Hey lucky readers, I am back from the great state of Seattle in time to phone it in from my apartment. And what a phoning it in this will be. Last week’s column was brutal because I was jetlagged, sleep deprived, and over-comic’d (It’s a real thing. Look it up. Happened to millions of people in the mid-90’s.) This weeks column will be brutal because I am not a great writer and have been coasting on my mediocre sense of humor far too long. One important thing of note; dozens of readers wrote to ask why I didn’t mention Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Razor Enthusiast, Tyler, last week. Sally from Barrie, Ontario asked if it was because I was in Seattle and he was “Out of sight, out of mind.” It’s a good guess Sally, but no. When I travel I always carry a picture of Tyler in a heart shaped locket I wear around my neck at all times. He is never out of sight or mind. Tragically the reason I didn’t mention Tyler is much more dark and sinister. Tyler is on a journey now and I don’t think I have the strength to save him. Poor Tyler. Anyway folks, let’s find out what is happening in comics, shall we?
Managed to get an advanced copy of FIVE GHOSTS last week. Issue #1 makes it an easy frontrunner for book of the year. Chris Mooneyham’s art is stunning, Franke Barbiere’s writing never misses a beat. This is a full tilt pulp adventure like comics hasn’t seen in a long time. Think Indiana Jones meets League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I almost guarantee this book will be a huge hit and fan favorite for the year, the buzz is crazy and the book surpasses it. Unfortunately for you all the book isn’t out this week but fortunately for you all it comes out very soon. Not just that but Forbidden Planet is hosting a signing for the book on IMAGE COMICS PREMIERE NIGHT, Wednesday, March 20th. Bob Fingerman will also be there signing his brilliant new collection, MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE. And there will be awesome special guests. And maybe a cake or something. Probably not. But great comics should make it worth your time. Mark your calenders and set aside some dollars. Not all of them though because you need to buy some books this week too.
BUDDY COPS #1 is actually out this week. Doc Shaner may be the next superstar artist in comics. He has a smart take on the updated retro style of current superstars like David Aja and Chris Samnee. In short, he draws really pretty. Nate Cosby used to edit for Marvel where he focused on the good but under loved all ages books. He has since moved on to doing fun books like Cow Boy and Pigs. Buddy Cops is like Axe Cop if you want to read absurd cops stories but instead of being written by children it is written by childish men. There is a character named Uranus. Either you find that funny or you should buy something else. I like Uranus.
BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL vol 26. My bet is that most of you don’t read manga. That’s cool. I was dumb once too. Here’s the thing, don’t dismiss the cultural output of an entire nation, especially when the nation loves comics as much as Japan does. And especially especially when they make such good comics. Blade Of The Immortal is one of the craziest and most badass things humans have ever made. A shamed samurai cursed with immortality must kill 1,000 evil men in order to be allowed to age and die. Awesome, right? Well volume 26 is probably not the one I would start with, but that’s the one that’s out this week. Go read volume 1 and see if you like it. If you like reading about dudes getting dismembered, bloodworms, and really detailed portraits of feudal Japan as much as I do then you should love it. Come for the bloodworms, stay for the guilt.
Mike Mignola and John Arcudi make awesome comics like Hellboy, BPRD, and Lobster Johnson. (Fun Fact: John Arcudi used to work at Forbidden Planet. The store probably still owes him like 2000 hours of overtime from like 25 years ago. Good luck getting that John, we’re pulling for ya.) Every book Mignola and Arcudi have worked on has been, at worst, well worth your time. When these guys are off they are still better than 99% of the field. (Fun Fact: I met Mike Mignola recently and acted like a big idiot. He was pretty cool though. Firm handshake.) Now they have teamed up with the great Jason Latour to introduce SLEDGEHAMMER 44. A man in a giant metal suits who fights nazis. That’s pretty much all you should need to know. (Fun Fact: umm… I don’t have any fun Jason Latour facts. umm… Latour is French for “The Tour.” Useful info.)
I feel like a moron telling you to read HAWKEYE Vol. 1: MY LIFE AS A WEAPON. It’s one of the best books Marvel has done in years. Beautiful, funny, exciting, and innovative. It is David Aja and Matt Fraction doing the work of their respective careers. HAWKEYE is a line in the sand. You can either buy it or be the reason we don’t get to have nice things.
I remember reading Ben Katchor‘s brilliant JULIUS KNIPL strips that ran in The New York Press in the early ’90s I think. I bet you thought I was much younger than that, huh? I just write with childlike whimsy and grammar. Always bizarre, his oddly compelling characters made it less of a favorite read and more of a compulsion. Mr. Katchor always puts forward interesting and thought provoking work. HAND-DRYING IN AMERICA is his latest, a meditation on place, property, and possessions. His insights and wit offset the pervasive feeling of wrongness that he illuminates so eerily well. This is a book for those who notice they feel out of place or out of touch with their world.
Maybe the best book you aren’t reading this year is THE END TIMES OF BRAM & BEN by Rem Broo, Jim Festante, and James Asmus. The perfect mix of Chew‘s dark humor and Preacher‘s tongue in cheek religious and cultural satire, TETOB&B is both clever social commentary and laugh out loud absurdity. TETOB&B #3 comes out this week (with a brilliant cover by Juan Doe), but you should be able to track down issues 1 & 2 pretty easily. Image puts out a lot of new books every months, but few have the heart and personality of this one.
That about does it for me. I’m going to go listen to Lungfish and read BULLETPROOF COFFIN until I pass out. Make sure to come to the FP/IMAGE party next Wednesday and wear something nice. Maybe bring cupcakes. I am sure we will forget.