PIPELINE PREVIEWS FOR JANUARY 2004
My usual monthly routine is filled with redundancies. I pick up PREVIEWS, hurriedly flip through its pages to see what surprises are left in the solicitations and what new images I haven't seen yet. Then I run through it again to write this column. After that, I go through it with an eagle eye towards creating my pull list for the month. There are inevitably new titles to add to my reserves, and old faithfuls that I just don't care about anymore. It's a delicate balance, but it works somehow.
This month, I'm combining those first two steps and writing this column as I flip through PREVIEWS for the first time.
As always, I encourage everyone to pick up a copy for themselves and pre-order all the books that you know you'll want. This way, you can't complain that your retailer sold out before you stopped in, unless he or she doesn't listen to you. In that case, let's all wish your retailers business a quick and painful death. He or she doesn't deserve to be in business.
I'm going to skip straight to the Marvel catalog first. Let's see what's going on there this month.
X-MEN: PHOENIX promises five more issues of magazine clippings for Greg Land to reference. The two preview pages that follow look more like John Cassaday drawings, though. Go fig.
Greg Land draws the covers for DARK PHOENIX #1, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #23-24. He's also in for BLACK WIDOW #5, MARVEL KNIGHTS 4 #14, THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE WOMEN OF MARVEL 2005 (but of course), NIGHTCRAWLER #5, and GAMBIT #6. If that's not enough, the nicely generic DP #1 cover image is also available as a poster.
SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #7 features the return of one of the most colorful characters in recent Marvel Comics history. That's right: Your Man At Marvel is back to write a story. Credited under the moniker of "Bill Rosemann," the story is drawn by Mike Perkins. The second story, written by Matt Manning, is drawn by Karl Moline. I hope that's enough of a CrossGen overload for you.
COMBAT ZONE: TRUE TALES OF GI's IN IRAQ #1-2 are the first parts of a five part mini-series that screams "Trade paperback collection for Borders." Dan Jurgens is drawing it, which gives me hope that it's not a snide and cynical Bush-bashing book.
Peter David is back on HULK with issue #77 for at least six issues. There can now be much rejoicing. Lee Weeks returns along with him. Marvel is also printing up HULK VISIONARIES: PETER DAVID, Volume 1 in January. That includes THE INCREDIBLE HULK #331-339 at a very reasonable price. $20 would usually only buy you three or four of those issues packed with McFarlane art in a back issue bin somewhere.
Let's hope this takes off. While I've filled in most of those back issues from convention bins over the years, I'd love to see the run on my bookshelf. Would Marvel be able to resist the temptation, though, to skip ahead to the more popular artists who worked on the book, like Keown and Frank and Kubert, and ignore the work of artists such as Jeff Purves.
Scott Kolins gets the iron man (pun intended) award for drawing three comic books in one month for Marvel. I'm sure it's a trick of scheduling and timing, but it's still impressive. Two more issues of Joe Casey's AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST and the fourth issue of MARVEL TEAM-UP pull off that trick for him. That's a lot of characters to draw.
Tony Bedard and Karl Moline take on ROGUE, starting with issue #7. It's too bad they didn't start an issue earlier. ROGUE #6 would be fun to morph into ROUTE 666 for a cheap headline to the story.
MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE UNCANNY X-MEN Volume 5 gives us the Dark Phoenix issues of the series in hardcover form. I must own those in three different formats already, but I'll gladly add this one to that pile. These reprints are the best of the bunch, just after the CLASSIC X-MEN printing, which kept a similar enough paper stock to maintain the original look and feel of the art. These glossy pages can't recapture that feel, hard as they might try.
DISTRICT X is one of Marvel's best new series in rencent years, and the first six issues are available in a trade paperback titled MR. M in January. It's $14.99.
The most curious hardcover of the month belongs to LOKI. There's no clear indication that this is a volume 1, but it only reprints the first four issues of the 12 issue series. At $18, I'd rather have seen them reprint six issues for $25, or all 12 for $35. The painted art in the book from Esad Ribic is gorgeous, though. I have very little interest in THOR, but I'll be picking up this volume just for the art.
