Wednesday's New Things: Getting Intentional

I've been gone for a while. After my semester ended, I expected to take a break from blogging that coincided with the vacation that took me first to Chicago, then to New York, Connecticut, the middle of nowhere in Virginia, Memphis, and back to Austin. I intended, as I often do when I travel to visit comics shops in the places I hadn't been to before, and take pictures of the storefronts and post them on this blog. I didn't do that. And, until the Buttersafe post last week, I didn't do anything -- I couldn't interest myself enough in whatever cape comics were coming out the last few weeks to put together a Wednesday post and I haven't really read anything during the last month and a half, so I couldn't write about anything either. Basically, as a comics reader, I was feeling sort of stuck.

Partially, this ennui is a function of some other stuff that's going on in my life, but its also a recurring theme. A couple of times a year, a gimmicky new storyline is announced or the price of all the comic books goes up and I begin to wonder how much I care. And then I go to the store on Wednesday, and I buy a bunch of comics I don't read, which may be the wackiest part of all of this. Somnambulating through a weekly ritual that I'm supposed to love says something ominous.

So I'm going to get intentional. I'm going to think more critically about what I'm buying, and more critically what I'm not buying. I'm going to take some of the capital I'm spending on, say, cape comics every week and put it aside so I can look into "graphic novels" and in particular, comics from abroad and minis. To go where the excitement is, basically.

With that in mind, here's some stuff for this week.

I've been waiting for this one since Young Avengers wrapped up in January. New Gillen and McKelvie (hell, new Gillen or McKelvie) represent an automatic buy for me-- in some ways this may become the model for how I buy floppies, and in particular superhero comics, in the future. I do have some reservations about this title; it looks great, of course, and the dialogue is excellent, but the premise seems unusually forced, an advancement on some of the ideas from Phonogram combined with a certain amount of the superheroes as modern myth stuff that seems somehow artificial, almost cute. We'll have to see if these concerns bear out, but I'm hopeful that this is an if-anyone-can-pull-it-off-its-these-two kind of situation.    

Non-fiction comics are one my great loves, and one of the things that I'm most excited about looking deeper into. Nick Bertozzi's last book about explorers, Lewis and Clark, seems to have been pretty well received, and his new one, Shackleton, also looks to be pretty good. Finding some way to minimize exposition is one of the big problems with books like this, and Bertozzi seems to have found a good way to balance the need for information with the associated need to not be boring. Pay particular attention to the panel and page designs, which look particularly excellent and elucidating.   

This goes on the list of books I'd buy if I had all the money. IDW's artists editions are an amazing resource for those of use who are interested in artistic process, and, an investigation into how Schulz developed and then guided his minimal, yet highly expressive, line, seems particularly rewarding. I'm hoping there'll be a copy I can flip through at my LCS.

Ed Brubaker is my favorite writer of comics; the fact that the great genre at Marvel has been the espionage comic for the last half decade or so is basically his fault. On his own, he's another one of those insta-buys for me, but I've lost track of his work in the last year or so. I stopped reading Fatale in the shuffle of moving from New York to Texas and I bought the first two issues of Velvet and then I missed an issue and couldn't find it, so I never caught up. This is a good place to pick it back up; Image's policy of pricing their first volume trades at $9.99 makes it an easy pill to swallow. 

Meags Fitzgerald's Photobooth is another intriguing non-fiction work out this week; unlike Shackleton, it takes the traditional comics step of integrating memoir into the cultural history that's the book's sell. I think Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Are You My Mother as the apotheosis of that sort of work, and the greenish wash on the cover of Photobooth is reminiscent of the former suggests that Fitzgerald is very consciously influenced by Bechdel here. If you take a look at the preview, you'll see it elsewhere, too.

Finally, Eye of Newt is a relatively typical YA-fantasy plot illustrated like an illuminated medieval manuscript. Although Michael Hague's art is mostly very attractive, it will be interesting to see whether or not the unusual approach will make the comic seem stilted over the course of 20 or so pages.