Previews Picks December 2000
Selective highlights and researched insights into the most interesting new comics offered in each month's Previews catalog (without spoilers).
About these pages, and other months' books

Key:[super]Super/Action, [humour]Humour/Fun, [sci-fi]SF, [fantasy]Fantasy, [all ages]All Ages, [les/bi/gay]Les/Bi/Gay, [smut]Smut [beyond genre]Beyond Genre.
You can tell that December is both holiday gift-purchasing time and the end of the accounting year for some, because there are a good number of somewhat pricey items on the way. Just keep in mind that you're permitted to buy a special gift or two for yourself, so don't worry if your monthly budget doesn't quite work out this time. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Listings are in reverse order by publisher. Prices and page count are mentioned if it's outside the arbitrary industry "norm" (i.e. 24-32 pages, $2-4). Items I think are especially worth checking out are offset in boxes.

BOOKS section

- COLLECTION: Scores of cartoonists looked up to Sparky Schulz, but the one he admired most was Bill Mauldin, the World-War-II-era artist/soldier whose cartoons featuring the cynical grunts Willie and Joe reflected the collective soul of the American enlisted man. Up Front is a hardcover reprinting 240 pages of Mauldin's work, for $25. [humour]

- COLLECTION: Fans of Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer will be pleased to learn that 1,000 copies of "Genius Grant" recipient Ben Katchor's book Cheap Novelties have been unearthed, and are being offered for sale. 108 pages for $13. [beyond genre]

COMICS and PREMIER sections

What's Next
- LIMITED SERIES: Smoke is a 12-issue series by Tyhib Rawls that tries to combine sci-fi, martial arts, and fantasy in a single package, with a multi-cultural cast to boot. [super] [sci-fi]

- LIMITED SERIES: Some people call him the Space Cowboy, some call him a "retro sci-fi" hero by J.Davied Spurlock. Some people call the artists on the first issue of this series Al Williamson and Gray Morrow. The solcitation blurb boasts of art by Carmine Infantino as well, but the advert doesn't, which makes me suspect it's just a pin-up. Each issue will be 48 glossy pages, for $5. [sci-fi]

 Top Shelf
- COLLECTION: Hutch Owen is the simply-drawn philosopher/street-anarchist protagonist of a series of stories by Tom Hart. Featured in this collection are two proviously-published Hutch stories, and two new ones, which presents a bit of a dilemma for those of us who've already read the former, but a nice opportunity for those new to Hart's work. 176 pages for $15. [beyond genre]

 Sorhenn Grafiks
- SERIES OF COLLECTIONS: Metropol is kind of Ted McKeever's magnum opus, a series of series about apocalypse and salvation. Things are about to get easier for those trying to assemble the whole thing, as the first of 5 volumes reprinting "the director's cut" is on the way. The first (and presumably subsequent) volume is 96 pages for $12. [beyond genre] [sci-fi]

 Sick Mind
- COLLECTION: Sheba by Walter Crane is a series with an odd subject: the mummified pet cat of Cleopatra, and her travels in the afterlife, where she encounters a variety of mythological characters. It was published for a while by Sirius (under their "Dog Star" imprint), but it's back to self-publishing. This second collection includes the second half of the series, including the possibly-final issue that never came out. 164 pages for $15. Volume 1 is listed as well, so you can get both at once. [fantasy] [humour]

- SET: Another opportunity to play catch-up on something good is a set of Forty Winks issues by Vincent Sneed and sundry artists, about Pandora Spocks, 9-year-old protector of the Dreamscape. 12 issues (originally $3 each) for only $20. [fantasy] [all ages]

Pakkins Presents
- COLLECTION: Gary and Rhoda Shipman definitely deserve an award for persistence. Their Pakkins' Land has been part of Caliber's ill-fated all-ages "Tapestry" imprint, published through Image (which just isn't cut out to promote books for kids), featured on the Mania site (again, out of place on a fanboy-oriented site), and now they're self-publishing, which should give them the freedom to sell to both the direct market and the bookstore market without the albatross of their publishers' images. The series is often compared to C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, as they both feature young protagonists, some talking animals, and some creative religious allegory. Anyway, the first volume is a revised edition of "Paul's Adventure", the first Pakkins series, to be followed by collected editions of the two follow-ups in March and June. 128 pages for $16. [fantasy] [all ages]

