This month's Diamond Previews catalog is out now and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread (download the PDF) with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in March 2013 (give or take — release dates are likely to have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
The Cleanest Mug in the Kitchen of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Booklist reviews the Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3, by Steve Ditko and edited by Blake Bell. Gordon Flagg notes these horror stories feature "Ditko’s distinctly off-kilter drawings and boldly potent composition" and the "meticulous restoration means that the stories look far better here than they did upon their original appearances."
• Review:Booklist enjoys Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, edited by Steven Brower. "Meskin’s powerful compositions add a fitting dynamism to superhero tales featuring the Black Terror and Fighting Yank. His bold use of shadows and other solid black areas impart a moody atmosphere to horror and crime stories, and even the romance and sci-fi pieces included here benefit from his economic illustration style and attractive page designs," writes Gordon Flagg.
• Review:Black Gate picks up Linda Medley's Castle Waiting: Volume 2 for a good read. John O'Neill stated, "it retold the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty (sort of), as seen by an odd cast of mostly minor characters. It was well written and beautiful, feminine in perspective and mood, incredibly slow-paced, and wholly original. I loved it."
• Interview: Gary Panter spent a whole hour talking to Benjamen Walker on the Too Much Information show at WFMU about life, Dal Tokyo, the evolving medium of comics and more.
• Interview: New Statesman interviews Chris Ware on Building Stories, Jimmy Corrigan and the time inbetween books. "Kim Thompson at Fantagraphics was really willing to experiment [with format]; I remember how much he and I sweated the idea of putting out a comic book that was just 1/2" shorter than the standard format in 1993."
The freshest fried-this-morning Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal gives a thumbs-up to Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest–the mumbling stoner counterpart to its methed up metal freak cousin, Prison Pit–has a whole new stack of penis-obsessed pages to play with. It’s tempting to single out one part of this volume to label as best, but that temptation dissipates upon the realization that it’s going to be impossible to pick a winner."
• Review:BookGasm raves about Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. JT Lindroos says, "It shuffles in elements from Tardi’s other books, but distills those familiar ingredients into a wholly unique concoction. . . It’s a love letter to an imaginary city bursting with life, depression and death, a city you love to observe from a distance."
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver finished out the TCJ Comic Diary week with a visit by Gary Groth. Heidi MacDonald of The Beat said nice things about The Hypo: "an extremely well researched look at Abraham Lincoln’s early days as a depressed young lawyer, will be one of the buzz books of the fall."
• Plug:Bleeding Cool and Rich Johnston show off some pages from Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, coming out this fall.
• Plug:Robot 6 and Bridget Alverson are excited for both the upcoming Wilfred Santiago books on Michael Jordan and John Brown. "If the images are any indication, Santiago is busting out from the limited palette he used for the Clemente book to full, brilliant color, applied in a bold, painterly style."
• Plug: The Covered blog continues to highlight new versions of Love and Rockets covers. This time it's L&R #50 drawn by Robert Goodin. Check out Goodin's eerie treatment of a classic.
• Plug: The Love and Rockets Northeast Tour is mentioned on BoingBoing. Thanks, Marc!
• Interview:Casey Burbach interviews editor John Benson on fanzine Squa Tront's issue #13 (forty years after issue #1 came out) and the EC collections that have been published: "I thought that the color in the latest “EC Archives” series was pretty bad, at least in the book that I saw – not appropriate for comics of that era. . . The Fantagraphics series will be produced with quality and taste, I’m sure. Hopefully, with a different distribution set-up, going into bookstores, they may also reach a new audience."
• Review (audio): The Comic Books are Burning in Hell podcast recently chatted up Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee-Deedle edited by Rick Marschall. Around the 38 minute mark is where they predict ". . . it'll wind up a real contender for 2012's 'thru the cracks' award for most sadly obscure release. . ." Let's avoid ANY books falling through the cracks, check out this broadsheet-sized wonder today!
