Sunday, July 31, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

Today's cover is Tarzan #206, from February 1972. The cover painting by George Wilson features Tarzan battling "English speaking gorillas with minds and desires of ferocious beasts!"

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

Image courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Apparently there's going to be a new Small Press Comix Expo-type event right here in Southeast Michigan on October 29: SNAP!

Very Cool. I've already marked it on my calendar.

(link via Rampage)

Quick Spider-Man GN Reviews

Spectacular Spider-Man, vol. 5: Sins Remembered
by Sara Barnes, Scot Eaton & Cam Smith

One of the most talked about super-hero stories of last year was "Sins Past," the Spider-Man story by JMS that revealed that Gwen Stacy had been seduced by Norman "Green Goblin" Osborn and had twins shortly before her death. Those twins were lightly super-powered with advanced strangth and agility and were rapidly aging, and had a mad-on for Peter Parker. At the end, Gabe was seemingly dead and Sarah--who was the spitting image of her mother--went back to France. This wholly unnecessary sequel picks up a few months later, as Peter parker is called to France after Sarah reportedly attempts suicide by pills. Peter soon discoveres that Sarah is in trouble with a local drug lord due to debts incurred by her brother, and that Sarah also has a crush on him. It may not sound like it by my description, but for the plot to continually move forward it's required that the main participants act stupid most of the time. In Sarah's case this can be forgiven, since despite that fact that she looks like a hot twenty-something babe she is actually just ten-years-old, but Peter and Mary Jane should know better. Clichés abound, including that old chestnut of a person's siginificant other walking in the room just as he/she is being kissed by Object of Jealousy even though the attraction is unrequited. Eaton's art is competent enough in the light T&A style that's so popular these days, and he draws Sarah wearing plenty of tight sweaters--though at least she's not prancing around for three pages in her underwear.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Spider-Man: India
by Jeevan J. Kang & Gotham Studios Asia

For some reason Indian comics producers Gotham Studios Asia wanted to produce a homegrown version of Spider-Man--so they did. The result is Spider-Man: India, which sees Spidey's origin reframed as mystical rather than technological, and the names of the characters Indianized (e.g. Peter Parker becomes Pavitr Prabhakar and Mary Jane becomes Meera Jain). Of course Pavitr is still the school outcast (he's a scholarship student from the country), Meera Jain is still hot and nice, Flash is still a jerk, and Uncle Bihm still has to die. Spidey fights versions of the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. Except for the surface changes tehre's really nothing much new here. The art is by Kang and the studio, and it has that weird quality of sameness yet slight inconsistancy that can only arise from studio work.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Marvel Knights Spider-Man, vol. 3: The Last Stand
by Mark Millar, Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson

Let's see, where were we: oh yes, Aunt May has been kidnapped (again!) and Norman Osborne is behind it. He wants Spdier-Man to break him out of prison in exchange for her life, and Peter shuts his brain completely off and goes along with the plan. Meanwhile, The Scorpion becomes the new Venom and the secret history of super-villains is uncovered; and Mary Jane gets jealous, though at least she does the one smart thing in this comic before she gets kidnapped (again!) by the Green Goblin and dangled off a bridge--just like Gwen Stacy! Sigh. The art by the Dodsons is okay, though it's far from their best work. The most amazing thing about Millar's MK Spidey run is that he managed to stretch his whole four-issue story out into twelve issues.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

New This Week: July 27, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop tomorrow:

The Pick of the Week is the collected edition of the lighthearted adventure comic Cryptozoo Crew by Allan Gross & Jerry Carr from NBM. The trade paperback reprints the first two issues and also includes 3 new stories--which should place it at around 50% or so new material (if I'm doing the math correctly...) Plus: monkeys!

In other comics:

Alias debut two more 75 cent first issues: Gimoles & Imperial Dragons, and they have the trade collection of Lions, Tigers & Bears.

Kolchalka fans will probably be happy to see that Alternative Comics are releasing his Cute Manifesto.

Amaze Ink have a second collection of Evan Dorkin's Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Adventures.

Dark Hose have the second and final issue of Hellboy: The Island and a new Usagi Yojimbo collection: vol. 19: Fathers & Sons.

DC have a collection of Kinetic, the fifth and final Promethea hardcover, the start of Warren Ellis's six-issue JLA: Classified arc (#10), and new issues of Albion (#2), Astro City: The Dark Age (#2), City of Tomorrow (#4), Hellblazer (#210), Legion of Super-Heroes (#8), The Losers (#26), The OMAC Project (#4), and Otherworld (#5).

Del Rey have the second volumes of Genshiken and Nodame Cantiabile.

Disney have the Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas Manga GN.

IDW have the final issue of Grimjack: Killer Instinct.

Image have the debut of the Kirby-esque Gødland.

Marvel have the digest-sized collection of Spider-Man/Human Torch: I'm with Stupid; the thirteenth Ultimate Spider-Man collection: Hobgoblin; the debut of Peter David's Hulk: Destruction; and new issues of Black Panther (#6), Machine Teen (#3), The Pulse (#10), Runaways (#6), and Spellbinders (#5).

Oni have the first issue of Ted Naifeh's new quarterly (?) Courtney Crumrin Tales.

Seven Seas' Amazing Agent Luna vol. 2 actually came in my comics shipment last week, but Diamond has it listed for this week, so your store may be getting it tomorrow.

TokyoPop have a bazillion volume sof manga, including the fifth Rising Stars of Manga contest collection.

Viper Comics have the final issue of Oddly Normal (#4).

Viz have the second issue of Shojo Beat (which also arrived for me last week...)

And finally, Avatar are release seven comics with twenty-seven different covers. No, really. That's at least $285 dollars worth of comics if you were to buy them all, which is about the same as it would cost you to buy the entire run of Lone Wolf & Cub. Guess in which way your money would be better spent?

