Previews Picks June 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.
This month's books feature the return of some old friends, including some great titles that have been missing for a while, new material by too-long-absent creators, and reprints of old and beloved material. Look for the "old friend" logo!

By the way, creator and opinion-monger Warren Ellis has started a web site similar to what I've been doing here for the past 4 years, featuring the books he thinks you should be pre-ordering from your comics shop. Check out, and congratulate Warren on the brilliant idea. {smile}

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.

- COLLECTION: Mr. Monster: His Books of Forbidden Knowledge is a series of reprints of Mr. Monster stories by Michael T. Gilbert. This "new" volume 0 collects a bunch of early material culled from various anthologies (e.g. Dark Horse Presents, A-1), plus some new material. 136 pages for $16. [super]

 Top Shelf
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: The Soap Lady is a new novel by Reneé French, whose short-piece collection Marbles in my Underpants was recently released by Oni. She has a beautifully distinctive art style, and the description of the story sounds strangely fascinating. It's in hardcover, 112 pages for $20. [beyond genre]

 The Norm
- SET: The Norm is a strip by Michael Jantze, carried by many fine newspapers... but not mine. The "high concept" is just... well, it's about this guy named Norm. But it's pretty consistently funny and (unlike most of the strips my paper does carry) smart, and thanks to this solicitation, I've just discovered that it's possible to subscribe to it, with Jantze mailing out a "zine" containing reprints of the strips four times a year. Or you can buy The Cube, a boxed set of four 'zines, for $16 (cheaper than ordering it online). [humour]

Roberta Gregory
- COLLECTION: Bitchy Strips! is perhaps not the best title for a one-shot that doesn't actually contain nudity, but that's what it is: a collection of (poorly-circulated) "Bitchy Bitch" newspaper strips by Roberta Gregory... material not included in her ongoing Naughty Bits series from Fantagraphics. $7 for 72 pages. [humour]

 Renaissance Press
- NEW SERIES: You may remember Jimmy Gownley as the creator of Shades of Gray, a much-loved teen drama. He's been missing in action for a few years, but he's back with Amelia Rules!, a series aimed squarely at a pre-teen audience. Mike Allred, Eddie Campbell, and Chris Staros all have good things to say about it. He's drawing comparisons to Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, and Bone, and making some grandiose comments about "the new mainstream", which may be raising expectations a bit much, but a bimonthly full-color comic that kids will actually enjoy is certainly welcome. [all ages]

- SPECIAL: Oni Press Color Special 2001 is another anthology featuring short stories by various Oni-published creators. The feature story is "Who Killed Madman?" by Brian Bendis and Michael Oeming, featuring their "Powers" cop characters investigating characters from Kabuki, Barry Ween, Nocturals, Mage, and Red Star as suspects. Also contributing stories will be Greg Rucka & Stan Sakai, Phil Hester & Mike Huddleston, J.'s Torres & Bone, Chynna Clugston-Major, and others. 48 color pages for $6. [beyond genre] [humour]
- LIMITED SERIES: Another book for Nocturnals fans to check out is The Gunwitch: Outskirts of Doom, a 3-issue story featuring the undead pistol-packing protector from Dan Brereton's spooky "team" book. [fantasy]

- GRAPHIC NOVELLA: Louis: Lying to Clive is another modern fairy tale for all ages by Metaphrog. It looks rather appealing, both intelligent and charming, and the earlier Red Letter Day has received some glowing reviews. It's available in softcover and deluxe hardcover formats, both in full painted color on high-quality paper, starting at {choke} $15 for 58 pages. [all ages] [humour]

