Previews Picks July 2001
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.
The theme this month is "what are you doing here?" It mostly involves people and things popping up in unexpected places (or even just having them pop up at all). Not that this is necessarily a bad thing or a good thing. It's just a surprising or confusing thing.

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

Graphitti Designs
- HARDCOVERS: I don't cover ancillary merchandise like the t-shirts that are Graphitti's stock in trade, but they also put out some limited-edition hardcovers (which are mysteriously still solicited in the "Apparel" section), such as the out-of-print Stray Toasters by Bill Sienkiewicz. It's 208 pages in a fancy package, signed by Sin-KEV-itch, for $70. Their earlier hardcover, signed collection of the two Whiteout stories (to date) by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber is also re-listed.

- COLLECTION: Wild Cards is a rarity: a series of superhero stories set in a shared universe, which was not done in comics or motion-picture form. It's prose. No pictures. Various "authors" (as people who write prose are described) contributed to this "legendary" series, and what appears to be the first of several reprints is being solicited. Like 73% of all sci-fi anthologies, it's edited by George R.R. Martin. 320 pages for $14.

 Top Shelf
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Pistolwhip is a story by two out-of-nowhere newcomers, who apparently just gave a home-made copy of their graphic novel to Top Shelf (among others), who responded by signing the young gents to a publishing contract. Matt Kindt and Jason Hall are their names, and their first published novel is set in the early part of the last century, featuring a variety of "morally ambiguous characters", in a well-crafted story that (the publisher assures us) rewards re-reading. 128 "aged" pages for $15. Online preview.
- ONE-SHOT: Mephisto and the Empty Box is another story by Kindt and Hall, perhaps the better choice if you're skeptical of the publisher's enthusiasm. (Though I've generally found Top Shelf's selection of material to be top-notch.) It's about a pair of newlyweds who attend a magic show, featuring the character and the ominous item mentioned in the title. It's set in the same milieu as Pistolwhip, but the stories are independent of each other. Online preview.

Titan Books
- GRAPHIC NOVELS: Titan Books (who publish a lot of paperbacks under licence in the UK) are putting some older works by well-known British creators back in print. Taken originally from the quaintly-titled 2000 A.D., they're starting with a complete collection of The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibbons, a 50th Century sci-fi epic featuring what one observer called "the first feminist heroine in comics". 192 pages (9"x12") for $20. And for the more testosterone-hungry, there's Judge Dredd: The Emerald Isle, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. 80 color pages (9"x12") for $15.

South Jersey Rebellion
- LIMITED SERIES: The Fix is "new" story from Tony DiGerolamo (one he's had planned for many years) illustrated by twin artists Brian and Brendon Fraim (probably best known for their work on The Waiting Place). There's a 4-issue comicbook series starting in July, and a novel-with-some-comics-material coming in August. Each issue (as well as the novel) tells a separate story featuring the world's worst detective... who possesses the most powerful substance in the Universe.

Soaring Penguin
- NEW ANTHOLOGY: Meanwhile... is actually on its 4th issue, but this is their first distributed by Diamond to America. This one (their largest issue to date) features a trademark Strangehaven cover and story by Gary Spencer Millidge, along with contributions from various other British creators. 96 pages for $10.

- ERRATA: Due to a paste-up mistake in the catalog, it would appear that Metropol volume 3 by Ted McKeever is being published by Soaring Penguin. In fact, it's published by Sorhenn Grafiks.

- COLLECTION: Scary Godmother: Wild About Harry collects the recent series by Jill Thompson, about a freeloading werewolf's attempts to get by after being kicked out of his parents' house. 80 pages for $10.

Shanda Fantasy Arts
- NEW SERIES: Circles is a semi-annual series about the residents of 6 Kinsey Circle, who happen to be six anthropomorphic gay male animals (yes, one of them is a bear), who share an apartment building. The creators are Andrew Frensh, Steven Domanksi, and Scott Fabianek. It's hard to tell much just from that and the cover art, but it sounds like it could be fun. 40 pages for $5.
- NEW PUBLISHER: Appropriately enough, Sheba has a new lease on life. This series by Walter Crane is about the mummified pet cat of Cleopatra and her travels in the afterlife. It was published for a while by Sirius (under their "Dog Star" imprint), went back to self-publishing (where Crane recently released two collections), and now begins a third volume courtesy of Shanda (conveniently staying on the same page of the catalog). 48 pages for $5.

