Saturday, May 28, 2005

ElfQuest and Doctor Who

Still a bit pressed for time, a few quick comments.

Picked up ELFQUEST: THE SEARCHER AND THE SWORD from my local library. That's the original hardcover ElfQuest story that Wendy Pini did recently and published through DC. That was quite the disappointment, I'm sorry to say. I'm not a huge fan of ElfQuest, but I have read and mostly enjoyed the original stuff until they opened it up to other creators (and did like some of the stuff I read after that). This new thing just felt wrong on a lot of levels (did anyone really think, after reading the original, that what EQ really needed was a human point-of-view character?) and Pini turning to computer rendered lettering and colouring really didn't work for me.

It has got me kind of interested in going back and rereading the original stuff, though, so maybe more on that later.

Also get a bunch more DOCTOR WHO videos. Some more nice Hartnell stuff in "The Ark", and an okay Pertwee era one that I remembered in "The Curse of Peladon". On the other hand, my first taste of the McCoy 7th Doctor in two awful stories, "The Happiness Patrol" and "The Greatest Show In The Galaxy". I can see that the cancellation soon after those was wholly justified, and in fact overdue.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

August 2005 Stuff of Interest

Some stuff that caught my eye in the solicitations for this coming August. Kirby related publications are of course covered in the appropriate place.

G.T. LABS

BONE SHARPS, COWBOYS, & THUNDER LIZARDS GNby Jim Ottaviani & Various
This is the story of Edwin Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two scientists who found and fought for dinosaur bones, and the artist Charles R. Knight who almost single-handedly brought dinosaurs back to life for an awestruck public. Bone Sharps features plenty of special appearances by the Cardiff Giant, P.T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill Cody, Ulysses S. Grant, Alexander Graham Bell, and a plentiful supporting cast of rogues & gallants from the eastern scientific establishment and the old west.
SC, 7x10, 176pgs, PC SRP: $22.95

CHARLES R. KNIGHT: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ARTIST
When you see dinosaurs, you almost certainly see them through the eyes of Charles R. Knight. Generations have relied on his artistic vision for guidance and inspiration. This previously unpublished autobiography will introduce you to his early years, his travels and accomplishments, the people who influenced him, and his insights on the creatures he brought to life. The book opens with a foreword by author Ray Bradbury and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. Illustrations are by Mark Schultz.
SC—SC, 6x9, 160pgs, B&W SRP: $11.95
HC—HC, 6x9, 160pgs, B&W SRP: $17.95


I've enjoyed the previous GT Labs books about scientists, so this new one should be worth a look. Zander Cannon is among the artists and I've enjoyed his work as well. I'm not sure if I'll get the Knight autobio, but it looks intriguing and maybe will help the other book get some attention.



FLESK PUBLICATIONS

MARK SCHULTZ: VARIOUS DRAWINGS VOLUME 1 SCMark Schultz has garnered the respect of his peers for his near-perfect approach to the dry brush technique. Xenozoic Tales solidified him as a master of the form. Now great care has been taken to reproduce Mark's originals as faithfully as possible, with the artist's discerning eye approving every aspect of production. Contents include private commissions, a previously unpublished cover for SubHuman, and more. Also available—limited to 500 copies—signed and numbered, with an additional extra bonus plate.
SOFTCOVER—SC, 8x11, 48pgs, B&W SRP: $19.95
LIMITED SIGNED & NUMBERED HARDCOVER—HC, 8x11, 48pgs, B&W SRP: $29.95


There's a small preview of this over at Michael Ryan's Palaeoblog. I don't buy too many sketchbook type things, but this definitely makes it up on the shortlist of ones I'm interested in.



PURE IMAGINATION PUBLISHING

JACK COLE READER VOLUME 1 TPby Jack Cole
A tribute to one of the wildest brains in comics! The creator of Plastic Man, Cole worked on dozens of features over twenty years. Included in this volume are early stories from 1938, Midnight, Burp the Twerp, Angels O'Day, Wun Clu, Death Patrol, and others. Most of this material has not been previously reprinted.
SC, 8x11, 160pgs, B&W SRP: $25.00


I've enjoyed the volumes of Cole's PLASTIC MAN that DC has been publishing, and been intrigued by some of his other early work that I've seen. This sounds like it should have a lot of very interesting golden age material, definitely worth a look.



MECCA COMICS GROUP

DICK AYERS STORY— ILLUSTRATED AUTOBIOGRAPHY VOLUME 3 GN
From his post-Marvel days through his retirement, this issue offers the illustrated retelling of Ayers’ senior years as an artist! Covering 1986 through the present, this issue completes the only fully-illustrated autobiography on the market today! This issue also contains many never-before scene photos pulled directly from the Ayers family album!
SC, 7x10, 122pgs, B&W (3 of 3) SRP: $17.95


I took a look at the first volume recently, and it looked kind of interesting. Good to see Ayers still active and getting a chance to do some personal work.



