Is it impolite to wish yourself a happy birthday? We’re doing it anyway. It’s February the 14th and we’re now 26 years old. Coincidentally, this February is the coldest one on record since the one we opened our shop in, which means it’s the coldest February I’ve ever experienced because I wasn’t alive for that other one. I merely mention it in case you happen to notice how many jumpers I’m wearing and think me ridiculous.
We’ve had a couple of artists pop in and sign their books over the last few days. Badaude signed 75 copies of her London Walks and drew a London pigeon in every one of them. Shawn Martinbrough also signed a few copies of Thief of Thieves #1, written by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer (previewed here). It’s sold out at distributor level but we’ve still got a few. Come grab one before they go!
Latest addition to our small press shelf is Primitive Man by old Gosh! face Jonathan Chandler, another strange and weird addition to his bibliography. It’s a fiver and you’ll find it near the Nobrow stuff.
This week we’re seeing the reappearance of a few old friends who’ve been missing from our shelves for some time. Firstly there’s Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers which hasn’t been available for years and years. It’s a personal and political account of September 11 and its aftermath, done in old-newspaper-comic-sized two-page spreads. It was massive news when it first appeared (partly because it was the first graphic novel he’d done since Maus) and there are articles about it all over the Internet. Why these things fall out of print is a myskery to me.
Another one that’s been absent from our shelves for some time is Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ Madwoman of the Sacred Heart, now out from Humanoids in soft cover. Back when the hardcover landed two years ago I said something along the lines of: “[It] originally came out in (I think) 1996 and as its editor says, “It’s one of those stories that is impossible to define in a few sentences. But, it’s a story that, when read, forces you to think about life, art, love…” The editor even argues that it’s a greater, bolder story than the classic Jodorowsky/Moebius effort The Incal. In the long unavailable Madwoman, a student becomes impregnated by her professor with what she believes to be John the Baptist reincarnated, and thus begins a journey of madness to bring forth the Second Coming of Christ. It’s weird.” A few months later The Comics Journal reviewed it. Also from Humanoids is Whispers in the Walls which is not an H.P. Lovecraft story even though it sounds like one. Written by David Muñoz (co-writer of the Guillermo Del Toro film, The Devil’s Backbone) and illustrated by Tirso. Set in Czechoslovakia in 1949 in an ancient Children’s Infirmary, I don’t think there’s a bleaker sounding book on the shelves this week. The book collects the original four-issue miniseries plus the two final unpublished parts, as well as a bunch of bonus stuff and a new foreword by Juan Diaz Canales, co-creator of Blacksad.
Norwegian cartoonist Jason has a brand new full-colour hardcover out (same format as his Low Moon) that ties into several older stories in several different ways. Athos in America is the lead story in the book and serves as a prequel of sorts to The Last Musketeer, while the story “&” from Low Moon lends its characters to a new story in which they attempt a kidnapping. In one of the other bits Jason does a Bukowski pastiche and ends up drunk at his own comic book signing.
It was kind of inevitable that it would happen: Joe Hill (Locke & Key) has teamed up with his dad, Stephen King, for a four-part comicbook miniseries: Road Rage. It’s a story heavily influenced by Richard Matheson’s Duel by way of the Spielberg film. There’s an interview with the two of them over at USA Today where they talk bikes and rewrites and how King once had a Laserdisc player but only three laserdiscs. Preview there too. If you’ve already got Joe Hill’s The Cape or The Stand on your standing order we’ll stick this aside for you automatically.
I first read the title of this book as Adventures in the Age of Intervention which would be quite a different thing. Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention (as it’s actually known) reprints some spectacular steampunky images from late 1800s vintage dime novels starring the globe-trotting inventor Frank Reade. It’s presented as an alternate history of the 19th and 20th centuries in which our teenage hero is in the same universe as Geronimo and Houdini. There are lots of preview bits (an airship gallery!) here and the Comics Bulletin have already reviewed it. “The real genius of this book is that Frank Reade was, in fact, a popular figure from the pop culture of the late 18th and early 19th century. His adventures really were told in a series of popular fictional novels, so to go the extra mile and see Reade and his family involved in real-world events is a wonderfully clever juxtaposition. It’s a little like the conceit of Alan Moore’s Tom Strong, but taken in a very different direction.”
