Afternoon, Gosh folk. It’s the first of May and as such we’ll be burning a wicker man by the front door. Don’t mind him, Summer is icumen in and etc. Following that, this Saturday the fifth of May (being the day after May the fourth or Star Wars Day) (Dad joke) we’ll be giving away free comics, yes free comics, on account of it being Free Comic Book Day. There’ll be small press treats by the likes of Sean Azzopardi, Kel Winser and more, plus live window painting, and a special sit-down drawing event for 8-12 year olds starring Roger Langridge (Snarked), Sarah McIntyre (Vern & Lettuce), Richard Short (Klaus), Christian Ward (Infinite Vacation), and our own Julia Scheele (Peckham Invalids). There are lots more artists involved but this paragraph has to end at some point. Head over to our blog post on the event for details.
Incidentally, a bunch of people who do not fall into the 8-12 age category have asked sotto voce if they’re welcome at Free Comic Book Day of if that would be an embarrassing faux pas. Of course you’re welcome and there will most definitely be stuff for you. There are piles of free comics that no eight-year-old is going to read. We’re just trying to start them young.
The notable arrivals in this week’s delivery include the Spirit World hardcover by Jack Kirby. If you’ve no idea what that is or where it fits into the scheme of things that’s because the title only lasted for one issue in 1971. After Kirby stropped out of Marvel and moved to DC but before he started work on the Fourth World stuff, he produced this supernatural-themed, oversized black-and-white magazine using collage, fumetti and regular drawing. When the second issue never happened the leftover stories found homes in other places like Weird Mystery. DC have collected the original magazine along with the stories that would have made it in into one 102-page hardcover. There are lots of pictures over at Diversions of the Groovy Kind. As usual, the cheekbones and eyebrows on Kirby‘s ladies are the best in comics.
Gloaming is a wordless book of illustrations by musician Keaton Henson. It’s beautifully produced and smells lovely so if you’re a fan of Nobrow‘s output you might want to give this a go too. “This book is a study of the things we cannot see. It is an ode to the suburbs and the creatures that come to life within it’s mundanity,” says Henson. Basically he spent a year starring out windows and decided that the world would be a much more interesting place with monsters and lonely spirits. To see what kind of stuff you’re in for go and have a read of this interview in which Henson answered the questions by drawing pictures.
In trade paperback there’s D.O.G.S. Of Mars which was originally only available as a download from Comixology. Co-writer Johnny Zito says “It’s about astronauts marooned on Mars and hunted by monsters. It’s like Lord of The Flies and Star Trek.” The rest of that interview with Zito, Tony Trov, and Paul Maybury is at Newsarama alongside some top-notch preview pages.
Free Comic Book Day guest of honour Roger Langridge‘s Snarked is collected in its first soft cover volume. “I’d been toying with the idea of doing a web strip, gag-a-day format, with The Walrus and the Carpenter; I’d long wanted to do an adaptation of The Hunting of the Snark; and I was keen on the idea of trying my hand at some kind of original long, epic story. When Boom! asked me if I had any kid-friendly ideas lying around, I couldn’t think of a single thing for a couple of weeks! It was ages before it occurred to me that I could mash all of those things together.” If you’ve missed the series so far go and see what those two things mashed together look like over at Comics Alliance.
Drawn & Quarterly continue to release Yoshihiro Tatsumi‘s (Drifting Life) short stories, this time collecting a series of classic tales from the oral storytelling tradition called “rakugo” which translates literally to Fallen Words (hence the title of this much anticipated collection). There’s a story about a bookish son being dragged to a brothel by his father, another about married man falling in love with a prostitute and the enraged voodoo curses that subsequently fly between the wife and the prostitute. Eight stories about love, betrayal, jealousy, and regular human foibles. They’re a departure from his gekiga stuff you’re probably used to, but Tatsumi is always worth a read.
