Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary



















March 22, 2017


Go, Look: The Best We Could Do

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Go, Look: Big Wheel

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This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases Into Comics' Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

DEC161625 FIRE THE ZORA NEALE HURSTON STORY HC $21.95
This is Peter Bagge's second biography of a formidable female political/cultural figure. I liked the Margaret Sanger book quite a bit. Bagge's a very humane writer in that he can portray unflattering elements of human nature without in any way condemning the circumstances that brought that person there. That's an intriguing element to bring to historical study of any kind, but particularly the individual profile.

imageOCT160511 MICHAEL WM KALUTA STARSTRUCK ARTIST ED HC $150.00
Well, this has to be damn beautiful, and it's probably going to sell out a couple of times. I'm dying to see one.

JAN178350 SUPER SONS #1 2ND PTG $2.99
JAN170759 SHE WOLF #7 (MR) $3.99
JAN171026 BLACK PANTHER #12 $3.99
JAN170951 IRON FIST #1 $3.99
This is an interesting if not exactly staggering numbers-wise week in comic-book format comics. I can't imagine I'll be picking up Super Sons as I'm just not in the market for most superhero books after 45 years of reading them. I list those here because I liked both those characters, and that's not exactly an easy thing for a publishing house like that to accomplish with all of the relaunches. Rich Tommaso continues on with his attractive-looking She Wolf. Black Panther is one of Marvel's pay-attention titles still, although maybe doesn't generate the same excitement in its reality that its promise did. Few comics do these days. I'd look at the Iron Fist comic; I don't think that's a well-developed character and treating him as one is probably the great sin of the TV show and a contributor to how that has been mostly poorly received. Maybe this one figures it out in a way that will communicate beyonds its likely modest readership.

DEC160751 ARCLIGHT TP (MR) $14.99
I'm looking forward to catching up with this series collection from Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland. That seemed to come out excruciatingly slowly at first and then in a rush at the end -- not my favorite serial reading strategy. It looks pretty, and Graham is one of the dozen cartoonist of this historical moment.

JAN172176 MASTER KEATON GN VOL 10 URASAWA $19.99
Best series by a major manga artist with a new volume out this month, at least as far as I could tell.

DEC161678 INTERVIEW HC $24.99
This Manuele Fior book is both relationship drama and science fiction: the aliens-contacting-earth elements are played for their role is startling and changing the view of those who experience it, or that must come to some sort of reckoning with their reality. Fior's world is reich enough to have stood on its own without the extra element, which I think is part of the point. There's a lot of expressive, pretty cartooning here.

DEC161197 REICH #5 (OF 12) (MR) $4.00
The re-offering and re-soliciting for this admirable series continues.

DEC160395 FLINTSTONES TP VOL 01 $16.99
And then here we are with a Flintstones book, on a week when I think a lot of fans will feel freed up to buy it. The price point is interesting to me, as I bet they could have done some solid work expanding the series critical praise into a wider readership with a "Less Then $10" strategy. But they don't pay me to make decisions like that at a big comics company and there's nothing duller than a backseat publisher. As for the work? Yes, it's true: that's a pretty amusing comic book, and something about its approach to satire works to generate humor despite everything in your brain telling you it shouldn't. The comic book issues have worked as standalone stories if you want to sample.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

*****

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*****
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By Request Extra: 10 Days Left On 2D Cloud's Latest Season

Here. That issue of Mirror, Mirror looks really good. I keep forgetting to put this one in the regular column even though it's the one I hear most discussed right now, by a wide margin. My apologies. Over 50 percent with double-digit days remaining usually means a great chance of meeting one's initial goal.
 
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Go, Listen: Process Party With Eleanor Davis

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MAD's Long-Rumored Move To Burbank Confirmed

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Prominent illustrator, caricaturist and MAD veteran Tom Richmond has confirmed publicly what's been rumored for a while -- I'm guessing the rumor was likely public, too, although I'm not sure who was first with the rumor or whatever -- that MAD Magazine will be joining DC Comics out in Burbank and the New York office will close. A small office serving the longtime satirical magazine and iconic comedic touchstone remained behind when the main comics operation went West. I think the source for this and the most recent rumors is the freelance staff being told of the move, which affects them because of either a communicated change or at the very least a potential change in editorial leadership.

MAD had about two decades less history than DC in New York just by virtue of when each came into existence. As Richmond points out, MAD always had a significant element of New York humor based on the model created by its primary creative voices in its first two decades moving forward. I hope a west coast version works out: there's a comedy culture out there for sure, and editing MAD Magazine always struck me as the best gig in comics that no one talks about. There's a chance good work could result. What I would worry is that "MAD" becomes an empty suit, like National Lampoon, with the first step towards that result being that the work itself in the next phase is ordinary and/or lacks focus. Then again, at some point you really are rooting for a word and a memory. We'll know a lot more soon.
 
