Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Gosh! Authority 03/12/08

Fantagraphics have been telling porkies, but it’s just as well. They said they’d never reprint these limited edition deluxe Krazy & Ignatz hardcovers – but what’s this? Obviously enough bricks wrapped in demanding letters were lobbed through their windows because this week they’re hitting the shelves. Designed by Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan), these two essential books are heavy enough to stun a burglar. This second printing (limited to just 600 copies) of Second Sundays (1924-1934) collects the first five softcover collections, and Third Sundays (1931-1944) collects the five after that. They’ve promised to go back and reprint the strips prior to 1925 after they’ve collected everything else, but you’ll have to wait for that. Console yourself with some of these. This Christmas I predict the lucky ones amongst us will excuse ourselves from family festivities and read about Krazy Kat and his abusive li’l ainjil. But not before watching It’s a Wonderful Life. It would be wrong to miss that.

Another hardcover collection you should be keen to get your mitts on is Creepy Archives Volume 2 – raising classic horror stories from the dead after twenty-five years! The first popular volume featured the phenomenal work of young artists Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing) and Neal Adams (Batman), and this one’s got Alex Toth (Super Friends), Gray Morrow, Reed Crandall (Blackhawk), John Severin (Two-Fisted Tales) and loads of others on the bill. It collects issues #6-10 of the mag; usually there were up to eight short stories in each issue so you’re getting your moneys worth here.

Ancient giants are rising from their graves in Hellboy: Wild Hunt #1, which seems appropriate enough to follow the Creepy Archives. Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo reunite in this first issue of eight, which follows up events that began in their 2007 miniseries, Darkness Calls. Dark Horse has a preview here.

Another miniseries begins this week with Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 (of 6), the long-awaited sequel to the thing wot made Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross famous! Get the man-on-the-street’s perspective on the Marvel Universe through the eyes of news photographer Phil Sheldon, with the help of artist Jay Anacleto’s brilliant photorealistic drawings. Busiek talks about it over on Newsarama, Wizard has a short Q&A with Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, and there’s a preview here, so that should keep you entertained for a bit.

Last week saw the end of Batman, this week it’s the massive conclusion to Secret Invasion! One of the biggest comics events this year will change the Marvel Universe forever in this eighth and final issue, thanks to Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man) and artist Leinil Francis Yu (New Avengers). Brian Reed and Marco Castiello’s Secret Invasion: Front Line is also coming to an end with #5. It’s the final hours of the Skrull invasion – what will be left for the people of Manhattan?

Lewis Trondheim (A.L.I.E.E.E.N) is one of the most inventive and funniest creators around. He’s dealt with everything from aliens going incognito in the empty skin of their dead friends, to Seinfeld-style character studies and autobiographical comics. Now it’s time for pirates, slaves, hidden treasure and a dodo in Bourbon Island 1730 with Appollo. It promises to be an epic adventure in the tradition of Watership Down; a unique and vaguely historical drama about things that never happened to people who never existed. But the island exists. It’s just called something else these days. Trondheim’s art features his signature anthropomorphic characters in black and white, and preview pages can be seen on First Second’s website.

Darwyn Cooke (Batman: Ego & Other Tales) and Jeph Loeb’s (Smallville) award-winning Spirit is out in softcover this Thursday, collecting the 48-page one-shot Batman/The Spirit and the first six issues of the monthly series starring Denny Colt’s two-fisted alter-ego! Cooke always managed to maintain the spirit (oh dear) of Eisner’s character, and his artwork is a Gosh-favourite. He stopped working on the series around #12, and fans were heartbroken. If you’ve missed out so far you should definitely have a peek at this.

The Trigan Empire was, along with Dan Dare, one of the most popular adventure comic strips ever produced in Britain. This week sees the release of Art of the Trigan Empire, a catalogue of original art for sale. The art was one of the reasons this series was so successful, so this one’s a must for fans. It’s full of brilliantly reproduced illustrations by Don Lawrence, rarely seen stuff by Ron Embleton, as well as Miguel Quesada, Oliver Frey, Philip Corke, and Gerry Wood.

On the small-press front, John Porcellino’s been producing his King Kat Comics zine since 1989 which means he’s probably had a few fights with photocopiers by now. Issue #69 is out now, and features a mix of funny and sad stuff - The Skweezil Cat Chronicles, Moon, Clouds, Heavy Metal Memories, and loads more.

A strange novelty kids book came in this week: Remarkable Animals – 1000 Amalgamations.

It’s one of those flip-book things you had when you were wee, where you put a different head on the baker’s body, butcher’s body etc – but it’s almost like it was created by a deranged 16th century explorer, or perhaps even Steve Zissou (but was actually done by Tony Meeuwissen – who kindly signed them – a London-based artist who has illustrated everything from postage stamps to award-winning books). It’s incredibly colourful and all the creatures you create get their own Latin names. Have a look next time you’re in!

And lastly, a Christmas round-up: Moon Knight Silent Knight #1 sees the psychotic vigilante go after a pair of hitmen who picked the wrong Santa to whack. Did they set their sights on him because he asked a granny to his on his lap? Possibly, but Peter Milligan (Hellblazer) and Laurence Campbell (2000AD) have probably come up with a better plot than setting Moon Knight loose in Selfridges.

Jason Aaron (Scalped) and Roland Boschi provide the Punisher Max X-Mas Special this year, and it’s definitely not fer kiddies. Aaron’s got preview pages over on his blog which shows at least five people getting their brains splattered all over the walls in the first three pages. Which, I think, is a cheery note to end on.

-- Hayley