Hello, I’m back. While I was in Spain I learned that Edward Gorey’s The Wuggly Ump is translated to El Wuggly Ump, and yesterday the Internet told me that REM’s Michael Stipe has a tattoo on his arm of Ignatz Mouse throwing a brick at Krazy Kat. I have travelled far, gained worldly knowledge.
I wouldn’t even know Krazy & Ignatz existed (and neither would Stipe) were it not for the work of Bill Blackbeard, who could have been an excellent pirate with a name like that but chose to be a comic strip historian instead. He died last month at the age of 84. Tributes are popping up all over the place but there’s a brilliantly written appreciation by Jeet Heer over at The Comics Journal which you should read immediately. A chunk:
If I had to sum up the achievement of the late Bill Blackbeard in one sentence, I would say that he was the man who gave comics its memory. Cartoonists like Winsor McCay and Frank King were immensely popular in their heyday but they worked in a notoriously fleeting medium, the newspaper page, and once their work stopped being published they were relegated to the dusty corner of the cultural consciousness reserved for trivia questions (“Who created Gasoline Alley?”). Largely thanks to Blackbeard’s unparalleled work as a collector and archivist, McCay, King, and countless other cartoonists from the early 20th century aren’t just answers to trivia questions, but rather are living forces in the comics world, with their major works in print and vibrantly influential on the best young cartoonists of the day.
Photographed by R.C. Harvey.
Pinched from here.
It’s a great piece, and so is this one by R.C. Harvey. If you’re a fan of stuff by Winsor McCay, Nell Brinkley, Frank King, Milton Caniff, Harold Gray, Chester Gould, E.C. Segar, Alex Raymond, Roy Crane, Jack Kent, Tove Jansson, or Charles Schulz you should doff your cap to the man who saved them from the bin.
A quick note on this week’s delivery: it’s still theoretically on schedule but is being buffeted in the wavy wake of Easter and the royal wedding. You won’t find us wearing Kate and William masks or straining to get a glimpse of a wedding dress or whatever: we’ll be here, don’t fret. However, the one-day buffer-zone we usually get between receiving the comics and actually putting them on the shelves has been taken from us, so we probably won’t have them for you until Wednesday afternoon. So! If you’re planning on coming in on Wednesday at all I recommend phoning ahead to see if they’ve arrived, or better yet: keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We’ll let you know as soon as they get here.
And when they do, you can bag a copy of Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth. It’s the first volume in a three-book set from The Library of American Comics/IDW that will be “the definitive statement on the restless genius and timeless legacy of Alex Toth.” Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell had free reign to sift through Toth’s archives so the books will undoubtedly be full of stuff you’ve never seen before. This first volume covers his early work for DC in the ‘40s, his stuff at Standard, Zorro in the ‘50s, and all of the Jon Fury pages he produced while in the army. You can expect original art and photographs from family, friends and fans, plus rare pages and a previously unprinted-and-forgotten-about story from the ‘50s. Mullaney and Canwell talk to Dan Nadel (Art Out Of Time) over at The Comics Journal. Sample pages!
Love From The Shadows is Gilbert Hernandez’s third original hardcover graphic novel (after Chance in Hell and The Troublemakers) about Love & Rockets’ Fritz as a Z-movie actress. “Erotic, harrowing, graphically violent, and astonishingly grim, Love from the Shadows sees Hernandez plunging ever further into his own heart of darkness,” writes one reviewer over at TCJ, adding “Christ, what a f*cking book.” Here’s a PDF preview from Fantagraphics. A warning to those in offices or absent-mindedly explaining The Internet to elderly relatives: rude bits abound.
Obsolete is the latest from London’s own NoBrow Press by Danish artist Mikkel Sommer, who previously appeared in A Graphic Cosmogony. It’s about two neglected, weary soldiers taking solace in nihilistic hedonism. Head over to NoBrow for preview pictures and then check out Sommer’s blog and website. This guy is 23 years old. Let’s all pack it in and go down the pub and cry.
Pete Bagge’s Hate Annual is on fairly regular scheduling now, by which I mean I think it’s roughly a year since we saw the last one. Top marks, Mr Bagge. Hate Annual #9 includes the first full-length Buddy story in a decade and you can see some preview bits over at Fantagraphics.
David Hine and Shaky Kane’s six-part miniseries Bulletproof Coffin is collected in trade paperback. Here’s the Newsarama interview and preview pages I linked to when issue #1 was preparing to land, but between then and now a short documentary about Shaky Kane has appeared on Bleeding Cool. What’s Bulletproof Coffin about? “It’s about dead superheroes, stone-age girls in chamois leather bikinis, eyeball-headed psychics, bulletproof coffins with spiked tires, spirit walkers, secret attic rooms full of comic book collections, and resurrected GI’s,” of course.
In trade paperback you can have Sensational She-Hulk By John Byrne, collecting his early ‘90s eight-issue run plus Marvel Comics Presents #18. As a sort-of-related-aside, I found this accidentally: someone’s scanned choice pages from Sensational She-Hulk #50 in which she breaks the fourth wall and tries to find a creative team she likes to take over after John Byrne’s (comic book) death.
Jonah Hex: Tall Tales is also out in trade, collecting #55 – 60 of the series featuring usual suspects Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Vicente Alcazar, Phil Winslade, Jordi Bernet, Giancarlo Caracuzzo, Brian Stelfreeze and a cover by Gosh! Favourite Darwyn Cooke.
If you’re a fan of Cooke’s Parker graphic novel adaptations you might want to read the original prose novels. We’ve got loads of them on the shelf already but two more turned up this week – Comeback and Butcher’s Moon. They’re getting thicker as they go along so you’d best get stuck in now.
If we had a spinner-rack, these new releases would be flapping in the wind on Wednesday:
Thor: Asgard’s Avenger is a one-shot of character profiles which will probably be of interest to anyone just hopping on board after seeing the film. Also, Mighty Thor #1 by Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipel is the latest ongoing series in the slew of movie-hype releases. It’s especially geared towards anyone who’s never read Thor before, and kicks off with a storyline called The World Eaters in which Galactus has his eye on Asgard. Preview here, and here’s an extensive explanation of just what the hell Marvel are doing re: Thor and his many, many comics by Comics Alliance, gawblessem.
Strange Case Of Mr. Hyde #1 (of 4) by newcomer Cole Haddon and M.S. Corley somehow combines the story of Jack the Ripper with that of Dr. Jekyll. “I suppose it started with a childhood love of Victorian horror fiction, which itself was probably inspired by an earlier love for Universal monster movies,” said Haddon in his interview with Bloody Disgusting. “You know, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, and so on. I think I discovered Shelly, Stoker, Wells, and, of course, Robert Louis Stevenson right around the same time I discovered Hammer horror movies, too. In other words, I grew up finding a classic style of monster and horror much more appealing than the slasher flicks other kids were obsessing over in the 80s. I wanted to pay homage to that childhood love affair, what all these books and movies had done to shape my life.” Preview at Comicbook Resources.
Horror-wise you can also pick up a copy of Tomb of Dracula Presents: Throne Of Blood, a one-shot by Victor Gischler (X-Men) and Goran Parlov (Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher) which sort of ties into Fear Itself. Preview at CbR.
Don’t forget to put highlighter and glitterpen all over May 7 in your diaries: it’s Free Comic Book Day and we’ve got three 2000AD guys (Dan Abnett! Al Ewing! Robbie Morrison!) signing in our basement. Also, if any small press people would like to load us up with some stuff to give away on the day, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.