Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Gosh! Authority 21/06/11

Exciting things are afoot! We have a brand new website designed by our very own Julia Scheele (with a Meet The Staff page and everything, hello how do you do) so make sure you switch your RSS feeds and bookmarks, etc. Also we’ve also got ten pieces of original art from Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 on our walls. They’ve been there for about a week and already loads of you have come and gazed up at them with longing and downright impatience.

We may be biased but we highly recommend popping in for a real life preview if you haven’t already, and while you’re here you can reserve your bookplated copies with our handy standing order service. I will keep going on about this until you do, yes.

Top of the pops this week is the Scary Godmother Comic Book Stories TP by Gosh! Favourite Jill Thompson (Beasts of Burden, soon to be a motion picture don’t you know). It differs from the most recent Scary Godmother hardcover in that it’s a collection of the comic book stuff rather than all of her children’s books stuck together. There are also nineteen pages full-colour sketchbook which – if sitting beside her and watching her sketch for hours at a Gosh! signing is anything to go by – should be a compendium of ridiculously beautifully and polished artwork of a calibre rarely found in bonus sketchbook sections. She really is an excellent artist and a lovely lady too. Here’s a preview courtesy of Dark Horse.

Chester 5000 VXY is a book I wouldn’t suggest doing a Google image search on if you’re positioned at, say, the front door of a comic book store: it is rude, ladies and gentlemen. “Chester was originally a seven-page story for one of the Eros anthologies,” says creator Jess Fink over at Sequential Tart. “It was just a little idea I had, I was really inspired by the Tijuana Bibles which were these little eight-page illegal porn comics sold on the street during the '30s and '40s.” Formerly a webcomic, it’s a wonderfully drawn silent story set in 1885 in which a busy inventor creates a robot called Chester to keep his sexually frustrated wife occupied. It gets a funny review over at The Comics Journal by someone who has handled more comic book pornography than I knew existed. This preview comes courtesy of Top Shelf and carefully skirts around the ruder pages which (if you’re curious) you can find for yourself. If I stick one the Gosh! Blog I will be summarily fired.

Also dragged in from the wilds of The Internet is Gingerbread Girl by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover which was serialised in the lead-up to its Top Shelf collection. “At heart,” Tobin told CbR, “it’s a strange bird of a character study focused on the main character, Annah, with a changing group of narrators (including a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a magician, a pigeon, a thug, a store clerk, a doctor, an English bulldog, and many more) searching for the truth behind our ‘Gingerbread Girl,’ who believes that her mad scientist father extracted a part of her brain (the Penfield Homunculus) and used it to create a sister for Annah.” Comics Alliance have an 18-page preview.

The McSweeney’s logo on my oft-worn giant squid vs. colossal squid T-shirt has had some subliminal effect on our books-ordering dude and we now have a McSweeney’s shelf here in Goshland. They’re not new books but we’ve never had them before so I thought I’d do a guide to our red-faced and screaming corner of the bookshelf (I’m making a newborn baby analogy right there). If you have no interest at all in McSweeney’s I won’t be the least bit offended if you skip this bit in which I probably come off sounding like some Southern preacher man. I now give you Five Paragraphs In Which Your Regular Gosh! Blogger Gets To Legitimately Poke About On The McSweeney’s Website For Ages During Work Hours And Likes It:

While looking for a review or some pictures or in fact anything to give you good people at home some sort of idea of what to expect from Animals of the Ocean, in Particular the Giant Squid I came across this half-review/half-personal account of what it’s like to be an intern at McSweeney’s. I offer you a snippet, now:

“If there’s one truth I uncovered in my time as an intern for a McSweeney’s publication, it’s that the people there love getting together, writing a silly book, and publishing it under a ridiculously and undeniably false assumed name… This stems, I think, from the noble fact that they do not care whether or not their business loses money. When I began my internship with The Believer last year, an old poetry professor who once conducted an interview for them cornered me in his office (no homo) and demanded to know how they manage to stay afloat. My answer to him then, which, accrued with all of the “insider” knowledge I have gathered since, is also my answer to you now, is this: I have no idea. What I observed was that the Believer and McSweeney’s teams devote all of their effort to quality and an overwhelming desire to appeal to their own left-of-center sensibility… and for that reason they ought to have sunk. But they didn’t and that’s the McSweeney’s miracle.”

Animals of the Ocean, in Particular the Giant Squid is supposedly by Dr. & Mr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey and the ex-intern reviews it after the above (as an aside, I’m think I’m a fan of this guy’s book blog in which he talks amusingly, boldly and italicly about Pekar, Millar, Ware et al). By the same Haggis-on-Whey and in the same illustrated, hardcover vein you can also have Giraffes? Giraffes! which is about, well, y’know, and Cold Fusion which is about one of the most controversial scientific pursuits that can be conducted in a bathtub.