Dark Horse opens with its new editions of Frank Miller's SIN CITY series. The original book is now called "The Hard Goodbye," while the second is still "A Dame To Kill For." These are being released in time for the big movie in 2005, at a smaller size than usual and with completely interchangeable everything-looks-alike cover designs from Chip Kidd.
CONAN is coming home now in a hardcover edition, collecting the first six issues of Kurt Busiek's wildly popular new series. The art is from Cary nord, with colors by Dave Stewart. Interestingly enough, the book includes the first six issues plus 14 pages of the seventh for $25. Since it's a hardcover, they're keeping it at the 7" x 10" paper size. Thank goodness for small favors.
Here's the unfortunate twist: This is an advance order. The book isn't due out until March 30th.
Mark Waid writes the third issue of BMWFILMS.COM'S THE HIRE, one of the most unwieldy titles in all of comics today. I figure it's only another year before the Google Dot Com balloon blows up so big that you see books like MARVEL.COM'S ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and DCCOMICS.COM'S JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.
Just in time to cash in on all the hype, Dark Horse is releasing two new busts featuring characters from MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS. Great timing there.
DC kicks off Chuck Dixon's limited run return to NIGHTWING with bi-weekly issues #101 and #102. Written with Scott Beatty and drawn by Scott McDaniel, this is the "Year One" story for Dick Grayson under his new uniform. Dixon and Beatty have done such great jobs with similar stories for Robin and Batgirl, that this story is a no brainer addition to my reserve list.
SUPERMAN: STRENGTH is a new three-issue prestige format mini-series from the original writer of SUPERMAN ADVENTURES, Scott McCloud, and that series' greatest artist, Aluir Amancio. Terry Austin is inking Amancio here, who's using a slightly more "realistic" style for the story. Looks like Todd Klein is lettering it, too. While a trade is likely, there's no guarantee, so I'll be picking these up from month to month.
BREACH #1 (from WildStorm) features art from Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez, who did the great BATGIRL: YEAR ONE I referenced earlier. The three-page art sample in PREVIEWS is compelling. But the book is written by Bob Harras, whose best known work is AVENGERS and NICK FURY: AGENT OF SHIELD. Does anyone want to declare either of those books terribly good? It's been 10-15 years since then, though. Doesn't everyone deserve a second chance, even after forcing Claremont out the door after so many years writing X-MEN? I'm torn.
THE MONOLITH #12 is, sadly, that series' last issue. But it does feature art by Phil Winslade. Color me the fool, but I'm hanging in until the bitter end.
Image Comics presents FOUR LETTER WORDS, a new anthology trade paperback that was once scheduled as a mini-series. With the success of FLIGHT, it seems like there might be a market for this type of trade paperback, though, and I'm happy to see it offered that way.
Love. Hate. Fear. Fate. Those are the four four letter words that the stories in this book are all about. The creator cast is indie/Image all-star: Steve Lieber, J Torres, Steve Rolston, Eric Stephenson, Andi Watson, Kieron Dwyer, Joe Casey, and more. Picture the Oni and Image all stars with a pinch of Miscellaneous Independent and you'll get the idea. It's 144 pages in black and white for just $12.95. It's like getting the whole mini-series at once.
Speaking of anthologies, Image is printing up NEGATIVE BURN: THE VERY BEST FROM 1993-1998. It's a trade collecting what the editors feel are the best stories from the Caliber anthology series of the 1990s. I have a few of these issues in my collection, and there's a very good assortment of stories in there. Some are just artistic for the sake of being artistic. Others are entertaining or thought-provoking. While it looks like Peter David's poetic contribution telling the tale of the child who has to pee on a long car trip didn't make it, I can't complain about the roster of creators who did: Alan Moore, Evan Dorkin, Neil Gaiman, Mike Wieringo, P. Craig Russell, Dave Johnson, and more. This one is 200 black and white pages for $20.
PIGTALE #1 is the start of a new bi-monthly ongoing series from Ovi Nedelcu. There are five pages up at the Image Comics site for you to look at. It's a very stylish and well-designed series. It's a private eye/detective book set in Oregon. Saying any more at this point would be like reiterating the press release. So I'll skip it. Click on the previous link to get that. PIGTALE is a promising book, clocking in at $2.95 for 32 black and white pages. The cover is very Scott Morse-like.
My only hesitation with this series is the bi-monthly schedule. Comics lose a lot of momentum if they're not monthly. Books like ULTIMATES are the exception, carried by big names or something else exceptional. I think it would be better to delay the start of the series, push a few issues together monthly if even for just 4 or 6 months, and then return with a volume 2 that's monthly a few months later.
Anyone wondering if Dragon will win the presidential election in his own title had better skip the solicitation text for DRAGON #122, which might give it away.
Wizard is promising the big announcement of the year for DC Comics of 2005. Obviously, DC's bought a lot of advertising with WIZARD lately… While the solicitation indicates that only five people know the big secret and nobody's talking, you can bet the new will leak out a day or two in advance of the issue hitting the stands.
AND NOW FOR THE REST OF PREVIEWS. . .
AiT/PlanetLar leads the way with their full-page advertisement for Brian Wood Month 2005. That includes a trade paperback for DEMO. Almost. It's the DEMO scriptbook that happens to be in the form of a trade paperback. It features 12 new drawings by Becky Cloonan. If I had to guess, I'd say they were chapter headers.
THE COURIERS also returns for a third outing.
Aardvark Vanaheim/Win-Mill Productions' FOLLOWING CEREBUS hits its third issue, with a fold-out cover illustrated by Sim and Gerhard. The cover will contain three separate classic comics cover parodies. Inside the issue, Sim interviews Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Bob Briggs, and more. The theme is copyright law. It's $4 for 40 black and white pages.
Arcade Comics presents one of those books you just have to talk about, even if you don't believe for a second that it'll actually hit the comic book stands on time. YOUNGBLOOD: MAXIMUM COLLECTION is the re-mastered (new coloring, new scripting, new ending) collection of YOUNGBLOOD #0-5. It also includes the Youngblood story Liefeld did as a sample to show to Marvel and DC when he was originally looking for work. It's $25 for all 184 pages.
Atomeka will finally answer the questions of Mike Mignola fans who want to know whatever happened to JENNY FINN. Atomeka is publishing two 56-page JENN FINN books, titled DOOM and VIRUS. Each is $6.99 and includes new sketchbook material.
Banana Tale Press is one of those publishers you've probably only ever heard of if you've been to one of the major conventions in the past few years. This is Mark McKenna's baby that I've mentioned in con reports here before. He's now soliciting his BANANA-TAIL books through Diamond. BANANA-TAIL is a great kid's book featuring a cartoon monkey, zebra, and rhino. It's colorful and it's fun. For $4.95, it's not a bad deal. Makes great bedtime reading, too, I'm sure. I'm not the best judge of that. My niece is only 19 months old. She can't pay attention to her DORA book for longer than 30 seconds. And bedtime is just a screamfest. They do get better, though, right?
Cartoon Militia has one for Steve Rolston completists. JACK SPADE & TONY TWO-FIST #1 is a reprint of a comic Rolston did in 1998 featuring "two beer-lovin' guys who spend most of their time drinking, playing pool and getting into the occasional bar brawl." One of those two is a penguin. Hilarity, I am sure, ensues. $3.00 for a 32 page black and white comic.
It does make you wonder what other treasures from the pasts of today's popular artists are waiting to be reprinted.
Devil's Due continues to branch out with a new all-ages comics line called D3. Since these comics are for kids, they're presented as manga-style digests. The first two collect Josh Blaylock's fun MISPLACED, and Franco! and Art Baltazar's PATRICK THE WOLFBOY. Each is 144 pages for $11 in black and white.
IDW becomes publisher of the month for returning Grimjack to the comic shops. There are two releases in January. THE LEGEND OF GRIMJACK, Volume One is a trade paperback collecting the original Grimjack stories. Those started as backups in STARSLAYER. Creators John Ostrander and Tim Truman created eight new pages for this volume, as well. It's $20 for the 128 page package.
The second Grimjack release is the start of a brand new mini-series. Or series. Or a one-shot. IDW fails to mention this little bit of information, probably figuring everyone is waiting for the trade rather than paying the pompously high $3.99 price tag for each 32 page comic. GRIMJACK: KILLER INSTINCT #1 is still by Ostrander/Truman.
I don't know the ins and outs of the legal issues that went into bringing the character back to comics. I do know, however, that I like the name of the new organization created to own it. Grimjack, you see, is now copyrighted to the NightSky GrimJack Rights and Production Vehicle (Four Wheel Drive Model) L.L.C. Ah, the law is, indeed, a ass.
Oni's impressive library of digest-sized original graphic novels grows with F STOP from Antony Johnston and Matthew Loux. This one is set in the world of fashion photography and New York City. Its $15 for the 160 black and white pages.
FOLLOW ME CLOSELY, Daniel Krall's OGN, is resolicited from May's PREVIEWS. It seems to be following the publication path of ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, just released last week.
TokyoPop gives us more new PLANETES.
Oddly enough, TokyoPop is unable to come up with a single final cover design for any of their dozens of new books they solicit from month to month. The cover images in PREVIEWS are always stamped with "Artwork Not Final" on their covers. Shouldn't the covers be locked down with only two months to go before publication?
It gets worse - the "Artwork Not Final" label appears over the covers of PLANETES #1-3, all of which have been on store shelves for months now. I think that art is finalized.
Vanguard teases us that they're putting together an art book for Paul Gulacy.
Viper Comics is putting together a trade paperback for the four issues of DAISY KUTTER that Kazu Kibuishi is producing. The third issue just arrived in the past couple of weeks. It's only $11 for the collection, which is a pretty good deal for a comic this good.
SOLICITATION OF THE MONTH
On page 376, there's a section for How-To books. CARTOONISTS WORKSHOP is the first one. It's the typos in the solicitation text that made me giggle:
"From mastering the correct facital proportions..."
"That's where this effective and engaging how-to course takes would-be cartonnoists..."
I'm not making this up. Typos are not mine. I'm quoting without correcting. My MS Word spellchecker is creaking already. Here's more:
"…whether they want to create a superhero or most the latest political shenanigans."
I have no idea what they meant to write here.
"Develp a good sense of composition…"
Word is now gasping madly for breath.
At this point, I hope they did this purposefully to garner attention. I also hope that the book's author, Steve Marchant, didn't write this. I wouldn't be surprised, though, to find out that his name is misspelled, too.
The solicitation ends in a flurry of stupidity, not unlike the grand finale of your favorite July 4 fireworks show:
"An artist's gallery presents a range of enjoyable professional work, indlucing caricature and opolitical satire, children's cartoons, slice-of-like sequences, and more."
Word just crashed.
That's three whoopsies in the final sentence. I bet I get an e-mail this week from someone blaming a computer on a set of gaffes this obvious. Blame will be shifted to Diamond. A ruckus will be raised.
I'm not saying I'm a perfect speller. I make my share of boo-boos in this column every week. However, if I'm a publisher with 100 words to sell my book, I'm going to make sure those few words are spelled right.
As a columnist with over 3000 words, I'm sorry for the two or three I goofed due to clumsy fingers.
ART BLOG OF THE WEEK
This week, I'm recommending Bryan Lee O'Malley's blog. He's currently taking on watercolor commissions. As he paints them, he posts them to his blog. You may know O'Malley best from previous Oni books like SCOTT PILGRIM and LOST AT SEA. He has an agreeable style, and his watercolors are very affordable.
Pipeline Commentary and Review returns next Tuesday with more art book reviews, and whatever else inspires me between now and then.
Over at Various and Sundry this week: What I want to know about EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION. The coolest summer job ever? ESPN blogs the World Series. Lots of Ashlee Simpson links. Ring tones are big business. And lots more.
And since the day this column is published is Election Day in the States, I refer you all once again to VandS Politics. I officially endorsed a candidate this week, and made a pre-election day prediction. The first won't be surprising. Maybe the second will...
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.