Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gosh! Authority 08/03/11

Hello and good pancakes to you! The daffodils are out and everything’s looking up. I’m told today is significantly warmer than this time last week, but that’s no invitation to don the shorts: according to a prematurely enthusiastic Norwegian’s red knees (which I consider to be my own personal groundhog) that day is thankfully and probably weeks away yet.

Earlier I announced a new addition to our line-up of Gosh! Bookplate Editions: Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s Demo Volume 2 TP. All the details are up in this post here. The usual rules apply: you can secure your copy of the limited 200 with a preorder now, or play a sort of comicbook roulette and leave it to chance. It’s up to you.

Two books arrived from SelfMadeHero literally five minutes too late to make it into last week’s blog, so they’re top dog this time round. Hair Shirt, whose name comes from a shirt made of hair worn by cheery ascetics or penitents, is by brilliant Canadian cartoonist Pat McEwon who hasn’t done a book in ages. Previously you will have seen his work in Matt Wagner’s Eisner-Award-winning Grendel: Warchild, various Vertigo and Bizarro anthologies, and Zombie World, which he drew and created with Mike Mignola. Since about 2000 he’s been storyboarding for animations like Batman Beyond, X-Men: Evolution, and Cartoon Network’s The Venture Bros, as well as collecting a couple of degrees. He also churned out this most excellent graphic novel which I’ve not read yet but it smells tremendous:

John and Naomi were childhood sweethearts whose lives took them in different directions. As adults, they are reunited by accident and love takes hold again. But the painful memories, secrets and nightmares return.

It’s a full-colour hardcover book translated from its original French and feels very European. In fact it first popped up at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in January of last year where SelfMadeHero snapped it up. Now you can too.

The other offering from that increasingly ubiquitous publisher is The Lovecraft Anthology Volume 1 TP, a graphic collection of his classic short stories adapted by a collection of Gosh! Approved creators. Here’s what they picked:

The Call of Cthulhu by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli.
The Haunter of the Dark by Dan Lockwood and Shane Oakley.
The Dunwich Horror by Rob Davis and Ian Culbard.
The Colour Out Of Space by David Hine and Mark Stafford.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by Leah Moore/John Reppion and Leigh Gallagher.
The Rats In The Walls by Dan Lockwood and David Hartman.
Dagon by Dan Lockwood and Alice Duke.

As a long-standing fan of Lovecraft I always eye these sorts of things from afar, regarding them as a bit dubious and unworthy and at their centre kind of pointless since the original stories are so brilliant at creating unspeakably, indescribably terrifying pictures in your mind. BUT! This one’s different and looks amazing, and anything that gets Ian Culbard (At The Mountains of Madness) to draw even more Lovecraft stories is okay by me.

If you’ve been hankering for some classic cartoon strips then Fantagraphics have just the ticket: Firstly, there’s Popeye HC Volume 5: Wha’s a Jeep? which means their spines along our shelves will now spell out POPEY as opposed to POPE – adjective; meaning “Pope-like, or –ish” rather than just the dude himself. Here’s a PDF preview for those that can’t wait and don’t forget we’ve still got that other Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye book from last week you might fancy too.

Also from Fantagraphics is Roy Crane’s Buz Sawyer HC Volume 1: The War in the Pacific, which is more amazing stuff from the guy who brought you Captain Easy. Buz Sawyer’s run in King Features Syndicate began in 1943 after the break of WWII rendered Crane’s goof-off at the grocery store strip Wash Tubbs somewhat frivolous. This volume collects all of the dailies that were published during the War – in which Buz serves aboard an aircraft carrier, flies combat missions, crashes behind enemy lines and gets nabbed by a Japanese submarine – along with a selection of the best Sundays as fold-out pages. You can see some of them in this massive preview. He also meets a bunch of beautiful women along the way, obviously.

“Every time I thought I had come up with something that I had thought no one else had done, damn it, I’d find that Crane or Foster had already done it!”Al Williamson

You can have some Foster too. Prince Valiant HC Volume 3 1941 – 1942 is out, reprinting the chunk of Prince Valiant which critics unanimously reckon was the point at which Foster hit his drawing and storytelling stride. This volume also comes with a gallery of stuff at the back originally deemed too sexy or violent for print, oh yes. Preview over at Fantagraphics.

A page from Jerry Robinson's The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art

and all his chums turn up again in this updated edition of the 1974 classic, Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art HC by the legendary Jerry Robinson, probably best known as the creator of the Joker. It chronicles the evolution of comic strips from the Yellow Kid and beyond, right up to the present day. You can expect to see stuff by Milt Caniff, Walt Kelly, Winsor McCay and more. Preview courtesy of Dark Horse.

As for brand new stuff, Fantagraphics have got you covered there too. There’s a new Alex book by Mark Kalesniko (Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?, Mail Order Bride) who you haven’t seen much of recently because he’s spent the last ten years working on Freeway, previewed here. While stuck in an endless L.A. traffic jam Alex re-examines his life and job as an animator with a legendary studio, and wonders what it would have been like had he been born several decades earlier.

