Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Gosh! Authority 04/05/11

Remember the delayed chaos of last week? It’s happening again. Thanks to the Bank Holiday/sadist distributors, we will be receiving this week’s delivery on the same day it goes on the shelf instead of having the 24-hour buffer-zone we’re so fond of. It might arrive late this afternoon, so if you can put off your own personal New Comics Day until the retro-style Thursday I highly recommend you do. Not only will you be helping to stall my inevitable breakdown, you will be more likely to leave the shop with a bunch of comics in your hand. Perhaps it will include some of these:

Alexandro Jodorowsky’s Screaming Planet is “a living piece of metal adrift in the cosmos, howling in its infinite sorrow” having been driven mad by its inhabitants. The book’s not actually a chunk of screaming metal, but a collection of recent short stories from Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal written by Jodorowsky and illustrated by such excellent people as J.H. Williams III (Batwoman), Ladronn (The Spirit), and Adi Granov (Iron Man: Extremis), with new introductions to each piece. I can’t find a single preview of the thing so instead you can have this video interview with Jodorowsky, because you only need the flimsiest reason to link to such things.

Classic Hellraiser comics are collected in Hellraiser Masterpieces TP Volume 1, meaning you’ve (I’ve) got yet another reason for terminal insomnia. Originally published by Epic in the early ‘90s, the series featured a list of top-notch creators. Obviously they’ve not collected the whole lot in one go, but you can see the contents page in this preview at Comicbook Resources. There’s Wordsworth by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, Writer’s Lament by Dwayne McDuffie and Kevin O’Neill, and Dead Things Rot by Mike Mignola, to name only a handful.

Peter Bagge’s Bat Boy comic strips which ran in the (now defunct and always entirely bogus) American tabloid Weekly World News are now collected in hardcover thanks to IDW. All 100 strips are printed close to the original art size and you can see a couple of typically mental examples here.

Vertigo Crime’s The Executor by Jon Evans and Andrea Mutti is now in paperback, meaning there’s a more affordable way to bag what The Comics Journal considers to be one of the best of the Vertigo Crime bunch. It’s about a retired pro athlete who returns to his hometown when he’s named the executor of his (now mysteriously dead) high-school sweetheart’s will. “Part of it is the noir tradition; I was very consciously working in that vein, a la Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past. Plus I think it’s more realistic, given the setting. In a really toxic environment, even basically good people will often wind up doing bad things – I genuinely believe that, and wanted to put it in a story,” said Evans in this interview. I kind of like this review. It’s not so much a review of the book as it is someone’s sob story about never having had a high school sweetheart on account of being a massive nerd. I never had a high school sweetheart either, and here I am writing a comic shop blog post about comics. How did I get here? What happened?

Gladstone’s School For World Conquerers SC is a new graphic novel by Mark Andrew Smith, most famously known as being the editor of Image Comics’ Popgun anthology. It’s about a top-secret academy for the spawn of super villains to learn the trade. “Gladstone’s School has the best staff and turns villainy into a science,” says Smith in an interview with First Comics News. Loads of preview pages there and some more here, too. Art comes courtesy of Armand Villavert & Carlos Carrasco and if there’s a more colourful thing on the shelf this week I’m yet to be blinded by it.

Huntington, West Virginia “On The Fly” is the somewhat annoyingly punctuated title of a nevertheless noteworthy collection of stuff by the late, great Harvey Pekar.

It’s comprised of five short pieces that mostly relate to a trip he made to West Virginia to speak at a book festival, at a time after the hype for the American Splendor film had died down and his speaking fee had dropped considerably. It’s about the people he met on the way, and the (sometimes totally insane) stuff they told him (like the limo driver who once received – as a gift from Leslie Nielsen – a “fart machine”, whatever that may be). Summer McClinton’s on art duties.

So here’s a cheery statistic for you: Around the world, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of attempts is thought to be up to 20 times greater. John Porcellino has teamed up with two writers (Paul Peterson and Jason Gilmore) to illustrate a book called The Next Day, compiling four real-life stories from survivors of near-fatal suicide attempts. Someone’s animated Porcellino’s artwork for the book trailer. There’s an interview with the producer of The Next Day documentary, Alex Jansen, here.

On a more cheery death-related note, Jill Thompson’s Little Endless Storybook gets a brand new printing. Good to see it back on the shelves.

Robert Fawcett, contemporary of Norman Rockwell, was a commercial artist famous for his story illustrations and full-page ads in The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and the like. Among his peers he was known as “the illustrator’s illustrator” and that’s just was the guys in charge of this excellent hardcover artbook have decided to call it. Robert Fawcett: The Illustrator’s Illustrator collects hundreds of colour illustrations and black and white drawings (many of which have been largely unavailable for ages) all shot from the originals salted away by private collectors, so the quality of the reprint is far superior than their original magazine appearances. Frankly gobsmacking preview images here.