Apparently Marvel has started soliciting paperback collections farther in advance. For example, they listed a bunch of books that are shipping in June along with the May pamphlets, and now they're listing books shipping in July. This isn't a bad thing, but it's a bit confusing for the purposes of this column. For the sake of my sanity in keeping it organised, and since now - i.e. April - is the time to order those July books, I'm going to list them here, on this page. So if you want to know what new paperbacks are shipping in June, you should go look at May's Picks.
The fact that Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada was recently the editor of Marvel Knights shows in the amount of attention (new series) and resources (reprints) the imprint is getting:
- NEW SERIES: Punisher gets a new ongoing series, which will feature Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon on the opening 5-issue story arc. [super]
- LIMITED SERIES: Ghost Rider: The Hammer Lane is a six-issue series in which Devin Grayson brings the flaming-skulled biker back out of limbo and onto the streets. Penciled by Trent Kaniuga. [super]
- COLLECTION: Grayson's previous Black Widow books (BW and BW: Breakdowns) are being bound into one volume. With Greg Rucka co-writing one of them, and J.G. Jones and Scott Hampton providing the illustrations, of course. 144 pages for $16. Note: not shipping until July. [super]
- COLLECTION: Ghost Rider: Resurrected reprints the first 7 issues of what Marvel calls "Ghost Rider vol. 2", but which my references cite as the 3rd Marvel series by that name (the one that began in 1990, starring Dan Ketch). They cheerfully tell us it was illustrated by Javier Saltares and Mark Texiera but tactfully neglect to mention that it was written by Howard Mackie. I have no reason to doubt that it's 192 pages for $13. [super]
- REPRINT: Ghost Rider: Highway To Hell is the budget reprint, assembling 62 pages of unspecified GR reprints for a mere $3.50.
- RESOLICITED SERIES: Daredevil: Yellow, the 6-issue limited series by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, is being resolicited, with the presumption that the books will be finished soon enough to ship them this time. [super]
- NEW SERIES: After last month's flood of X-book launches and overhauls, the new Exiles is almost an afterthought. It's written by Judd Winick (of Pedro and Me and Barry Ween fame) and penciled by Mike McKone, and stars Blink and a band of other mutants (I assume) "on a mysterious world on a mysterious quest". The first issue is 48 pages for $3; presumably those to follow will be shorter and cheaper. [super]
- COLLECTION: And remember those "Ultimate" books? The first collection of Ultimate X-Men issues (by Mark Millar and Adam Kubert) is coming, including #1-6 (160 pages) for $15. Note: not shipping until July. [super]
- REPRINT COLLECTION: The Essential Fantastic Four, vol. 3 will include issues #41-62, and annuals #3 and #4, including the world-shattering story of the coming of Galactus. 528 pages in black and white for a mere $15. Note: not shipping until July. [super]

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: All The Wrong Places was begun as a serialised story, but never completed, presumably due to lack of sales. But evidently creator Tom Galambos didn't give up on it, because he's now releasing it in a single volume. It's a somewhat melancholy story about a man who lives with and cares for his dying mother, quietly longing for a neighbour woman who thinks of him as just a friend. $15 for 152 pages. [beyond genre]

After the pre-launch loss of their financial backer, with a couple of their key members now on the payroll at CrossGen, and no real blockbusters in the sale department, the Gorilla imprint has evidently dissolved. Ironically, what appears to be the last book to include the Gorilla logo - only on the inside - was the first Gorilla title announced: Kurt Busiek's Superstar, which just came out. So for those Gorilla-affiliated books that are still coming out, it's back to just the i logo, such as:
- SPECIAL: Tellos: The Last Heist is a stand-alone story intended to serve as either an introduction to the series for new readers, or something to keep existing readers happy while the series itself is on hiatus. It's written by co-creator Todd Dezago with art by Craig Rousseau. 48 pages for $5. [fantasy] [super]
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Chasing Dogma is the story that fills the gap between Kevin Smith's movies Chasing Amy and Dogma, following the adventures of Jay and Silent Bob. It's available only in comics form, illustrated by Duncan Fegredo. 120 color pages for $13. [humour]
- ONE-SHOT: Illustrator Dave Dorman is taking a stab at sequential storytelling (with some writing assistance from Del Stone Jr.), with Rail, a self-contained post-apocalyptic western... which at the least will certainly look good. 48 pages for $6. [sci-fi]

- NEW ANTHOLOGY SERIES: Inkpunks: Quarterly is a sci-fi/action-adventure themed anthology by a batch of (as far as I can tell) new-comers. They promise the same quality as the publisher's other series, but since that's the over-the-top gag book Battle Pope (a new mini-series of which is also starting), that might not be the best sales pitch. [sci-fi]