 Renaissance Press
- NEW ANTHOLOGY SERIES: Despite the implication of the name, The Forbidden Book is not an adults-only book. The title refers to the magical subject matter of the series. The cover art by Michael Cohen reminds me of Mythography (to which he regularly contributed covers), but the issues of this series are even more substantial: 120 pages each (for $10). The caliber of the contributors is comparable, however, with Marv Wolfman, Craig Taillefer, Jean-Marc Lofficier, Colleen Doran, Steven Blue, Eric Shanower, David Wenzel, and Steve Lieber slated for the first couple issues.

- NEW SERIES: If nothing else, Trog is one of the more distinctive-looking items this month. It's produced by Mike Bennewitz using a combination of photographic and digital media, and stars an ape with a lightbulb coming out of the top of his head. The opening story (The Bacta Tank Botch-Up) is promised to be the beginning of a complete graphic novel. There's a bit FX-for-the-sake-of-it kewlness to it, but interesting nonetheless. 32 pages for $5.

- COLLECTION: A paperback version of Breakfast After Noon a tale of romance and unemployment set in modern England, by Andi Watson is being offered. 200 pages for $20.
- SPECIAL: Jingle Belle: The Mighty Elves features Paul Dini's elfen character in the North Pole Hockey League, joined by artist J. Bone.
- LIMITED SERIES: Dan Brereton is writing and painting aother Nocturnals story entitled The Dark Forever, a three-part adventure in which the motley team of monsters rejoins to prevent a disaster "of biblical proportions". For those unfamiliar with the crew, they're kind of a mystical X-Men, creatures of this world and others, banded together to fight Evil on behalf of a world that truly fears them. But in a fun way. {smile}

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: The creators of E-Man - Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton - are back together with Captain Cosmos: The Last Starveyer, a 1950's-style space adventure story. 88 pages for $10.

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Cities of the Fantastic (also known as Stories of the Fantastic) is a series of poular European graphic novels by Belgians François Schuiten and Benoit Peeters, each dealing with architecture and urban development in an futuristic sci-fi setting. Brusel, the latest, is about a man who develops synthetic flowers using a technology which is quickly appropriated to rebuild and overhaul cities, with some alarming effects. 120 pages in hardcover for $20. Previous novels in the series (varying amounts cheaper) are also listed.

Note: Marvel solicits paperback collections a month further in advance; see last month's picks for collections shipping in July.
- NEW IMPRINT: Startling Stories is the name of a new imprint that will give "name" creators a chance to tell stories using various Marvel characters without fussing over continuity. I'm not sure whether this is going to be a regular monthly title with creators and characters rotating every few months (like Legends of the DCU) or just a common moniker for mini-series of this sort (like Elseworlds). The first story will be by Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben, about the Hulk... or as the story's subtitle refers to him "Banner".
- NEW SERIES: With all the attention (and sales) going to Daredevil, it was only a matter of time before Elektra got put back on the shelves. The hot Brian Bendis is launching the series (though he's only staying to write the first story arc), and the talented Chuck Austen (whose previous series Strips probably raised a few... eyebrows at Marvel) will remain the ongoing artist. The first issue will be 48 pages for $3.50; subsequent issues will be standard format.
- THIS MONTH IN... Daredevil, Marvel tries to play catch-up. Because of all the delays on the previously-solicited story arcs, this one by screeenwriter Bob Gale and Phil Winslade is apparently just sitting in a drawer waiting to go, so they'll be shipping it biweekly for the next few months.
- COLLECTION: Daredevil/Spider-Man, a 4-issue team-up between the re-newly-popular Man Without Fear and the ever-popular Spidey, by Paul Jenkins and Phil Winslade, is being reprinted. 96 pages for $12.
- THIS MONTH IN... Tangled Web (kind of a Startling Stories just for Spidey) is a self-contained story by Greg Rucka and Eduardo Risso, about an employee of the Kingpin who finds himself thwarted by Spider-Man.
- COLLECTION: The title of Spider-Man Visionaries: John Romita, Sr. pretty much sums it up. It's be 192 pages of Amazing Spider-Man issues selected from the elder Romita's portfolio (in the #39-#109 range), for $20.
- COLLECTION: Flesh and Stone, the initial 5-issues on Fantastic Four by Carlos Pacheco and scripter Jeph Loeb is being reprinted. 112 pages for $15.
- LIMITED SERIES: Grant Morrison is getting a chance to have his twisted way with the Fantastic Four in a series entitled 1 2 3 4. OK, so the rumoured sexual angle to the characters' relationship will remain merely subtext, but it should be an interesting ride in any case. Each issue will focus primarily on a single member of the team/family. Art by the good-but-overrated Jae Lee.
- COLLECTION: The first six issues of Peter David's abd Chriscross' current Captain Marvel series are being reprinted as First Contact. 160 pages for $17.