Timothy McSweeney (He’s Only Taking You Hiking Because He Can’t Afford Dinner) collects reviews of Lawrence Weschler’s Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences and interviews him too, which might sound a little in-housey but there are some books that can only exist in the sheltered sphere of oddball anthology fans and I reckon this is one of them. The Secret Language of Sleep (discussed over at The Guardian) is a square hardcover for you and your honeybee to have lighthearted fights over, and Poets Picking Poets is a sort of chain-mail poetry collection as this reviewer explains.

McSweeney’s #37 sees their quarterly anthology publication (featuring the likes of New Yorker regular Jonathan Franzen) return to book-form in a typically McSweeney’s way: it’s a book designed to look like a book! they boast (and it is, in M.C. Escher-esque 2D 3D), and if you’re a fan of their graphic design there’s always the Art of McSweeney’s to keep you happy. Finally, Read Hard is a paperback collection of essays and articles from the Believer magazine, reprinting such gems at Jonathan Lethem’s (Fortress of Solitude) essay on the American writer Nathanael West and if I wasn’t currently trying to read the longest novel in the history of everything you’d probably have to fight me for it.

Non-believers, I invite you back into the room.

A couple of big art books have landed on our doorstep this week. The Art of Doug Sneyd HC collects nearly 300 full-colour, full-page cartoons (some previously unpublished) by Sneyd who has been Playboy’s gag cartoonist since 1964. “Many people have always said that they read Playboy for the ‘articles,’ so I thank Doug Sneyd because I have always been able to say, ‘I read Playboy for the cartoons,’” writes this journalist who conducted a short interview with the man himself a couple of years back. Dark Horse has a preview.

There’s also Awful/Resilient: The Art of Alex Pardee HC showcasing the insane art of Californian Pardee – a bunch of monsters, visions of nightmare and the occasional decapitation. Ginko Press tell you what it’s all about.

Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics SC is by Michael Barson who had “already worked [his] way thorough big collections of superhero things and war comics and other manly pursuits” before a big collection of 40s/50s era romance comics landed in his lap and he fell in love with them. Barson talks about the melodramatic, tear-stained minidramas with NPR where there are some preview pictures too, and the NY Journal of Books has a review.

While the comics showcased in Agonising Love were mostly by men, Miss Fury – the first female superhero, predating Wonder Woman by eight months – in her skintight black catsuit was created, written and drawn by a lady called TarpĂ© Mills, using her non-gender specific middle name for print. “It would have been a major let-down to the kids if they found out that the author of such virile and awesome characters was a gal,” she said. Trina Robbins has picked the best of the stories and there’s even an unpublished, unfinished Miss Fury graphic novel from 1979. Preview over at Comics Beat.

If cowboys are more your thing you can pick up Roy Rogers: The Collected Newspaper Dailies and Sundays in hardcover, giving you the entire 12-year run of one of the most widely read newspaper strips of the 1950s. I don’t really need to give it any more of a push than to just say: Alex Toth.

Metal Hurlant Collection Volume 1 HC is the first of two planned collections reprinted short stories from the titular anthology by people like Geoff Jones (Green Lantern) and Ryan Sook (Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne). And there’s more old stuff rounded up in Dr. Strange: Into The Dark Dimension HC by Roger Stern, Paul Smith, Bret Blevins and Mark Badger – collecting Dr Strange #68 – 74 from 1974 in which the cosmic balance is thrown outta whack.

First Wave HC collects the pulp noir mini-series from a couple of years ago by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) and Rags Morales. “We’re moving Gotham. Where do you think Gotham City is? New York? Nah, how would you feel about L.A.? The sun sets in L.A. just like anyplace else. And I’m really kind of focusing on L.A. in the ’40s, when it was a new town in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ’40s. It’s pretty much a new place. There was certainly a bit of lawlessness going on. And there was a huge, huge divide between rich and poor. And I think that really works well for this.” Old interview and preview pages over at CbR.

In new comics this week you can have Dark Horse Presents #2 featuring – among other notables like Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Paul Chadwick, Carla Speed McNeil and Richard Corben – my much-missed pal on the other side of the world, Patrick Alexander. He contributes (I think) eight pages featuring his character The Wraith (He stalks the night, like a moose!) and you can see some of it here.

Vertigo Resurrected: Sandman Presents Petrefax reprints a Sandman spin-off you might have missed if you weren’t there on the day. Written by Mike Carey (The Unwritten) and illustrated by Steve Leialoha, it was a four-issue miniseries all about Petrefax the young undertaker at the World’s End.

Speaking of undertakers, one might be required in this week’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 if everything goes wrong for the webslinger. It’s a top-secret polybagged affair but Bleeding Cool have spilled the beans and for those who want spoilers – here they are.

Outsiders has been retitled for its final issue to include the man who was there at the start. Batman and the Outsiders #40 even features a cover homage to that first issue back in 1983, as this blogger points out.

And lastly, Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search #1 is the first of three issues detailing the fallout of that event and the integration of John Constantine and Swamp Thing into the DC Universe. DC are being mighty shady on this one so no previews, but here’s the cover.

That’s your lot. Come visit our pop-up art gallery. It’s nice.

-- Hayley


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