Camilla d’Errico‘s Tanpopo arrives this week, collecting previously self-published stuff as well as new stories too. It’s a weird book in which she mixes parts of Goethe’s Faust, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, ancient supernatural stories from China, with her own manga art. “Tanpopo is a Faustian story. It’s a story about emotional discovery, and about our perceptions – usually misperceptions – of what is good and evil,” says d’Errico in a long interview over at MTV. Preview bits there too.
Bruce Mutard is an Australian comics creator whose first graphic novel The Bunker came out in 2003 through Image, and whose shorter stuff has appeared in numerous zines and magazines such as the erstwhile comics anthology Dee Vee. He’s since embarked on a trilogy, The Robert Wells Trilogy, set in Melbourne in the lead-up to World War II when the world is spinning out of control. One review says: “So far it has moved through 1939 and 1940, and the clash between “Commies”, pacifists, industrial troubles, families, war supporters, German-Jewish refugees, and the arrival of World War II. [It’s] fiercely intelligent and it is great to see an Australian graphic novel. This is a story riddled with moral ambiguity.” Read the rest of it here and there’s a hefty PDF preview too.
Teen Boat is about a teenager who can transform into a boat. If you’re going to do a google let me warn you that the first link is not the one you’re looking for. That one is rude, while this one is all about “The angst of being a teen … the thrill of being a boat!” Our Steve thinks it’s brilliant though it doesn’t really look like my bag. You can ask him about it when you’re in next. He has a way of being enthusiastic about stuff that will cause you to think you actually do like football after all, or that you suddenly want to move to Penge – so if you do plan on asking him about it you best clear a space on your bookshelf now. Here’s a review from Wired.
DC’s New 52 are starting to roll out in collections. Flagship title Justice League Volume 1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee gets a hardcover, while Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man Volume 1 is in trade paperback, collecting the first six issues and that faux-Believer interview opener. And since we’re on the subject: Animal Man #9 is also out today and #7 & #8 are also both in stock.
The Avengers movie is in cinemas and you all seem to like it/Scarlett Johansson so perhaps you’d like some tie-in comics also. Black Widow Strikes #1 (of 3) bridges the gap between the Iron Man film and the new one. “She runs afoul of a younger female super-spy who is kind of her groupie; who worships Black Widow and wants to take the mantle away from her,” says writer Fred van Lente at Newsarama. “Natasha’s forced to confront her own life choices by dealing with a younger, crazier version of herself.” Then there’s Marvel’s Avengers: Avengers Initiative One-Shot, also by van Lente, which is a prequel to the film. There’s a preview here. And finally, Hulk Smash Avengers #1 (of 5) by Tom DeFalco is a “weekly punch-fest” exploring the relationship between Hulk and the Avengers and not explicitly part of the film thing. Preview here.
There are more #1s on the shelf than I’ve seen in ages. First off there’s Dial H #1, the very first comic by novelist China Miéville, in which he takes the old House of Mystery title in which a mysterious dial allows a regular person to become a superhero for a moment, and brings it into the new DCU. “My thinking about it was to do an homage to that classic title, but to take it quite seriously. In the original runs, it tended to be quite fun and goofy, which I loved, but I wanted to take, psychologically, what would be the real impact of having this immense but completely unpredictable power — the idea of how destabilizing it would be to your identity to change who you are every time you dial up. Also, I wanted to tentatively look at why these things are here. What’s the backstory to these extraordinary artifacts?” More of that at Newsarama where they try and squeeze him for spoilers.
James Robinson (Starman, Shade) pens Earth 2 #1 which kicks off with a special double-issue. It’s a new series but it’s bringing back some old some of the old history. “This is a return to the old pre-Crisis Earth-Two. This is what we had for decades before Crisis on Infinite Earths. Since then, there has been this generational thing with an old Jay Garrick, an old Alan Scott and various other characters living in the same world as the main heroes. We’re going back to the roots of what it used to be. These heroes are not old anymore. They are all in their twenties, anywhere between 21 and 28. But at the same time, I have made it very clear that there are differences to their powers and how they have their powers and why they have their powers. There is something that makes them unique to themselves and I think that’s what made the original Earth-Two fun. We’re bringing that concept back so I think readers of the old DC continuity, if they have an open mind and aren’t too closed off to trying new things, will ultimately enjoy and get a lot out of it.” More interview and some preview bits at CbR.
