Comics & Coffee: 8/8/12

RASL by Jeff Smith. Click to buy from Jeff’s site.

Wednesday is a day to buy new comics and drink coffee.

When I mentioned last week that the impact of Jeff Smith ending his RASL series would probably be delayed until the final plus-size trade came out, I didn’t realize it would be coming out just a week later. I already grabbed a copy and can’t wait to read it. Actually, I’ll probably go back and read the series in full since it’s so short.

Also out today are new issues of two of my recent favorites, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. and Spongebob Comics. I’m running behind on both but I’ll probably fix that before next week. I’m also picking up the first of the five-issue Godzilla: The Half-Century War (by the great James Stokoe) and thelatest in the Space Punisher miniseries, which has beautifully painted art and doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, which is an attractive combo for me.

The most notable single-issue release is probably the latest in Scott Snyder’s Batman saga, a series I’m miraculously not behind on. This one is sort of an epilogue to the popular Night of the Owls “event” and a kickoff for the next arc. I really enjoyed what Snyder and Greg Capullo did with all the Owls nonsense, even while getting worn out on a lot of its ideas. It seems like all of the recent reputable Batman stories have tried too deliberately to tie everything into the deep history of the character and of Gotham City, each one adding their own specific wrinkles to an increasingly convoluted timeline. I’d like to see a shift at this point towards some in-the-moment or forward-thinking stories, and maybe even some one-and-done stories without as much overhead. That may sound like I’m just wanting mindless action out of my Batman comics, but it’s more that I enjoy the haiku-like simplicity of that world at its most stripped-down form. Alternately, I also like it when it’s in mind-bending crazy-town mode, so I loved that psychological torture segment in the Hall of the Owls or whatever, and I’d welcome more of that kind of thing as well.

I also just caught up on all the Adventure Time comics, including the Marceline and the Scream Queens spinoff which has its second issue out today. Those are all fun, frequently laugh-out-loud comics with a lot of great talent involved, though I’m not quite with the general consensus that they stand on their own. Some of the quickie back-up stories, which come from both big names like Paul Pope and personal favorites like Anthony Clark, take a very comics-specific approach to reinterpreting the characters but the main feature has so far played out more like an illustrated bonus episode of the show, indebted to the original format, continuity, and style. I’m being overly nitpicky because they’re still a lot of fun, but I really like how experimental the aforementioned Spongebob Comics is with its adaptation, and would love to see these go even further off-model.

The other new releases that interest me today are a wealth of non-mainstream collections and graphic-novel curiosities that I’m too cheap or unfamiliar with to order but will keep an eye out for. The most popular will be the first colorized, plus-sized hardcover in the Scott Pilgrim reprint series. That series is one of maybe 2 or 3 black-and-whites I’ve ever read that made me think, “This would be great in color,” so I’m excited that it’s happening, though those comics don’t really start clicking with me until at least the second volume. There’s a Grendel omnibus which looks like an excellent collection of some material I already have in other formats along with some I don’t. I love (love!) all the Grendel (and Matt Wagner in general) I’ve read so that’s a tempting book, especially if they follow through and release the whole thing in chronological, matching-spine volumes. The IDW Artist Edition series, which publishes full-size original artwork from previously released comics, is moving into some smaller “portfolio” editions with Warren Publishing-era short stories from Bernie Wrightson (The Muck Monster) and Neal Adams (Thrill Kill), plus some nice-looking hardcover reprints from the Humanoids publisher that seems to largely exist to reprint the many comics works of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for the States; today, it’s his early works The Eyes of the Cat (his first collaboration with Moebius!) and Shadow’s Treasure. Finally, there’s Cardboard, a new book by Doug TenNapel, who it feels like I’ve spent my whole life “meaning to get into.” His books are usually (but not always) family-friendly genre pastiches that always look really nice at a glance, and I hear they’re very rewarding to dig into, though he’s probably better known for his work in video games and animation.

You can find a full list of releases here, a mess of previews here, and some guided shopping lists here and here.

I pick up my comics from Richard’s in Greenville, SC. Today’s coffee was a raspberry muscovado latte from Coffee & Crema. They tell me muscovado is a dark brown sugar with a molasses-like flavor. More comics next week.


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