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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Oct. 12, 2011: Franks a Lot

Reading Comics author Douglas Wolk runs down the hottest comics and graphic novels coming out this week.

KEY:
* Hairstyles
^ Encores
% Teeth

* ALAN MOORE: CONVERSATIONS
Ten interviews, conducted by various people between 1981 and 2009, edited by Eric Berlatsky. I’ve only interviewed Moore once, and it was a splendid experience–you know how some people speak in complete sentences? He speaks in complete essays. Of course, a couple of months later I got to see a few other people’s interviews with him on the same topic, and he’d repeated some passages nearly verbatim. Well, everyone’s entitled to some set-pieces. (Like mine just now.) This is $25 in paperback, $65 in hardcover (ouch) from University Press of Mississippi.

% AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #671
Continuing Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos’s “Spider-Island” storyline; this time Mary Jane gets spider-powers. At this point it’s just fan-service. Delicious, crunchy fan-service.

* % BATWOMAN #2
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s wonderful series continues. Artist-driven? Oh yes.

* ^ % THE CABBIE BOOK ONE
I’ve seen this Marti Riera graphic novel described as “Dick Tracy” without a moral anchor, which sounds intriguing; the introduction’s by Art Spiegelman, and I suspect it’s the same as the one that appeared in the 1987 Catalan edition.

% CBLDF LIBERTY ANNUAL 2011
New Craig Thompson story, new Grendel by Matt Wagner, a Mark Waid/Jeff Lemire collaboration, an autobiographical Carla Speed McNeil piece, a J.H. Williams III two-pager… even if this were not for a good cause, it’d be worth a look, and come on, it’s the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Not only do they stand up for everything else on your shelves and in your longboxes, they control the Comics Code Authority seal now. Bow down!

^ THE DEATH-RAY
Daniel Clowes’ Eightball #23, now reprinted as a fancy hardcover “graphic novel” for extra respectability! I do love this story, though, particularly the way it grabs onto a certain kind of childhood fantasy and lets it go horribly wrong all on its own.

^ % THE FRANK BOOK
A new edition (in both hardcover and paperback) of Jim Woodring’s early Frank stories, which are utterly wonderful–the first one, “Frank in the River,” is my single favorite comics story ever at least 20% of the time. I can’t think of much other art that’s both so unironically devoted to pleasure and entertainment (in this case, in the form of funny-looking animals doing amusing things in colorful, inventively odd settings) and so deeply, primally unsettling and ambiguous. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

% FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #2
Jeff Lemire writes; Alberto Ponticelli draws–and I have to admit I never got into his artwork on Unknown Soldier, but his wild Alex Niño-ish scallops and distortions work wonderfully here. The vibe of the first issue was a lot like the Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein series, and I’m a sucker for any time Frankenstein quotes Milton.

* GLAMOURPUSS #21
The fashion-magazine parodies and the history of a particular school of mid-twentieth-century cartoonists now have so little connecting them that I kind of have to wonder which parts of this series Dave Sim actually enjoys doing and which he feels like he has to do to sell enough copies to break even. I also wonder how accurate his assessment is.

^ THE GREAT NORTHERN BROTHERHOOD OF CANADIAN CARTOONISTS
Seth goes back to the style and tongue-in-cheek tone of Wimbledon Green; this book, like that one, apparently comes from his sketchbooks. Maybe he’s one of those artists who do their most substantial work when they can convince themselves that they’re playing hooky from their “substantial work.”

* ^ % NEW AVENGERS #17
Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato apparently pick up where #16.1 left off a couple of weeks ago–jumping ahead to a post-Fear Itself landscape, in other words, with Norman Osborn on the scene again and the Dark Avengers about to be re-formed. Post-Fear Itself? Do I mean pre-Siege? How quickly is history supposed to repeat itself, again? Oh, right: to try to understand how the lessons of history apply to the Marvel universe, I’m reading Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s current S.H.I.E.L.D. series, whose third issue is out this week too.

^ THE SMURF APPRENTICE
Vol. 8 in the Peyo reprint series (with contributions by Yvan Delporte and Gos). A lot of new editions of kids’ comics from the ’60s appeal primarily to people who were kids in the ’60s; I can testify from personal experience that current six-year-olds love these. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

^ THE UNEXPECTED #1
Another Vertigo-keeps-a-DC-trademark-alive one-shot (in the same week that My Greatest Adventure, of all trademarks, gets revived); Dave Gibbons, Jill Thompson, and a bunch of others contribute short stories. The cover’s by Rafael Grampá: dare we hope for an internal story by him?

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