Tag Archives: Fantagraphics

Michael Avon Oeming does ‘Victories’, Joost Swarte asks ‘Is That All There Is?’ and other upcoming releases

Each month, I read and dog-ear the pages of Previews for comics that look interesting. For those unfamiliar, Previews is the catalogue/magazine for Diamond Comic Distributors. (Yes, I’m that much of a nerd.)

People complain about how boring and familiar comic book stories have become, but that’s horseshit once you start digging deep enough. Previews is filled with all kinds of books I won’t find in my local comic book shop unless I specifically ask for them.

With that preamble out of the way, here are a few items from the books shipping in August (next month) that sound interesting. If I had the cash — and time to read them — I’d probably buy them all.

NOTE: There are a few reissues in this list so not everything here are brand new books.

Driven by Lemons by Joshua W. Cotter (Adhouse Books)
104 pages, $20

“Up the stream of consciousness without a paddle.” — From the creator who brought you the Eisner- and Ignatz-nominated Skyscrapers of the Midwest comes a sketchbook replica of recent multimedia explorations in intuitive narrative. Won’t you be his neighbor? (Adhousebooks.com)

Sunset City by Rob Osborne (AiT/Planet lar)
80 pages, $10

Sunset City is a typical retirement community. Its residents enjoy golf and gossip and they all seem content to fritter away their golden years. Except Frank McDonald. A retired widower, he wrestles witht he question: why am I here? Reading the newspaper, Frank keeps up on the minutia of the day; it provides a buzz to an otherwise humdrum life. One morning, Frank is overcome by a startling story, and he does something extraordinary: he takes life by the balls. (AiT/Planetlar.com)

Return of the Dapper Men: Special Edition by Jim McCann and Janet Lee (Archaia)
128 pages, $30

Return of the Dapper Men is a tale of a world in between time, where children have played so long it’s almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play, and all the clocks have stopped at the same time. This is how this land has remained, until 314 dapper-looking gentlemen rain down from the sky and set off in different directions to start the world again. Now Ayden, the only boy to still ask questions; Zoe, the robot girl all other machines hold dear; and the Dapper Man known only as “41″ must discover what happened that made time stop, understand what their true places are in this world, and learn what “tomorrow” really means.

This book won the 2011 Eisner award for the Best Graphic Novel category. Archaia is reissuing it with a few extras and fancy binding as a walk-up to the sequel Time of the Dapper Men! coming out sometime this year, I presume.

Rust by Royden Lepp’s (Archaia)
192 pages, $25

Rust is a high-octane adventure set in the prairie lands of an unknown time. Life on the Taylor family farm was difficult enough before Jet Jones crashes into the barn, chased by a giant decommissioned war robot! Oldest son Roman Taylor struggles to keep his family’s small farm afloat as the area heals from a devastating world war. While the rest of his family may not trust the mysterious boy with the jetpack, Roman believes the secrets of Jet’s past may be the key to their survival. (Archaia.com)

Volume 1 is re-issued. Volume 2 launches in next month (August).

The Victories (#1 of 6) by Michael Avon Oeming (Dark Horse Comics)
32 pages, $4

Not long from now, all that will stand between you and evil are the Victories—six heroes sworn to protect us from crime, corruption, and the dark. As one member cracks down on the violence, he discovers himself touched by a painful past through the psychic powers of Link. Will this trauma cause him to self-destruct or continue the fight?

* The raunchiest superheroes since The Boys!

* From the co-creator of Powers!

“Mike Oeming is one of the great people and comic artists on the planet earth. I’ve been dying for Mike to write and draw his own book for years. And here it is! If you like Powers, you will love The Victories!”— Brian Michael Bendis

(Darkhorsecomics.com)

The Milkman Murders by Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse (Image)
$15

The infamous 2005 mini-series returns in an all-new deluxe hardcover edition! The horror of suburban life explodes in an orgy of mythic violence — and mild-mannered housewife, Barbara Vale, finds herself at its dark epicenter! And when you meet her family, you’ll understand why. This slice of Americana is brought to you by the twisted minds of JOE CASEY and the legendary STEVE PARKHOUSE. If you missed it the first time around, this is your chance to finally join the Tupperware party!

“A truly disturbing and original piece of horror… not for the faint of heart or those looking for spoon-fed niceties, The Milkman Murders is comics as you’ve rarely seen them before.” – ED BRUBAKER

Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte (Fantagraphics)
144 pages, $25

Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? collects virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains have been taken to match Swarte’s superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (There’s even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)

“I’ve loved Joost Swarte’s perfect cartoons, drawings and designs for decades and it’s nothing short of ridiculous that a comprehensive edition of this brilliant artist’s work has never been available in America until now. Swarte is considered a national treasure in his native Holland, and if you open this book, you’ll understand why.” — Chris Ware

Loads of review on the Fantagraphics product page.

Freeway by Mark Kaleniko (Fantagraphics)
420 pages, $29

In his first new graphic novel since 2001’s acclaimed Mail Order Bride, Mark Kalesniko compresses an entire life into a single day as the frustrated animator, stewing on a pitiless California freeway, alternately rages, reminisces, fantasizes, and hallucinates — intercut with a series of imagined moments from two generations ago, the Golden Age of animation, when an earlier Alex made his entry into a much different professional world.