Considerably more modern adventure stuff can be seen in Savage Worlds, a softcover collection of the art of Roy G Krenkel. In the ‘50s and ‘60s Krenkel provided illustrations to accompany stories by great pulp writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Philip Jose Farmer, Lin Carter, and Robert E. Howard. There’s a short history of his career here but if you just want to know what the 200+ pictures are of then its own blurb sums it up thusly: science fiction, fantasy, and females.
Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta’s exploration of villainy in the Marvel Universe is out in hardcover this week. In Vengeance Casey got to spread his wings and pretty much do whatever he liked. “If you’re a fan of Marvel comics in general, you might pick this up and be surprised at just how much we’re getting away with,” he told Newsarama. “At this point, the big Marvel hero characters are more IPs than anything else. They need to be carefully and thoughtfully maintained for movies, TV and merchandising. But villains aren’t burdened with that kind of responsibility. You can tell any kind of story with them and do pretty much anything to them. That’s an attractive quality for writers who like to write actual characters as opposed to IPs.” He adds: at least it’ll never be boring. If you missed the floppy issues then check out the preview here.
Also in the Marvel Hardcover Universe is Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis, collection the first five issues of the series, along with Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 featuring the very first appearance of Miles Morales.
In trade paperback there’s Pigs Volume 1: Hello Cruel World, Nate Cosby (Jim Henson’s Storyteller) and Ben McCool’s (Choker, Memoir) series about the Cold War and modern terrorism. “You’ll see in the first issue where historical fact and our story go separate ways,” Cosby says at USA Today. “Pigs takes place in a world where one country made a dangerous decision in 1962, a decision whose effects wouldn’t be felt until 2011.” A preview of that very first issue can be found at Comicbook Critic.
In comics there’s Glory #23 which is another revival of an old Rob Liefeld character, much like what Image did with Prophet a month or so ago. The creative team on this one is the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning Joe Keatinge with chunky-goth-girl enthusiast Ross Campbell (Wet Moon, Shadoweyes) illustrating, both bringing a euro-comic-meets-indie thing to the relaunched series. Keatinge talks to Comicbook Resources about it and about writing female characters. “I’m pretty disturbed by the term “strong women” as a compliment to characters — it suggests most women are weak. It’s bullsh*t. The women in my life are all “strong.”…. I don’t think having characters like that should be such a radical idea in superhero comics, but both of us feel there’s a lack of starring female characters along these lines and wanted to fill that void.” Preview thisaway.
And lastly, an all new ongoing war epic from Kurtis Wiebe (Green Wake, The Intrepids) and Tyler Jenkins, called Peter Panzerfaust rejigs the old Peter Pan story in a WWII setting. “Peter Panzerfaust is grounded in reality, but we’re going to see little hints of the magic from the book through the eyes of the older men who lived with Peter,” said Wiebe. “Some believe he was a boy of extraordinary abilities, supernatural even, but others just saw it that he was luckier than most and had a bit of a kamikaze nature to him.” Review and preview courtesy of iFanboy.
Get yer diaries out – our events calendar is filling up again! In just a couple of weeks’ time you should make sure you’re here for the Comix Reader #3 launch party to meet the enthusiastic lot behind it. Then on the 9th of March you’ll want to come to the launch Tom Gauld’s new graphic novel, Goliath. Feel free to pre-order your bookplate edition. Incidentally, we’re now selling a handful of limited edition Gigantic Robot screenprints. They’re beautiful things on lovely paper and they look like this. If you’d like one you’ll have to save up your lunch money for a while: there’s only 100 of these signed and numbered prints in existence and each one will set you back £80.
– Hayley, recently returned from two weeks AWOL.