New Library Comics: Week of July 18 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Bravo, Émile. Boucle d'or et les sept ours nains /[Paris?] : Éditions du Seuil, c2004.

Dorkin, Evan. Hectic planet /San Jose, CA : Slave Labor Graphics, 1998- v. 1-3

Martin, Pauline. La meilleure du monde /Angoulême : ego comme x, c2001.

Mead, Stu. The immortal man bag journal of art /Marseille : Le Dernier Cri, 1999.

Miyazaki, Hayao, 1941- Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind /San Francisco, CA : VIZ, LLC, c2004- v. 1-6

Scheibner, Reinhard. Holy shit /Marseille : Le Dernier Cri, [2002?]

Shelton, Gilbert. The complete fabulous furry Freak Brothers /London : Knockabout Comics, c2001- v. 1

Spiegelman, Art. Maus : a survivor's tale /New York : Pantheon Books, [1997]

Stripburek : comics from the other Europe. Ljubljana, Slovenia : Strip Core : Forum Ljubljana, 2001.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Quick GN Reviews

Doctor Cyborg, vol. 1: Outpatient
by Allan Gross & Mike Oeming

Inventor Malcolm Syberg has spent the past several years in a mental health facility, suffering from traumatic amnesia. And though he hasn't fully recovered his lost memoreis, he is still deemed fit to be released. Once he returns to his old home, he begins to suspect that he is not an ordinary man; that he has nanites running around in his bloodstream which make him a cyborg! Thus begins as odyssey that takes Malcolm from stopping a hostage situation to the future to the heart of an anti-technology cult. The plot progresses at a furious pace, with one adventure rolling right into the next. Despire all the action though, Gross still finds time to work in character development. Oeming's art is reined in somewhat by the adventure strip format that this comic originally appeared in online, but he proves that he can work just as well within a restrictive grid as he can on a full comic book page. If you're looking for a fun, exciting comic that's a modern take on the adventure strips of yore and relief from today's slow-paced multi-part 'epics,' then Doctor Cyborg may be just the thing.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

X-Treme X-Men, vol. 5: God Loves, Man Kills
by Chris Claremont, Igor Kordey & Scott Hanna

Boy, that Chris Claremont never met a comic panel that he doesn't think can't be improved by adding in several dialogue balloons or narrative boxes. Never content to let a scene speak for itself, he fills each page with so much description that the book nearly suffocates under his purple prose. The plot, which sees Rev. William Stryker--the X-Men's old anti-mutant enemy from the original God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel (which is reprinted here as well)--escape from prison and discovering a secret mutant haven in the Colorado Rockies, makes little sense as it goes along and falls apart completely when you think about it too hard. Logical leaps abound and characters act according to the dictates of the plot rather than on their established personalities. Kordey was in his 'rushed' phaze during the period these comics were produced, and it definitely shows. His storytelling is solid enough (Claremont could and should have disposed of about half of his narrative captions), the quality of the character work varies around in several places and not even the skilled brush of Hanna can always save it. I'm sure that it must have been tempting to doa sequel to one of the stories that was an inspiration for the X-Men movies, but this is one project that should have been thought through more before proceeding.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

In honor of Jim Aparo, who passed away last week, today's cover is Adventure Comics #438, the March 1975 cover by Aparo that features the Spectre and a bunch of gorillas with what appears to be murderous intent.

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

This cover was suggested by YACB reader Nuadha. Image is courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Friday, July 22, 2005

James Turner interview

Ex Libris cover have an interview with James Turner, creator of the upcoming Slave Labor series Ex Libris:

...Librarians have been subtly guiding human civilization for almost two thousand years. By emphasizing, or de-emphasizing, strains of knowledge, they are able to influence the development of our societies. They approach human knowledge as if it was a great Bonsai tree, and they cull and encourage it into the desired shape.

Turner goes on to lay out an entire secret history of librarianship, which is rather fun to read. I was already looking forward to this comic, and after the interview I'm even more excited.

Remember, as TangognaT says: "librarians really are the next zombies/monkeys/pirates/ninjas."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Also New This Week

Not mentioned in my New This Week for this week, because it wasn't on the NCRL, but showing up in my DCBS shipment nevertheless, was the second volume of Seven Seas' Amazing Agent Luna by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, and Carmela "Shiei" Doneza. This definitely would have been my Pick of the Week had I known about it beforehand.

Also in the box but not on the NCRL were the second issue of Shojo Beat from Viz; and the debut issue of the second volume of Craig A. Taillefer's Wahoo Morris from Too Hip Gotta Go Graphics.

The Pack is Back, Again

According to an interview on Newsarama, Marc Sumerak & GuriHiru will return to chronicle the adventures of everyone's favorite pre-teen super-heroes in a four issue X-Men/Power Pack mini. While I'd rather see Power Pack on their own sans X-Men, I enjoyed the first series by this team so much that I'll be happy to see them return to Power Pack in any form.

In the same interview, I also learned that GuriHiru is not some guy, but rather a pair of female artists from Japan who work as a team. They do some cool other stuff too.

For those of you poor souls who missed out on the first Power Pack mini, you'll want to check out the digest sized-collection coming out soon, as well as the Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius comic that collects the back-up stories.

I Love Comics!

I love comics! I really do. Nothing in particular is prompting this statement of emotion, just the realization that it needs to be said from time to time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Jim Aparo

Most of you know by now that Jim Aparo passed away a couple of days ago. Many bloggers have already posted their appreciations for the man's work, and I pretty much agree with everything that has been said (Tegan has a good rundown over at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog). I do have a couple of thoughts to add:

1. Growing up I was always more of a Superman fan than a Batman fan, so I didn't really encounter a lot of Aparo's early Batman art (on B&B or BatO), although I understand that for many Batman folk Aparo holds a similar place of reverence that Curt Swan holds for we Superman fans. Aparo always struck me as a true professional, some to whom an editor could hand a script and be assured that 3 weeks later he would have the story done, to the writer's specifications, and it would look good. Never flashy, but solid. I also recall reading some of the Aquaman stories he had done (I think in the DC Digests) and finding those pleasing to look at.

