If you’ve been in the shop in recent days you’ll definitely have noticed the giant orange squid hanging in our window. Plarchie (for that is the name of the beast knitted from Sainsburys bags by Deadly Knitshade) is holding a sign advertising a book launch here at Gosh! on Friday night. In the event he’s doing a terrible job of it, here’s another push: Knit The City is a photographic book about graffiti knitting in London and we’re throwing it a party on Friday night. You’re invited, and so are your friends. Here are the details.
Our pick of the week comes from Will Eisner’s lost period – from 1951 to 1978, the bit after The Spirit but before A Contract With God – when he was doing a lot of cartoon art for the U.S. Army. It was essentially supposed to be a way of teaching soldiers how to do things (eg. how to treat your rifle like a woman) but “it didn’t actually help with the training because it was so lunatic,” reported one of the demographic. The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, or P.S. Magazine (it was a postscript to the standard dry technical manuals) was full of stuff about vehicles, aircrafts, firearms and electronics, all illustrated by Eisner in pin-ups, step-by-step guides, and comic strips. Old pal of Eisner, Eddie Campbell (From Hell, Alec: The Years Have Pants) was initially commissioned to write an introduction to a proposed collection but barged right in and took control of the whole operation, writing not only an overview but making all the selections for the book as well. “Previous attempts to publish selections of the material have failed to properly address the style and art in the manner that I, as a fellow artist, would have liked,” he said. “So I’ve tried to put things right with this one.” Over on his recently resurrected blog he wrote a series of posts about why his P.S. Magazine work which is “sometimes summarily dismissed as being of little interest” is important. And more importantly, funny. Go read those: One. Two. Three. He also took some preview pictures of his advance copy.
More old cartoons come courtesy of Fantagraphics this week, though what this lot is lacking in military use they make up for in rude bits. Humorama was a once-ubiquitous digest-sized magazine featuring black and white photos of ladies like Bettie Page and the great Julie Newmar alongside gag cartoons by the likes of MAD Magazine’s Dave Berg, and Jack Cole, Archie’s Dan DeCarlo, Basil Wolverton, and more. The Pin-Up Art of Humorama collects just the cartoons with all their patchily-funny captions and remastered two-colour format. “All that matters is the art, full of lovely, curvy, super-sexy women whose bra sizes run deep into the alphabet,” reads the review over at Bookgasm. “It may not come in a brown paper wrapper, but yeah, this book’s hot. It spills over with an abundance of retro tease to please.” PDF preview at Fantagraphics.
Speaking of MAD, every single one of Al Jaffee’s iconic fold-ins are collected in a four-volume slipcased set, spanning from 1964 to 2010 (410 of them!). Boing Boing has a video of the book in action. Another of the usual gang of idiots, Drew Friedman, gives you Even More Old Jewish Comedians in hardcover. “It’s a heaping pastrami sandwich of gloriously liver-spotted, wrinkled personalities,” boasts its publisher, offering this video preview as exhibit A.
Two new arrivals from those ridiculously productive folk over at SelfMadeHero this week: Don Quixote by Rob Davis – 2000AD and Solipsistic Pop alumni, as well as co-editor of the experimental new British graphic novel Nelson (due out in November, it’s one story in 250 pages by 54 of Britain’s best comics creators and you can get your pre-orders in now, if you like). Davis has been guest-blogging over at the SelfMadeHero site, talking about the process, the art, and what people said when he told them he was adapting Cervantes’ 400-year-old1000-page novel: “…They looked at me in much the same way the characters in the book look at the crazy knight of La Mancha himself. You must be mad!” It’s all in colour and smells amazing, a bouquet not dissimilar to the Sherlock Holmes adaptations by Ian Edginton and Ian Culbard (book smell is a thing that is embarrassingly important to us here at Gosh!).
Kate Brown’s Fish + Chocolate, originally a self-published enterprise, is now in a slick hardcover edition by those folk at SelfMadeHero. It’s three strange and unsettling tales of mother-child relationships; stories all tied up in magical realism, and “When it works it’s an intoxicating read,” writes the FPI Blog, “With Brown expertly creating a mood of loss, of longing, of regret, of obsession, and at times her visuals are practically heartbreaking. It’s incredibly impressive.” Brown talks about the book and her career so far (she’s been colouring Warren Ellis’ Freakangels since Volume 3) at First Comics News.
