Grotesque Anatomy
Friday, October 17, 2003
  October Preorders for December Comics
Now that it's mid-month, I realized I'm going to have to finalize my monthly comics order pretty soon.   I've gotten in the habit of reading through Previews when I first get it early in the month and throwing everything that looks interesting into my cart.  Then as the order deadline draws nearer, I return to my cart and remove things that don't seem as exciting for whatever reason.  One of the first things to go is the MillarWorld books.  I thought they sounded interesting when I first heard about them, but the recent previews of WANTED, CHOSEN, and RUN on various sites have convinced me otherwise.  I found the interview with Top Cow Editor-In-Chief Jim McLauchlin about WANTED particularly grating:  "The extreme and shocking stuff that's there, I think, is there for a really good reason. It's there because it really advances the story and it's there because it's cool...We want your jaw to drop when reading this and it will."  I had hoped the MillarWorld books would rely a little less heavily on the gratuitous flash I've come to associate with Millar's work, but it sounds as though these books will actually increase the pointlessness quotient.  (CHOSEN still sounds promising to me, but I think I'll wait to see what others' reactions are and perhaps pick up the trade if there is one.)

And for all those who thought this description of WANTED sounded cool:
In a way the high concept of this might be all your worst nightmares are true. Every conspiracy theory, ever, is true. The Illuminati exists, they're running the world and guess what, they're super villains. That's a bit of what this is about. As a core concept, that's really cool. The idea that there's a senior council of twelve people that control the world economy, that's spooky. Then assume that there's those twelve people and they're all like Lex Luthor. That's really spooky!
You might want to check out this book, which did the whole "supervillain secret council ruling the world" thing several months earlier.

OK, now onto the all the "Previews Review" columns for guidance in assembling my order.

First off is Previews Review but, sadly, they don't have anything on the October catalog yet.

Next is Comic Readers (an excellent site I neglected to mention in last month's "Previews Review" column roundup).  Comic Readers splits up its Previews sifting into four columns (each hilariously titled "Hundred Pages of Huh"):  Small Press; Mainstream; Manga; and Collectibles.  I really like this division because it keeps good stuff in the back of the book from getting lost in the shuffle.  (Hopefully visitors to the site don't just ignore everything except the "Mainstream" listing.)  Anyway, here are some of the things that jump out at me from their recommendations (ignoring the "Collectibles" section):

Small Press:
Johanna Draper Carlson reminds me that HALO & SPROCKET is getting its first collection.  I found the first issue of the series in a bargain bin not too long ago and enjoyed it, so I'll probably be getting the trade.  I also think I'll check out the big (352-page) and cheap ($20) collection of JACK STAFF comics, since it's always looked interesting (and reminded me of Union Jack, a little-used Marvel character I have an inexplicable fondness for).  And like Johanna, I'm excited that DC is putting out another SUPERGIRL ARCHIVES, but I'll probably wait to order this from Amazon.  Johanna also points out a couple of old/updated books I already own, but I'd definitely recommend them to readers who don't have them yet:   The SLINGS & ARROWS COMIC GUIDE (a "browsable, readable, quite entertaining critical reference guide that covers tons of comic titles with attitude and wit" as Johanna puts it); and MANGA! MANGA! THE WORLD OF JAPANESE COMICS, a wonderful resource for those wondering what all the fuss is about these Japanese comics.  Finally, Johanna has a similar experience to the one I had with the Plastic Man preview:  "I really appreciate the extended DC art previews, especially when they help me decide not to spend my money."  Exactly.

Augie De Blieck Jr. focuses exclusively on trades this time around, which reflects his growing inclination to "wait for the trade" like more and more comic fans nowadays.  Augie corrects an oversight in his weekly column by recommending the collected edition of the excellent SLEEPER series, Out in the Cold.  (Just giving you a hard time, Augie - I definitely know what it's like to fumble for words to describe things I just really like.)  Augie also points out something from Marvel that slipped my notice (one, because I'm not big on Marvel; and, two, because I seem to have misplaced my separate "Marvel Previews" supplement—I wonder if Marvel considered that when they made the decision to break off from the main Previews catalog):  AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: 500 COVERS, a "two volume hardcover slipcase edition reprinting all 500 covers of Marvel's venerable series."  Might be kind of fun as a coffee table type book, but that $75 price tag sobers me up real fast.  Augie is annoyed with Wizard for offering their BEST OF X-MEN "limited deluxe" hardcover in this Previews, since the book was only supposed to be available to those who bought Wizard #0.  Augie also recommends the HALO AND SPROCKET collection.  Yes, yes!  I'm ordering it already!!  And I'm seriously considering getting the Elegant. Sophisticated. Expensive. KYLE BAKER CARTOONIST (not "KYLE BAKER PRESENTS" as Augie refers to it) as well.