2. When I did encounter Aparo's work, I had various reactions depending on where I was in my comics reading growth stage. As a kid, I appreciated his clean lines and solid storytelling (even though I would never have been able to identify it as such). As I got older, it began to look old fashioned and stiff. But as my tastes matured even further, I could once again appreciate the same qualities in Aparo's art as I saw when I was younger. Whet helped most, I think, was seeing Aparo teamed with the inks of Bill Sienkiewicz (on the Batman: GCPD mini-series); by taking away the smooth line inherent in Aparo's art and making it more gritty, I was forced to realize what a strong storyteller he was and appreciate the level of his craft.

(covers for Batman: GCPD #1-3 by Jim Aparo & Bill Sienkiewicz courtesy of the GCD. Click on images for larger versions.)

Quick First Issue Reviews

Hell, Michigan #1
by Dan Jolley & Clint Hilinski

In the town of Hell, it's not just one house that's haunted--it's the whole town! Regina, newly moved into town, suspects that Hell is possessed, and after an incident she teams up with Dixon & Diana Cole--her real estate agents--and a few other town notables to determine what exactly is going on and how they can rid their town of its evil. Jolley sets up a strong story with several interesting, though at this point largely two-dimensional, characters. But the comic is hampered somewhat by Hilinski's art; while his storytelling is strong, his character work is stiff and struggles to avoid being influenced by bad mid-90's Image-style, a struggle he doesn't always win. In addition, while the backgrounds are rendered fine, they are incredibly generic; this could be any old suburban community. When naming a series after a place, that place should be a character in its own right, and that needs to come across in the art.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

David: Shepherd's Song #1
by Royden Lepp

Sitting in solitude on his throne, the biblical King David thinks back to simpler days when he was but a shepherd, before the prohpet Samuel came and changed his life forever. This is a faithful retelling of the well-known story from I Samuel, greatly expanded upon to give depth to the characters and provide a little drama. Lepp has a talent for characters, storytelling and setting. David is presented as a scrawny kid, but still one you believe could herd a flock of sheep and wrestle with a lion. The scenes with David are mostly silent, but you never have trouble telling what is going on, and the fight between David and a predatory lion is exciting and tension-filled. Reproduced directly from pencils the art gets a bit scratchy at times, and while the color palatte is a bit drab, it does serve to heighten the sense that the Israeli countryside where David watches over his flock is a harsh and unforgiving place. There are so few good comics with religious themes that it is a pleasure to see one that is done well. Community Comics, publishing through Alias, has as its mission "to package professional, high quality, entertaining comic books with a Christian focus"--if all of their products are as strong as David: Shepherd's Song I'll have no complaints.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

The Middle Man #1
by Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Les McClaine

Wendy Watson thinks that her temp work at A.N.D. Technologies ("Scrambling Your D.N.A.!") is going to be just another receptionist job. But it turns out that A.N.D. is one of those crazy laboratories that you only find in comics (e.g. STAR Labs), and when a huge ugly alien beastie escapes and wrecks havoc she is saved from certain destruction by The Middle Man, a mysterious agent with a high tech weaponry. The Middle Man is impressed by Wendy's coolness under pressure, and before she knows it she is being recruited into whatever mysterious organization he works for. It all makes for an entertaining story with plenty of action, and while so far it's all set-up, Wendy makes for an intriguing character. The art by McClaine is strong, although there's an overreliance on one single zip-a-tone pattern which I found annoying. Still, it's a good debut for this Viper Comics series, one that makes me want to read more.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Blackpool #1
by Jonathan Helland & Terrell Bobbett

Another horror series named after the town in which it is set. This time it's the fictional Blackpool, Vermont, the sleepy home of Dunsany College. New freshman Annabelle MacAleister has been having nightmares about being murdered ever since she was seven-years-old, and on her first night at Dunsany she dreams about being the subject of a human sacrifice, her heart cut out of her body while she lies immobile on a stone slab. But the next day a heartless body of a fellow student is discovered on the college grounds, and Annabelle begins to think that there might be more to her disturbing dreams than she previously thought--what if she is dreaming of actual murders. Annabelle ends up confiding in one fo the FBI Agents assigned to solve the ritual murder, and the story is off and running. It appears that Blackpool is a town with many secrets, and as a horror story set in a small New England town you know that some of them will end up being Lovecraftian in nature. Helland brings strong characters and a good main story, and it appears that he has put thought into the background of the town and stories of the side characters as well. Bobbett's art is strong, reminiscent of Humberto Ramos, although not as exagerated. The only misfire is the reproduction of the color art; the paper is too cheap for the dark colors, and the whole affair ends up looking murky. This Phenomenon Comics production needs better quality paper.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

New This Week: July 20, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop tomorrow:

Although it's not a bad week, nothing really stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest. So I guess for Pick of the Week I'll go with Marvel's Defenders #1, from the ICBINTJL team of Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. Should be funny.

In other comics:

AD Vision have what would have been my other choice for Pick of the Week: the funny parody manga Cromartie High School vol. 3. They also have the second volume of Yotsuba&!, which I hear that many people have enjoyed although I haven't read it yet myself.

Antarctic have Ben Dunn's return to Ninja High School (#130) and a new issue of Fred Perry's Gold Digger (#65).

Dark Horse have new issues of Conan (#18) and Eric Powell's Eisner-winning The Goon (#13).