This week sees the conclusion of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal: The Last of the Innocent. Phillips (owner of one of the best haircuts in comics) was in the shop last week and gave me a couple of copies of #4, signed ‘em, too. You can have one of them but you have to win our impromptu competition by answering this question:
“What was the prequel to the Brubaker/Phillips collaboration, Sleeper?”
Get the answer right and I’ll put you in the prize draw. That’s not the question I wanted to be the competition, by the way. The question I wanted was “Whose bottom did Sean Phillips use as a model for the lovely bottom on this week’s issue?” (See above) This question was vetoed because none of you would get it and I’d be left holding a bunch of un-won comics. The answer? His own bottom. I was basically tricked into saying that Sean Phillips has a lovely bottom, is what happened.
Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve #12 hits the shelves, theoretically joining the reissues of the eleven previous instalments (we’ve sold out of most of them but if you missed ‘em we can get them for you). Boing Boing has a preview and reckon it’s a good jumping-on point for new readers — it’s full of disconnected short stories just like the early issues of the series that I remember liking very, very much.
The DC relaunch continues unabated and Steve who works here (you might remember him as my Corey Feldman of last week’s blog post) read Animal Man #1 multiple times and recommended it to so many people we sold out completely. Going from that, Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man is the pick of the bunch so far, while other honourable mentions from customers go to Action Comics, Swamp Thing and OMAC. Here’s what you can expect this week:
(Everyone’s being very coy about plot points in interviews so you’ll have to forgive the following paragraph, which may come across as some half-arsed round-up.)
Batman & Robin #1 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason (Tomasi talks to CbR about it), Batwoman #1 by J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman (Newsarama interview, and here is a glorious preview), Deathstroke #1 by Kyle Higgins and Joe Bennett (Newsarama interview), Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli (preview), Grifter #1 by Nathan Edmondson (Olympus, Who is Jake Ellis?) and Cafu, Legion Lost #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods (Nicieza interviewed at the DCU blog, comic previewed here), Superboy #1 by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silva (interview at ComicVine), Mister Terrific #1 by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson (interview at DCU), Suicide Squad #1 by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy (interview), Red Lanterns #1 by Peter Milligan and Ed Benes (preview ), and Resurrection Man #1 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with Fernando Dagnino on art duties (video preview only on this one). Finally, there’s Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell (art by Diogenes Neves), who sat in the Gosh! basement the other night editing Stormwatch #2 on his iPhone. He even helped some people buy comics before I told him to stick to his side of the counter.
In the Marvel camp you can have the penultimate issue of Fear Itself along with Fear Itself: Hulk Vs. Dracula #1 (of 3) by Victor Gischler and Ryan Stegman (“Stegman will murder your face with the pencils on this,” says Gischler at CbR, preview), and Fear Itself: Monkey King One-Shot which spins out of Iron Man 2.0 and the aforementioned Fear Itself, obviously. Monkey King by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Juan Doe brings Sun Wukong – as in Journey To The West, classical Chinese character Sun Wukong – to the Marvel Universe. For some reason. Preview of that one here.
More books! John Arcudi (BPRD) and Doug Mahnke’s long out of print cult series Major Bummer is collected for the first time in The Complete Major Bummer Super Slacktacular TP from Dark Horse. Andrew reckons it’s one of the great lost comics of the 90s (I missed it, I was a kid) and Comicbook Resources did a big piece on it in their Comics You Should Own series. “Major Bummer was Arcudi and Mahnke’s first big-time comic, and it shows. They obviously didn’t know that in order to succeed at DC, you need to make as bland a project as possible.” Ouch. The whole thing looks mental. Go have a look at it at CbR.
Arcudi (him again) and Peter Snejberg’s 2010 graphic novel A God Somewhere is out in a new edition. Arcudi talks about “the story of the creation of a potential superhero as seen through the eyes of his still very human best friend” over at CbR, but spoiler warnings are flashing red. In both soft- and hardcover you can have Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny’s SuperGod (intended as a “thematic threequel” to Black Summer and No Hero), which explores superheroes from the perspective from one who is no longer human. Ellis wrote a little introductory essay to SuperGod for Previews back when it first appeared in 2009-ish. Here’s a bit of it:
“…there’s still that little scratchy voice in the middle of the night: I don’t want to be alone. I want there to be something bigger, something that moves in mysterious ways and wants only the best for us. And I will forgive it, the disgusting state of this world, and all the things in it that want to crush and kill me, and have faith that something incredible and invisible and unknowable will make things better. And so (in SUPERGOD), just to make sure, I will build it and keep it by me. I will pretend it’s a weapon, a defensive capability, a computing object or a construction machine – but really it is a Messiah. But the Messiah, remember, is a very naughty boy.”
