It's become something of a tradition for me to get home from a convention or show and dump out all my bags to check out what books "found me" since I'm rarely organized about what I manage to pick up in the hustle and bustle of a convention, and New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con, particularly, leave me wondering what's in my luggage.
This New York Comic Con, I found 30 comics and graphic novels, and I'll give you a quick run-down of why I was pretty excited and intrigued by what I found.
Part I: The Comics
I really love it when significant comics universes come to $1.00 editions and this is mainly because I don't feel I have to be as precious about how I treat these issues. I can throw them in a bag, sit them near my coffee, and let them hang out on my TV table, easy to pick up when I suddenly have a few minutes and I want to flip through a comic. Valiant's universe is interconnected, inviting, and always intriguing to me as a world I'm less familiar with than the Big Two, and though I follow a couple of their series more closely, I want to know more. In particular note the Valiant Universe Handbook which is an even more direct invitation to take part in that world, and even has a Bleeding Cool quote on the cover since they released a "guide" last FCBD and we suggested they needed to bring it out again as a shop evergreen for readers. They did! And now you can get it much more easily for new readers. I'd get a couple and give them to friends if I were you. There's also a trade of Rai here I can't wait to dive into! Sometimes you just want to read a great storyline straight through, and this is a keeper for me.
This was definitely a fan fix for me–to check out the new Doctor in this debut of a series from Titan Comics. I just wanted to get the #1 issue of the Twelfth Doctor somehow, but knew I could get it in shops later if needed, but bonus–I got all the excellent covers for this issues, including one usually only found in the UK. I've been very impressed with the Doctor Who comics from Titan so far and my particular interest: seeing how they handle Capaldi's twist on accent and dialogue in comics format. If you were at the con, you might have seen me wearing Capaldi Who t-shirts for two out of the four days of the convention and people loved them, by the way, stopping and asking me where I got them.
When I look at this array, I want to say "alternative" and that may not be the first thing that springs to mind for you, the reader. Nevertheless, these epitomize alternative within mid-sized publishing for me. Firstly, Sleepy Hollow is, yes, a licensed property from Boom!, but they have amazing artists and a rising star, Marguerite Bennett, writing, not to mention the art of Jorge Coelho and another strong female presence on the comic with Noelle Stevenson writing and drawing back-ups. For me, that means I'm going to get stories that "feel" different in the ways that I'm hoping for. This is diversity in storytelling. Next, Thomas Alsop, which not only has a Brooklyn and New York sensibility and deals with the occult and history, but also the totally idiosyncratic artwork of the great Palle Schmidt. The book's been praised widely, so I don't need to add to it that much, but suffice to say, this is a feather in Boom! alternative cap.
But then there's also Action Presidents: Washington from Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, the folks who do Action Philosophers, and this is a con-only comic which makes it more intriguing to see what they are up to. Meeting Mr. Dunlavey in Artists Alley was a pleasure and I learned about the highly amusing stage production of Action Philosophers that happened in Chicago not to mention the rise of their Comic Book History of Comics to curricula in universities and schools spreading the good word of comics. Lastly, but not leastly, I found the brand-spanking-new series from Black Mask Studios in the form of Pirouette, written by Mark L. Miller, with art by Carlos Granda. This freaky circus comic has got some very bold appeal and the colors are rather magnificent, too. Granda's an artist to keep an eye on, clearly, and Miller, who has been working on this comic for years, is making a big entrance. No surprise, given the massive announcements recently for the indie publisher Black Mask.
I have a personal inclination toward ashcans from cons–I love wading through them and the even slimmer floppy feel of the paper. They give me a window onto many worlds, and I've been interested by the nostalgia and again, alternative stylings, of Edward Scissorhands and October Faction. But this also gives me a chance to see IDW's take on several other books before I know if I want to collect them in my already crowded house. They are free at cons, and it does feel like a gift, like taking a walk through the minds of many artists and writers in short jaunts.
This is an interesting one that found me at the Image/Multiversity party where I got talking to Yuki Saeki, the artist on the book, and even got a collection of her "coasters" of manga-style superheroes that I would never in a million years put a drink on they are so lovely. She's a rare breed of artist on the rise who combines gentleness and detail in her lines and look forward to seeing more from her. This book is about Native American experience on the Trail of Tears and includes character sketches where you can see even more of her delicate linework.
Part II: The Graphic Novels
Graphic novels get heavy to carry around at conventions, but conventions are also one of the best places to shop through all the new and older material out there and find more easily what appeals to you. I quickly snapped up this new and beautifully collected edition of the series done by Alice Cooper, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Zulli from Dynamite, having only seen the carefully preserved single issues from the 90's before, which I didn't feel that comfortable re-reading without messing them up with fingerprints on the often black pages. Now I get to revisit the series again. Imaginary Drugs comes to me from editor and Bleeding Cool contributor Michael McDermott, a series that soared on Kickstarter and is coming soon to IDW. This is one of the last of the Kickstarter volumes before that serial appears. Kickstarter is rapidly becoming a preview platform for what's next at IDW, Boom!, and more. Accelerators appears in its first collection from indie publisher Blue Juice comics, also the home of Tim Yates' Anne Bonnie, which you might have seen us praising on the site. For a new publisher, Blue Juice has plenty of juice and ambition for the future giving a voice to creator-owned comics. Everyone knows that Six-Gun Gorilla, written by Simon Spurrier, is great and madcap–usually the venue of Rich Johnston's writing on the site–but I decided to give him a run for his money and finally take the plunge myself. Lastly, The Grave Doug Freshly is the first graphic novels of newcomer Josh Hechinger and artist mpMann from Archaia and tickled my alternative tastes again with its inky Western themes and visuals in stylized form. It's a beautiful book from the outset, and has some very amusing dialogue from what I've seen so far.
Part III: A Large Folio
Hit by Vanessa R. Del Rey from Boom! is an unusual book, and despite the difficulties of carrying around a folio about 2 feet in length, Thomas Alsop author Chris Miskiewicz rightly put me up to it and I'd of course heard of Del Rey's work before. Not only in this book card-covered and super large, which essentially delivers an Artists Edition in lighter, cheaper format, but it's a visual narrative that's purely visual really, with "notes" provided on the narrative. It shows of Del Rey's stellar noir perspectives and inking, and is an art showcase writ large. It goes beyond cinematic with its shifting angles from overhead views to unusual street angles taking you right into an experience of noir like you haven't seen before.
And Extra Part IV: Miscellaneous Media
I picked up this Dark Circle announcement/teaser poster from the Archie panel on the same subject at the con, and having heard about the upcoming titles in the panel, was feeling a little grabby to get a hold of one. Not only do we have a return of The Fox in the form of Fox Hunt, but also a female lead in The Shield and a Philadelphia-set Black Hood crime procedural with heavy regional focus. I want to see how this line shapes up and it definitely has some strong contributors looking to make a fine showing of it. I'm all in when it comes to pulps, noir, and reboots with a modern slant on comics roots, and these characters well may be keeping me reading once 2015 hits. I'll also be interested to see how this becomes one universe between multiple titles and settings.
The DVD was produced by the same company behind Blue Juice Comics, since their first venture, still ongoing, is Blue Juice Films. This is a documentary, Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, about legendary poster-artist on Indiana Jones and many more and will help fill in gaps in my knowledge about the ways in which film poster art has made a strong impact on comics (evinced for one by Francesco Francavilla's passionate poster art these days that results in stunning covers).
So that's my quick tour–gearing up for a more full tour of my own in tandem with lying on the couch recovering from the shock to the system and alarmingly energetic New York Comic Con 2014.