Happy new week to all of Gosh!’s loyal readers worldwide. It’s Tom here again, bringing you all the news that’s fit to print and some other bits that we thought we’d take a chance on anyway. We’re all feeling very reflective in a week that has seen comic creator rights become headline news, so let’s celebrate the best that our industry has to offer.
A huge thank you to everybody who turned up to our entertaining and educational evening with laconic legend Eddie Campbell! With one of the most extensive and efficient signings we’ve ever had preceding it, Eddie’s talk presented a tapestry of different experiences of trying to make a living from comics, and also explored the history of money, the titular Lovely Horrible Stuff. The accompanying book of the same name isn’t released until later in the year, but if the talk is anything to go by it should be a hoot and a half.
Our happiest announcement is of the successful delivery of a healthy baby Undertow, Ellen Lindner’s tale of hard living and soft serve ice cream in 1960s Coney Island. Ms Lindner is a bi-national treasure (tossed on the Atlantic waves between the UK and the States’ indie comics scenes) and a long-standing Gosh! friend, and this new edition from Soaring Penguin Press (good name) is a gorgeous compendium of one of her most substantial works.
If you browse our small press section can also find her work in the gorgeous anthologies Whores of Mensa and latterly The Strumpet, or from her early contribution to the Nelson sensation, all well worth your time.
From a recent champion of independent publishing to one of the oldest and most successful American institutions, we’re now going to talk Archie Comics! Archie is a strange dichotomy of a title, both representing a nostalgic longing for the innocence of early kids’ funnies, as well as containing some of the most creatively restless licensed work seen in recent years. From mind-bendingly metafictional stories and fourth-wall demolitions to Archie Meets Kiss, the editors behind the titles clearly know how to surprise their audience.
One particularly exciting example is the introduction of Kevin Keller, Riverdale’s first openly gay denizen, in 2010. Since then, he’s been featured in flashforward stories returning home as a war hero (just as the US Army repealed don’t-ask-don’t-tell) and subsequently marrying his fiancé Clay in full dress uniform. This week sees Kevin ascendant, featuring in the first issue of his brand new solo series, Kevin Keller #1. Even more encouraging is that the Archie fanbase has unanimously embraced the inclusion of Kevin, and because you demanded it, his early adventures are being collected in this week’s Kevin Keller Volume 1 Hardcover. Pat on the back, Riverdale High.
Far less surprisingly, Dark Horse Comics remains a purveyor of the weird, fascinating and inventive. Ho-hum. The predictably attractive Conan the Barbarian #1 launches this week from alternative mainstream royalty Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Their arc, due to run to 24 issues, is an adaptation of one of the most famous Robert E. Howard yarns, The Queen of the Black Coast. Strange creators to take on a barbarian savage, you might think, but in fact writer Brian Wood claims he was selected due to his deft handling of the complicated emotions of the wild men of Northlanders (issue #48 of which also hits the shelves this week). So expect what Dark Horse calls “an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling”. Sounds fun!
For another burst of Dark Horse creator excellence, take a look at the inimitable Murky World One-Shot from horror maestro Richard Corben. Collected in full from the short episodes in Dark Horse Presents, Murky World tells the tale of a man looking for his horse, traversing a landscape of “hungry deadlings, cruel necromancers and buxom cyclops” to find it. All rendered in Corben’s unique, grainy style and on shelves from Wednesday.
“Did Berlin end with the second trade, or is he still doing issues?” I was recently asked, and as if in short reply, Jason Lutes brings us the long-awaited Berlin #18, continuing his operatic early-20th-Century project. If you’re catching up, the first two collections, City of Stones and City of Smoke are a persistent presence in our General Fiction section and are deserving of their fanatical following. Issues #1-16 are collected between them, so we recommend catching up while the getting’s good, especially since we’ve got copies of Issue #17 still available in-store.
In other miraculous news, there’s also a new issue of Powers out! Issue #8 of the current series will be available from Wednesday. No, really. It’ll be on the shelf. You’ll be able to look at it and hold it and buy it and everything.
Meanwhile, from the house of Vertigo, up-and-comer Chris Roberson’s Nancy-Drew-from-beyond-the-grave crowd-pleaser iZOMBIE continues its quality run of trade collections, with Volume 3: Six Feet Under and Rising. If you’ve not caught onto the undead fun yet, I heartily recommend it. Gwen Dylan is one of the not-so-shambling undead. She retains her elegance and composure so long as she sporadically consumes the brains of the living, but with a catch: any unlawful or unfinished business from the subject’s grey matter floods into hers, and she must right those wrongs before the voices in her head will dissipate. It’s a hip and fast-moving page-turner gloriously rendered by Gosh! favourite Mike Allred and one of the few titles I buy week-to-week. Volumes 1 & 2 can be found easily in our Genre Fiction section and will not disappoint.
To any fans of the recent Image hit Morning Glories, keep a beady eye on Thief of Thieves #1, the first issue of Robert Kirkman’s new brainchild dealing with a master thief known as Redmond, getting on in years and taking stock of his life, loves and misdeeds. “But why should we care”, cry the Morning Glories fans. Well, because Nick Spencer, the writer of that very same series, scripts the first arc. In a style reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s ongoing involvement with Dark Horse’s Buffy comics, Kirkman is co-writing the series with a writer’s room, farming out story arcs and script duties to others in the Image stable. The preview pages, found here, suggest a mysterious, funny and engaging read, so have a peek!
In a funny turn of events, but far from an unwelcome one, webcomics star Ryan North has been brought in to script the all-new comic book adventures of Adventure Time’s Finn and Jake! The first issue of the funnybook tie-in to the zany Cartoon Network series boasts all the delightful design and chucklesome weirdness of its cartoon companion and is purported to be ongoing! Get issue #1 this week and find out what time it is.
For fan favourite writer Rick Remender, this week is Secret Avengers #22 time. Remender’s rise through the Marvel ranks continues in an auspicious manner, boasting not only art from the very talented and hard Gabriel Hardman but also an encounter where Captain Britain crashes into the throne room of Buckingham Palace and doffs his cap to the Queen within the first two pages! No wonder everybody’s so excited.
Another returning favourite is Matt Forsythe, whose adorably surrealist yarn Ojingogo was a treat for the eyes and the murkier bits of the brain. His latest work, Jinchalo, from Drawn and Quarterly continues the little girl’s quest as she follows the titular shape-changer and his shenanigans a long way from home.
“Jinchalo” is the Korean word for “really?”, originally formed from the questions “what is and isn’t real?” and “what is imagined?”, and this etymological quandary is what inspired the oddball meandering that makes up the book. Forsythe’s work is made up of beautiful character designs, elegantly simple line and tastefully evocative grey tones, so go off the beaten path and dip your toes.
This week also sees a host of luxury reissues and re-releases, most notably a new edition of The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat in hardcover. Robert Crumb’s earliest creation needs no introduction, but I am contractually obliged to do so. So I’ll let publisher Fantagraphics do the talking:
“Fritz is a feline, freewheeling chiseler who allowed Crumb to express some of his most acidic commentary on American culture. Tragicomedy, farce and satire all rolled into one, The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat chronicles the very best of Fritz’s adventures from his early days as an idealistic college student to his ultimate fate as a jaded, burned-out superstar, including Crumb’s infamous send-off of the character in the wake of Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature film, an experience and project that completely dissatisfied Crumb.”
Sounds thrilling, inflammatory and almost uncomfortably saucy, making this a very tempting prospect for any comics enthusiast, Crumb-nut or not.
For an altogether more wholesome, though nonetheless thrilling, depiction of the world of American romance, check out Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics. I checked, there really is no way I could have said the word ‘romance’ less in that sentence. Not with my deadlines. This edition has been compiled and lovingly restored by all-too-rarely-seen comic artist and animator Michel Gagné, who opines “I love the fact that there is no action and that everything is in the acting and the staging. Kirby was a natural born visual storyteller, and his talent is certainly on display here.” Find out more at his CBR interview here.
In other Jack Kirby-related news, for those of you wondering where on Earth the Jack Kirby Collector #58 is, we’ve already had it! Cunningly disguised as Lee & Kirby: The Wonder Years, this bumper edition was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Fantastic Four #1 and is jam-packed with artwork, interviews and all the regular Kirby Collector fun. Whether the elder Jack Kirby narrates events with laconic interjections about the folly of youth has yet to be confirmed. Either way, we’ve got our restock in this week, so if you’ve been lost in a cold, Kirby-free world, then stop on by to be transmogrified.
The biggest news of the week is the announcement of Before Watchmen, DC’s expansion of Alan Moore’s seminal work of superhero fiction. It’s a move which has been expected since the release of the movie adaptation in 2009, but which has been stalled by Moore’s refusal to be involved in such an endeavour, and then presumably by DC’s subsequent effort to corral the biggest possible names to fill in for the absent allfather.
The project has been met with an understandable wave of controversy, and the significance to the industry and the greater issue of creator rights has nabbed the story coverage on the BBC News website among many others. How does Moore feel about the matter? To quote the man himself, “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago.” Robot6 has the best breakdown of the legal ins-and-outs of the matter yet, which is a thoroughly recommended read.
Well, my icy fingers are seizing up, which means it’s time to say goodbye for another week. Enjoy your comics and we’ll see you soon at Gosh!