Steampunk miniseries Carbon Grey TP Volume 1: Sisters At War is out, being a story “about the potential in us to be either creative or destructive. At the core of it, it’s about family, traditions and honors,” according to writer Hoang Nguyen at Newsarama. “Carbon Grey is our creation myth.”
Also in trade paperback is Blue Estate by Viktor Kalvachev, bringing together mobsters, desperate starlets, drug dealers and the LAPD in a tale about money laundering and all sorts of criminal grim doings Kalvachev will tell you about in this interview.
Curio & Co. is a mock-nostalgia company set up by Kristie Shepherd and Cesare Asaro so they can create prints, books and drawings from a childhood in a parallel universe, where a Calvin & Hobbes-esque strip called Finding Frank & His Friend was a popular lunchbox motif. “Creating the memorabilia before the actual work itself allows us to play with the power of nostalgia and memory. Just as your childhood home is never as big as you remember it to be, the memory of something can often be stronger than the actual object itself. So our products cut out the middle man and go right to the nostalgia to re-create warm and fuzzy childhood memories. Who couldn’t use a little more of that, right?” This week the “long lost “ Finding Frank strips reappear, along with behind-the-scenes are and ephemera by the creator that never was Clarence “Otis” Dooley. Over at Newsarama they explain their It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken ruse, which might just be a fleeting novelty if the comics themselves didn’t look so lovely.
Carl Barks on the other hand might have provided you with a lot of the comics you did read as a kid, widely considered to be the very best Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge artist there was. Barks also created a series based around the classic characters Barney Bear and Benny Burro which have been totally unavailable for decades except in temperature-controlled personal Golden-Age collections. Craig Yoe’s in charge of this one (both editing and designing the book) and Barks fan Jeff Smith provided the cover, so you’re in good hands. Four Colour Shadows has some old strips on show.
Lastly, Steve Niles and the adorably named Christopher Mitten give you 32 pages of hardboiled horror in Criminal Macabre: No Peace For Dead Men One-Shot (previewed here), Buffy Season 9 #1 Freefall co-written by Whedon and Andrew Chambliss brings you more tales of the vampire slayer a whole eight years after she disappeared off our screens, and Charles Soule’s 27: Second Set #1 (of 4) is another miniseries riffing on the grim 27 Club (preview here). Pigs #1 by Nate Cosby and Ben McCool (Memoir) heralds the start of a brand new ongoing series from Image about a KGB sleeper cell in Cuba, 1962. Here’s a preview.
We know you’re all fans of Melinda Gebbie (Lost Girls) and Kevin O’Neill (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) so chances are you’ll want to go along to the upcoming event at the Soho Literary Festival: Gebbie and O’Neill in conversation with Paul Gravett. Tickets are £8 and you can grab one here.
Our pals at Flashback are hosting an exhibition of artwork related to music at their Crouch End store: Friday the 23rd of September at 7pm and it’s free! The We Are Words + Pictures crew consists pretty much entirely of Gosh! favourites: Adam Cadwell, John Cei Douglas, Jamie McKelvie, Francesca Cassavetti, Marc Ellerby, Kristyna Baczynski, Tom Humberstone, Sean Azzopardi and our very own Julia Scheele. Flashback says: Records and Comics hand in hand. Peas in a pod, really. Here’s the Facebook event page.
The festival over at the French Institute that I’ve been banging on about (BD & Comics Passion with Audrey Niffenegger, China Mieville, Dave Gibbons, et al) is giving away TWO TICKETS to Gosh! customers in a prize draw. All you have to do is email “BD & Comics Passion – Gosh!” to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 20th. Do it now before you forget.
Lastly, here are two pictures of our new shop. One by Canadian alternative cartoonist David Collier (Chimo), and the other by local indie small press man David Ziggy Greene (Swimming With Shoes On). We didn’t ask either of them to draw us, but they did. Ain’t that sweet?