Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Gosh! Authority 11/03/09

When Jack “King” Kirby was done with his Fourth World stuff he did a number of strange projects for DC including the reinvention of the classic war series Our Fighting Forces in 1974. Created by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath in 1969, it featured WWII heroes The Losers, a group made up of some of DC’s secondary characters - Johnny Cloud, Captain Storm, Gunner and Sarge – most of whom had their own series at some point. Kirby’s twelve issue run was so different from what had come before it that many fans of the series were none too pleased. Kirby fans, however, will love it. This hardcover’s in the same format as the other ones we’ve got (the Fourth World books and Demon Omnibus), and features an introduction by that other guy who’s sometimes brought in to reinvent stuff, Neil Gaiman.

“It seems to me that the Losers is a ‘people’ thing. A small squad of ‘everymen’ caught up in the crushing tide of events, pushing their ‘know-how’ to the limit in a wild effort to survive.”
Jack Kirby (1975)

Evil Nazis, eye-patches, and an attack on the Germans based on a strategy they found in a comicbook. That pretty much ticks every box, I think.

Also out this week is the Humbug hardcover. What’s that then? In biographies of Harvey Kurtzman the bit between leaving MAD and starting Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny is generally mumbled over – he created and edited three magazines, Trump, Humbug, and Help! which unlike MAD and Annie Fanny are not readily available these days or, for that matter, back then. It might have something to do with this:

"We won't write for morons. We won't do anything just to get laughs. We won't be dirty. We won't be grotesque. We won't be in bad taste. We won't sell magazines."

Declaration of editorial principles, Humbug #1

Without a publisher to reign them in, the artists (Will Elder, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth) could pretty much print whatever they pleased. So as you can probably imagine, it’s a far more cutting kind of satire than the stuff in MAD. Fantagraphics have restored the entire 11-issue run and talk about the process on their blog.

Here’s a magazine people do want to buy and not just in a retrospective way: Mustard #4! It’s got a huge interview with Big Hairy Alan Moore accompanied by a picture of him standing beside a plate of assorted biscuits and a cup of tea in the Gosh! basement. Half of the interview is stuff from 2005, but there’s a lot of new stuff too which makes it worth getting even if you got the previous Moore issue. There are preview pages here but they’re not big enough to actually read so you’ll just have to fork out the £2 for a copy.

If you picked up McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #27 a while back you would have seen some of Art Spiegelman’s private sketchbooks. Or you can just click here and pretend you saw them ages ago. Now they’ve reproduced three more of them (1979, 1983 and 2007), ink spots, tea stains and all, for the first time ever in Be a Nose! They even made an animated book trailer that’s actually quite fun, unlike almost every book trailer I’ve ever seen. Spiegelman says...

“Since cartoonists are supposed to work for publication, I figured I would complete my private gesture by shaming myself in public.”

Another one you should see is the next instalment of Peanuts Volume 11 1971-1972 which sees Sally Brown make cover girl and Schulz makes gags about Bob Dylan and Women’s Lib. Telling you why you should read Peanuts seems like a pointless exercise, so I won’t. Instead I’ll point you to this.

The Perry Bible Almanack hardcover collects comics, lost comics, sketches and general misc in what is the second (and probably the final) book in the series. I say the second, but it actually spans the entire printrun of the strip rendering the previous collection somewhat obsolete. Nicolas Gurewitch counts Jim Woodring (Frank), Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics) and Tony Millionaire (Maakies) as fans and here’s an example of why:

(strip pinched from Dark Horse’s website)

You should also have a look at Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Volume 1 hardcover., collecting the first four issues of the first post-Disney work by artist Marsh. It was the start of a long-lasting collaboration with another brilliant name in comics, Gaylord DuBois, and a highly influential series. Dark Horse plan to collect nineteen years worth of stuff so you’ll get Volume 2 at some point in June.

If you didn’t get enough Madman Atomic Comics last week you’ll be glad to know there’s trade-paperback in the post. There’s a big bonus section full of rare art and whatnot, plus an introduction by Eric Powell (The Goon). Preview!

And in new comics this week, the second issue of the relaunched Astonishing Tales hits the shelves (preview) complete with a Ted McKeever story, as well as the second issue of Soul Kiss by Steven T. Seagle (American Virgin) and Marco Cinello (Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Curious George)! If you look for ‘soul kiss’ previews on the internet you might accidentally watch an Olivia Newton-John video or something, so I’ve gone and done it for you. We’ve still got a few copies of the first issue kicking about so don’t worry if you missed it.

Amazon #1 is the first of a three-issue series of early work by Steven T. Seagle (that man again) and artist Tim Sale published again twenty years after its initial release. It’s completely remastered and recoloured, scanned from Sale’s original artwork, and even sports a brand new cover by Sale and Dave Stewart. Have a look at it here.

And finally, some Batman stuff. In June we’ll see Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (the All-Star Superman team) do a new series, Batman & Robin! Calm down, it’s a while off yet. This week, Batman: Battle for the Cowl sees a bunch of characters do just that. If you haven’t been paying attention there’s a reader guide to fill you in. The Geeks of Doom present possible candidates, and Newsarama speak to writer/artist Tony Daniel. He says...

“Batman was much more than just a costume, you know; putting it on doesn’t make you Batman.”

Go and tell that to your wee brother and see what he says.

-- Hayley