EXHIBIT A PRESS

TALES OF SUPERNATURAL LAW TPby Batton Lash
This trade paperback reprints the first eight issues of Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre. Batton Lash fully “remastered” all the issues, including relettering and retoning, and even some redrawing! These stories include the popular “Curse of the Werehouse,” “A Host of Horrors,” and “It Stalks the Public Domain.”
SC, 7x10, 180pgs, B&W SRP: $17.95


I've got the original collections that had this material in two thinner volumes, so I might not pick it up for a while, but it's always highly recommended.



CHECKER BOOK PUBLISHING GROUP

THEODOR SEUSS GEISEL: EARLY WORKS VOLUME 1 HCby Theodor Geisel
Recognized as the most popular children's book author of the 20th century, Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) had a career in illustration that varied widely before he wrote his first juvenile book. Early Works Volume 1 is the first of a series collecting political cartoons, advertisements, and various images drawn by Geisel long before he had written any of his world-famous "Seuss" books.
HC, 7x10, 200pgs, B&W SRP: $22.95

WINSOR MCCAY: EARLY WORKS VOLUME 7 SCby Winsor McCay
McCay’s cartooning style, although decades ahead of its time, was popular during his lifetime. With the advent of motion pictures, McCay leveraged his public popularity as a cartoonist to introduce what he would become most famous for — animation! Hailed as the Father of Animation, McCay’s static cartoons are no less vibrant and unique. Volume 7 features a large collection of McCay’s rare short-run strips, such as “Poor Jake,” “Mr. Bosh,” “The Man From Montclair,” “It’s Nice to be Married,” and “Nobody Cares for Father.” Plus selections from “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend” and “Pilgrim’s Progress”, originally published in 1910.
MATURE THEMES
SC, 7x10, 200pgs, B&W SRP: $19.95


I've picked up and been slowly going through a few of the McCay books they've published so far, and the Geisel one looks like it might be worth a look as well.



FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS

HANK KETCHAM'S COMPLETE DENNIS THE MENACE 1951-1952 HCDennis the Menace was one of the most brilliantly observed and empathetic comic strips about childhood, as Ketchum captured the mischievousness, rambunctiousness, and anarchy of a kid's world better than any other cartoonist. While parents shake their head ruefully at how accurately Ketcham caught children's zest for mayhem, children identify with Dennis and the chaos that he leaves in his wake. This first volume of Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace publishes every single panel strip from 1951 and 1952 in one handsome and thick hardcover volume resembling a Big Little Book on steroids.
HC, 5.5x6, 624pgs, B&W SRP: $24.95

Not nearly as big a deal as the PEANUTS series, of course, but Ketcham's artwork is nice enough that I might pick up a volume or two of this stuff somewhere down the line. I've enjoyed what I've seen of Al Wiseman's comic book version of the character a lot more than what I've seen of the strip, so I hope we see a nice reprint volume of that at some point.



IDW

THE COMPLETE MARS
Mark Hempel (w); Marc Wheatley (a)
How do we discover what is real -- and what is Mars? Discover the earth-shattering truth in Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster, Fables) and Marc Hempel (Sandman, Mad, Gregory)'s pulse-pounding Mars series, now collected complete in one volume and thoroughly re-colored for 21st Century state-of-the-art technology—with a brand-new cover and 32 additional pages of bonus artwork and extras. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy one of the most insightful comics miniseries of the classic independent comics era!
SC, 7x10, 288pgs, FC $39.99
S&N/HC, 7x10, 288pgs, FC $75.00


As usual for IDW this is priced about 38% more than is justified in the already over-inflated current comics market. However, this was a really fun series, and it's nice to see it collected at last, and I'm tempted even at this price. Especially since, for some reason, I never did get the 12th and final issue. Haven't really looked in years, so I should see if I can find it now. The bonus stuff should be interesting as well, although I hope they don't go overboard with the colouring as the "21st Century state-of-the-art technology" implies they might.



PUFFIN GRAPHICS

TREASURE ISLAND PUFFIN GN
by Robert Louis Stevenson & Tim Hamilton
Jim Hawkins finds a treasure map at the bottom of an old sea chest, and later falls in with a group of pirates led by the notorious one-legged sailor Long John Silver. This vivid graphic novel adapts one of the greatest high sea adventures of all time!
SC, 5 x 8, 176pgs, B&W SRP: $9.99


I recall liking Tim Hamilton's artwork a few times in the past, and it would certainly seem to suit the subject matter. I might take a look for this and see if it's worth picking up. The publisher also has an adaptation of THE WIZARD OF OZ scheduled.



