The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 has arrived which means we’re just days away from the Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill signing and the release of the Black Dossier 7” vinyl. It’s on Saturday. We’d best clean our rooms and hoover and such. All you’ve got to do is make sure you’ve got some books (the correct books) for them to sign and turn up with enough time for them to do it. Guidelines and details are over on the original blog post, now updated to include answers to the other FAQs we’ve been getting, such as the alluded to but not explicitly answered “Will he sign my V For Vendetta mask?” and“Will he sign my Rorschach action figure?” No. No he won’t. Remember they’ll only be signing copies of The Black Dossier and Century: 1910, 1969 and 2009. We’ve only got these rules so that nobody misses out or gets a grumpy author when they make it to the front of the line.
Moore collaborator and Gosh! favourite Eddie Campbell has a brand new book on the shelf. Called The Lovely Horrible Stuff, it’s ostensibly about money but it’s really another volume of mad Campbellian autobiography to be filed alongside the Alec omnibus and The Fate of the Artist. If you were here in February for his talk and slideshow you’ll know what I’m talking about.
“The book isn’t really any more about money than a trip is about a plane,” he said in a recent interview over at The Comics Journal. “I know I say it is on the title page, but that’s just part of the storyteller’s art. Everybody wants to know something about money. I did a slide show/talk recently which was free entrance, which was based around my new material. I started by saying, “Anybody who thought this was going to be an investment seminar better leave before I start.” Everybody laughed and nobody got up. But a couple of minutes after I started, a couple of elderly people sitting right at the front got up to their feet and shuffled out. Any ideas about how to consolidate their declining assets and how to parcel out their estate they’ll have to get from elsewhere. [This didn't happen at the Gosh one. – Ed.] The thing about money is that it is the site of our bitterest encounters. Money is a story. How it was got and how it was lost, the rise and fall of the empire.” Comics Alliance have a review (“Tight as times are, The Lovely, Horrible Stuff is worth every hard-earned penny you can find,” they say) and a big ol’ preview too.
Goodness, all the big dudes have stuff out this week. Fantagraphics have delivered another Jacques Tardi book (following stuff like The Arctic Marauder, You Are There, Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, etc) and it’s called New York Mon Amour – there’s a PDF preview here. It collects an old strip from RAW – a thing called Manhattan, about depression, madness and suicide in New York City – and three other (some never before translated) stories about cheery life in the Big Apple, like the Benjamin Legrand story Cockroach Killer about an exterminator called Walter. The colouring’s quite interesting on this one – instead of the regular line art this one is black, white, grey and red. Anyway, you should have wanted to pick this book up as soon as I said “Tardi”.
Jeff Lemire’s a recognisable name these days but before Essex County or Animal Man brought him to the attention of most people in the shop there was a 104-page graphic novel called Lost Dogs. It began in the mid-2000s in a failed attempt to do the 24-Hour Comic Challenge – Lemire only got a dozen or so pages done, but he finished a month later, bagged a Xeric Grant and was able to print 700 copies. It’s been completely out of print since then (barring some electronic version last year which doesn’t count), but this week we’ve shifted some stuff out of the way to make space for it. “Things are brutal, things are tragic, and people are cruel. It’s a 100-page punch to the gut,” says iFanboy in their review (here, have another).
More from the Lemire camp: Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. TP Volume 1 rounds up the first seven issues of the DC 52 relaunch series. “Even thought it has monsters, [Frankenstein is] not a horror book at all. It’s much more like an action-adventure, science fiction book–maybe it’s even a black comedy. It’s taking all these action adventure, sci-fi tropes from comics and just making them so fun and big and absurd again you just have to laugh. It’s definitely not a horror, its much more of a science fiction comedy.” There’s an interview at CbR from last year just before the first issue was let loose on the world.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Mars Attacks! so IDW and Topps have teamed up to launch a brand new series about Mars attacking. John Layman (Chew) has been roped in to write the words, while John McCrea (Hitman) does the pictures. Layman, who’s a collector of the old trading cards that spawned a Tim Burton film, says at Newsarama: “I’m approaching Mars Attacks a little like my all-time favorite comic book, Stray Bullets. Or perhaps Pulp Fiction, for those who don’t get that reference. I don’t want to get tied down in one story, and I want a vehicle to best produce a multitude of entertaining stories. The idea will be to tell different smaller but interconnected stories that familiar characters weave in and out of… Mars Attacks #1 is going to be a stand-alone story that pays homage to the original card series, looking back to the first major contact with the Martians in 1962. That will set the stage for the next four issues when, you guessed, it — Mars Attacks! They will attack in the modern day; there will be tons of carnage, mass murder and untold property damage. All the things you’ve come to expect from Mars Attacks. Plus: Giant bugs!” The series is just the main chunk of IDW’s revival: they’re also reprinting a 1994 miniseries by Keith Giffen and Charlie Adlard (Walking Dead) in trade paperback. You’ll find them somewhere near each other on the shelf.
Also from IDW is Doug Wildey’s Rio: The Complete Saga, collecting the whole story Wildey began in 1987, just a few years before he died. Wildey is best known for creating the animation Johnny Quest for Hanna-Barbera, but his comics work is the kind of stuff you can file away with Milton Caniff and Alex Toth. Rio is about an aging cowboy and gunfighter and a special agent for the President. They’ve even tracked down a final, unfinished story for the hardcover collection – first time in print, too.
Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm is a history of the first atomic bomb, in a graphic novel. It goes over the Manhattan Project, the town where they made the first A-bomb, everything leading up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and – as Boing Boing said in their review – “it managages to be short and straightforward without being crude or lacking nuance… [it's] also a pretty good nuclear physics primer, making good use of the graphic novel form to literally illustrate the violence of atoms tearing themselves apart, and the weird, ingenious, improvised mechanisms for triggering and controlling that violence.” That same Boing Boing review has a massive preview so head that way if it sounds like your kinda thing. As for Fetter-Vorm: I’ve never seen his stuff before but I’ve just scrolled through loads of his sketches on his tumblr and they are lovely.
In hardcover there’s Batman Vs. The Black Glove, collecting a swathe of Grant Morrison issues, and Challengers of the Unknown By Jack Kirby Omnibus. Then there’s Booyah! – a thing that was kind of hard to Google on account of it’s a made up name for us folks who just speak English. In French the book is called Petit a Petit and the big green monster is called Bouyoul, but whatever you call it and whatever language you read it in, it’s violent, gory and looks a bit like this.
Brian Azzarello‘s name pops up twice this week: there’s First Wave in trade paperback (remember that?) and he jumps on the Before Watchmen bandwagon with the Comedian miniseries, with J.G. Jones illustrating. Rorschach will come a little later. “I think the strongest aspect of those characters are echoed in the decade that I’m putting them in. Rorschach in late ’70s New York just works for me. New York back then was a very different place than it is now. The Comedian in the ’60s, I mean, what a tumultuous decade that was for America. It just makes sense to me to explore that particular time with that character, and how affected it, or was affected by it.” You can read the rest of what he’s got to say over at Newsarama in an interview that has kind of annoyed me, actually.
And finally, if you’re wondering why Avenging Spider-Man #8 is in your standing order when you never asked for it to be it’s because it’s part of the Ends of the Earth storyline that you’re following in Amazing Spider-Man. We look at the checklists so you don’t have to.
And if you’re interested:
Astonishing X-Men #51 features the gay wedding of Northstar.
I wrote a review of Guy Delisle‘s Jerusalem for the New Statesman.
And Tom Gauld does the best obituary for anyone, ever: