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January 29, 2014

This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Direct Market


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.


This has to my memory been out for months and months over in the UK. I don't know if it's being re-offered here or just offered for the first time in North American comic book shops. There aren't a lot of stand-alone works this week. You might recall the story behind this one: that a monkey (or a small boy called a "powder monkey") dressed in French clothing washed up on the shore of English citizens that ended up hanging him. It's pretty easy to see how this could lead to all sorts of parable-style treatment, as well as being potentially visually effective just for the foregrounded elements. This might be all I'd buy today were I in a comics shop, I couldn't say.

imageDEC131162 PRINCE VALIANT HC VOL 08 1951-1952 $35.00
This right in the middle of prime time Hal Foster, where random sections of random portions of his Sunday pages can just slaughter you did for their old-timey illustrator values made real. This volume takes its title character away from the domestic comedy that bored me as a kid. I never get the same sense from Foster that I get from Crane that all of his action adventure work is staged in a way that's completely fair to the immediate world he's constructed, but damn this stuff is handsome. Foster may be the only cartoonists whose establishing shots are also the money shots.

NOV130057 FURIOUS #1 $3.99
NOV130670 THOR GOD OF THUNDER #18 $3.99
SEP130624 INVINCIBLE #108 [DIG] $2.99
NOV130520 SAGA #18 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
NOV130630 MIRACLEMAN #2 $4.99
NOV130900 ADVENTURE TIME 2014 SPECIAL #1 [DIG] $4.99
Weird week for serial genre comic books, and I'm not sure I'd buy any of them but I'd want to look at a bunch. Furious is the Mice Templar guys' new superhero series; I put that in here because I enjoy the fact that Dark Horse remains devoted to comic book series like this. The Thor means Esad Ribic art, and the ones I've those I've read have been attractive and fun. That and the Image books would be the ones I'd be most likely to purchase. I have been able to snap up most of those Ribic-drawn Thors for $1 or less, though, some months after, so maybe I'd wait for that. Dead Boy Detectives #2 was the only comic book in a stack of DC books I read recently where it wasn't sort of fundamentally difficult for me to parse the basic plot line. Invincible and Saga are Image heavy-hitters with loads of fans and it's clear the qualities to which they respond in each series; those are very assured comics. Miracleman I've been told since my initial "why, again?" post is pretty much unavailable in any other form now, so that makes more sense to me. I'm not certain why you might not wait for the collection, but I do like how enamored Marvel seems of this very strong superhero work. And I'm always looking for an entry point with Adventure Time.

Jim Starlin's 1970s comics are the comics of the youth I was just too late to experience for the most part, so in that way they've become alluring to the nostalgist side of my personality. If Starlin were a musician his comics would be the albums my older brother played on his stereo with his friends once they kicked me out of the room. They tend to be pretty fun, although a lot of the same elements tend to repeat themselves: he's one of the few creators to carve out an idiosyncratic place of expression for himself at Marvel before the 1990s. This is the kind of book that's only made possible by an increased in interest in the Thanos character because of his role in a future Avengers movie, which I also assume means it becomes a necessary collection for the price on those original comics swelling past the 50 cents I likely paid for them 15 years ago or whatever.

Everyone should love and enjoy Ramona Fradon, and now that for most readers there is less of a rigid idea of what mainstream comics art should look like, I can't imagine that her work on the 1960s DC Comics isn't perfectly freaking accessible to fans of that material. I always thought her work was pretty fun. I don't really know how well Dynamite does with books like this, but I would very much want to hold it in my hands and take a look.

DEC131339 GANGSTA GN VOL 01 (MR) $12.99
None of the manga in later volumes interests me so if I were looking in that part of my store I'd likely try this visually appealing, lurid series.

SEP131249 LOST AT SEA HC $24.99
This is Bryan Lee O'Malley's first released volume some ten years ago and a little bit before the Scott Pilgrim series changed his career and to some extent the course of modern comics publishing. I remember liking it. Actually I remember when Scott Pilgrim came out thinking that Lost At Sea referred to a completely different book altogether, maybe just one I made up in my head, before going back and finding it and re-reading it. My other memory is that it's also very much a young person's early work -- there's a lot going on, and the ambition kind of runs about two steps ahead of the execution. Still, I don't know why any O'Malley fan would want to pick this up in anticipation of his forthcoming new work.

I try not to read what Joe McCulloch does with his preview column at TCJ until this one is up, but it always kills me how in tune he is with all of the European material certain publishers are grinding out -- not that they're treating the material with less than respect in most cases, but I just have to imagine the margins are really think on getting this material into the hands of North American that might be interested in it. This is one of the few I recognize as such an album despite lacking McCulloch's omnivorous appetite across comics traditions and cultures. It's also the subject of a forthcoming movie that sounds like one of those movies that everyone will complain there's a better versions of out there somewhere. It involves people living on a train as a microcosm for life on earth itself, which is the kind of fanciful conceit I tend to like. So I would definitely look at this.

This is something I would assume you already have but that there's some sort of need in the marketplace that makes it a very good thing that this is now arriving in stores -- perhaps it was out of print or unavailable. So heads up if that's you.

A pretty great little run of book all out at once showing off the strengths of IDW as a reprint house. The John Romita Amazing Spider-Manf is not only lovely but it's well-crafted comics, so any time you get a chance to revisit them that sounds like fun. This is material pretty late in his run. I'm a huge fan of Alley Oop, and I imagine it is suited for occasional chunks of reprint rather than a systemic program. I love to look at that strip because the characters exist in space like no one's done since, but the reading of it kind of discourages me over a long period of time. Still, I could stare it for weeks. The Superman newspaper strip material I'm barely familiar with, so there's a curiosity factor there. They did a nice job capitalizing on the success of that character while many companies were stumbling through just trying to figure out how to get semi-professional material on the stands on a regular basis.


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.



posted 1:29 am PST | Permalink

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