- COLLECTION: Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright is a reprint of the brit-pop-referencing series by Chynna Clugston-Major, along with the short stories that have appeared in Action Girl and various defunct anthologies. 112 pages for $11. [beyond genre]

- LIMITED ANTHOLOGY SERIES: Meathaus features the work of New York artists, including Smith's Adventures in the Super-Mundane Farel Dalrymple (also with a new solo book from Cryptic Press) and award-winners Tomer Hanuka and Zac Baldus. Looks like some artsy, pretentious, but cool, fun stuff. And each issue (12 are planned) is only $2. [beyond genre]

- NEW SERIES: It'd be cooler if it had come out five months earlier, and if it featured the movie versions of the characters, but at least Ultimate X-Men will be free of the current byzantine plotting and unfathomable backstory of the "standard" X-Men books, and there's only one of it to buy each month. It's written by Mark Millar and penciled by Adam Kubert, and features all-new versions of the mutants, updated fresh for 2001. Like the Spidey book before it, the first issue is 48 story pages for $3, subsequent issues will be the standard 32 pages (including ads) for $2.50.
(As a side note, Marvel is also reformatting the Ultimate books for the newsstand market. They'll be standard magazine size, and the plan is to alternate between Spidey and X-Men each month, with each issue containing the equivalent of two direct-market issues - plus other stuff - for $4. Larger pages, longer story chunks, and a lower price? And all I have to do is wait a little longer? I think I'll be buying Ultimate Marvel at the grocery store, thanks.) [super]
- THIS MONTH IN... The Mighty Thor is the usual 22-page "current" story by Dan Jurgens and Andy Kubert, along with 64 pages of reprints featuring the work of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Walt Simonson. And I guess 14 pages of covers, text features, and adverts... adding up to a "100-Page Monster" for $3.50. [super]
- LIMITED SERIES: Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine is a 12-issue series in which Erik Larsen and Eric Stephenson try to create one last Lee/Kirby-style adventure for the famous family. Which should be either a nice stroll down memory lane, or a pathetic attempt to recapture someone else's past glory, depending on how well they pull it off. (If I were the new Editor In Chief, I'd institute a moratorium on stories set in the early days of any classic characters' history; while they may be fascinating to old-timers, I think the industry needs more new stories for new readers.) [super]
- ONE-SHOTS: With the Sentry series in full swing, it's time for a bunch of team-up one-shots featuring the stars of the early Marvel Universe with this new "old friend" of theirs. Paul Jenkins writes each one, with Rick Leonardi penciling the Spider-Man book, Bill Sienkiewicz the Hulk story, Phil Winslade the Fantastic Four team-up, and Mark Texeira the X-Men book. [super]

- COLLECTION: Finder by Carla Speed McNeil is one of the most oft-mentioned series on "comics you aren't reading but should be" lists. And for the "I'm waiting for the collection" buyers, the second one is on the way, reprinting #8-14. (And I'll bet you dollars to donuts the first one's still available.) 176 pages for $20. [sci-fi]

Lego Mania
- NEW SERIES: I'm an "old school" Lego player, from back when a "maniac" was a bad person, and if you wanted Lego "people" to play with, you had to make them out of little bricks and imagination, rather than getting them premolded and accessorised. But kids these days expect more, so I guess I can't fault the Lego folks for featuring these prefab characters in digitally-rendered media in these new comics, written by Alan Grant. There are two Lego Comics Presents titles offered (listed as "#1" by Diamond, but they seem to be stand-alones): Knights Kingdom: Medieval Mischief and Mayhem and Rock Raiders: High Adventure Deep Underground. Each is 48 pages in color for $5. [all ages] [super]

