Aardvark Vanaheim and Win-Mill Productions.
AiT/PlanetLar lets loose with 1000 STEPS TO WORLD DOMINATION. I know nothing about this book other than it won Isotope's mini-comics competition, and the title sounds cool. I'm hoping for a mini version of this $12.95 trade, though, as I want to dominate the world in much less time.
Big Pond Comics is the new publishing concern set to print up dead wood copies of the funny web strip DANDY AND COMPANY. Their first outing is the first issue of an anthology dedicated to reprinting strips from the series, as well as some new stories. You can see the strip today over at DandyAndCompany.com. (Sadly, the web site seems to be down at the time I'm writing this.) It's the nifty character designs that first caught my eye on this series, but I stuck around for the laughs. A five page preview of this first issue is also available at the site, so you can judge for yourself if it's your thing.
Comicsone proudly presents IRON WOK JAN #10, the most fun in a manga you thought you'd never have. Who'da thunk cooking could be done with speed lines? It's crazy cult comic books done well.
Chuck Dixon's latest superhero series is part of Devil's Due's new "Aftermath" lineup of titles. Called BREAKDOWN, Dixon's story asks the question, "What would happen if it all came crashing down on Superman in front of the world?"
Marv Wolfman writes the other series debuting this month in the same line, DEFEX, but it's really next month's titles from Joe Casey and Ron Marz that I'm looking forward to next.
Devil's Due/Udon is publishing a STREET FIGHTER art book. I have no interest in the video game or the comics, but it looks like a cool package if that's the kind of thing you're into. I love art books, but I have to draw the line somewhere. It's only $34 for 270 full color pages.
Dreamwave has an art book of their own, DREW STRUZAN: OEUVRE. I could have sworn this had been solicited before, but it's interesting enough to mention again. It's a 300 page hardcover look into the famous movie painter's artistry. It's a bit pricey at $60, but might make the movie fan in your family a nice Christmas present.
Fantagraphics wants you to pick up THE PIN-UP ART OF DAN DeCARLO. This $19 softcover is almost 300 pages long, collecting a ton of non-Archie art from the comics legend. DeCarlo will forever be remembered as the definitive Archie artist, but he did so much more. This is part of it.
THE COMICS JOURNAL #263 has a cover story and interview with Sean Phillips. I'm putting the magazine on my pull list now. I haven't done so in the past because not every issue features an interview I care about. However, there hasn't been a clunker in recent memory for me. Even the interviews I didn't think I'd care much about, I've found interesting. The new format looks to be a real boost for the magazine, so I want to support it in my own little way.
NBM lets loose with a third collection of Richard Moore's fun BONEYARD comic. This one collects issues 9 - 11, plus the swimsuit issue. It's only $9.95.
Oni has a few exciting releases in the months ahead, and one of the big ones comes in October. THE LONG HAUL is a new graphic novel by Antony Johnston (Oni's OGN Go-To Guy) and drawn by Eduardo Barretto. It's a western heist story, judging by the solicitation text. Oni had some pages from the book on display at their booth in San Diego. Barretto's artwork is lush and beautiful. They couldn't have asked for me. It's classy and jam packed with detail. I can't wait for this one.
They also have J Torres' LOVE AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE series starting up, which you can read more about in this article.
Jess Nevins returns with A BLAZING WORLD: THE UNOFFICIAL COMPANION TO THE SECOND LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. It's unofficial, yet Alan Moroe writes the introduction, and participates in interviews and annotations along with Kevin O'Neill. The book is published through Monkey Brain Books. After COMICOLOGY got yanked from the stands for being too KINGDOM COME-oriented, I wonder how books like this one make it onto the stands? I guess by not reprinting vast amounts of the art? I don't know000.
FACTION PARADOX didn't survive as a comic through Image, but there's a novel solicited now on page 382.
HOW TO DRAW COMICS FROM SCRIPT TO PRINT is a new DVD from Mike Manley and Danny Fingeroth, using their crossover issues of (respectively) DRAW! aned WRITE NOW! magazines as a launching point for a behind the scenes look at how a comic book is made. I picked up my copy in San Diego and watched a few minutes while I was out there. I hate to be negative this early, but the video quality is strictly VHS level, and the lettering part made me cross my eyes. (Trust me - you'll want to lay out the letters FIRST and then put the balloons in behind them.)
The whole package runs 90 minutes, and I'll be sure to give a more thorough review when I've had the chance to watch the rest. That will probably be a theme column along with SUPERMAN ON THE COUCH and a couple of comics that Fingeroth once wrote that I might just embarrass him with now.
PREVIEWED NO MORE!
This month's presentation of canceled comics is, I'm happy to report, printed at a much larger font size than normal. This should mean less shocking announcements. There are, however, a lot of cancellations.
ACTOR has canceled their eight inch bust of Morbius. That vampire sucked too much, I guess.
Archangel Studios canceled RED STAR Volume 2 #6.
COMIC SHOP NEWS #912 is being resolicited by the publisher twice. There really are two line items for the same issue.
Cyberosia's PROBABILITIES graphic novel is canceled by the publisher.
David Miller Studios canceled the WRITER'S BLOCK trade paperback.
Devils Due canceled both LEGACY and LEGACY TPB.
Is it just me, or is everyone very cancel-happy this month? While there are less listing this month than usual, I think most of it is publisher cancelations and not mere sell-outs.
Image continues its Todd McFarlane Cancelation Program with HELLBLAZER #17. JACK STAFF #7, meanwhile, is being resolicited.
Saddest of all, from Sababa Toys, the Homer Simpson Etch A Sketch is running late.
And that's it for this month. Whew. Come back at the end of the month and we'll do this all again.
But, first, be sure to stop back here on Tuesday for the return of reviews to Pipeline Commentary and Review. I have a lot of catching up to do, and this is where it starts.
I'll be in Chicago next weekend for the WizardWorld convention. Feel free to say hi if you come across me wandering through the halls with a glazed look on my face from attending too many conventions too quickly.
Baltimore's major comics convention is coming up the second weekend of September, and I'm looking into attending that one now. No definite plans yet, though. This was supposed to be a quiet year for conventions for me. Instead, it's turning into potentially the busiest.
Special thanks to The Gunslinger on the Pipeline message board for a last minute quote-check for me.
Over at Various and Sundry this week: BIG BROTHER and AMAZING RACE change their game, and then gloss right over it. More DOOM, more MST3K, more OFFICE DVDs, more AMERICAN IDOL, more hybrid cars... VandS just has more stuff this week.
More than 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are also still available at the Original Pipeline page.