The Gosh! Authority 24/04/12

Darryl Cunningham of Psychiatric Tales fame spent a large chunk of his Monday drawing on the Gosh! window in Posca pens in preparation for the launch party tonight. Science Tales, in which Cunningham investigates the truth and/or bogus-ness in topics such as homeopathy, evolution, and the moon landing hoax theory, is out on our shelves as of today. Comedian Robin Ince will also be here to talk with Cunningham about all things science and they’re both very nice so you should come say hello. All the details about the event are here and The Observer had a bit to say about the book over the weekend. You can pick up an exclusive signed bookplate edition for just the regular cover price of just £11.99.

If you’re sick of looking at your bookshelf and seeing POPEY spelled out on those brightly covered spines then you’re going to like Fantagraphics a whole lot better this week. Popeye Volume 6: Me L’il Swee’Pea completes the set and slots the final E into place (people who file books on shelves for a living rejoice). As well as the dailies, this collection includes 62 full-colour Sundays, two articles on various aspects of the history of the strip, a Segar-penned biography of the character and more art and photos, etc. I wonder if we’ll get another picture of Segar himself. In that last volume he looked like a dude. PDF preview courtesy of Fantagraphics.

Roger Langridge picks up where Segar left off in a new four-part miniseries called, aptly, Popeye. In an interview over at Comicbook Resources he talks about what he likes about the squinty-eyed sailor. “When Popeye causes a ruckus, one of the funniest parts of it is the fact that he often doesn’t have the slightest idea that he’s doing something controversial. For example, if he took off his pants at a tea dance because he was hot, it would be mischievous if he’d done it with the intention of causing offense, but Popeye isn’t wired like that — he’d genuinely wonder what all the fuss was about (‘I’m hot, ain’t I?’). I like that about him – that he thinks what he’s doing is logical and reasonable even if it’s totally outlandish. The gap between Popeye’s perception of the world and the reality is one of the great sources of comedy in the strip. Great fun to play with as a writer!” If you’re worried it’s going to be terrible, fear not. Roger Langridge is much loved here at Gosh! – so much so that his illustration has featured on our white paper bags for years. “Things are pretty much as you would expect if you know your Segar – Popeye loves Olive, Olive loves Popeye in her own fickle way, Popeye is a devoted stepfather to Swee’Pea, Wimpy’s always looking for a free meal, etc. It ain’t broke, so we ain’t fixing it!” Preview pages run alongside that interview so go have a look.

Brendan Leach’s Pterodactyl Hunters in the Guilded City originally served as his master thesis at the School of Visual Arts in New York but was such a success (even featuring in 2011’s Best American Comics and winning a Xeric Award) that Top Shelf have picked it up and made it available as a soft cover book. They’re keeping its original newspaper-sized dimensions at a foot wide and a foot-and-a-bit tall so it’s bigger than your average. Set in 1904, it’s about two hot-air-balloonists trying to keep the city safe from flying dinosaurs. Here’s an old interview with Leach over in the Comics Journal archives.

Darth Vader and Son came in a couple of weeks back but has somehow escaped the notice of the Gosh! Blog until now. Jeffrey Brown poses the question “What if Darth Vader had actually raise Luke Skywalker?” and then does a bunch of cartoons about what would have happened had he done so. “I think part of what was so fun about this idea is like, as a parent, there’s things you just kind of have to put up with. They can be really frustrating. So the idea of this dark master, lord of the Sith, having all that power, and in the end, here’s this 4-year-old who can be, “Eh, no Dad. I don’t want to do it.” And he’s powerless against it. He’s gotta maintain that presence of power in the universe, but when it’s his own son, he has to rein it in a little bit. That tension is what was fun to play with.” Wee Luke doesn’t like the way Vader makes scrambled eggs. The rest of that interview is here and Brainpickings have a preview.

Hans Rickheit (The Squirrel Machine) has collected a decade’s worth of his self-published comics in Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion, a softcover book from Fantagraphics. Since the stories are all gathered from photocopied issues formerly known as Chrome Fetus I am sure you can guess what kind of stuff you’re in for. One review cites the particulars: “rubble, tubes, orifices, human-animal hybrids, rooms within rooms, and strangely discomfiting partial nudity.” Fantagraphics have a PDF preview and Publishers Weekly review it. I think the last time Rickheit appeared in these waters I was pointing out a webcomic he illustrated about how insects are monstrous. Here’s a reminder.