Jungle Boy
- NEW SERIES: Novavolo is an anthology that sounds like it could be called Jai Nitz & Friends, as he has a hand in most of the features. The exception is a couple stories of The Wretch by Phil Hester and friends. The other features are more superhero comedies of various sorts, including one about washed-up heroes on the con circuit, a Kirby-esque monster with unwashed underwear, and an undead Kennedy re-entering politics. $4 for 32 pages. [beyond genre]

- REPRINT: Lazarus Churchyard is a graphic novel Warren Ellis wrote before he became "it", illustrated by D'Israeli. It's about virtually immortal junkie living in a future dystopia who just wants to die, but can't. This edition is subtitled "The Final Cut" as it adds another new story to the ones previously published. It's 128 pages for $15. [sci-fi]
- COLLECTION: If 480 pages weren't "the definitive collection", we'd be in trouble, because that's getting to be pretty darn big already. The book is Brian Michael Bendis' Jinx, and this expanded version of the collected edition (with "behind the scenes" stuff added and more pricey paper stock) is $25. [beyond genre]

 Ice World
- NEW SERIES: Theater of the Meek is a Xeric-funded set of rather personal short stories by Robyn Chapman, some of whose art reminds me a wee bit of Megan Kelso's. She's been flogging it herself across the US; now she's getting some actual distribution for it. [beyond genre]

- NEW SERIES: If you're into adolescent rebellion humour, check out Angry Youth Comix by Johnny Ryan. [beyond genre]
- SPECIAL: Peter Bagge is putting out a first Hate "annual", featuring 48 pages of odds and ends, including a full-color Buddy story, and some web journalism pieces, for $4. [beyond genre] [humour]

- SET: If you missed J. Torres' and Takeshi Miyazawa's fun teen superhero book Sidekicks #1, and didn't pre-order #2 or #3 (both delayed to allow the artist to computer-tone the work), it's definitely not too late to get them. A package of all three is being offered for $7.50. Or throw in an extra $2.50 and get a holiday card featuring a never-to-be-reprinted piece of art. [super]

DC Universe
- SPECIAL: Dan Brereton is bringing his distinctive painting and his sense of the macabre to JLA: Seven Caskets, in which the Magnificent Seven confront an encroaching malevolence on Earth, which threatens to overtake them as well. 48 pages for $6. [super] [fantasy]
- COLLECTION: Continuing the reprints of Grant Morrison's and Howard Porter's JLA is World War III, featuring the big finale of Morrison's run. It's 200 pages for the nice price of $13. [super]
- SOFTCOVER REPRINT: Meanwhile Morrison's and Frank Quitely's JLA: Earth 2, featuring the JLA's evil counterparts from the anti-matter universe, is being offered in paperback, 96 pages for the not-so-nice-but-hey-it's-cheaper-than-the-hardcover price of $15. [super]
- COLLECTION: Another recent arc to be collected is the fourth volume of No Man's Land, including 224 pages of last year's Batman books for the also-nice price of $13. [super]
- NEW CREATORS: Joe Kelly and Pascual Ferry are taking over for creators Kesel and Grummett on Superboy, beginning with a story in which Kon-El struggles with the greatest evil he's faced: becoming passé. [super]
- REPRINTS: The final and ultimate set of Millennium Editions include the #1 issues of Batman (Gardner Fox, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Sheldon Moldoff, et al.); Superboy (Don Cameron, Bill Finger, John Sikela, et al.); and The Shadow (Denny O'Neil and William Kaluta); and All Star Comics #8 (Gardner Fox, William Moulton Marston, et al.) featuring the first appearance of Wonder Woman. [super]

DC: Vertigo
- COLLECTION: The first new Swamp Thing collection in ages is finally coming, after DC recently put the first two back into print. The Curse reprints #35-42 of the acclaimed Alan Moore and Steve Bissette run. 192 pages for $20. [super] [fantasy]
- LIMITED SERIES: The Names of Magic picks up after the closing of The Books of Magic, and in five issues sets things up for a new ongoing series featuring a somewhat older Tim Hunter. It's written by Dylan Horrocks (creator of the excellent graphic novel Hicksville) with art by Richard Case. [fantasy]

