Upcoming 9/30/2009

With recent travels significantly augmenting my already menacing “to read” pile, it’s not like I need new comics, but there’s a new ComicList all the same. Fortunately, it’s manageable.

aya3If you haven’t been enjoying Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie’s charming, multi-generational soap opera about life in the Ivory Coast during the 1970s, then you probably aren’t prepared for Aya: The Secrets Come Out, the third volume in the series. You should rectify this, because the book is a real treat with an endearing, cantankerous cast and pitch-perfect illustrations. The book sold out at SPX, which made me happy.

refreshrefreshI really enjoyed Danica Novgorodoff’s mini-comic, A Late Freeze, so I’m looking forward to Refresh, Refresh, Novgorodoff’s graphic novel adaptation of a screenplay by James Ponsoldt, which was in turn adapted from a short story by Benjamin Percy. It’s “the story of three teenagers on the cusp of high school graduation and their struggle to make hard decisions with no role models to follow; to discover the possibilities for the future when all the doors are slamming in their faces; and to believe their fathers will come home alive [from the war in Iraq] so they can be boys again.”

Ah, and it’s time again for a new volume of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics anthology, this time guest-edited by Charles Burns with series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden. The contributors list seems a little “usual suspects” to me, but the collection is always worth a look. And the seasonal outburst of “best according to WHO?” discussion may again warm us during these chilly early days of autumn.

Upcoming 9/24/2008

So the big question posed by this week’s ComicList is, “Will there be another ‘Category 5 S**tstorm’ over this year’s Best American Comics collection from Houghton Mifflin?” It’s hard to say, though I find it difficult to believe that most people didn’t get that sort of thing out of their systems last year. And 2008 editor Lynda Barry and series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden did at least try to include a Batman comic in the mix, even if DC couldn’t accommodate them.

But why dwell? It’s an interesting week otherwise, with Del Rey launching the intriguing-sounding Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, from CAPCOM.

I enjoyed the first volume of Takako Shigematsu’s Ultimate Venus (Go! Comi), maybe not quite as much as Shigematsu’s Tenshi Ja Nai!!, but that set a pretty high bar for nasty shôjo comedy. Still, I’m looking forward to the second installment.

And while I’m hopelessly behind on any kind of reading, it’s hard to imagine a world where one couldn’t safely recommend manga by Osamu Tezuka. Vertical once again obliges the audience for such comics with the first volume of Black Jack, featuring hyperactive medical madness. (I will admit to wishing I could see what Chip Kidd would have done with the cover design, but it’s also hard to imagine a book that wouldn’t look better if Kidd designed it.)

Friday conundrum

Here’s a thinker. This piece by Tom Spurgeon on DC’s refusal to allow a Batman story by Paul Pope to be included in the next Best American Comics anthology from Hougton Mifflin has two competing effects. On the one hand, it makes me want to read Pope’s Batman: Year 100. On the other hand, it makes me not want to give any money to DC because… well, because that’s really dumb. I mean, people were complaining about how narrow the focus of last year’s Best American Comics anthology was, and here’s a gift-wrapped opportunity to partially reverse that while showing that DC can produce interesting, innovative stuff, even with one of its cornerstone trademarked properties, and they not only decline, they take forever to do so. Oh, work-for-hire… you’re not having a good week, are you?

So can anyone recommend some Paul Pope books that won’t involve giving any money to DC?

Dead of winter

The new Previews is out, with lots of offerings to get your mind off the gray chill.

The first product of DC’s partnership with Flex Comics arrives in the form of Daisuke Torii’s Zombie Fairy (CMX) which seems to start with a visit to a Japanese version of Antiques Roadshow and follows up with pesky ghosts (Page 100).

There seems to be a new global manga publisher in the Previews listings, Demented Dragon, or maybe I just haven’t noticed them before. There are solicitations for first volumes of The Phoenix Chronicles by Kenyth Morgan and Melissa Hudson, A Steel Wing Shattered by Chris Hazelton, and Stray Crayons by Yoko Molotov. Here’s their web site. (Page 265.)

Go! Comi goes global with the release of animator Aimee Major Steinberger’s Japan Ai – A Tall Girl’s Adventures in Japan. It’s a journal of Major Steinberger’s travels in Japan and her “passion for all things cute.” (Page 295.)

Houghton Mifflin, the publisher of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, offers Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story by Frederik Peeters. It’s a memoir about the creator’s relationship with an HIV+ mother and son. (Page 296.)

NBM releases the softcover version of Rick Geary’s ninth Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Bloody Benders. I’m crazy about these books, but I always wait for the paperback version. Yes, my love is cheap. (Page 312.)

Tokyopop drops the first volume of Kozue Amano’s much-admired Aria, with a new cover and “refreshed translation.” (ADV published it a while back.) It’s one of those books that’s always been on my “to try” list, and this seems like a good opportunity to start from the beginning. (Page 333.)

I just mentioned this book a couple of days ago, and voila, here it is in Previews: Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell (Top Shelf). I dug out my copy of The Book of Boy Trouble (Green Candy Press) to refresh my memory about Hartzell’s style, and his story is really funny in a mortifying, slightly perverse way. (Page 342.)