One reason I like the Fantagraphics website is they create video previews for many of their books.

Only Skin by Sean Ford (Secret Acres)
268 pages, $22

Featured in the Awesome anthology and listed among the best comics of the year by Indie Spinner Rack, the Daily Crosshatch, and Best American Comics, Only Skin is a grim exploration of the hallucinatory and tragic landscape of modern rural America, as seen through the eyes of a pair of orphaned siblings, searching for answers in a world filled with terrible, terrible questions.

Little Death by Thomas Kriebaum (Soaring Penguin)
96 pages, $14

There’s a knock at the door. You fear the worst. It’s Little Death. But is he here for you – or your cat? Thomas Kriebaum’s little man in the black suit is the ultimate travelling salesman: all deals are final. His dissatisfaction with his vocation is the source of our amusement!

The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books)
160 pages, $25

The Voyeurs is a real-time memoir of a turbulent five years in the life of renowned cartoonist, diarist and filmmaker Gabrielle Bell. It collects episodes from her award-winning series, Lucky, in which she travels to Tokyo, Paris, and the South of France and all over the United States, but remains anchored by her beloved Brooklyn, where sidekick Tony provides ongoing insight, offbeat humor and enduring friendship.

Check out some preview pages.

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Jason lovefest continues

I’ve been a fan of Jason’s work (aka John Arne Sæterøy) since stumbling across a copy of Why Are You Doing This?, his Hitchcock-esque murder mystery that asks as many questions as it answers. In fact, it might have been purchased from the same Toronto bookstore mentioned in this review of his body of work.

If you like the art of Herge’s Tin Tin (or have a soft spot for European comic art) you should check out some of Jason’s work.

His books are at times moody and have a slightly disturbing quality to them. One appeal is the juxtaposition of the often dark plots and sparse dialogue with the choice of humanoid animals character artwork. The panel work is crisp and matter-of -fact.

Lots more art posted at CasualOptimist.

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Preview: The Comics Journal #300

Here’s a video preview of the last issue of The Comics Journal before the relaunch planned for next year. Enjoy.

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Preview: Steve Ditko’s Strange Suspense

Fantagraphics has collected horror and mystery stories preceding the comics code restrictions by comic master Steve Ditko in Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 . Check out the video preview below.

Before the Amazing Spider-Man, before the mysterious Dr. Strange, before the black-and-white world of the Ayn Rand-inspired Mr. A, the legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was conjuring all manners of horrors at his drawing table. In his first two years in the industry (1953 and 1954), Ditko drew tales of macabre suspense that were not yet hobbled by the imminent Comics Code Authority (adopted in Oct. 1954). These stories featured graphic bloodshed, dismemberment and blood-curdling acid baths as the ugly end to the lives of the dark and twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditkos imagination.

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The Comics Journal goes bi-annual

Hallelujah! The Comics Journal is making a super smart move for a periodical publication. They announced this week that they’re moving to a semi-annual publishing schedule for the magazine and unlocking the doors on their web site, upping the volume of content and frequency of updates. Kudos to them. This is exciting news. And if you’re a fan of TCJ or comics in general, you may want to pick up the November issue (#300) that promises to offer the first glimpse at what the new TCJ will look like.

The Comics Journals, issue 300 cover

This makes total sense both for both the business and the reader. The online subscription model doesn’t work terribly well. WSJ is one of the few success stories, but they also have a dedicated specialized audience. Even the NYT decided to open its archives a few years back when they realized they could make more money on open, free content. A TCJ.com with more content updated more frequently will increase their audience size and allow them to monetize the site better.

Print costs are on the rise, so producing the TCJ continues to cost Fantagraphics more. Circulation numbers are down for the vast majority of newspapers and magazines as people’s reading habits move online and to mobile. Aside from the books themselves, comics culture is almost entirely online. Reducing the frequency of TCJ but increasing the volume size (and likely price) ultimately nets them more money if they can hold the line on circulation. I anticipate they will increase their numbers. They could probably now market the Journal in bookstores if the book size is formatted properly and open up to a whole new segment of the consumer market.

I’ve been having difficulty getting my hands on a copy of TCJ. My local comic shop will only bring it in on special request, and I don’t necessarily want to buy every issue. But I am totally on board for picking up a nice, big, lush, beautiful book that comes out twice a year. Heck, I may even subscribe.

The Beat offers some context on the TCJ move in light of the sale of Newsarama and the changing face of comic news distribution. Some good discussion on the blog there as well:

At the same time, the rules are changing so fast and quick. Newsarama’s sale comes at a time when its position as the must-do news source has almost completely eroded. Everyone seems to use their own outlets for breaking news, and there are so many other choices. It’s notable that when Monday’s news of a new Stephen King comic at Vertigo came out, it was announced at Vertigo’s own blog and the first, presumably embargoed, interviews were at the NYT, the Daily Beast and AOL’s comics blog, Comics Alliance. Comics news is now big enough that it doesn’t even get broken on comics news sites any more — with a variety of “mainstream” news outlets covering comics on a regular basis, news can reach a (one hopes) even wider audience.

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