Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
LOOK AT THIS:
What’s that, you say? You find it hard to believe there’s a comic book series by Gilbert Hernandez that’s not only out of print but has never been collected in trade paperback?
Oh, but it’s all too true. Read on to learn more …
Oh, Red Ketchup, how do I love you? Let me count the ways.
You’ve overcome huge obstacles. The albino son of an abusive, hulking Nazi sympathizer who made you play chicken on the train tracks to strengthen your resolve, you’ve managed to channel your aggression into your job as an FBI agent, helping make the world safe for democracy.
You’re a man of action. When a star NFL quarterback is accused of dealing drugs, there’s no need for niceties. Just tackle that sucker and handcuff him right there on the football field in the middle of the game (making sure you keep the drugs for yourself, of course).
Decades before Will Elder decorated the pages of Mad with his “chicken fat,” Bill Holman was cramming the panels of his daily newspaper strip Smokey Stover to bursting with some of the most oddball, screwball and downright loopy drawings ever seen on the newspaper page. Even in a medium that welcomes masters like George Herriman and Milt Gross, Smokey Stover is a nonsensical delight.
In 1993, around the same time Vertigo debuted, DC Comics created Paradox Press. The imprint, much like the ill-fated Piranha Press that preceded it, was an attempt to create a more sophisticated, less genre-dependent brand of comics that would ostensibly appeal to the average reader not particularly interested in whatever Superman or The Sandman had to offer. It was to be a three-pronged attack, with the oversize Big Books line offering an anthology-like approach to various nonfiction material (i.e. crime, urban legends, pirates, etc.); the main line publishing more literary fare like Brooklyn Dreams and Stuck Rubber Baby; and Paradox Mystery, the title of which is self-explanatory.
The debut book in the mystery line was La Pacifica, a three-volume saga of sex and violence and femme fatales that wound up being one of the best things the imprint ever published.
(Note: Violent images lurk below … )
Note: Some images below contain mild nudity that may be NSFW, depending upon where you W.
Blutch, born Christian Hincker, was one of the most influential cartoonists to come out of the French alt-comix scene of the 1990s (although he arguably owes quite a bit to Edmond Baudoin). Blutch’s masterful, expressive line, exemplified in works like Peplum and Le Petit Christian, influenced a number of artists both in Europe and here in America, most notably Craig Thompson. Blutch’s art was such a strong influence on Thompson while he was working on Blankets that L’Association publisher Christophe Menu derided the work as being too derivative and the supreme example of the co-opting the French small press scene in his book-length essay Plates-bandes.
You know what would make a great Christmas present? A publisher announcing they’re going to collect this great, lamentably short-lived series.
You knew we were going to get to this series sooner or later, right?
CIA conspiracies. Carny shows. Obscure pagan rituals. Snake handlers. Brainwashed assassins. Nudist nuns. Roman gods. Psychedelic western landscapes. Very short men with very, very large penises.
Such are the essential elements found in the comics of Mack White, who, for the past couple of decades, has created some of the most bizarre, paranoid and succulently pulpish comics around.
So does anyone out there remember the Gargoyle?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. Even in an era where every comic character is allegedly somebody’s favorite, and even though he put in a couple of appearances in various Civil War: The Initiative books, it’s not like the Gargoyle has that huge of a fan base.
The imminent arrival of Flex Mentallo — a comic book few old-school Vertigo readers (myself included) ever expected to see collected in a fancy-dress trade — has heartened Grant Morrison fans and lovers of lost comic causes everywhere. If that comic can finally see the day, perhaps there’s hope for all sorts of beloved but forelorn projects. With that in mind then, let me present to you another Grant Morrison comic that has lingered unfairly in obscurity ever since its The New Adventures of Hitler.
Lest you think that title is some sort of ironic joke or that the book doesn’t actually involve the person mentioned in the title, much in the same way Joyce’s Ulysses isn’t about the Greek hero (at least not on the surface) let me assure you, this is a comic book about the Adolf Hiter.
I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t DC already collect Jack Cole’s run on Plastic Man?” The answer is well, sort of.
One of the first casualties in what became the bottoming out of the American manga market was CPM, also known as Central Park Media. A multimedia company known for releasing such fan-favorite anime like MD Geist and the tentacle porn extravaganza Urotsukidoji. Having dipped their toe into the manga waters in the mid-2000s, the line released a host of titles like Plastic Little and Geobreeders, as well as a host of yaoi books through their Be Beautiful line. The whole thing — well, the whole manga thing — came crashing down around 2005-6 when the company discontinued their the line. The rest of the company slowly imploded and eventually went bankrupt in 2009.
Whenever any publishing company like this goes belly up, there are a number of planned and promised titles that never get to see the light of day, and CPM was no exception. The most egregious manga of theirs that never saw the light of day, and one that many serious manga fans were anticipating, is today’s CTN pick, Sweet Cream and Red Strawberries by Kiriko Nananan.
Horror comics fans have plenty of material to choose from when looking for a good, scary read this Halloween. Even if we just confine ourselves to manga (since, as we all know, the Japanese cartoonists excel at scaring the pants off their readers), there are plenty of options, from grand guginol pieces like MDP-Psycho or Ultra Gash Inferno, to more traditional, semi-bloody, spooky fare like Presents or Mail. Still, there are plenty of great, terrifying, mind-blowing manga that would delight the hardcore American horrorist if only some enterprising publisher would make an attempt at publishing them. Here are just six titles that I’d like to see translated and released in book form some time in the near future:
(Note: A potentially NSFW image lurks beneath the jump)
In my debut CTN column, I raved about Justice Inc., a two-part prestige format series DC put out in the late 1980s, written by Andrew Helfer and drawn by Kyle Baker. The book starred a long-forgotten pulp hero known as the Avenger. That comic was actually a spin-off of another comic Helfer and Baker were doing at the time, which was also based off of a pulp hero, although in his case he was far from forgotten. I’m talking, of course, about The Shadow.