From other publishers, Dark Horse has an issue of USAGI YOJIMBO. DC has DC'S GREATEST IMAGINARY STORIES which should be fun (and one I should pick up quick, since I've never been able to get their collection of Bizarro stories of a few years back) and a hardcover edition of V FOR VENDETTA, one of my favourite modern drama comics. Image has an issue of SEA OF RED and reprints of some nice 1980s Englehart/Rogers stuff in COYOTE (including SCORPIO ROSE with whatever was completed for the unpublished third issue). Marvel reprints some nice 1960s work in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: DOCTOR STRANGE VOL 2 and ESSENTIAL DAREDEVIL VOL 3.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Various catching up

I'm back. Tired, but back. Major renovations around here, but one benefit is that for the first time in years I have ready access to just about every book, comic, recording and what-not that I own, instead of random stuff being buried in storage or unsorted boxes.

Among the things I dug up were Elliot S! Maggin's two Superman novels, LAST SON OF KRYPTON and MIRACLE MONDAY, which reminds me that I'm a few days late in wishing you all a good Miracle Monday.

In new stuff I picked up, the new JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR looks good, and I got MARVEL VISIONARIES: STEVE DITKO which should be a fun read that I'll write more about soon.

Latest previews of upcoming books should be up soon, but one I wanted to mention now is the next book from Jim Ottaviani's GT Labs, BONE SHARPS, COWBOYS AND THUNDER LIZARDS. At some point in the near future I want to do an overview of the previous GT Labs books.

Rest of this post is about DOCTOR WHO, just to warn you...

Still watching and mostly enjoying the new DOCTOR WHO. The most recent episode, "Father's Day", was interesting, as it was the first time I can remember seeing a WHO story really deal with a time paradox (except for the "Three Doctors" / "Five Doctors" stunt stories). It was interesting, didn't completely work, but good TV.

I've also been getting a lot of the original series videos from my library. They have about two dozen of them, most with a few holds already, so I reserved all of them and seem to be getting about one or two a week. Most interesting of those I've seen was "Daleks", the second storyline from the first season, and the first time I've seen the original Doctor. It was a lot of fun, a bit rough at times, but mostly fully realized. Most interesting of course was seeing the initial form of the Doctor's greatest foes. Very nice, and I can see why they caught on. I'm looking forward to seeing a few more of these early ones (including the second Dalek story).

I also saw "The Green Death", which was one I clearly remembered seeing from back when I first saw the series circa 1980, and I was surprised at how clearly I remembered some scenes. This is the kind of stuff that I first think of when I think DOCTOR WHO, with the really bad special effects but really imaginative stories. And of course Jon Pertwee is the best incarnation of the Doctor to me (although soon I'll be able to somewhat fairly judge the previous two).

"The Sontarian Experiment" and "Genesis of the Daleks" are together on one set, and another pair I remembered. And have the benefit of having Sarah Jane Smith, my favourite of the Who assistants. Good stuff, especially the Dalek story (which doesn't quite seem to jibe with the original Dalek episode, but whatever). Tom Baker was a lot of fun in the role, but sometimes didn't quite sell the more dramatic lines (like the long bit where he's questioning if he has a right to destroy the Daleks). And two stories in a row without even seeing the Tardis?

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" is the last of the ones I've seen so far, and was new to me. It started off really awful, re-enforcing my belief that the series should never do stories set in the recent past, especially Victorian England. Fortunately the second half was much improved, so overall it was a passable episode. I will say that I never much cared for Leela as an assistant, partly because she replaced Sarah, and this didn't change my mind none.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Doctor Who - "Dalek"

Latest episode of the new WHO is the one I was waiting for, "Dalek". Great stuff, the new series is definitely getting better. It was a shame that it made obvious commercial sense to reveal the villain of the piece in the title and the preview, as the actual reveal in the episode was really well done and would have been stronger if you didn't know it was coming.



The handling of the Dalek was interesting. I've only seen a fraction of the original series episodes with the Daleks (although I just checked an my library has a bunch of them on video, so I went and reserved them and some other episodes), so I'm not sure how consistent it was, but it for the most part felt right (although a few parts of it felt too much like they were trying too hard to produce a definitive Dalek story).

More hints about the Time War, so I assume that'll end up being a major thing later.

Okay, back to weblog hibernation.
Weblog by BobH [bobh1970 at gmail dot com]