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If I Were In Providence, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Linz, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Various Green Lantern Cover Images From Prominent 1970s/1980s Comic Book Artists

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fRandom Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Hillary Brown talks to Emil Ferris. Michael C. Lorah talks to Peter Bagge. Heidi MacDonald talks to Jeff Lemire.

* only barely comics, but a fine sideways observation made here by Anne Ishii.

* there are some good Superman stories on this list. I like a lot of what is disliked by modern comics readers, random Superman and Lois Lane comics from the 1950s and all the old-school Bizarro stuff. I'm also a big fan of the very early Superman comics, particularly the art by Joe Shuster. I'm not sure how you get a dose of that in one place, though.

* Steven Ringgenberg gets the call from TCJ to write an obituary of the great Bernie Wrightson.

* finally: one more link to this, in case there have been no links to it from me as of yet.
 
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Happy 88th Birthday, Mort Drucker!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Sophie Goldstein!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Jay Stephens!

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March 21, 2017


OTBP: Cloud Stories

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Rob Salkowitz On Politically-Tinged Comic Books As A Difficulty For Comics Shop Retailers

imageIndustry analyst Rob Salkowitz expresses sympathy for retailers asked to rack comics that may anger or irritate readers on one side of the political spectrum or the other. This seems more conjectural than a thing that needs to be discussed, although because people talk about politics all the time now, it's not hard to imagine a similarly grumpy and stunted argument over a comic book in a comic shop or a dozen. That hardly seems like cause for alarm, though. It's not new. The notion that comics and most other popular art represent one side or the other of a bifurcated political spectrum is a pretty ingrained part of the political landscape already, in the most high-profile manner as part of the cultural persecution complex felt by many straight, white Christian Americans.

I suspect things will limp along. Art that tries to negotiate a final outcome to be most broadly pleasing is usually pretty gross. Best to leave the comics-makers alone and allow the readers to react accordingly. I really doubt that anyone out there will split their store or shelve differently. However, if the leader of Marvel's Secret Empire is shown to be a resurgent Nixon from DC's newly active Watchmen universe, all bets are off.
 
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Fred Guardineer's Zatara Comics Are Some Of The Best Comics

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Now Turkey Is Just Making Stuff Up To Jail Political Artists: Painting Gets Artist/Editor Two Years

Maren Williams has a succinct write-up here on the case facing journalist Zehra Doğan, convicted of depicting a military operation instead of what actually happened: reproducing for creative effect a background cleared for release in an official photo. The usual implication that the journalist supported or was a member of the group that attempted a coup in the country was of course part of the hearing.

One thing that's encouraging about the article is that Doğan pretty much sounds like a bad-ass, running an all-women news agency and starting a prison newspaper while inside. It's bad enough that anyone is imprisoned on basically made-up charges, but it doesn't look like it will shatter this particular person. I can't imagine how broken a country has to be to jail people that industrious for bullshit reasons.
 
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Go, Look: 1959 Sunday Comics

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* looks like For Better Or For Worse will be going to IDW for an archival series. That seems a solidly-conceived way of presenting that material again, and IDW has enjoyed some success with Berke Breathed's work; a work that ran concurrently with Johnston's for several years. There's a lot about Johnston's work that fascinates me.

* DC announces a "walk on the dark side" type mini-series with some of its biggest guns. It's easy to make fun of this -- I did on Twitter -- but one supposes there's utility in DC restoring a good guy vs. bad guy paradigm for what they do after years of good vs. good guy stuff at both companies. If that's what they're doing.

* finally, a little "Assembled" cross-over news: TJ Kirsch tells me that his Pride Of The Decent Man has finished serialization on-line, and that a print publication announcement is imminent. Congratulations to Mr. Kirsch.
 
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If I Were In Linz, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Harrison Cady Illustrations

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe Gordon on The Visitor: How And Why He Stayed #1.

* still fascinated by the depth of feeling and sharp contrasts of Murray Ball vs. Bill Leak. It's an interesting dry run in Leak's case to see how we'll forgive or perhaps not forgive those around who develop terrible opinions and articulate them.

* not comics: Robert Boyd goes to SXSW.

* Scott Cederlund writes admiringly of Jaime Hernandez's greatest early work, The Death Of Speedy, particularly its last three astounding pages. I love the book's one-page epilogue and always took it as a reinforcement of the notion just how arbitrary and even delicate some human connections can be.

* finally, everyone's a critic.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Mark Waid!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Marek Bennett!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Jeff Lemire!

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