DC have the eigth volume of the collected 100 Bullets; the debuts of JSA: Classified and Mad Classics; and new issues of Authority: Revolution (#10, Birds of Prey (#84), Detective Comics (#808), Ex Machina (#13), Lucifer (#64), and Plastic Man (#17).

Exhibit A have the Supernatural Law 1st Amendment Issue, produced in conjunction with the CBLDF.

Fantagraphics have a new issue of Love & Rockets vol. 2 (#14).

Graphix have the second Bone color volume.

Image have the Invincible Ultimate Collection Hardcover vol. 1, which I guess is a large oversized collection of a chunk of Invincible.

Marvel have the final issue of GLA (#4), the long-delayed eleventh issue of Astonishing X-Men, the second issue of the surprisingly enjoyable X-Men: Kitty Pryde - Shadow & Flame (due in a large part to art by Paul Smith), and new issues of Ultimate Spider-Man (#80) and Ultimates 2 (#7). Plus they have the hardcover collection of Ed Brubaker's first seven issues of Captain America.

Oni have the debut of Northwest Passage.

And that's pretty much it. If you're feeling the need to drop $3 on one of the multiple Mouse of Him alternate covers or crossovers, consider instead picking up a copy of the first issue of Banana Sunday, last week's Pick of the Week which more than lived up to its billing. Go-Go will thank you.

Quick Comic Reviews

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #4
by Jeff Parker, Patrick Scherberger & Norman Lee

Unlike previous issues, which were cribbed from classic Lee/Ditko Spider-Man stories, this issue features an all-new all-ages tale teaming up Spidey with the Human Torch. Parker, best known for his OGN The Interman, puts the fun back in everyone's favorite Webslinger with a story that's in the classic mold yet still fresh. The two heroes team up to stop the giant villainous Street before he tears up New York and finishes telling his boring origin story, and contain the giant monster Goom, accidentally freed by Johnny from the Negative Zone. The art by Scherberger & Lee is slightly cartoony and fits with the style of the story, and the fight scenes are easy to follow. This is good solid all-ages super-hero fun.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

City of Heroes #3
by Mark Waid, Nakayami, Basaldua, & Oback

I'd love to be able to tell you the full names of the artists who drew this, but there's nary a credits box to be found anywhere. Probably a good thing though, because in the years to come no one associated with this comic will want to have their names remembered. Oh, the art was competent enough for a standard super-hero book, but the problem is with the 'story.' Although I read the previous two issues leading up to this conclusion, I read so many comics per month that there's no way I can keep track of every continuing plot. But as with the credits box, any sort of recap is absent as well. So what we get are 20+ pages of generic characters in costumes hitting each other for reasons that aren't clear. In other words: extreme boredom. Meh--I expect better than this from Waid; hopefully the paycheck was large enough.
Rating: 1.5 (of 5)

Desolation Jones #2
by Warren Ellis & J. H. Williams III

While the first issue led us to believe that this was yet another take on the usualy Ellis archetypal main character, this second issue explores Jones further and proves him to have greater depth than we might have previously realized. Namely, this protagonist has something that other Ellis types do not: empathy. He also has a sense of compassion, all expertly realized in the extended scene between Joens & Emily Crowe, the woman whose body has been modified to produce fear and revulsion in every person (except for Jones). It's downright touching, something I wasn't expecting. If Ellis can keep playing against expectations, combined with the superb art by Williams (which I could go on about, but I don't have to since Jog does such a good job of praising the art on his blog) we might have another winner on our hands.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Previews-o-Rama part 2: The Middle

We continue now with the second half of our monthly stroll through the lastest Previews for items scheduled to come out in September (for certain values of 'September'...)

Matt Howarth is on a roll, and now he's got a one-shot from Aeon: Those Annoying Post Bros. in: "Sex & Drugs & Heads Will Roll". Sure to be plenty of senseless violence--in full color!

AiT/PlanetLAR hits it out of the park with not one but two can't-miss GNs: the second Colonia collection from Jeff Nicholson: On Into the Great Lands; and a book I've really been looking forward to: Smoke & Guns by Kirsten Baldock & Fabio Moon.

Sure it'll be full of barely dressed women with impossible figures standing in disfiguring poses, but Alias's Victoria's Secret Service has one of the greatest titles in months. Alias also have the start of a new Lullaby series, a new issue of Opposite Forces, and the debut of David Alvarez's Yenny, which at 75 cents might be worth a look.

I figure that the folks who do Vampirella comics (Anarchy Studios/Harris Comics) must have a ton of money to throw at creators; why else would otherwise talented creators agree to work on such dreck all the time? This time out writer Mike Carey cashes in a payday with a 25 cent Zero issue of Vampirella: Revelations.

Arcana continue Adam Gallardo & Todd Demong's 100 Girls (#7).

Antarctic have a color manga colelction of Fred Perry's entertaining Legacy: First Inheritance, and a new Gold Digger Pocket Manga (vol. 6) as well. They also have new issues of Oz: The Manga (#4) and The Science Fair (#2).

Archie have a new issue of Sabrina (#70), and also debut a new Sonic the Hedgehog series: Sonic X. It just floors me that an old videogame character like Sonic the Hedgehog can not only have a comic series that's up to #154, but also have a spin-off series debuting.

Jeff Lemire's Xeric-winning Lost Dogs GN premieres from Ashtray Press.

Is it some sort of rule that every Avatar series must have at least five variant covers?

Bongo's latest Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror (#11) features work by industry greats John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Willimson, Mark Schultz, Len Wein & Berni Wrightson, and Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan.

You know, I look at the cover for Jim Balent's Tarot: Witch Queen of Halloween Previews Exclusive and really worry about the sort of people that find that attractive. Then I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that such people are using this comic for their, um, attentions and not actually contributing to the gene pool.