I’ve read a couple of chapters of Hinako Ashibara’s Sand Chronicles (Viz) in Shojo Beat and found them really effective and moving. The first collection is solicited in this issue. (Page 365.)


After a couple of weeks of relative famine, the ComicList offers a big old feast this week.

You want classic manga? Jocelyn Bouquillard and Christophe Marquet go seriously old school with Hokusai, First Manga Master (Harry N. Abrams):

“More than a hundred years before Japanese comics swept the globe, the master engraver Hokusai was producing beautiful, surreal, and often downright wacky sketches and drawings, filled with many of the characters and themes found in modern manga. These out-of-context caricatures, which include studies of facial expressions, postures, and situations ranging from the mundane to the otherworldly, demonstrate both the artist’s style and his taste.”

Dark Horse releases the second volume of Tanpenshu, collected shorts from Hiroki Endo. I’m kind of running out of patience with Endo’s Eden, but the first collection of these shorts was very satisfying reading.

Readers who are already feeling separation anxiety over the imminent conclusion of Death Note might consider Fuyimi Soryo’s ES (Del Rey) as a replacement. It’s not as outrageously suspenseful, but it’s a compelling and intelligent thriller with a surprising amount of heart. Debuting from Del Rey is Ai Morinaga’s hilarious My Heavenly Hockey Club. If you hate sports, don’t worry. Morinaga goes to great comic lengths to avoid any actual displays of athleticism with really delightful results.

Houghton Mifflin releases a paperback version of Allison Bechdel’s wonderful Fun Home, for those of you who held off on the hardcover.

I haven’t read any of them, but kudos to NBM for making sure lots of their Nancy Drew graphic novels are available to retailers before the movie debuts.

Viz delivers a whole bunch of stuff. Highlights for me include the fourth volume of Kiyoko Arai’s very funny makeover comedy, Beauty Pop, and the sixth volume of Ai Yazawa’s lovely look at young singles, Nana.

I will rename it "The Month of David"

Each June, comics publishers seem to join forces to drive me to poverty. Based on the latest Previews catalog, 2007 will be no exception. At least the weather will be warm.

The manga arrival of the month would have to be Masashi Tanaka’s Gon, in a new edition from CMX. Wordless, gorgeously illustrated stories about a tiny dinosaur who defends “the friendly and furry from the mean and hungry.” Sorry, Avril. (Pages 96 to 98.)

I’ve enjoyed a lot of comics either written or written and drawn by Andi Watson (Little Star, Love Fights, Paris, Princess at Midnight), so I’ll definitely give Clubbing (Minx) a look. It’s been illustrated by Josh Howard of Dead @ 17 fame. (Pages 113 to 115.)

In a couple of cases, well-written solicitation text was enough to interest me in books even though I knew nothing about them or their creators. First up in this category is Jamie Tanner’s Aviary from AdHouse Books, which promises “a world of mysterious corporations, foul-mouthed robots, drunken ghosts, amputee comedians, wealthy simian pornographers, and canine scientists.” Why not? (Page 215.)

I really liked the first volume of Kye Young Chon’s DVD (DramaQueen), about a dumped, possibly delusional young woman and the two slackers who give her renewed purpose (or at least are weird enough to distract her from despair). And now DramaQueen is offering the first four volumes. When they go Diamond, they don’t mess around. (Page 292.)

A new arrival from Fanfare/Ponent Mon is always worth a look. This month it’s Tokyo Is My Garden by Frédéric Boilet and Benoît Peeters. “With the collaboration of Jiro Taniguchi” is an effective extra inducement. (Page 295.)

The other Spring First Second release I’m eagerly anticipating (in addition to The Professor’s Daughter, recently given five stars by Tangognat) is Eddie Campbell’s The Black Diamond Detective Agency. Many gorgeous preview pages are available at First Second’s web site. (Page 300.)

Not everyone likes to buy even great books in hardcover, so kindly publishers almost inevitably offer soft-cover version eventually. Houghton Mifflin will roll out a paperback version of Alison Bechdel’s justly acclaimed Fun Home in June. (Page 312.)

I know nothing about Byun Byung Jun’s Run, Bong-Gu, Run! (NBM), but the preview pages at the publisher’s web site look absolutely exquisite. I may not like painted comics as a general rule, but I’m a sucker for watercolors. (Page 328.)

It’s been out for ages, but I’ve made a personal vow to mention Bryan Lee O’Malley’s wonderful debut graphic novel, Lost at Sea, at every opportunity, because I love it. Oni is releasing a new edition. Even if you aren’t eagerly anticipating a new volume of Scott Pilgrim, give it a look. (Page 329.)

Not being much of a webcomic reader, I didn’t check out the Young Bottoms in Love portal very often, but I liked what I saw when I did. Now Poison Press is releasing a print collection for geezers like me who don’t want to squint at a computer screen. Lots of talent, 328 color pages, $22. I can’t complain. (Page 335.)

As with Aviary, the solicitation text for David Yurkovich’s Death by Chocolate: Redux (Top Shelf) sells me. If anyone honestly thought I’d be able to resist “a series of bizarre, food-inspired crimes” investigated by “an unlikely hero comprised of organic chocolate,” they just don’t know me very well. (Page 364.)