Any Similarities To Persons Living Or Dead is Purely Coincidental is a hardcover reprint of a Drew Friedman book that’s been missing from our shelves for ages. It collects his earliest, most stippled black-and-white work (70s/80s stuff) including the strips that partially revived Plan 9 From Outer Space actor Tor Johnson’s cult status (by which point he was already dead, of course). It’s never occurred to me to find out what Drew Friedman looks like even though his entire career has been drawing other people’s faces. In this long interview over at The Comics Journal, Jay Ruttenberg reports that he is “tall and slender, perhaps not ugly enough for his chosen profession.” Ruttenberg, by the way, is great. Old time readers will remember his Low Brow Reader magazine from 2008 or ‘9 or something. Anyway, go read the interview. Friedman talks about meeting Groucho Marx when he was a teenager, when Groucho opened the front door while wearing shorts and a Marx Brothers T-shirt.

Cruisin’ With the Hound collects over 20 of Spain Rodriguez’s never-before-collects memoirs from his teenage years in 1950s America. “They were all there, the pimps, the fags, the whores, the curious, the alcoholic, the weird of the late ’50s… blues lovers, Canadian bikers, thrill seekers, junkies, insomniacs, hepcats…” You get the idea. Rodriguez is one of the old Zap Comix guys and recently wrote and illustrated Che: A Graphic Biography. Fantagraphics have a preview of this week’s offering.

Craig Yoe has edited and designed an entire book on a little known aspect of Frank Frazetta’s career: funny stuff. Not the regular fantasy epics he’s most famous for – you’ll find no Death Dealer or Conan the Barbarian here – but the funny animal stuff. The closest thing I can find to a preview is here.

Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love is a biography of the most famous African-American cowboy in history by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack Jr. He was around at the same time as Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid. Kirkus review it here and from what I can gather it’s a historical thing aimed at kids from about 10.

In hardcover there’s a new deluxe edition of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s early collaboration for Vertigo, Black Orchid, and the first chunk of Warren Ellis’ run on Stormwatch, specifically issues #37 to #47 which is basically the first two original trade collections in one. There’s also the second volume of Titmouse, being 100 pages of art, comics and interviews from the likes of Dave Johnson (100 Bullets). Unlike the first two in this paragraph there’s only 1000 of these in existence so best snap it up before it goes.

In trade paperback there’s Jeph Loeb’s Ultimate Comics X, collecting the first five issues of the Arthur Adams-drawn series. As for regular comics, the Avengers Vs. X-Men storyline is kicking off all over the shelf. There’s AvX Vs. #1 (of 6) which ties into the core Avengers Vs. X-Men series only this six-parter is solely about the fights. They’ve got Jason Aaron (Scalped) and Adam Kubert (Wednesday Comics) teaming up for one half of the comic (I mean creating it, it’s not a story about bearded comics writer versus non-bearded comics illustrator) (it’s actually Iron Man and Magneto), and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen are seeing what happens when Namor versus The Thing. If you’ve already got Avengers Vs X-Men on your standing order we’ll stick this one aside for you automatically. Other tie-in issues include BendisNew Avengers #23 (preview), Rick Remender’s Secret Avengers #26 (preview), and Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men #11 (preview). Also, tie-in-wise, if you’re wondering why Daredevil #11 is in your standing order when you don’t actually collect Daredevil comics it’s because The Omega Effect Punisher/Avenging Spider-Man crossover continues within it. Have a preview.

Scott Beatty and Ron Adrian’s Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist prequel is out this week. Merciless Rise of Ming #1 is basically Ming the Merciless’ origin story. There’s a preview here where the cover makes Ming look like he’s got a really long, pointy insectoid nose. Beatty talks about the project with Comicvine.

If you’ve been standing on the edge of the Wolverine pool looking for a good point to jump in: the time is now. Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun) takes the reins from Aaron with #305 and he’s got a bit to say about it at Comicbook Resources. “If I were thinking about what I have planned in terms of a series of images, a number of things come to mind: Wolverine stalking through the stark hallways of an abandoned mental institution… having a conversation with a dead man… fighting for his life against both human and inhuman horrors on the grounds of a crumbling old mansion… having his guts ripped out and spread across a forest floor… meeting with a 150-year-old detective… battling alien hybrids alongside the daughter of a famous monster hunter… scaling a castle wall with his claws…” Bunn’s Sixth Gun Volume 3 is also out tomorrow.

Starting this week at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington is a play called Suicide Letter Love Note. Reading the synopsis over at the place where you buy tickets you might wonder why we’re mentioning it here, but apparently it’s kind of along the same lines as Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy and the main dude is a comic book writer. And he’s just about to kill himself.

And that’s all she wrote.

— Hayley

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