A monthly column devoted to recommending interesting indie comics for pre-order. Pre-ordering supports indie creators and can often be the difference between a book succeeding or failing. Plus, you usually save money by doing it, too.
This may be my months-long tiredness speaking—though it seems relevant to explain, rather than ignore, due to the shorter-than-normal column this month—but dammit comics are looking anemic and bland recently. My pre-order ritual most months starts with combing the Previews text file for titles that will both be of interest to me and for this column. In the past I’ve created a long list of titles for myself (since I’m not limited to only indie books, as this column is) and then pared it to an acceptable total cost. Not this month. This month, and other recent months, I’ve struggled to find more than one or two books worth buying. The last six months, I’ve pre-ordered 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, and 1 book. Purely a matter of my taste, I know, but I’m seeing very little truly new, very little exciting in Previews. Most comics seem too high-concept or slick, too boring or corporate, too insular and niche. There are a few titles that I get excited about, but fewer now than in years past. So, tell me: Am I alone in this? Is this just a momentary disenchantment with comics or do you guys feel some of this alienation from comics, too?
Alien: The Illustrated Story
Archie Goodwin & Walter Simonson
Order Code: APR121227 or APR121228
Publisher: Titan Books
96 pages – HC – PC
64 pages – SC – FC
Not a new comic, but a book uniting the talents of the late Archie Goodwin and the inimitable Walt Simonson is always worth paying attention to, especially when there’s a new edition on the market. As the cover art indicates, this is an adaptation of the original 1979 Ridley Scott Alien movie (originally published by Dark Horse, I believe). I’ll spare you the plot summary because I’m assuming you’ve all seen Alien (and, if not, go do that now and come back to this column later. You’ll thank me). This version has been recreated from Simonson’s original art and comes in two editions. The basic edition offers the comic as presented by Dark Horse way back when, while the Artist’s Edition adds 32 pages of sketches, annotated script, and an interview with Walt Simonson.
“Came the Dawn” and Other Stories
Wally Wood & Al Feldstein, et al.
Order Code: APR121089
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
240 pages – HC – B&W
Not to bang the drum from my introduction too much, but here’s another book—50% of the month’s recommendations—that re-issues archival material, rather than offering something new. Of course, when the item is as good as classic material from Wally Wood, it’s pretty hard to see that as a bad thing. Came the Dawn collects a number of Wood’s short stories from EC titles like Tales from the Crypt and Crime SuspenStories. Wood is a giant of the medium, and EC’s books are rightly influential and legendary, so it’s hard to see how this could go wrong. Fantagraphics has another EC reprint book this month (covering the work of Harvey Kurtzman) and, I believe, is planning a full line of these creator-centric EC anthologies, which is excellent news. EC had a deep artist roster, so there’s a lot to look forward to.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III: Century #3: 2009
Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Order Code: APR121232
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
80 pages – SC – FC
One of the books countering my ennui in the face of the month’s new releases. This volume concludes the trilogy of 20th/21st century tales of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This capstone book concerns the appearance of a long-prophesied, magical, evil child in 2009 London. As the League isn’t there to stand in its way, a dark, terrible reign seems certain. At the other side of the globe, a holy way against Islam rages and threatens the world. Into the chaos, though, there’s a patient, stuck in a mental institution, who may know what to do. I’m not always a fan of pastiches that employ historical or literary figures as characters in other stories, but when done right—and how often does Alan Moore do things wrong?—they can be a lot of fun.
A Treasury of XXth Century Murder Vol. 5: Lovers’ Lane/The Hall-Mills Mystery
Order Code: APR121161
80 pages – HC – B&W
Here’s a certainty about this column: Each time Rick Geary releases a new comic on a historical murder, you can be sure that I’ll recommend it. Like any series, some volumes are stronger than others, but hardly anyone does what Geary does: take history and crime, murder and comics, a light-hearted wit and macabre eye and blend them into exciting, informative, and engaging stories. In this installment of the series, Geary takes a look at the early 1920s murder of a reverend and married woman who were out for an evening walk in the park. The solicit seems to indicate that this might be another book in this series that ends with no definitive resolution, which can be frustrating, but Geary’s approach to this material is always satisfying.
Sam Costello is the creator and writer of Split Lip, a horror webcomics anthology that Comics Should Be Good has called “the best horror anthology on the internet.” It offers over 500 pages of free comics.
Split Lip: Last Caress and other stories, his latest book, is available directly from Sam. It’s 193 pages of comics for $15. That ain’t bad, huh?