Woo Hoo! Paul Sizer is back with a new OGN from Cafe Digital Press: Moped Army, vol. 1.

Not only are the annual Small Press Expo anthologies one of the best showcases of small press & indy comics around, but the proceeds benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That's two good reasons to buy the 2005 edition, do you need any more? Okay, how about Charles Burns, Chester Brown, Scott Morse, Seth, Andy Runton, Mat Brinkman, and many more. So buy it!

Del Rey continue their string of interesting manga releases with Ghost Hunt, about a group of high school students who investigate the paranormal; and Moyoco Anno's Sugar Sugar Rune about young witch princesses.

Digital Webbing Presents #25 has a new Firebirds story from Jay Faerber.

Drawn & Quarterly have a relist of Drawn & Quarterly vol. 5, plus an anthology of Japanese Alt Comics from legendary manga-ka Yoshihiro Tatsumi: Push Man & Other Stories.

Evil Twin Comics have another issue of fun & informative philosophy comics from Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey: Action Philosopher's Self Help for Stupid Ugly Losers, featuring Sigmund Freud, Joseph Campbell, and Carl Jung.

Fantagraphics have the fourth colume of The Compelte Peanuts, plus two collections from Richard Sala: Mad Night Featuring Judy Drood, Girl Detective and The Chuckling Whatsit.

Gemstone's Donald Duck and Friends #332 features a full-length halloween story from Carl Barks.

iBooks have a third volume of Blacksad from Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido, one of the best-drawn comics today. They also relist the long-delayed second Mister X collection.

Shadowplay from IDW is a flip book, with Amber Benson & Ben Templesmith's "Demon Father John's Pinwheel Blues" on one side and Christina Z & Ashley Wood's "Shunt" on the other. Also of note is a comic adaptation of F. Paul Wilson's The Keep, written by Wilson himself. And those of you waiting for the trade on Grimjack: Killer Instrinct can wait no more--it's here!

Also for those waiting for the trade, Illusive Arts' Dorothy gets its forst collection; now there's no excuse for not picking up this intriguing photo-comic reinterpretation fo the classic OZ story.

Carla Speed McNeil's Finder #38 from Lightspeed Press kicks off a new storyline: "Five Crazy Women."

Moonstone have a 320-page anthology of Kolchak: The Night Stalker Chronicles, just in time for the new ABC tv series.

NBM have third volumes in their Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew OGN series, and they also have discounted two-pack collections of Marini Smolderson's Confessions of a Cereal Eater and Nabiel Kanan (the Birthday Riots and Lost Girl).

More Banana Sunday (#3) from Oni Press! Plus they debut Ted Naifeh's Polly & The Pirates, which will undoubtedly be worth reading when collected in a trade.

Pantheon have a hardcover colelction of Chris Ware miscellany in The ACME Novelty Library, and a hardcover collection of Charles Burns's masterful suburban horror story, Black Hole.

Amelia Rules #15 is resolicited from Renaissance Press.

The two new OEL manga from Seven Seas both look interesting: Captain Nemo by Jason DeAngelis & Aldin Viray is about a young Captain Nemo; and while Unearthly's premise is just like any number of high school romances with alien girls, it's written by Ted Naifeh (and drawn by Elmer Damaso) which means that it's definitely worth a look.

Speakeasy's new series Shotgun Wedding by Marc Bryant & Jason King looks like it could be interesting.

Thick as Thieves Productions has Zack Gardner's Xeric Award-winning Fauna

TokyoPop bing on the OEL manga with I Luv Halloween by Keith Giffen & Ben Roman; Svetlana Chmakova's love-at-the-anime-convention Dramacon; and Rivkah's Steady Beat--all of which look to be worthwhile. They also have an adaptation of the Square/Disney crossover video game Kingdom Hearts.

Top Shelf have a third Owly volume from Andy Runton: Flying Lessons. If you're not reading Owly, what's wrong with you? It's all-ages fun! They also have the second isse of Surrogates.

New from Viz is the Shojo Beat GN Socrates in Love, plus the latest volumes of Banana Fish (vol. 10) and Hikaru-no Go (vol. 5).

W. W. Norton pick up the Will Eisner Library with a massive hardcover collecting A Contract with God, A Life Force and Dropsie Avenue.

In the magazine section, the final issue of Wrapped in Plastic (#75) has a David Lynch interview.

In the books section, Neil Gaiman's long-awaited new novel Anansi Boys comes out; and Tom De Haven's It's Superman! A Novel has been getting great notices for its literary retelling of the classic Superman story in its original 30s milieu.

So much to buy, so little money. It'll be hard weeding the pre-orders this month. Best of luck!

New Library Comics: Week of July 11, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Abel, Jessica. La Perdida. Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, c2001- no. 5

Azad. A very Sammy day /Orange, CA : Image Comics, 2004.

Baudoin, Edmond, 1942- Piero /[Paris] : Seuil, c1998.

Bell, Gabrielle. Lucky /[San Francisco, Calif. : The Author, 2003?]- no. 1-3

Corman, Leela. Queen's day /Boston, MA : L. Corman, c1999.

Fred. Le mystère de la clairière des trois hiboux /Neuilly-sur-Seine [France] : Dargaud, c2003.

Fred. Y'a plus d'saison /Neuilly-sur-Seine [France] : Dargaud, c1978.

Hino, Hideshi, 1946- Hino horror /Tokyo : Cocoro Books, c2004- v. 1-13

Il velo di maya Marjane Satrapi o dell'ironia dell'Iran /Ravenna : Associazione Cultuale Mradam ; Lizard, [2003?]

Kosiak, Géraldine. Jours de pêche /Paris : Seuil, 2002.

L'important, c'est de participer! Paris : Cornelius, 2005.

Metaphrog. Louis : the clown's last words /Glasgow : Metaphrog, 2002.