- LIMITED SERIES: Little Red Hot: Bound is another story by Dawn Brown starring her assassin named Chane. Brown has a cool, distinctive art style, which should look even nicer in color, and her writing isn't just clichéd "female assassin" stuff. This 3-issue series is apparently a test to see if it sells well enough to become an ongoing bimonthly series.
- COLLECTION: They're calling Clerks: The Comic Books "new" this and "new" that, but it sounds like just a repackaging of the three one-shots that came out (and were collected) previously, with the N-word being for the benefit of folks outside comics fandom, seeing this stuff for the first time. Am I mistaken?

- GRAPHIC NOVELLA: The Town That Didn't Exist is a short graphic novel by Enki Bilal with Pierre Christin. It's about a town on the edge of economic shutdown whose fate takes a strange turn when the factory is taken over by the aristocratic granddaughter of its late owner. 56 pages in color, in hardcover, for $15.

Drawn & Quarterly
- COLLECTION: Long Time Relationship is as much an art book as it is comics, featuring prints and illustrations by Julie Doucet, exploring themes of modern masculinity, female sexuality, fortune cookies, and discarded family portraits. 152 pages in hardcover for $20.
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: The Golem's Mighty Swing is about baseball in the 1920's, telling a story by James Sturm of a Jewish team whose publicity gimmick - playing up their different culture and the mythology of the Golem - turns out to be a double-edged sword. The advert has a nice little quote from Will Eisner. 112 pages for $13.
- COLLECTION: Set a little more recently, Summer of Love reprints the entire Nowhere series by Ignatz-Award-winner Debbie Drechsler, recounting the story of a girl coming to terms with her sexuality after moving to a new town. 144 pages in hardcover, printed in two-color ink, for $25.

Devil's Due
- NEW SERIES: Misplaced is a quarterly series by Joshua Blaylock about a young woman who has escaped from alien kidnappers, and now debates whether or not fishnets and black fingernail polish will go with her jetpack, but with some hidden depth, which will be explored as the series progresses.

DC Universe
Not much interesting new stuff this month, as this summer's big "event" Our Worlds At War gets most of the editorial and marketing attention.
- LIMITED SERIES: If not for the fact that former Marvel honcho Stan Lee is behind it, Just Imagine... probably wouldn't be happening. Basically, it's another version of the half-successful Tangent books from a few years ago, in which writers were given free reign to "reconceive" a bunch of established DC trademarks in an all-new universe. Lee is teaming up with a variety of well-known artists on each of five characters: Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash, then making a new Justice League out of them. Each book will include a back-up story about orginary people affected by these new heroes. Joe Kubert is his collaborator on the new Batman, with Jim Lee, John Buscema, Dave Gibbons, Kevin Maguire, and Jerry Ordway doing subsequent ones. (Another batch of books is planned for next year, including a Stan-Lee version of The Crisis.)
- COLLECTION: Batman: Evolution reprints the first several issues of Greg Rucka's relaunch of Detective Comics after "No Man's Land" finished (skipping the one issue immediately following NML, which was more of an epilogue to that story than the beginning of a new one). Shawn Martinbrough did the most of the art, with some fill-in work by Phil Hester and others. (The Jacobian serial - or as I prefer to call it "The Hunch-Backup of Notre Détective" - is not included.) 224 pages for $13.
- COLLECTION: The collected editions of DC's top-selling JLA are continuing with Mark Waid's run on the series. Tower of Babel reprints Waid's first storyline from #43-46, along with several self-contained stories (from #42 and the Secret Files and 80-Page Giant put out around the same time) by various other writers, including D.Curtis Johnson, John Ostrander, and Christopher Priest. 160 pages for $13.
- COLLECTION: Fanboy is being collected. This was a fun comedy series by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragonés set just outside the DCU, with help from various superhero artists drawing appropriate "fantasy" sequences for the geeky protagonist. 144 pages for $13.
- SPECIAL: A lot of people wondered if we'd ever see DC's "world heroes" from last years' annuals again; one of them (Nemesis) is getting a repeat appearance in JSA: Secret Files, which also features the usual assortment of pin-up/info pages and short stories. The writers include Geoff Johns, David Goyer, and D. Curtis Johnson. 64 pages for $5.

