Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of October 21 that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen as Comic Strip – $35.00
By Stuart Hample
240 pages; published by Abrams ComicArts; available at Amazon.com
Woody Allen’s classic neurosis, humorous life philosophy, and complex relationships, are embodied in the classic comic strip “Inside Woody Allen,” syndicated daily by King Features from 1976 to 1984, illustrated by Stuart Hample. Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen as Comic Strip is a compilation of 220 of the best of the comic’s comics, all reproduced from the original art, along with sketches, photographs, and development work.
An all-new preface by Hample provides a rare glimpse into the creation of this material, revealing a long-overlooked facet of Allen’s career that is smart and funny and as timeless as the man who has inspired a generation with his unique vision.
For all of those Woody Allen fans out there. I didn’t even know this comic strip existed until now. There are samples at both the publisher and Amazon links above, although the images aren’t really big enough to read, which is kind of lame.
Sugarshock – $3.50
By Joss Whedon & Fabio Moon
40 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally presented in the first online issues of MySpace Dark Horse Presents, for which it won the Eisner Award for Best Web Comic, Sugarshock tells the story of a rock band led by charismatic but crazy Dandelion Naizen, a hyperactive singer/songwriter possessed of a mean hatred of Vikings (don’t ask) and a mission for a secret government agency that may only exist in her head. But when her band, which includes a robot bass player, is enlisted in an intergalactic battle of the bands — emphasis on battle — Dandelion gets to prove herself as both singer and soldier.
This is Joss Whedon at his funniest and most hyperactive, with writing that bursts off the page in a way seldom seen in comics. Multiple Eisner Award winner Fábio Moon delivers the outrageous story with equal energy, as well as providing a fourteen-page look at his process, with never-before-seen character designs, page layouts, and promotional images.
For all of those Joss Whedon fans out there. If you thought Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was silly, this is downright zany. The comic may not have a soundtrack (as of this writing, you never know), but it’s still entertaining. Here’s a 3-page preview. Or you can check out the story here on MySpace Dark Horse Presents.
Battlefields Volume One – $29.99
By Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, Peter Snejbjerg & Carlos Ezquerra
268 pages published by Dynamite Entertainment; available at Amazon.com
All three acclaimed Ennis Battlefields books in one massive hardcover collected edition!
BATTLEFIELDS: THE NIGHT WITCHES
By Garth Ennis, Russ Braun and Tony Avina!
Late summer, 1942. As the German army smashes deep into Soviet Russia and the defenders of the Motherland retreat in disarray, a new bomber squadron arrives at a Russian forward airbase. Its crews will fly flimsy wooden biplanes on lethal night missions over German lines, risking fiery death as they fling themselves against the invader- but for these pilots, the consequences of capture will be even worse. For the pilots of the 599th Night Bomber Regiment are women. In the deadly skies of the Eastern front, they will become a legend- known, to friend and foe alike, as the Night Witches.
BATTLEFIELDS: DEAR BILLY
By Garth Ennis, Peter Snejbjerg and Rob Steen!
1942: In the tropical splendour of the South China sea, as the Second World War spreads across the far east, a young woman finds herself in paradise… and then in hell. Nurse Carrie Sutton is caught up in the Japanese invasion of Singapore, suffering horrors beyond her wildest nightmares- and survives. Now she attempts to start her life anew, buoyed up by a growing friendship with a wounded pilot- only for fate to deliver up the last thing she ever expected. Carrie at last has a chance for revenge… but should she take it? In the midst of a world torn apart by war, you can fight and you can win- but you still might not get the things you truly want.
GARTH ENNIS’ BATTLEFIELDS: THE TANKIES #1
By Garth Ennis, Carlos Ezquerra and Tony Avina!
After D-Day came the battle for Normandy, when largely untried Allied soldiers met the seasoned veterans of the German army. As Panzer units and SS troops turn the French countryside into a killing ground, a lone British tank crew struggle to rejoin their squadron. Cut off behind enemy lines, their only hope lies in their fearsome commander, Corporal Stiles- but no one in the crew can stand him, and Stiles isn’t too fond of them either. And there are Tigers lurking in the undergrowth…
This massive 200+ Page Hardcover Edition also features bonus materials such as sketches and commentary from Ennis along with a complete cover gallery by series cover artists John Cassaday and Garry Leach! Recommended for Mature Readers.