Morrison, Grant. Seaguy /New York : DC Comics, c2005.

Schrag, Ariel. Likewise /San Jose, CA : SLG Publishing, 2002- no. 1-3

Sury, Caroline. Tourista dibujos : une compilation de carnets de voyage /[Marseille] : Le Dernier Cri, [2004]

Tsuge, Yoshiharu, 1934- L'homme sans talent /Angoulême : Ego comme x, c2003.

Willem. Anal symphonies /Paris : Éditions Cornélius, [1996]

Žeželj, Danijel. Caballo /[Zagreb] : Petikat, [2004]

Žeželj, Danijel. Small hands /[Zagreb] : Petikat, [2004]

Sunday, July 17, 2005


As a rule I don't write reviews for works by friends, but I'm certainly not above promoting the heck out of the good comics that my friends do.

So when Steve Lieber offered to send along a copy of the new chapbook/mini comic that he and Sara Ryan did, I was more than happy to accept.

If the phrase "Steve Lieber & Sara Ryan have a new comic out" makes you joyous, then you've no doubt read their Eisner-nominated previous comic, Me and Edith Head. Flytrap looks to be a continuing (if irregularly published) series about Maddy, a PR specialist who loses her regular gig with an agency and ends up representing the independent Flytrap Circus. This first issue, "Juggling Act," introduces us to Maddy and sets up the situation. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more.

It's 2 dollars (postpaid) for a fourteen page story with a cardstock cover, and well worth your while. You can order it directly from Steve via PayPal. (And while you're there you can grab some other great stuff from Steve and/or Sara too.)

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

Back 20 years ago, there was still room in the DCU for comics that were fun. Blue Devil #15, showcases that fun in this cover by Paris Cullins & Gary Martin, featuring Blue Devil himself facing off against a giant building-climbing gorilla (whose initials may or may not have been KK).

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

Image is courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Quick Monkey Comic Reviews

Banana Sunday #1
by Root Nibot & Colleen Coover

Kirby Steinberg is the new girl at Forest Edge High School, but she's not just any new girl. Kirby comes with three talking monkeys in tow: Chuck, the super-intelligent orangutan ego; Go-Go, the always hungry gorilla id; and Knobby, the sensitive babe-magnet monkey superego. Kirby claims that her three talking monkey companions are the results of her scientist father's experiments with accellerated leaning abilities, but Nickels, Kirby's new best friend and reporter for the school paper, suspects that may not be the whole truth. Add in Martin, the cute boy photographer who comes to Kirby's aid when her clutziness gets the better of her, and you have the makings of a fun series. There's a general atmosphere of fun and the humor is often gentle and subtle, except for Go-Go whose antics at times are downright laugh-out-loud funny. The big attraction for this book of course is the wonderful art from Colleen Coover, stepping out from the erotic-comix ghetto to prove that she can do high school situational and physical comedy for an all-ages audience. It's all there: figures, backgrounds, storytelling, and a sureness of line; Coover makes it look easy, and gets to draw plenty of cute girls and talking monkeys. I'm sure you'll be tempted to wait for the trade, but there's plenty enough story and fun here to justify spending $3 on each individual issue; then you can get the inevitable trade when it comes out and share it with all your friends.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Go-Go Gorilla and the Jungle Crew Summer Fun Special
by Mike Hall, Dustin Evans, and David Hedgecock

In Jungle City, humans live side-by-side with a variety of anthropomorphs, wherfe they're just as comfortable swinging to work on vines as they are driving in their wooden cars. Protecting the citizens of Jungle City are the super-heroic Go-Go Gorilla and the other heroes of the Jungle Crew. The first story in this comic tells the origin of Go-Go Gorilla (yes, another gorilla named Go-Go--must be something in the water!), a shy museum custodian named Simeon Sapien who is transformed by a radioactive meteor to fight crime with super powers. The second story introduces us to the rest of the Jungle Crew: the speedster, the aquatic character, the Egyptian queen, etc. There's a very old-school feel here, with a style of story that seems to be deliberately patterned on DC super-hero comics of the 50s & 60s; heck, both stories even have a male character who is too shy to ask out the obviously interested female character on a date. At the same time the comic also seems to be targeted towards kids, with extras in the back including a word puzzle, a maze, and a connect-the-dots picture. The art has a nice cartoonish feel, and they do a good job at visualizing the exotic Jungle City.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

JimO in the Freep

Today's Detroit Free Press has a very nice little feature article about GN writer and friend-of-YACB Jim Ottaviani (who I believe is presently out at SDCC, so if you're heading out there stop by and visit with him in the Cold Cut Indy Island).

"The Science of Comic Books"

If there's one thing Ottaviani doesn't want to be, it's pretentious or off-putting. He loves to learn about science, and he wants to share that experience with as many people as he can.

Hockey Returns

In honor of the imminent return of professional hockey, here are a couple of hockey-related comic covers:

I'm sensing a theme here... Both covers are by Nick Cardy.

(Images courtesy of the GCD. Click on the images for larger-sized versions.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Previews-o-Rama part 1: The Front

It's time once again to go through the latest Previews to discover the good, the bad, and the strange:

Dark Horse

Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, & Dracula reunite with The Curse of Dracula graphic novella.

If you haven't read any of Eric Powell's The Goon, you may wish to look into The Goon: Fancy Pants Edition, which reprints early Goon stories in chronological (rather than publication) order.

Rick Geary has a new hardcover novella, Craven, a historical bio-comic about a pre-WWI scoundrel/renaisance man.

Mark Millar & Peter Gross's Chosen is collected, for those of you who like your retelling of The Book of Revelations with extra sodomy.

The second Busiek/Nord Conan volume, The God in the Bowl and Other Stories, is now available in softcover.