(For the record, Previews got the name of the publisher wrong; it's "Firebrand", not "Firebird".)
- COLLECTION: In his announcement of its publication, Howard Cruse writes "I've waited a long time for this book. Some of you may even have been waiting a long time for this book." Well, I certainly have. The books is Wendel: All Together, a complete collection of the one-page strip Cruse did for The Advocate back in the 1980's (before the magazine ditched comics in the well-intended-but-misguided pursuit of "respectability"). The strip starred the fresh-faced, idealistic young Wendel Trupstock, along with his boyfriend, co-workers, friends and fellow travellers... kind of like an earlier Dykes To Watch Out For from the gay male perspective. My opinion may be colored by the fact that the strip was running as I came creeping out of the closet, but I consider it first-rate, and it's the reason I knew that the Squiddy-Award-winning Stuck Rubber Baby would be so good. Anyway, it's 280 pages, including every Wendel story ever published, for $18. [les/bi/gay] [humour]
- COLLECTIONS: And speaking of Dykes To Watch Out For, both the first and the latest reprints of Alison Bechdel's long-running series are being offered. It's quite a contrast between the two, as you can can see even from the covers. The first contains mostly one-shot wry observational jokes and merely "good" art; the latest continues an ongoing dramedy with a well-developed cast of characters and some of the best cartooning around. (The cover of Post-Dykes To Watch Out For expertly transforms the central character Mo into: a straight woman, male-female transsexual, female-male transsexual, straight man, gay man, bi woman, bi man, and... gay woman.) If you're a current Dykes reader, the first volume is fun for the early glimpses of the now-familiar characters, though if you're new to the series, More Dykes To Watch Out For (the second volume, which isn't in the catalog but is available at better bookstores) is a better one to check out, as that's where the characters and storytelling start to develop. [les/bi/gay] [humour] [beyond genre]

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Dave Cooper's work has always fascinated me... but always repulsed me enough not to get very far with it. Which to some people may constitute an endorsement. Or the numerous awards he's won might. In any case, he has a new graphic novel Dan & Larry, about a genuinely ugly duckling and his even uglier pal Larry. 108 pages for $10. [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: Meanwhile, Ivan Brunetti subtitles his new book Haw! as "Horrible, Horrible Cartoons", and describes the contents as "each ones less morally escusable than the next." It's 96 pages of mostly single-panel deliberately offensive gags, in digest format (emulating its 50-year-old counterparts) for $9. [humour]
- LIMITED SERIES: Rounding out Fanta's trio of new not-so-nice books this month is Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville, a sequel to the earlier collection of stories by MTV animator Ted Stearn about the titular dull bear and plucked chicken. 4 issues, each 48 pages for $5. [beyond genre]

Eddie Campbell
- COLLECTION: Filling the gap between Eddie Campbell's other two "Alec" collections is Three-Piece Suit. It's a collection of three medium-length books: Graffiti Kitchen, Little Italy, and The Dance of Lifey Death. Campbell's received a bit of attention (and awards) lately for illustrating From Hell, but these books show he's a damn good writer as well. 144 pages for $15. [beyond genre]