“Like Alex, I too fight a nostalgia of the past be it my own personal past or the greater history,” said Kalesniko in an interview with Comicbook Resources. “I will sit and think of a time period from my recent past and say to myself, “It was better then,” then I’ll look at my journal of that time period and find out it wasn’t that great. But also the crippling nostalgia is one part of a greater theme that I tackle in Freeway, and that is what we imagine things to be and what those things truly are do not always match up.”

The Weapons of the Metabarons by Alexandro Jodorowsky (The Incal) and Travis Charest (WildC.A.T.S.), is a hardcover graphic novella at 64 pages, a spin-off from the core Metabarons science fiction saga. Nat reckons it’s the best thing out this week, and you’ll have to take that enthusiastic recommendation in lieu of a preview because there isn’t one.

Paul Hatcher is a cartoonist whose work you’re probably most familiar with in its animated form on Big Train: the stare-out competition accompanied by commentary from BBC football commentators Barry Davies and Phil Cornwell. In Hatcher’s own words, “I have finally got my sh*t together and done another comic book.” It’s called The Return of Spassky and you can find it on the small press shelf downstairs.

Occasionally a comic comes out that looks so brilliant and is done by someone so young that you want to punch them right in the face. Night Animals by Belgian cartoonist Brecht Evens is one such comic. In this one-shot published by Top Shelf, Evens gives you two totally weird wordless stories in full colour. Telling you what they’re about would spoil the fun entirely, so read this preview and check out his blog instead.

Vignettes of Ystov is a debut graphic novel by William Goldsmith, an ongoing collection of short stories set in a fictional, vaguely Eastern European city that is both whimsical and bleak. Goldsmith began the book while still a student at the Glasgow School of Art, and says the idea probably grew from his visits to Hungary and Slovakia.

“Ystov is a fictitious city, and really an amalgam of several places - but I think Soviet Eastern Europe is the one that comes across the most. The stories came first, and the city was created in response to them. There was some level of absurdity in the stories, in the nose sculptor, the debris-cataloguing janitor, or the coincidence-monitoring scientists. I thought perhaps this absurdity could spar well with a society that tried to oppress it, so a bleak and faintly authoritarian society seemed one way to try this.”

Man at the Crossroads Paul Gravett has an interview with Goldsmith along with a hefty collection of illustrations, and over here you can see more of the book itself. Damn swish for a book at any stage, let alone a debut.

As for the world of spandex and exo-underpants, here’s what’s in store for you this sunny Wednesday:

Thor: The Mighty Avenger TP Volume 2 by Gosh! Favourite Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee is a series we will keep shouting about until you buy it because it is excellent.

Legion of Super-Villains One-Shot by Paul Levitz (75 Years of DC Comics) and Francis Portela is a thing you will regret not picking up when the major storyline it sets up fails to make any sense. “It's all built around elements that have been running through Adventure and Legion of Super-Heroes since Legion #1, and will build to pay off an awful lot of that as the storyline moves into the regular book. We pull together so many different threads that have been planted, that affect different characters' lives and different worlds,” said Levitz to Newsarama.

Venom #1 is the inaugural issue of a new ongoing series by Rick Remender (Last Days of American Crime) and Tony Moore (The Walking Dead, Punisher), which follows on from the recent Amazing Spider-Man #654 Point One story. "My problem with Venom as a lead character is that he's such a bad guy. It’s hard to make him a hero when he's eating people." More of that interview here, and a preview here.

Vertigo Resurrected: Finals collects a four-issue miniseries by Will Pfeifer and Jill Thompson, originally published in 1999. It’s a college-life satire in which a bunch of seniors with hidden agendas just want to graduate without being killed.

5 Ronin #1 and #2 (of 5) are both out tomorrow thanks to various shipping errors last week. It’s a series by Peter Milligan (Greek Street) in which he re-imagines Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, the Punisher and the Hulk as 17th century Japanese warriors. He talks about it with both Comicbook Resources and Newsarama and you can check out a preview of the first issue here.

I risked googling the word “infestation” once more to find you preview pictures of Ghostbusters Infestation #1 (of 2) which features art by Kyle Hotz (Marvel Zombies) and is therefore worth a place on your shopping list. You’re welcome.

Sigil #1 (of 4) is a new series in which Mike Carey (Lucifer, The Unwritten) relaunches a title originally released by the now-defunct publisher Crossgen, whose intellectual property has now been swallowed by Disney/Marvel. “For our series we've got a female protagonist, but we've kind of kept the name. She's Samantha Rey and her initial situation is very different than the protagonist of the previous series. Like Samandahl Rey in the original series, by virtue of her possession of the Sigil she's enlisted, whether she likes it or not, in a huge conflict.” Interview at CbR, and you can see Leonard Kirk’s (New Mutants) artwork there too.

And finally, iZombie #11 is out, which is enough of an excuse to mention that the iZombie TP Volume 1 Bookplate Edition will soon be upon us.

-- Hayley