Here’s some war comics for you. Yay war! Not really, but some compelling stories can come of it. Garth Ennis is a well-read writer who seems genetically hardwired for this genre. There’s a great big 12-page preview at the publisher’s link above.
Detectives Inc. – $24.99
By Don McGregor, Marshall Rogers & Gene Colan
160 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com
Detectives Inc. is the groundbreaking story of two New York private detectives, Ted Denning and Bob Rainier. It is as provocative and relevant today as when it was first released nearly 30 years ago. Detectives Inc. was one of the first graphic novels to deal realistically with homosexuality, bisexuality, abortion, race relations, and domestic violence. Featuring stunning art by comic greats Marshall Rogers and Gene Colan.
This reprints two graphic novels, one from 1980 and one from 1985. To be honest, this is the first I recall hearing about them but they were historically significant early steps of comics reaching out to the book market in graphic novel form and reaching beyond the superhero genre in a mass market outlet. And it helps that it was, by most accounts, very well-done.
The Waiting Place: The Definitive Edition – $29.99
By Sean McKeever & Mike Norton
456 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com
Collected for the first time in a single volume, this highly-acclaimed teen drama of spinning wheels and racing hearts helped make Eisner Award-winning writer Sean McKeever (Spider-Man Love Mary Jane, Teen Titans) and fan-favorite artist Mike Norton (Green Arrow/Black Canary, Runaways) into mainstream comic-book mainstays. This edition also includes a brand-new story by McKeever and Norton, making it a must-have for long-time fans and new readers alike.
These comics first came out in 1997, and have since won a lot of praise. There’s a good article/interview with McKeever that gives a 3-page preview of the new story right here.
Cowboy Ninja Viking #1 – $3.50
By A.J. Lieberman & Riley Rossmo
32 pages; published by Image Comics
It started with Dr. Sebastian Ghislain: rogue psychotherapist/covert op/DJ. Tasked with creating a counter-intelligence unit, he turned to those long thought useless to society… patients with Multiple Personality Disorder. These agents became known simply as Triplets. Misguided? Yeah. Impractical? Sure. But did it work? Absolutely not. Now someone has located each Triplet and created a band of ridiculously disturbed, but highly effective assassins. Our only hope? A Triplet known as Cowboy Ninja Viking!
OK enough of all of that somber realistic stuff. Here’s some weird action/adventure for you. 9-page preview right here. I think this actually came out the week before but it’s on my list, so you get to hear about it now.
Lenore: Noogies – $17.95
By Roman Dirge
128 pages; published by Titan Publishing; available at Amazon.com
Take a trip into the dark, surreal world of a little dead girl with a knack for (often) unintentional mayhem in this gothic classic, now remastered and colored up by creator Roman Dirge for the very first time!
Lenore might only be small, but her talent for mischief — and occasional wanton destruction — is anything but. Featuring stories about limbless cannibals, clock monsters, cursed vampire dolls, taxidermied friends, an obsessed would-be lover and more fuzzy animal mutilations than should be legal, never has the term ‘something for everyone’ seemed more sinister and bizarre.
A massive cult hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Lenore is one of the funniest, darkest, cutest, creepiest characters on the marketplace today, and this collector’s edition hardcover is a must.
If were doing these lists in a more timely fashion, you would’ve heard about this in time for Halloween. But I ruined everything. Still, this is worth checking out any time of the year.
Comic Diorama – $5.00
By Grant Reynolds
48 pages; published by Top Shelf Productions
Nautical and astronomical themes abound in this collection of five short tales: the long lost journals of famed explorer/adventurer Chance Oxblood; the most significant year in the life of the personified former-planet Pluto; strange happenings in the Black Forest; mermaid dreams and sacrificial rites to a Grendel; and the tribulations of a recovering alcoholic gone model-building novice.
I flipped through a friend’s copy of this and it looks fantastic, at times bizarre and crazy. In fact, here, you can take a look too.