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Staff Picks: Shipping in October
Article by Bookshelf Comics Staff
Posted June 30, 2005

It's not easy wading through the huge Previews catalog each month. It seems that every time the publishers release their solicitations, there are more and more great graphic novels to choose from. Well, let the Bookshelf Comics staff help you wade through all those solications. Below are our picks or best bets for original graphic novels and collected editions hitting the comic shop shelves in October.

Sean Maher's Picks

SUNSET CITY (Ait/Planet Lar)
by Rob Osborne
80pg. | B&W | Softcover Original | 7x10 | $9.95 US

Rob Osborne is a real comics superhero. Those who've read my review of his first book, 1000 Steps To World Domination, or who've had the good fortune to actually read the book itself, know what an inspiring writer he is. What's especially rare about his work is that, while Osborne's outlook is very motivated and ambitious, he tempers it with self-deprecating humor and an oddball delivery that leaves you just a little unsure of how seriously to take the man.

And THAT means he leaves you thinking.

The solicit for Sunset City brings up a pithy, often cliché question: Why am I here? If 1000 Steps is any compass for what we can expect, I expect this book not only to offer some interesting ideas in response to the question, but also to play with what a ridiculous question it is in the first place. I'm psyched to see where Osborne's going with this.

This is filler text.

THE HUNGER VOL. 1 (Speakeasy Comics)
by Jose Torres & Chris Dibari
144pg | Color | Softcover Collection | 7x10 | $14.99 US

This is a totally blind pick. I've not seen anything from this book at all. Plus, I'm kinda zombied out, y'know? But I really like the idea for this one. Mo Rhyo - a regular poster over on Millarworld with some really intelligent observations - has been following it and told me the first issue takes the perspective of a zombie who doesn't know how he got that way and doesn't know what's wrong or how to fix it.

That's a hell of an interesting idea, I think, and I'd really like to find out what they did with it. So, not having been able to track down the individual issues, I'm gonna have a good long look at this puppy when it comes out in October and find out.

Just goes to show what you can do with a strong high concept.


David E. Miller's Picks

WATCMEN: THE ABSOLUTE EDITION HC (DC)
by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
464pg. | Color | Oversized Slipcased Hardcover | $75.00 US

Watchmen Aboslute Edition Hardcover I realize that DC has milked this series more than a dairy farmer, but the milk is delicious each time. Long time fans will do a double take and recognize that there is nothing new here that wasn’t already in the Graphitti hardcover published many years ago. Artist Dave Gibbons has stressed that this edition has been painstakingly recolored, but for the list price of $75 (though it can be found much cheaper) I’m going to have to see one opened first to judge if it is purchase worthy. I still love my ratty softcover that has been thrown into bookbags and suitcases so many times over the years so this Absolute Edition has some tough competition.

Regardless, I’m still very excited for what this hardcover means to the comic book community. It is another chance for this work to be recognized, purchased, and appreciated by the general public at large. Anything that helps push forward the eventual travesty that will be. The Watchmen movie is aces in my book. If you have never read this, this edition is not the place to start. It would be like having your first alcoholic beverage be from one of the finest bottles of wine. The appreciation would be completely wasted. However, it is absolutely necessary that anyone who takes pride in the genre to read The Watchmen. It should be a prerequisite to entering the hobby. If you aren’t punching yourself in the head after reading it for not tackling it sooner, then perhaps you should start collecting something else like baseball cards or something.

 

JEW GANGSTER: A FATHER’S ADMONITION (iBooks)
by Joe Kubert
128pg | B&W | Hardcover Original | 6x9 | $22.95 US

Jew Gangster coverThis book has sentimental reasons for me. As a fledgling writer for Bookshelf Comics, I attended this year’s MOCCA festival and had the pleasure of meeting the late Byron Preiss. He was the only generous fellow who spoke with me and actually gave me trades to review. That’s right, I shot the breeze with him for a few minutes and he gave me a few trades for free. We spoke about iBook’s upcoming projects and he treated me as an equal. None of this had any perspective until the tragic news a few weeks ago and I was able to read about how my experience with him was in no way unique.

One of the noteables in the pile he gave me was a sneak preview booklet of Jew Gangster. This hardcover is written and drawn by Joe Kubert and is about a jewish man’s poor choices made to feed his family in Brooklyn of the 1930s. It has been interesting to see this legend enter the genre again after so many years away. I have read his most recent previous work, yossel, and thought it was a good read. It followed the experiences of those in the Holocaust but I didn’t feel that it brought anything new to the table. For whatever reason, jewish gangsters seem to be the new ‘hot thing’ as Neil Kleid will also be putting out an OGN on the same topic in early 2006 called Brownsville. Kubert is the first one in the battle with Jew Gangster and from the preview, it looks to be a solid read.


James W. Powell's Picks

The Living and the Dead (Speakeasy Comics)
by Todd Livingston, Robert Tinnell, and Micah Farritor
128pg | FC | Softcover Original | 7x10 | $14.95 US

You like horror? Then do yourself a favor and check out the trailer for The Living and the Dead. It'll make your blood turn cold. I haven't been this excited for a horror flick since...oh wait, this is a graphic novel. Then hell yeah! Bring it on.

If the trailer hadn't piqued my interest, then simply knowing that Livingston and Tinnell are behind it is good enough for me. These guys are turning into masters of the graphic novel format. And look at that solicitation: "...unwittingly unleash a brutal and perverse murderer, a deviant sociopath hell bent on using innocent people in a Grand Guignol of flesh and blood - a veritable nineteenth-century snuff theater." I cannot wait to see what these guys come up with.