DC Universe
- EVENT: Maybe I'm just getting really burned out on DCU events, but "Our Worlds At War" excites me very little. The fact that it's going to take 3 months to finish isn't encouraging either. It'll take over the Superman titles for the duration, and a few other ongoing series (Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Superboy, perhaps more) will be tied into it. There will be some specials that involve other DCU characters (Green Lantern, Batman, Young Justice, and in July and August: JLA, Nightwing, JSA, Wonder Woman, Flash, Harley Quinn, World's Finest) presumably without interfering with their regular series. Fortunately DC promises that it'll be possible to be selective about how much of all this you want to buy and read. [super]
- ANTHOLOGY: Bizarro Comics is a hardcover featuring a host of bizarre interepretations of DC superheroes, with a framing story involving Mxyzptlk and Bizarro to justify them all. In addition to "Superman's Babysitter" by Kyle Baker (which became a cause celebré when a skittish DCU exec pulped the Elseworlds anthology it was included in, because it showed baby Clark in a variety of life-threatening-to-normal-infants situations), it contains works by a whole bunch of alternative comics creators, including names such as (skimming the list) Abel, Forney, Horrocks, Campbell, Crilley, Kochalka, Millionaire, Pope, Thompson, Wray, Haspiel, Kerschbaum, and bunch of other people whose books more people should be reading. At $30, it's a bit pricey, but considering that it's 240 color pages (and in hardcover), that's not bad. [super] [humour]
- GRAPHIC NOVELL: JLA: Gods and Monsters features neither Ian McKellan nor an unusually subtle Brendan Fraser; for that you'll have to rent the movie (without "JLA" in the title) about Frankenstein filmmaker James Whale. What does feature is a story by Dan Jolley and apparent new-comer Josh Krach, and pencils by Scott Benefiel in which the JLA have to deal with hero-worshipping public and an imposter trying to take over the world in their name. 64 pages for $7. [super]
- COLLECTION: Jack Kirby's Fourth World rounds out DC's reprints of Kirby's New Gods stories, collecting Mister Miracle #11-18, with grey tones substituting for the original coloring to keep the cost down. As such it's only $13 for 192 pages. [super] [sci-fi]

DC: Vertigo
- THIS MONTH IN... The Sandman Presents is the beginning of The Dead Boy Detectives, a 4-part story by Ed Brubaker and Bryan Talbot, starring the two dead British schoolboys Edwin and Charles. [fantasy]
- ONE-SHOT: Another item that may be of interest to Sandfans is The Little Endless Storybook, featuring Jill Thompson's dwarf versions of Gaiman's and DC's totemic characters. It's a watercolor-illustrated short story "for mature readers of all ages". 48 pages for $6. [fantasy]
- COLLECTION: The next of the Transmetropolitan books is entitled Lonely City, and reprints issues #25-30 of the series. 144 pages for $15. [sci-fi]

DC: WildStorm
- COLLECTION: Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo's Steampunk got mixed reviews from people who complained that they couldn't follow it, but in case you're willing to take a chance on it, the first story arc - about the protagonist's awakening in a high-tech but Victorianesque world - is coming in paperback. Manimatron reprints issues #1-5, plus the one-shot "Catechism" and the preview. [sci-fi]
- COLLECTION: The collected edition of Promethea by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III is being offered in paperback: 176 pages for $15. [fantasy] [super]

DC Misc.
- ARCHIVE: Joe Kubert is getting similar treatment to Will Eisner, with Archive-class collections of his library of work. The first is Tor, Volume 1, reprinting 144 pages of classic Tor stories in color... and in some case, their original 3-D! Like the DCU and Eisner Archives, it's $50. [super]

DC Paradox Press
- ANTHOLOGY: As the song says, "wild women never get the blues," so The Big Book of Wild Women looks like it could be a lot of fun. The writer is identified only as "Susie the Floozy", but she gets illustration assistance from a bunch of good artists, including Mary Fleener, Lea Hernandez, Eric Shanower, Colleen Doran, Philip Bond, Seth Fisher, Steve Lieber, and Minnie Moore! 192 large-format pages for $15. [beyond genre] [humour]

 Dark Horse
- LIMITED SERIES: I'm not sure why so much fuss is being made about "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon's new series Fray. Admittedly, the only "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I've seen was the funny one: the original movie, so I'm not familiar with why the TV series is so hot. But if you want a serious TV-Buffy-type heroine in a dystopic sci-fi future, check this out. [sci-fi]
- MOVIE TIE-INS: Dark Horse have already decided that the new Planet of the Apes movie is going to be a "smash" and a "blockbuster". In case that's true, they're releasing a one-shot adaptation of the movie (which overhauls and retells the plot of the original) by Scott Allie and Davidé Fabbri (56 pages for $6), and graphic novel set several decades later (to avoid conflicting with hoped-for sequel movies) called The Human War by Ian Edgington and Paco Medina (72 pages for $10, or serialised in three parts at $3 each). [sci-fi]
- SPECIAL: Remember when The X-Files comicbook series was such a hot item? If that had lasted, this full-color one-shot starring The Lone Gunmen would be getting a lot more hype than it is. It's written by the funny Bob Fingerman and Paul Lee, and it if manages to capture the spirit of the TV series (which isn't bad), it should be a fairly entertaining read. [humour]