DC: Vertigo
- NEW SERIES: Hunter: The Age of Magic is the sequel to The Books of Magic, starring an adult (but not fully grown up) Tim Hunter, leapfrogging that more famous young British magician in age (the Potter series will end when Harry reaches adulthood) and joining the demographic of Vertigo's readers. Dylan Horrocks and Richard Case, who wrote and illustrated the Names of Magic bridging series, will be producing it, and it seems they're going to be revisiting some of the other places Tim toured as a lad (going to Gemworld, at least).
- COLLECTION: Entropy in the U.K. rounds out the reprints of the first volume of The Invisibles by Grant Morrison et al. It includes issues #17-25, a hefty 232 pages for $20.

 Dark Horse
- ANNUAL: Imagine: an annual that comes out every year! Dark Horse Maverick is keeping up that record, with a second anthology featuring short pieces by creators who are part of their creator-controlled imprint. Contributors include Stan Sakai, Sergio Aragonés, Matt Wagner, J.R. Williams, Denis Kitchen, Charles Berberian & Phillipe Dupuy, and a newcomer named Will Eisner. I don't usually pay much attention to covers, but I think it's cool that this one features a rendering of Sakai's ronin rabbit Usagi by Frank Miller... currently doing covers for the Lone Wolf and Cub reprints about a ronin and his boy, and known for a book of his own entitled Ronin. Has Miller ever drawn Robert DeNiro?
- COLLECTION: New Madman material comes too infrequently; the reprint collections even more so. Heaven and Hell reprints 136 pages of the adventures of Mike Allred's signature character, also featuring Mattress and Crept, a couple of very early denizens of Frank Einstein's world. $18.

- NEW SERIES: Sojourn is the latest new series by staff writer Ron Marz with art by new employee Greg Land. In this one, the mystical sigil is borne by an evil warlord, and the hero is a woman archer on a quest to take him down.

Cross Plains
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: I'm not sure what to make of Necrotic: Dead Flesh on a Living Body. For one thing, it's by Scalera, Swank, and P.Quinn, not Robert E. Howard, and I thought Cross Plains existed solely to publish his work. Plus, the description sounds at turns both ironic and horrific. Anyway, it's 64 color pages for $7.

CPM Manga
- LIMITED SERIES: Astra is an unlikely-sounding collaboration between Jerry Robinson (creator of Batman's pal the Joker), singer/songwriter Sidra Cohn, and manga creators Ken-ichi Oishi and Shojin Tanaka. It's an 8-issue "sexy sci-fi romp" about the princess of an all-woman society who is sent off into the universe to replenish their supply of sperm, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out where this is going. Of course something like this could be either tacky or just a lot of fun, depending of course on your tastes.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- ANTHOLOGY: Every year, in conjunction with the Small Press Expo, CBLDF puts out a huge collection of donated short pieces by alternative comics creators, which it sells at a modest price as a fund-raiser for their efforts to protect the rights of comics creators (as well as those who sell and read them). Expo 2001 weighs in at 352 pages for $8 which is a good price even if you only like a quarter of it... and if you're at all like me, you'll like more of it than that.

- COLLECTION: If you're among those reading Jeff Smith's Bone as the hardcovers come out, Ghost Circle (volume 7) is coming; 160 pages for $25. (The paperback will come a month later.)
- REPRINT: To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Bone #1, Smith is releasing a remastered color edition with commentary by R.C. Harvey, and extra knicknacks: a painted PVC figure of Fone Bone and a Phoney Bone Gazillion dollar bill. All for $6, which is pretty inexpensive for a pointless collectors-item package like this. {smile}

Amaze Ink / Slave Labor
- LIMITED SERIES: Slow News Day is a story by the talented Andi Watson (whose Breakfast After Noon is being collected by Oni Press) about a California reporter transplanted to a small-town English newspaper. It will run for 6 issues.
- SPECIAL: The Pants Ant Trouser Hour is a one-shot spin-off starring the Sugar Buzz character, by Ian Carney and Woodrow Phoenix. 48 pages for $5.
- IRREGULAR SERIES: Another issue of Evan Dorkin's eclectic, Squiddy-winning series Dork is on the way!

- NEW SERIES: Opposable Thumbs is a new solo series by Dean Haspiel. The first issue is 48 pages for $5, collecting "semi-auto-bio" material that's previously appeared elsewhere (including Keyhole ), with future issues being all new material.

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