The key to Worlds’ Finest #1 lies in the placement of the apostrophe. It’s not about the characters of one world, but two. I’ll let Paul Levitz tell you all about it at Newsarama.
And last of the DC 52 Second Wave is GI Combat #1, featuring a J.T. Krul/Ariel Olivetti story about dinosaurs, as well as an Unknown Soldier back-up story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.
X-O Manowar #1 is a new ongoing series by Robert Venditti (The Surrogates) and Cary Nord (Conan) in which they revive the old Valiant character Aric of Dacia. “We’re definitely grounded in the original series as far as being influenced by the core concepts that drove them. Aric is a Visigoth warrior from around 400 AD, a character who grew up in the oppressive time of the Roman Empire. He engages in vicious battles with the Romans – it’s a constant quest for survival. As we’ll see, he discovers, basically, an alien fortress. He’s captured and he’s taken aboard a slave ship. Ultimately, this is the original story and is based in the same core concept that made him such a great character.” Interview and preview here.
Mind The Gap #1 is a thriller about a young woman injured in a seemingly random mugging on the subway in New York, written by Jim McCann (Hawkeye: Blindspot) and illustrated by Morning Glories cover artist Rodin Esquejo. “The mugging that starts this all off isn’t just a random thing; it’s part of a greater mystery. As you can tell from the preview pages that have been released so far, Elle’s locked into an amnesiac state. This woman knows nothing about herself, and has to build her identity back up and become a much stronger person than she may have been before. Identity is a key theme of Mind The Gap.” He says it’s “Twin Peaks-y, with Memento and Kill Bill thrown in there.” More at Newsarama.
Fury MAX #1 is the Garth Ennis/Gorlan Parlov Nick Fury series that was announced ages ago. Bleeding Cool point out that “The last time Garth Ennis wrote a mature readers Nick Fury comic, Fury, it had the reputation of being so offensive that George Clooney’s people turned down a Nick Fury movie project after reading it.” No word on its offensiveness yet so you’ll just have to see.
Dynamite dig up another old pulp hero in The Spider #1 by David Liss (Black Panther) and Colton Worley (Kato). “We went with an original villain for our first arc, though I think Spider fans — and pulp fans in general — will agree we are operating firmly within the Spider tradition. I do think it would be fun to try to incorporate some of his original enemies into the story at some point, however. Who wouldn’t want to read about an updated Emperor of Vermin?” Interview at CbR.
Erik Larsen picks up where Alan Moore left off in Supreme #64, because he’s a man who evidently needs some closure. “Alan had intended this to be his last issue and for it to feed into the next guy’s run. My impression was that he was going to either plot it or guide it after this issue but he really left it on an edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger so the next guy had a guaranteed audience. There’s no closure here – you can’t walk away after reading Alan’s last issue and feel it’s a good place to stop.” More at CbR.
Two crossovers might find themselves in your standing order section to your bafflement. If you get one of the titles involved we’ll stick it aside for you so you don’t miss anything. Teen Titans Annual #1 is the start of a story that will continue in Superboy #9, Legion Lost #9, Teen Titans #9 and The Ravagers #1. Kieron Gillen writes half of the Exiled One-Shot (which is a crossover between New Mutants and Journey into Mystery) and talks about it in a great interview with Newsarama.
Lastly, Andi Watson’s Skeleton Key Colour Special brings together the three stories from Dark Horse Presents and is a good all-ages series you might like to add to your kid’s pile on Saturday. There’s also the first issue of a new ongoing Garfield series in which I suspect everything is pretty much as you expect it to be with the lasagne and all that. Mark Evanier is writing it and it’s illustrated by Jim Davis’ longtime assistant Gary Barker.
Not this week but the next one is the monthly Thinking Comics book club. This time round they’re talking about Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell, and their small press selection is The Peckham Invalids by Howard Hardiman (The Lengths) and our Julia Scheele. Read them now so you’ve got time to come up with some smart things to say.