 DC: WildStorm
- - LIMITED SERIES: Sam Kieth's first series since ending The Maxx is Zero Girl about a teenager who talks to insects and wherever she goes weird things happen, and her efforts to deal with this and the rest of the world. Should be a treat. It'll run 5 issues. [beyond genre]
- - SPECIAL: As the cover with the four Trek TV captains suggests, WildStorm's Star Trek Special contains stories set in various Federation locales featuring various crews, with creators drawn from both sci-fi novels and comics, such as Andy Mangels, Paul Neary, Ben Raab, Ian Edgington, Jeff Lang, Steve Lieber, Christopher Hinz, Stuart Moore, and Gordon Purcell. [sci-fi]

 Dark Horse
- COLLECTION: The Deadly Gourmet Affair reprints the first three issues of Peter David's and Pop Mhan's high-school/espionage series Spyboy. 80 pages for $9. [super]

- NEW SERIES: Pop Gun War is a story by Farel Dalrymple (whose name is popping up a lot lately) about an inner-city boy who finds and puts on the amputated wings of an angel. It's an intriguing premise, I like Dalrymple's earlier one-shot Smith's Adventures in the Super Munane, and I'm hearing good things from people who've seen it. Issues are $2 each. [beyond genre]

- NEW SERIES: Com.X are launching their new publshing company with a bit of self-assured bravado, though the "under construction" sign at the advertised web site undermines that a bit. Their debut item is Com.X #0, which includes four stories that they promise/threaten will never be reprinted, by Neil Googe, John Higgins, Siku, and Tervor Hairsine, 44 pages for $6. They claim that all of England are talking about them... so I ask my English readers: what's being said? [beyond genre]

Bad Cat
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Surf Clowns: Seven Mental Missions is an "illustrated novel" by Hawaiians Leslie Connel Lyon (literature major and school teacher) and Charles Lyon (airbrush artist and surfer). It's about four surfer dudes who magically get turned into clowns one day, and is wholesome fun designed to appeal to readers 10 and up. Both the surf media and more education-minded folks seem to love it. I couldn't find any actual sample pages to figure out just what they mean by "illustrated novel", but they're obviously using words and pictures to tell the story. It's 170 pages in color for $30. [all ages] [humour]

- LIMITED SERIES: Stranger Kisses is rather obviously a sequel to Warren Ellis' and Mike Wolfer's Strange Kiss, trying to out-do the original. One can hardly stand the wait for Strangest Lots Of Kisses. 3 issues. [sci-fi]

  Amaze Ink / Slave Labor
- NEW SERIES: Readers of Tommy Kovac's Stitch mini-series will recall the interludes featuring the cute li'l bunnies who were transformed into cute li'l undead bunnies. Now the Skelebunnies have their own title, with all new material. [fantasy] [humour]
- COLLECTION: And folks who didn't ready Tommy Kovac's Stitch have a chance to rectify that mistake by buying this reprint. It doesn't include the Skelebunnies pages, but it does include the entire tale (so far) of a little rag doll who "wakes up" with no recollection of how he came to be, but a nagging sense that he used to be a real boy. As he explores, he meets a variety of living toys, including some other boys and girls, as well as monstrosities who threaten him, bully him, and tease him for being a "fancy boy". $12 for... they don't say, but it's somewhere around 100 pages. [fantasy]

- COLLECTION: Transmetropolitan penciler Darick Robertson has dug out an old project from the indy boom of the 1980's called Space Beaver, an anthropomorphic space opera. AIT is reprinting it in two volumes, the first of which is 144 pages for $13. [sci-fi]

- ONE-SHOT: Call it "The Second Life of The Second Life of Doctor Mirage". Like most of the earlier VH2 "reboots" this one keeps some of the basic concept intact (a murdered man presumably brought back from the dead with help from his wife), but changes a lot of the details. It's written by Acclaim editor James Perham with pencils by Jack Jadson. The book is listed as "#1", but Acclaim's published publishing schedule for the coming several months doesn't mention a #2 or later, so I'm assuming this is just a one-shot. (The same schedule also lists one-shots featuring Magnus, Bloodshot, and Harbinger next summer, as well as a monthly series of reprints of a web-published anthology.) [super]

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