Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Gosh! Authority 18/08/10

I’m having trouble saying “Today’s the day” without following it with “the teddy bears have their picnic” but I will try, dammit, because TODAY’S THE DAY you should bunk off work and come queue in a sunny backstreet in central London. Bryan Lee O’Malley will be here at 4:30pm signing for two hours only because has to rush off and pretend to look comfortable on the red carpet. Tell everyone. Tell your mum. She might not care but she’s probably wondering what you’re up to.

As for this week’s delivery, I reckon Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story HC by Mat Johnson (Incognegro) looks interesting. It’s a thriller set in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina, a story of two ex-cons who think the chaotic aftermath is prime time for robbing a bank.

“I spent Hurricane Katrina like a lot of people, at home, watching it unfold on the cable news. Afterwards, I heard a lot of talk about the future of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and there were those who seemed to think the area wasn't worth the cost of saving it, that America should just cut New Orleans loose as if it were a withered branch. I heard many different types of people say this but they all had one thing in common: They'd never truly been there. The purpose of Dark Rain, for me, was to change that.…New Orleans is one of the last places in America that is truly unique, that is both rich in history and culture and yet fully alive today. It is not expendable. It is treasure. And if we lose New Orleans, we lose an essential part of America.”
-- Johnson, at Vertigo’s On the Ledge.

It’s illustrated by Brit Simon Gane “the king of punk comics aesthetics” according to Top Shelf, whose work is actually incredibly lovely (preview). He did a story with Andi Watson (Owly) called Paris a while back and The Comics Reporter did an interview with him at the time. Over at his blog Gane’s posting various bits from his sketchbook and talking about the new book. Worth a look.

The legendary Al Williamson (Flash Gordon) sadly died a couple of months back so the timing on this one is pretty bang on: The Al Williamson Archives Volume 1. If you missed Joe Quesada’s piece on Williamson over at Cup o’ Joe you should go and have a read now. John Fleskes and Mark Schultz spent days at Williamson’s house going through 55 years worth of original drawings and scanning them for the book – it’ll be the first time any of the images (preliminary sketches, visual brainstorms, etc) have seen print. It’s all in full colour so you’ll get the yellowing of the pages, the white paint, the pencil marks, the whole kit and kaboodle. I like that kind of thing. I once saw an exhibition of Quentin Blake illustrations for various Roald Dahl books and discovered that most of the heads were other bits of paper glued on. Anyway, here are some images from the Williamson book, a thing full of dinosaurs, barbarians, spacemen, and sexy maidens.

Bone: Tall Tales (available in hardcover and soft) is a major repackaging of the trade-paperback collection Stupid, Stupid Rail Tails from 2000. It features all new colouring by Steve Hamaker (the man responsible for all of Scholastic’s beautiful colour re-releases of Bone) of the previously black and white story. Also featured are The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero written by Tom Sniegoski and a long out of print story Smith did for Disney Adventures that was never included in the collections but is now returned to Bone cannon. There’s also brand new stuff you’ve never seen before so this ain’t just for the completists. New Bone, I tell you, as Smith writes and draws the framing sequence! Sniegoski, the only person to write the series other than Jeff Smith is interviewed over at Comicbook Resources where you can also see a bunch of preview pages.

If you liked Jeffrey Brown’s Cat Getting Out of a Bag then you’re going to love the action-packed follow-up, Cats Are Weird & More Observations. It pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s cute and it has cats in. Check out Brown’s blog observations on all sorts of things cat-related and otherwise.

Brown also turns up in Reading With Pictures, an anthology for kids ages 7 and up which hopes to get schools into comics and comics into schools (you can read the rest of their mission statement here). Gosh! Favourite Jill Thompson (Magic Trixie, Scary Godmother) provides the cover art, and inside you’ll find stories by Fred Van Lente (Amazing Spider-Man), his Action Philosophers collaborator Ryan Dunlavey, Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Chris Giarrusso (Mini-Marvels) and loads more. In fact there’s over 50 creators contributed to this so there are bound to be some familiar faces.

Another one for the (slightly older) wee’uns is Brain Camp, a quirky release from First Second by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan with art by Faith Erin Hicks about two teenage misfits sent to Summer camp where it soon becomes apparent there’s something deeply creepy going on. iFanboy quite rightly point out it’s more of a kids book in their review, “…but it still has the power to entertain the older and more jaded among us. That's the kids' book's secret weapon: everybody was a kid once.” You can read an excerpt over at First Second.

Hellcity is one of those comics with a publishing history full of doom. Written by Macon Blair and illustrated by Joe Flood, the first volume of the grotesque crime noir series about a human/demon race war was published by a small comics company who then neglected to print the second and the third volumes. They have remained unseen for years until this week’s victorious publication: Hellcity (The Whole Damn Thing). You can read the whole first issue for free on the internet and then read an interview with the guys who did it.

And finally, two fairly apocalyptic mangas deserve a nod this week. Dorohedoro Volume 2 (reviewed here) and the next instalment in the Gosh! favourite Naoki Urasawa series, 20th Century Boys. That’s Volume 10. Count ‘em.

As for floppy comics, here’s what you need to check out:

-- The Boys: Highland Laddie #1 (of 6) by Garth Ennis and John McCrea (Herogasm)
Wee Hughie takes a break from the core Boys series to go visit his ma.

-- Bulletproof Coffin #3 (of 6) by David Hine and Shaky Kane.
The “wonderfully mental” (quoth Warren Ellis) series is brilliant. If you’ve missed out so far you can read the sold-out first issue online for free and there’s a preview of #3 here.

-- Ex Machina #50 by Bryan K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) and Tony Harris.
The series concludes with an epic, double-sized issue six years in the making. Harris talks about the series and his artistic process with CbR.

-- Phoenix Without Ashes #1 (of 4) by Harlan Ellison and Alan Robinson.
Ellison’s first comic series in well over a decade.

If you had any non-comics related plans for this weekend you’d better weasel out of them now. This Sunday is the Comica Comiket where independent publishers, small presses, zinesters and self-publishers are gathering under a marquee that looks like this:

It’s being held in Battersea Park as part of the Hypercomics Exhibition at the PumpHouse Gallery which, might I add, you should go and have a look at if you haven’t yet done so.

Where: PumpHouse Gallery, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ
When: Sunday, August 22, 2010 - 12pm to 6pm

Also opening this week is StoryWorld, a show at The Illustration Cupboard featuring twenty of Britain’s most talented illustrators one of whom just so happens to have a new book on our shelves. Kellie Strøm’s Sadie the Air Mail Pilot is a great-looking children’s book now available in softcover and you can read all about it over at his website.

And that’s it! The queue’s already started for Bryan Lee O’Malley. Shouldn’t you be in it?

-- Hayley