But if you're still not interested, then check out the Micah Farritor preview images over at Millarworld. All I can say is that this book with have a very spooky atmosphere not present in enough printed horror tales. In order to get into the suspense and horror of a dark story like this one, you need to FEEL. Feel the coolness on the air. Feel the rapidly beating heart of the victim. Feel the silence as death approaches. And from the looks of it, there'll be plenty of that; The Living and the Dead promises to have style as well as substance. And if the story is half as creepy and suspenseful as the trailer, then we're in for a ride. Count me in.

 

SUNSET CITY (Ait/Planet Lar)
by Rob Osborne
80pg. | B&W | Softcover Original | 7x10 | $9.95 US

I was immediately captivated when I read this part of the solicitation for Sunset City: "...A retired widower, he wrestles with the question: Why am I here?" I've been asking myself that for over 30 years. This sounds like the book for me. Then I read on: "One morning, Frank is overcome by a startling story, and he does something extraordinary: he takes life by the balls." I am so reading this book (if for no other reason than to help promote entertaining soliciations such as this).

AiT/Planet Lar is yet to put out a book that I don't like. I certainly haven't read everything put out by the publisher, it's a fair statement that it seems that each book published by Larry Young has a certain oomph that's missing from a lot of other publishers' libraries. And while I don't know much about Rob Osborne, seeing some of the praise for 1000 Steps to World Domination and taking a peak at the preview art for Sunset City has me very interested in learning more.


Christopher J. Shelton's Picks

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD ART OF JIM APARO (TwoMorrows Publishing )
by Scott Beatty along with Eric Nolen-Weathington; Art by Jim Aparo
128pg | B&W | Softcover Collection | 8x11 | $15.95 US

The Brave & Bold Art of Jim Aparo is a biography of one of the big time artists in comics history and certainly one of my favorites.

Aparo, who unfortunately lost his battle with cancer on July 19, 2005, is considered by many to be the best of all Batman artists. He began his career with DC in the late 1960s and worked on different titles including Aquaman, Phantom Stranger, House of Mystery, and House of Secrets; before making his mark drawing the art for DC’s The Brave and the Bold; my first exposure to his work.

I later checked out and bought every issue of Aparo’s next title, Batman and the Outsiders, a series he co-created with writer Mike W. Barr. Out of all of Aparo’s work, his drawings on the Batman storyline, “A Death in the Family,” where Robin dies, stands out for me the most. I was always impressed with Aparo’s attention to background detail.

The upcoming biography, written by Scott Beatty along with Eric Nolen-Weathington includes an introduction by award-winning comic book artist Alan Davis. The 128-page black and white trade paperback is due out October 12th and is a must have for any big time Batman fans.

 

Elk's Run Collected Edition Vol. 1 (Speakeasy Comics)
by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Noel Tuazon, and Scott Keating
80pg | Color | Softcover Collection | 7x10 | $7.99 US

Another must have is the cool-looking Elk’s Run Collected Edition Volume 1 from Speakeasy Comics, which collects the first three issues of a story about a small town named Elk’s Ridge, West Virginia, where no one is allowed to leave.

I’ve been to a few small towns in my time and they’ve always fascinated me. They seem nice on the surface, but you always wonder if something is going on behind the scenes. Could the friendly waitress at the diner, with the happy-faced smile, actually be a killer?

Creators Joshua Hale Fialkov, Noel Tuazon, and Scott Keating have tapped into that mindset of intrigue that people have of small towns and have crafted an awesome tale with Elk’s Run. You might not have ever seen a war in a small town, but in Elk’s Run, you’ll have a front row seat.

The collected edition features a superb new cover by Darwyn Cooke, an introduction by Steve Niles, and ten pages of additional material including concept sketches and interviews with the creative team. For anyone who has lived in or who has traveled through a small town, this 80-page collection is for you.


Kerry Garvin's Picks

Top Shelf Conversations #2 (Top Shelf Productions)
by Jeffrey Brown and James Kochalka
48pg. | B&W | Sofcover Original | 5x5 | $4.95 US

I’m not quite sure if Top Shelf Conversations #2 qualifies as a graphic novel, but it definitely will be a quality, although small book. In this series from Top Shelf, two creators work together and draw out and script a discussion. The first issue had James Kochalka and Craig Thompson face off on art and religion. In this second book Kochalka takes on Jeffery Brown in a brawl about art and comics. Both Brown and Kochalka are hilarious, so I don’t see how this book could not be funny. It’ll be 48 pages of black and white bliss.

 

 

Acme Novelty Library #16 (Fantagraphics Books)
by Chris Ware
64pg. | Color | Hardcover Original | 9x7 | $15.95 US

Chris Ware first began putting out his put out strips and stories including "Quimby the Mouse" and "Jimmy Corrigan" in the Acme Novelty Library Volumes back in 1994. They are high quality work-in-progress kind of books where a few chapters of each book is published along with fake ads, shorter strips, and fun toys the reader could cut out and assemble. Finally, after a nine year break, volume 16 is set to be released. This time Ware starts up two new stories, "Rusty Brown" and "Building Stories." The main focus of the book is the "Rusty Brow"n story, the tale of a young comic book nerd. The first chapter details life at Rusty’s new elementary and the problem he has fitting in and making friends. I’m sure we can expect the same quality we are used to from both Ware and Fantagraphics books. The book is 64 pages of full-color and includes all the usual Ware treats.

 
 
 
 
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