Bob Fingerman brings his brand of comix to Dark Horse with the novella You Deserved It.

CrossGen fans may want to check out the collection of Samurai: Heaven and Earth by ex-CG'res Ron Marz & Luke Ross.

Little Lulu: Letters to Santa would appear to have some christmas-related content.

Oh My Goddess! gets what I think is its third edition, this time reading backwards like all good manga do, and there's an eighth volume of Koike & Kojima's Samurai Executioner.


Josh Middleton draws Shazam/Superman: First Thunder, so at least we know it'll look good.

Zatanna guest stars in Adventures of Superman #644, but alas it's the mind-wiping Z from Identity Crisis and not the cool Ryan Sook-drawn Z from Seven Soldiers.

The unnecessary Waid/Yu Superman origin retelling Superman: Birthright gets collected in a trade. You'd be better off spending your $20 on the far superior Superman: Secret Identity trade by Busiek & Immonen, conveniently offered as a Star of the Month right next to it in Previews.

You know, with the 45% discount from DCBS, I'm almost tempted to get the Crisis on Infinite Earths Absolute Edition deluxe oversized hardcover slipcase set. Almost.

Geof Johns & Dave Gibbons co-write the Green Lantern Corps: Recharge mini.

Green Lantern: Rebirth gets a hardcover collection.

Kamandi Archives? So Kamandi gets the deluxe archives treatment, while New Gods got a cheap black & white reprint? Okay...

Busiek & Garney's entertaining JLA: Syndicate Rules story gets a trade collection.

Plastic Man is still being published. Vootie!

DC finally decide to make use of their huge backfile of comics in inexpensive collections: Sgt. Rock and Swamp Thing get full-color digest-size collections, while silver age Superman & Green Lantern are offered up in Essentials B&W style. (Although I wonder how well Green Lantern will work without the color...)

Seven Soldiers: Guardian comes to an end, and Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle begins, with sure-to-be-nice art by Pasqual Ferry.

After the way Bruce Jones's Hulk just petered out and went nowhere, I find it hard to work up much excitement for his Vigilante mini.

A third collection of George Perez's classic Wonder Woman stories sees the light of day with Beauty and the Beasts.

DC jump on the Cinemanga bandwagon with Justice League Unlimited: Jam-Packed Action, adapting episodes of the tv series.

There are two new CMX titles, Chikyu Misaki and Pieces of a Spiral, but it all looks hopelessly generic.

Robbie Morrison, fresh off of driving The Authority into the ground, takes on Wildcats in Wildcats: Nemesis.

Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra give us more mayhem with a new Kev mini: The Authority: The Magnificent Kev.

Speaking of Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra, their old Helix Bloody Mary series get collected.

Wait-for-the-traders will be happy to see new collections of Ex Machina & Sleeper.

The Winter Men continues with a second issue--remember folks, if you don't buy it, there may not even be a trade...

A History of Violence gets a new edition, just in time for the Hollywood movie.

Michael Wm. Kaluta is the guest artist for Lucifer #66. When you're going to have fill-in art, this is the way to go!

Harvey Pekar surprisingly brings his newest project to DC with The Quitter, drawn by Dean Haspiel.

Otherworld comes to a premature end with an Act 1 as Phil Jimenez goes off to draw a little indy book called Infitite Crisis.

the craptacular Bat-story of the 90's comes to toyland with the Batman Knightfall line of action figures. IIRC didn't Joey Q design that Az-Bat costume? So will Marvel's EiC be getting royalties?


Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith's Fell is a new ongoing, so it'll be hard fo rhte final issue to be delayed for 6 months...

Beckett comics come under the Image banner with the Ronin Hood of the 47 Samurai GN.

Hey look, it's another Invincible collection: The Facts of Life. Cool.

It's unclear if the Saint Germaine: Shadows Fall trade is new material or a reprint of the old Caliber series.


Hey look at all the Mouse of Him crossovers, freeing up your regular buys so you can try out some nice indy comics this month--thanks Marvel!

Garth Ennis & Clayton Crain have a wait-for-the-trade ready Ghost Rider mini. When's the Nic Cage movie coming out?

Richard Morgan returns with a new Black Widow mini, and the Sean Phillips inked by Bill Sienkiewicz art could make for an interesting combination.

Wovlerine #32 features sure-to-be-good art by Kaare Andrews, but I question whether Mark Millar is capable of the degree of sensitivity required to write a story about Logan in a WWII concentration camp.

Paul Jenkins & John Romita, Jr. have a new Sentry mini, which will probably be worth reading when it gets collected a few months from now.

Mike Avon Oeming & Scott Kolins save the trademark with the Thor: Blood Oath mini.

The Giffen/Dematteis/Maguire Defenders continues with a third issue.

Supreme Power takes a hiatus, but is replaced by two minis: Hyperion and Nighthawk.

Reginald Hudlin & John Romita, Jr.'s Black Panther gets a hardcover collection with Who Is the Black Panther.

The Marvel Digests are where the action is, as Runaways, Mary Jane and Spider-Girl all get new affordable small-size trades.

More classic Peter David Hulk stories come your way with a second Hulk Visionaries: Peter David volume.

That's it for the front of the catalog. Part 2, the middle, will be along shortly...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New This Week: July 13, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop tomorrow:

The Pick of the Week is Banana Sunday from Oni Press. This all ages comic has talking monkeys and wonderful cartooning from Colleen Coover. How can you go wrong? You can't! Check out the online preview and see for yourself.

(Yeah yeah, I know, All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. Yes it's the biggest release of the week, if not of the year so far. But you already know if you're going to be getting it or not--you don't need me to tell you about it. Besides, I don't care how good you think Jim Lee can draw Batman, it can't compare to Colleen Coover drawing cute girls and talking monkeys!)

In other comics:

Alias have the second issue of Penny & Aggie. Yeah it's color reprints of the online strips, but if you haven't read those then it's all new for you.

Archie have a new issue of Sabrina (#68).

Dark Horse have the debut of the Serenity preview mini, a Too Much Coffee Man collection (How to be Happy), and a new issue of The Escapist (#7).

DC, in addition to the aforementioned All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #1, also have new issues of Action Comics (#829), Desolation Jones (#2), Fables (#39), JLA (#116), Majestic (#7), Rann/Thanagar War (#3), Seven Soldiers: Guardian (#3), and Wonder Woman (#218); plus a new Y, the Last Man collection (vol. 5: Ring of Truth.

Fantasgraphics have the special Shojo issue of The Comics Journal (#269).

Headless Shakespeare have the debut of the Xeric-winning The Brontes: Infernal Angria with art by Rick Geary.

IDW have the second issue of Angel: The Curse (didn't the first issue come out just a couple of weeks ago?)

Image have the debut of The Freshmen, a Small Gods Special, and new issues of Invincible (#24) and The Walking Dead (#20).

Marvel have new issues of Gravity (#2), New Thunderbolts (#10), and The Punisher (#23).

Too Hip Gotta Go have the debut issue of a new Wahoo Morris series.

Viper debut the Middleman mini.

W. W. Norton have Will Eisner's final graphic novel, The Plot.

As usual, comics for all tastes. And dude, don't forget: Talking Monkeys!

Cheap Manga Returns, the site which clearances out manga GNS from the company formerly known as ComicsOne, has returned (I previously blogged about them back in November). Most titles are available for $1, $2, or $3 (though some are higher). Crayon Shinchan for $1 each! Iron Wok Jan for $3 each! Crouching Tiger for $2 each! Shipping is $5 + $1/item, so for just one or two titles you won't save much, but if you order a lot you'll surely realize some substantial savings.

Quick GN Reviews

by Sara Varon

Sweaterweather is a collection of mostly wordless short stories about a bunch of little anthropomorphic animals (and a snowman) going about life in the city. Most of the stories take place during the cold months of late autumn to early spring, hence the title. It may not sound exciting, but the stories have a certain sweetness and Varon is an excellent storyteller. It many ways this comic reminds me of Andy Runton's Owly, although the stories in Sweaterweather have a bit more of an edge. Most of the book is in black and white (well, actually black and navy blue) but in the back there's a color section with cleaver paper dolls, stamps and postcards. This is a fun book that can be enjoyed by comic readers of all ages.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Freaks of the Heartland
by Steve Niles and Greg Ruth

Several years ago in the small farming community of Gristlewood Valley, several gave birth to severly deformed--some would say unnatural--children. Some were killed, while others were locked away, living all of the existance in cellars or barns. Young Trevor knows that his younger brother Will is different, but he also knows that Will has a good heart and its not fair for Will to be locked away, never able to play in the sun. But this secret is eating away at the people of the valley, and when events build towards a violent head Trevor decides to break Will out and they make a run to escape the valley. Although there are monsters in the story (and not all of them are the deformed children) this isn't exactly a horror story; it falls into a traditio nof stories that I've always refered to as 'American Gothic'--tales of secrets and evil and things not quite right in small towns and rural communities. There is violence in Freaks of the Heartland, but it mostly occurs just off panel. Niles isn't going for shocks here, but rather trying to disturb. What really makes this work is the art of Ruth; detailed pen and ink drawings combine with the earthy computer color pallate to create an environment that evokes the warm heartland in which this disturbing tale is set. If you like your horror stories to be about events and characters and mood rather than blood and guts, you'll find Freaks of the Heartland quite to your liking.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Monday, July 11, 2005

New Library Comics: Week of July 4, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Crumb, R. Art & beauty magazine. Seattle : Fantagraphics Books, 1996- no. 2

Crumb, R. R. Crumb sketchbook. Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics, 1992- v. 10

Dorkin, Evan. Bill & Ted's most excellent adventures /San Jose, CA : Amaze Ink, c2004- vol. 1

Fred. Philemon, l'ile des brigadiers /Paris ; New York : Dargaud, c2003.

Fred. Philemon, le naufrage du "A" /Paris ; New York : Dargaud, c2003.

Hi-horse omnibus /Gainesville, FL : Alternative Comics, 2004- v. 1

Ito, Junji, 1922- GYO /San Francisco, CA : Viz, c2003- v. 1-2

Madburger : comics questioning sanity. Ljubljana : Strip Core/Forum Ljubljana, 2002.

Mayr, Johann, 1956- Cartoons fur Senioren /Oldenburg : Lappan, c2002.

Obana, Miho, 1970- Kodocha : Sana's stage /Los Angeles, CA : TOKYOPOP, 2002- v. 1-2, 4-10

PLG. Paris : Dargaud, 1977- no. 37

Rosetta : a comics anthology /Gainsville, FL : Alternative Comics, 2002- v. 2

Skeates, Steve. Warlords /New York : DC Comics, c1983.

Stripburger. Ljubljana, Slovenia : Forum Ljubljana.

Sturgeon white moss. London : White Moss Press. no. 2-4

Takahashi, Rumiko, 1957- Ranma 1/2 /San Francisco, CA : Viz Communications, c2003- v. 1-16, 22-28

Tezuka, Osamu, 1928-1989. Astro boy /Milwaukie, OR : Dark Horse Comics, 2002- v. 1-23

Warburger. Ljubljana, Slovenia : Stripburger, 2003.

XXX strip burger. Ljubljana, Slovenia : Strip Core/Forum Ljubljana, 1999.

Zippy annual. Seattle : Fantagraphics Books, c2000- v. 1-4

Zograf, Aleksandar. Dream watcher /Hove : Slab-O-Concrete, 1998.