With the movie looming ever nearer you’re going to be seeing a lot of Green Lantern stuff over the coming weeks. Today’s Green Lantern Super Spectacular is a wodge of “greatest hits” reprints in a new magazine format. Among them, there’s Flight by Geoff Johns and Gosh! Favourite Darwyn Cooke, as well as the 1986 Green Lantern story by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill that prompted the following words to come out of Moore’s mouth during a recent interview:

“It’s the paucity of imagination. I was noticing that DC seems to have based one of its latest crossovers [Blackest Night] in Green Lantern based on a couple of eight-page stories that I did 25 or 30 years ago. I would have thought that would seem kind of desperate and humiliating. When I have said in interviews that it doesn’t look like the American comic book industry has had an idea of its own in the past 20 or 30 years, I was just being mean. I didn’t expect the companies concerned to more or less say, “Yeah, he’s right. Let’s see if we can find another one of his stories from 30 years ago to turn into some spectacular saga.” It’s tragic. The comics that I read as a kid that inspired me were full of ideas. They didn’t need some upstart from England to come over there and tell them how to do comics. They’d got plenty of ideas of their own. But these days, I increasingly get a sense of the comics industry going through my trashcan like raccoons in the dead of the night.”

(Popculture defends the current writing team here)

He’s referring to the story in this collection, Tygers, so if you’ve never read it before you should stick it on your pull list, pronto.

DC Comics Presents Son of Superman #1 is worth picking up for some classic Elsewords stuff from Howard Chaykin and David Tischman, with art by J.H. Williams III. A Superman story in which Superman has been missing for fifteen years.

More reprints (this time from the Marvel camp) in the Spidey Sunday Spectacular by Stan Lee and Marcos Martin, a collection of their two-pager Spidey Sunday strips from Amazing Spider-Man.

Image Firsts: Phonogram #1 reprints exactly what you think it reprints. It’s written by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (obviously), and if you’ve not seen McKelvie’s recent work on the cover (and back cover and innards) for Art Brut’s upcoming album I recommend a visit to his workblog.

As for new stuff, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev (the team behind Scarlet and Daredevil) launch their highly anticipated Moon Knight #1. "I like the idea of a character being so off kilter that it makes him impossible to defeat as far as the villains are concerned because they have no idea where he's coming from," said Bendis, referring to Moon Knight’s crazy personality disorder. Preview at CbR.

Deadpool Annual #1 continues the story from last month’s Spider-Man Annual (preview here) and the Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1 is worth a mention because it’s just so ginormous (preview here).

That’s it, comics-wise, so here’s the bit of the blog post where I remind you about stuff and show you a thing I found in the wilds of The Internet. Dan Abnett, Al Ewing, Robbie Morrison are signing in our basement on Free Comic Book Day which is THIS SATURDAY. It’s not like we’ll have a roll-call or anything, but if you don’t come we’ll be quietly disappointed in you. There’ll be stacks of free comics from DC, Marvel, 2000AD and all the other big dudes, plus some small press giveaways from local people we like. If you’re in Edinburgh, there is a free Drop In And Draw event that looks like fun:

...Giving you the opportunity to hang out and draw with amateurs and professionals alike. Gain insight from our resident Manga expert Fumio Obata, our webcomic whiz Tom Hunt, or our non-fiction specialist Edward Ross. Play comics creation games like Panel Scrabble and ComicJam, create your own Comics Remix, or just spend an afternoon drawing whatever you like!

Details here!

What are you up to tonight? If the answer is “Staying in, eating beans on toast” I commend you because that is a brilliant way to spend an evening. HOWEVER, here is another potentially more exciting option: Alan Moore’s Dodgem Logic Live as part of the London Word Festival.

With stand-up from Stewart Lee & Robin Ince, artists Steve Aylett, Savage Pencil, Melinda Gebbie and Kevin O’Neill panel-up to talk about their comic work, while music comes from hyperactive racketeers The Retro Spankees. With an exhibition of artwork from the magazine, and conducted by editor-in-chief Alan Moore.

All details here. Grab a ticket and head along. Say hello to the big hairy one on my behalf.

Lastly, a thing from The Internet. Cartoonist loveletters are the best loveletters – just look at these ones by Charles Schulz.

As you follow the letters around the room, they start off in an excited crush. Then they become sadder, as he writes more and more about missing Claudius and the letters suggest that he seems to be seeing her less and less. Toward the end, there’s a sad series of drawings of Charlie Brown on six different pieces of construction paper. Each page is a one panel joke using the background color in the punchline. All of the jokes come at the expense of poor Charlie Brown, who is trying as hard as he can to win a smile from the girl he likes.

-- Hayley