• Review:The Australian checks out Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. Owen Heitmann says, "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is primarily of historical interest, documenting the early development of the first postwar female writer to merit inclusion in the Library of America series. Editor Kelly Gerald has taken this archival approach to heart, reproducing apparently every extant example of O'Connor's cartooning, even doodles from later handwritten letters."
Early readers of the third volume of THE DITKO ARCHIVES, Mysterious Traveler, have already noticed two unfortunate glitches. The story "The Forbidden Room" is missing its ninth and final page (above), and "The Menace of the Maple Leaves" is also missing a page (below). Editor Blake Bell has been busy tearing his hair out ever since we learned this.
The fix, fortunately, is very simple: We'll just reprint both stories (in full, at full size), in the next volume of THE DITKO ARCHIVES, coming in the Spring, so collectors will have the full stories. For those who don't want to wait that long, we're also providing a downloadable PDF of the missing pages (7.9 MB).
You don't have to send us ass-kicking emails because our asses are already sore from self-inflicted kicking. And rest assured, we'll be very, very vigilant on future books.
The most-current Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Interview:MTV Geek questions Noah Van Sciver about his new graphic novel, The Hypo, and why he chose to focus on the man before the president. ". . . it’s important to see who [Lincoln] became, or I should say how he became is more spectacular when you think about who he was, and where he came from, because I don’t even know if that’s possible anymore, to come from nothing and then become a president, you know?"
•Review: Drew on ComicAttack.net reviews kid-friendly The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez. "It’s not quite Betty and Veronica, but it’s not quite Calvin and Hobbes; it’s that special place in between that catches that transition from childhood into adolescence, which doesn’t get captured on the comic book page much, and is a rare treat that Hernandez delivers here to such perfection."
•Interview (audio):ABC News Radio's Sherry Preston interviews Daniel Clowes (at the 30 minute mark) as his work is on display at the Oakland Museum of California. "I was more interested in kinda funny comics and comics about real life situations. And I thought it made no sense that there weren't comics about every subject you can imagine." You'll love the following story.
•Commentary: TURN IT OUT in clothes inspired by Daniel Clowes' Ghost World and America's two favorite juveniles on Trent.
•Plug:Follow the White Rabbit eloquently mentions Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. A rough translation might say, "Altogether, a perfect Edition for the lovers of this French author that already amazed us at 'The cry of the people,' 'The war of trenches' or 'The extraordinary adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec'."
•Commentary: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 gives a nice mention to Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8. "A pretty solid issue overall, the best and funniest part being the opening segment, a parody of coloring books, this time involving trains that … well, it’s not fit for polite conversation, really."
•Review: Greg Burgas of Comic Book Resources breaks down one beautiful page by Archie Goodwin and Alex Toth from Blazing Combat. "This story shows off [Toth's] strengths very nicely, because it’s one of the bleaker stories in the volume (none of them are happy; I mean “bleak” in that the landscape is stripped of vegetation and is dotted with destroyed building, giving this story its post-Apocalyptic tenor) and Toth does very well with that."
•Plug:The Daily Beast features an excerpt from Joe Sacco and Chris Hedges' new book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. In this article, they "detail the effects of coal mining in West Virginia, a state destroyed by mountaintop removal."
•Interview: Peering from under a swell hat, Noah Brand from The Good Men Project interviews TCJ contributer and cartoonist Tim Kreider on the art of writing. "Cartooning also seems to allow me to express a much sillier, stupider, more puerile part of my personality than writing. I get all stiff and serious and writerly when I sit down to write prose."
• Feature: At Print magazine, Michael Dooley spotlights the new 13th issue of Squa Tront — "...Squa Tront has set itself out to explore every facet of EC's history, through stimulating, in-depth journalism, scholarly analyses, critiques, bios, interviews, and, of course, illustrations. Under the supervision of its current editor, John Benson, it has established a high standard for fanzine professionalism, in both literary content and production values." — with a generous sampling of images and an interview with Benson: "But really, as far as Squa Tront goes, what sustains my interest most is probably my love of print media and the pleasure of creating a physical package."
