Top Shelf Productions
BB Wolf And The Three LPs is one of the titles that was buzzed about at Comic-Con. No points for guessing what kind of music Mr. Wolf plays.
Another Comic-Con has come and gone. And so, as the sun sinks slowly in the West, and shadows paint The Shadow back-issue bins, it's time once again to focus, as we did last year, on the news from the con floor regarding, you know: comics.
Not for us, the breathless chatter about nerd-targeted blockbusters, flashy videogames or high-concept television shows. If that be what ye seek, allow me to direct your attention to, well, the rest of the Internet, basically.
No, here we will highlight the new and upcoming comics that excited friends and colleagues who spent much of last week in San Diego, at the very epicenter of the geek zeitgeist's ground zero.
But First: I Sit Corrected
Say this about last week's post, 5 Books They Won't Talk About at Comic-Con: It was a well-intentioned attempt to highlight some recent books before Comic-Con came along and sucked up all the comic book oxygen. But if you do say that, say this, too: It was, as it turns out, 40% wrong.
Two of those five books came in for considerable discussion over the course of the convention. One, Beasts of Burden, won two Eisner awards (Best Publication for Teens, and (for artist Jill Thompson), Best Painter/Multimedia Artist).
The other, Matt Kindt's subtle, immersive Revolver, was one of several books people couldn't seem to stop talking — and tweeting — about. And rightly so.
Buzzed-About Books: Out Now
BB Wolf and the 3 LPs, by JD Arnold and Rich Koslowski
Arnold and Koslowski recast the tale of the Three Little Pigs, setting the events in 1920s Mississippi, making the wolf a blues musician, and turning the whole thing into a comment on racism. Risky, sure — out of context, those images of the Little Pigs in KKK robes, for example, could be accused of trivializing the issue — but folks I've talked to who've read the book say the creators know exactly what they're doing.
CBGB: The Comic Book, by various writers and artists
The first issue of this four-issue anthology series tracing the history (and legend) of the Bowery's most famous rock club hit many a fanboy and fangirl square in their Ramones/Talking Heads/Stillettos-loving hearts. The cover, by comics legend Jaime Hernandez, sealed the deal.
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (Volume 6 of 6) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
The series, which we have mentioned in this space once or twice or sixty times, concludes in a book released last week, just before Comic-Con. Sales of it at the Oni Press booth were, by all reports, BRISK.
Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen
Praise continued to pour in for the Immonens' tale of a Paris museum curator who seeks to protect works of art from the Nazis during the occupation. Words like spare and haunting get tossed around a lot; I was holding off on this book until such time as finances got a bit more liquid, but I'm gonna have to break down and get it already.
Alice the 101st by Chigusa Kawai
This book came out back in April - a lifetime ago, in comics circles - but just in the last few weeks, and especially over the course of Comic-Con, I kept hearing people I trust talking it up. Alice follows a young, androgynous man who is accepted into a prestigious music school rife with fierce rivalries and (considerably less fierce) homoerotic tension. Consensus seems to be that the art is the real draw, here.
Buzzed-About Books: Coming Soon
The Wild Kingdom, by Kevin Huizenga. August 2010.
Bold, deceptively simple cartooning that's unafraid to take narrative risks, Huizenga's stuff is occasionally abstruse, but never anything less than intriguing. Lots of anticipation for this one.
Fingerprints by Will Dinski. August 2010.
This guy made his bones on mini-comics, and Fingerprints (originally self-published under a different title 2 years ago) is his first full-length graphic novel. Dinski's humor is frequently cutting, which makes his choice of subject — and obsessed plastic surgeon in image-obsessed Hollywood attempting to "perfect" a young starlet — seem happily inevitable. And promising.
7 Billion Needles, Vol. 1 by Nobuaki Tadano. August 2010.
Hard sci-fi manga about a young girl in modern-day Japan whose body hosts an alien bounty hunter. The first Tadano tale to be published in English, 7BN was inspired, loosely, by a classic science-fiction novel by Hal Clement.
Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. October 2010.
A graphic memoir chronicling, in unsparing detail, the vicissitudes of Farmer's parents' relationship to one another, and to her, as their health steadily declines. Wrenching stuff, but Farmer has an eye for the kind of moving grace notes that provide a wistful, but never depressing, tone.
X'ed Out by Charles Burns. October 2010.
Long-awaited first chapter in what promises to be a trippy, wildly experimental and typically disquieting epic from Charles Burns, whose Black Hole is easily one of the most unsettling and accomplished books I've ever read. Looks to be a take on Tintin by way of Lovecraft and William S. Burroughs. Cannot wait.
Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit by Darwin Cooke. October 2010.
The second volume of Cooke's continuing interpretation of the Donald Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark) noir series of a tough guy pushed too far by the crime syndicate that betrayed him. The first, Parker: The Hunter, showed Cooke in his element and earned him attention - and sales - beyond the world of comics, becoming a New York Times bestseller. The Outfit promises even wider crossover appeal.
Cigarette Girl by Masahiko Matsumoto. 2011
Word that Top Shelf will be publishing the first-ever English translation of work by Matsumoto, one of manga's seminal creators, was greeted with widespread enthusiasm by devotees of the form. Renowned mangaka Yoshihiro Tatsumi documented the professional competitiveness between himself and Matsumoto in last year's epic, A Drifting Life - it'll be interesting to at last be able to compare the two men's work.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century, Issue 2: 1969 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. 2011.
A crazily long title, a crazily long wait between issues, but it doesn't matter. Moore and O'Neill cram more wildly allusive content into a single issue of this series than many whole series ever manage. Can't wait to see how these heroes fare in Swinging London.