Previews review August 2009

For some reason, as I looked through the current Previews catalogue, I kept thinking, “You know, it’s nice that comics publishers who don’t print a single thing I’d ever want to read can still do well.” I can’t explain it, but it kept happening.

Anyway, this edition sees the launch of two new imprints. First up is Del Rey Comics, an offshoot of the much-loved Del Rey Manga from Random House. Things kick off with a $1, 16-page zero issue introducing readers to The Talisman: Road of Trials by Stephen King, Peter Straub, Robin Furth, and Tony Shasteen (page 252). Now, I haven’t read a King novel since Needful Things, but comics based on his work seem to sell well, so this seems like a smart launch property for Del Rey’s pamphlet line. Random House ups the smart with a full page ad on page 253 showing some of the comics-shop-friendly properties that they’ve shepherded in the past.

Now, let’s flip ahead to page 286. For a long time, Del Rey Manga had a cooperative agreement with Kodansha, one of the biggest manga publishers in Japan. Then about a year ago Kodansha decided to open up its own shop in the United States. At long last, their first Previews solicitations show up offering new printings of the first volumes of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (softcover, 368 pages, $24.99) and Shirow Masamune’s Ghost in the Shell (softcover, 352 pages, $26.99). The price points are roughly comparable to Dark Horse’s for the same properties, but they still seem kind of steep to me. Still, they’re modern classics, and it’s not a bad idea to launch with them. That said, I think Del Rey wins on the crafty debut front.

Neither Del Rey Comics nor Kodansha Comics has a web site yet, so no links are available.

theboxmanOkay, let’s flip back to page 261 for comics that interest me more viscerally, that is to say, comics that I’d actually like to buy. Drawn & Quarterly offers Imiri Sakabashira’s The Box Man (softcover, 128 pages, $19.95), which “follows its zoomorphic protagonists along a scooter trip through the landscape that oscillates between a dense city, a countryside simplified to near abstraction, and hybrids of the two. Sakabashira weaves this absurdist tale in a seamless tapestry constructed of elements as seemingly disparate as Japanese folklore, pop culture, and surrealism.” I’m game.

Given my love for the Moomin comic strips, I will buy anything with Tove Jansson’s name on it, so I’m glad Drawn & Quarterly is offering The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My, an all-ages book featuring Jansson’s marvelous characters and quirky storytelling (hardcover, 24 pages, $16.95).

Viz adds another awesome-sounding title to its Signature line with Taiyo Matsumoto’s GoGo Monster (page 310, softcover, 464 pages, $27.99). Viz promises “a nuanced tale of a young boy and his overly active imagination.” Viz also notes that Matsumoto won the Eisner (2008’s Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Japan) for Tekkonkinkreet: Black and White, also from Viz Signature.