• Review: "Oftentimes the first volume of an archival project gets greeted with a lot of ballyhoo while later volumes fail to get any ink, even though the later books represent the subject in question better than the earlier, more fumbling work. So let this serve as notice that the third volume of the Blake Bell-edited series [The Steve Ditko Archives] is the best one yet, showing Ditko in 1957, about to turn 30 and learning to deploy his distinctive faces and abstract shapes in the service of stories with real flow. ...[T]he nightmarish visions of stories like 'The Man Who Lost His Face' and 'The Last One' are classic Ditko, with off-kilter panel designs and anguished figures conveying a sense of sanity slipping away." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Blood of Palomar is a thrilling book... Hernández’s writing and artwork are excellent. The black-and-white pen work is perfect — there are a vividness and richness to the action, story, and scenes already that would likely be drowned in color. With 34 characters and multiple story threads, a first read can be dizzying, yet all is exquisitely kept in balance. Though certainly most characters are not given much depth, the large cast gives the sense of a real community. The main characters are complex, flawed, and fascinating.... Blood of Palomar haunted my thoughts long after I finished reading." – Michael Stock, The Capeless Crusader
• Plug: "How to best demonstrate the awesome might of Fantagraphics' new Johnny Gruelle collection, Mr. Twee Deedle?... It's more akin to flipping the pages of a wallpaper sampler than a collection of historic comics.... It dominates the largest clear surface in my house — the kitchen island — like a B-52 bomber somehow parked astride an aircraft carrier's deck. And then you open it up. ...[T]he art on the page is massive, but filled with delicate details.... Many of the strips are illustrated from eye-level of small children, and the natural world around the characters seems almost life-sized." – John Mesjak, My 3 Books
• Plug: "Comics have long been home to a variety of races, be it alien or underground or from an alternate dimension. But in the 100-plus year history of comics, one of the toughest for creators to portray accurately is that of black characters. And now Fantagraphics is putting back in print a key work examining that strained relationship, Fredrik Strömberg‘s Eisner-nominated Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History." – Chris Arrant, Robot 6
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
144-page full-color 7.75" x 10.25" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-559-4
"...I already have the four Ignatz issues, but I won’t let that stop me from recommending Interiorae, Gabriella Giandelli’s dark and occasionally surreal look at the drab lives of various people living in an apartment complex. This new version of the atmospheric – downright moody even – book allegedly is an improvement on the color printing [in that it is full color whereas the series was sepiatone — Ed.], so newcomers may be getting the better deal here." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"If you go to comics shops looking for unique voices doing beautifully-presented work, this is the one for you today." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This looks odd. Good, but odd. It takes place inside an apartment building in Milan, where strange things are afoot. There’s a giant talking rabbit, for instance. Oh, those wacky Europeans!" – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
240-page full-color 7.25" x 10" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-498-6
"This $40, Blake Bell-edited volume reprints horror stories drawn by Ditko in the late '50s for Charlton Comics titles including Tales of the Mysterious Traveler and This Magazine Is Haunted." – Douglas Wolk, "Don't Ask! Just Buy It!", ComicsAlliance
"More Steve Ditko? Why, certainly! Courtesy of Mysterious Traveler, the third volume in editor Blake Bell’s ongoing collection of early Ditko work, this one largely taken from Tales from the Mysterious Traveler and This Magazine is Haunted." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The belle of the ball... -- concentrated, early, yet by this volume prime-time Steve Ditko." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: What? Ditko? Reprints? Yeah, there’s more of those in Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3, another 240-page hardcover from editor Blake Bell; $39.99. And another Ignatz series finds itself collected as Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae is seen, for the first time in English, in its original muted full-color state; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "The white rabbit who serves as our guide suggests Alice in Wonderland, but despite fantastical touches, Interiorae is much more concerned with the world as it presents itself. Intertwining the lives of the people who live in an apartment complex, it’s in some sense a book-length meditation on a rather beautiful idea, that the day-to-day lives of all the little people aren’t just worth paying attention to, but are essential to the very fabric of the spaces we inhabit. Giandelli doesn’t entirely avoid mushy sentimentality nor the excesses of an open heart — absolutely no one is deserving of even so much as mild criticism here, which feels more naive than accepting — but her feel for our inner lives, as well as a visual style that evokes the richness of life as she sees it, win out in the end." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Nicolas Mahler’s childishly cute drawings put an adorable face on a satire with a pretty deep cynicism with the superhero comics industry. A creation of Korporate Komics, Angelman is pink dumpling with wings, blessed with the superpowers of sensitivity, open-mindedness and being a good listener, at least until focus groups and lagging sales put him through a gritty reboot and a some deep-seated neuroses about being a second-rate hero. Mahler’s points about corporate art certainly don’t aim for subtlety, but that doesn’t make them any less true, and a droll sense of humour keeps things from getting too preachy." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Athos in America... is another collection of graphic novellas and graphic short stories from master of deadpan presentation Jason in the style of Low Moon, and, as with the release of all new work from Jason, a cause for celebration.... This book is chock-full of examples of Jason’s inspired appropriation of classic trash pop culture, and his repurposing of it in formally experimental (or is playful a better word?) explorations of the human experiment.... Jason’s comics are among the hardest in the world to review, as it’s difficult to say anything beyond 'Well, that was perfect' in terms of assessment, and the specific magic he works is so difficult to describe in words, and so easy to communicate by simply pointing to a random volume of his work and saying, 'Hey, check this out.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Robot 6
• Review: "For a list price of $39.99... this book [Amazing Mysteries] does a wonderful job of showing off Bill [Everett]’s early work and lets us learn a lot about the man. .... Bill was an enormous talent for telling stories. Bill’s work, often as writer and artist holds up much better then many other artists from his time. This volume is a lot of fun as you can flip through it and see how much Bill played with layouts and panel design.... Bill was an amazing talent.... Bill’s style is so distinct it is often easy to tell when he did all the work. Bottom line for a good collection of a master in his early days, this book is hard to beat." – Jim Martin, Comics and... Other Imaginary Tales
• Review: "There are only a handful of rock journalists who could have a collection of their work seem like a necessity, and Paul Nelson would be at the very top of that list.... Kevin Avery's book [Everything Is an Afterthought] gathers many of Nelson's finest pieces, most for Rolling Stone magazine... As amazing as all those stories are, it's also Avery's riveting biographical chapter on Paul Nelson that really takes a sledgehammer to the soul. Weaving together the recollections of many of Nelson's peers, the portrait we're left is of a man that struggled to maintain a hold on reality, finding higher enjoyment in the world of the mind.... Paul Nelson took what was already life-changing, and the way he saw it and could speak about it, made it even more thrilling. Now we can celebrate him all over again." – Bill Bentley, The Morton Report
• Profile: The lead-in to TCAF at Canada's National Post continues with David Berry talking to Zak Sally: "His latest book, Sammy the Mouse, had an original home as part of Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series, but is now being collected and bound by Sally himself, by hand in his Minnesota studio. The world of Sammy reflects this hands-on approach: it feels immediate and lived-in, almost less like a story than a tour of Sally’s internal brain architecture, with a slight misanthropy and freewheeling visual style that recall work like Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur. 'For me, finding those first underground comics was incredible,' says Sally, who got his start reading superhero tales, but was quickly turned. 'It turned comics into something you realized you could just do yourself: just get your s–t together and do it.'"
Five years before his breakthrough as the co-creator of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and other classic super-heroes for Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, Steve Ditko, inspired by the freedom he found at the laissez-faire Charlton Comics, was turning out some of the best work of his career.
Mysterious Traveler, which collects stories from (among others) Tales of the Mysterious Traveler and This Magazine Is Haunted, reprints over 210 full-color pages of Ditko in his early prime. These are stories that have never been properly reprinted until now — thrilling stories of suspense, mystery, haunted houses, and unsuspecting victims.