Ninth Art's Chris Eckman soldiers on, despite the wearying size of Previews, and manages to find a couple things to recommend.  I will be picking up THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE ESCAPIST #1 by Michael Chabon and, uh, "various."  Yes, the $8.95 price tag is intimidating, but it's also an 80-PAGE GIANT (not affiliated in any way with DC Comics).  The solicit from Dark Horse claims this collection will feature "the first new story in seven years written and drawn by Howard Chaykin," but I swear I just saw an Hourman story completely written and drawn by Howard Chaykin come out a couple weeks ago.  Perhaps DC was getting back at Dark Horse for snatching up the Escapist rights by undercutting Dark Horse's hype a bit?  Dark Horse is also putting out STRIP SEARCH, an anthology collection of work by new talent.  It sounds interesting, but I'll probably wait to look it over first.  Chris mentions a couple things already covered above (KYLE BAKER: CARTOONIST; VERTICAL; JACK STAFF), and he also plugs Alternative Comics' 8 1/2 GHOSTS, which looks really interesting to me, especially now that publisher Jeff Mason has announced that they'll be reformatting the book "to be a really nice oversized 8-1/4 inches by 10-5/8 inches using very luxurious, heavy text and cover paper stock" for the same $3.95 price.  Chris also mentions some great magazines that I'll be getting—THE COMICS JOURNAL #258 (the Ditko issue) and COMIC ART #5 (always a sharp-looking mag).

D. Emerson Eddy makes a couple recommendations (look here, here, and here).  Like me, D. is tired of Mark Millar's tendency to write shock for shock's sake (and like me, D. enjoyed Millar's largely ignored run on SWAMP THING).  Ironically, the MillarWorld project that most interests D. is THE UNFUNNIES, the book whose sole reason for being appears to shock for shock's sake.  D. also spots a book from iBooks that caught my eye as well—BLACKSAD, an anthropomorphic noir thriller.  I was all set to get this—until I saw the price tag: $12.95 for 48 pages.  I don't care if it's FULL COLOR OVERSIZE DELUXE FORMAT as the ad explains in ALL CAPS; that just seems a tad steep to me.  (D. disagrees with me, citing the book's expected high-end production values as a justification for the cost.  You can find our exchange here.)

Chris Allen looks through Previews (scroll down til you hit the section titled "December Previews – Escapist Fiction and Futuredrama").  The MASKS: TOO HOT FOR T.V. special sounds silly, but I think it's supposed to.  I'll check this out, especially with the talent lined up (Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke; Marc Andreyko and Richard Corben; Patton Oswalt and Amanda Conner; Jill Thompson and Tony Akins; and Judd Winick and Whilce Portacio).  Chris offers his thoughts on other stuff, too, but either I've mentioned it already or I'm simply not interested.

Finally, Randy Lander and Dave Farabee scour through Previews in two parts (The Big Four and The Indies) over at The Fourth Rail.  Randy's "Big Four Pick Of The Month" is a book called SLEEPER, which is getting its first TPB collection, Out in the Cold.  I'll echo Randy's recommendation:  Everyone should be reading SLEEPER, so buy this trade if you've been putting off checking out this series.  Most of the other books Randy and Dave discuss have been covered above, but they do mention the ASTRO CITY/ARROWSMITH one-shot, which (as a fan of both series) I'll be getting, and RUMBLE ROYALE #1, an anthology that appeals to me due to the artistic talent involved (Cameron Stewart (Catwoman); Kagan McLeod (Infinite Kung-Fu); and Chip Zdarsky (Prison Funnies)).

Lord, after all that, is there anything I'm interested in that hasn't already been listed?  I guess a couple things, but nothing really new—it's mainly ongoing stuff I already know I'm enjoying, such as BATTLE ROYALE VOL 5; GOON #4; FINDER vol. 5: DREAM SEQUENCE (missed this when it was first solicited); and all the DC series I read, with one change:  I finally decided to drop JSA (both the regular series and that dreadfully dull mini-series), so that leaves me with GOTHAM CENTRAL, HERO, HUMAN TARGET, SLEEPER, TOM STRONG, and WONDER WOMAN. 

Final Check:  Did everyone remember to order this book?  OK?  Good. 
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by John Jakala

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