 Comic Library Intl
- COLLECTION: I'm not familiar with Stormfield, but according to the solicitation, it's a weekly general-audiences strip about a bunch of kids, by Wes Alexander, carried by a fair number of newspapers. Strips 'N' Stuff is an 80-page collection, in the same format as other mainstream comicstrip reprints (the kind bookstores stock and sell by the pound), for $8. [humour] [all ages]
- COLLECTION: The Complete Mr. Beat, Volume 2 reprints a pile of stories featuring Chris Yambar's diminutive beatnik character, including guest appearances by a who's who of modern small-press characters (e.g. Elfquest, Roswell, Rib, 40 Winks, Quicken Forbidden). 152 pages for $14. [all ages] [humour]

- RETURNING SERIES: Jeff Nicholson's Colonia has returned after more than a year AWOL. Issue #6 promises that "now the story truly begins", but in case you want to read the "set up" describing the protagonists arrival in this surreal land of strange people (and not-people), and his initial exploration of the island (and if you want to be entertained, you do), the first five issues are still available. [all ages] [beyond genre]

- NEW SERIES: Shades of Blue is a new series by first-time comics writers James Harris and Rachel Nacion, with art by Greg Grucel (with Cal Slayton taking over with #3). It's about a high-school girl who wakes up one morning with blue hair... and electrical powers that she's not quite sure how to deal with. (Yes, the writers are aware that the series Electric Girl has a similar concept, and hope to avoid duplicating it.) The information I've found about it on the web suggests that it's pretty good, and getting better (three issues are already finished and just now getting distribution through Diamond). [beyond genre] [humour]

Amaze Ink / Slave Labor
- LIMITED SERIES: Jon "Bean" Hastings (whose Smith Brown Jones was an Eisner-nominated gem) is returning with Mad Science, a story starring a group of teenagers, aliens, a mad scientist (of course), and what I expect to be a lot of clever fun. An automatic entry on my "buy" list. [humour] [sci-fi]
- NEW SERIES: Witch is a quarterly series by Glaswegian Lorna Miller. (That means she's from Glasgow, Scotland; Brits have some funky names for the people who come from various places in the Isles.) She pokes at a variety of topics, including (according to the cover) "women alcoholics, teen-age sex, and mad cows". [humour]
- COLLECTION: As a kid-focused title in an aging marketplace, Scott Roberts' Patty Cake has generally been pretty hard to find, so Amaze Ink is reprinting all of the stories to date in a few volumes, starting with the original stories published by the cleverly - but ironically - named Permanent Press, the first three issues of which are included in Sugar & Spice... Mostly Spice. 112 pages for $14. [all ages] [humour]
- COLLECTION: The series Dork is an irregular catch-all for the semi-random material created by multiple-awards-winner Evan Dorkin, and now the collections are being collected. Who's Laughing Now? reprints material from the first 5 issues of the series, reorganised with all the recurring features put together. $12 for 112 pages. [humour]
- SPECIAL: As a benefit for the CBLDF, celebrating the 25th anniversary of comicbook retailer Atlantis Fantasyworld, Song of Mykal features contributions (mostly pin-ups, but also an actual story) from a variety of creators old (e.g. Marty Nodell, Will Eisner, Dick Ayers), new (e.g. Judd Winick, Scott Morse, Linda Medley), and in-between (e.g. Sergio Aragonés, Stan Sakai, Paul Chadwick, Matt Wagner). [fantasy]

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: The Masochists doesn't sound like a particuarly cheerful book, either from its title or from the description: three stories about self-destructive people. Nick Bertozzi's pretty good, though, so if you can handle a little darkness in your literature, you may find this worthwhile. 128 pages for $15. [beyond genre]

- RETURNING SERIES: A new issue of Strangehaven hasn't been seen since the 1900's, but evidently Gary Spencer Millidge has not dropped off the face of the earth, nor been consumed by Hollywood. (The series has been optioned for TV and/or movie production.) It includes a four-page recap for those new to the series... or whose memories may need jogging. [beyond genre]

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