The Cardboard Valise
Publishing | Arune Singh, Marvel’s director of communications, addresses how Marvel works with media outlets to break major storyline news and in many cases spoil the story, like Ultimate Spider-Man dying. Their goal is to hopefully bring lapsed or non-fans into stores: “When we line up this kind of mainstream media coverage, it’s offering the promise of breaking this big news to the outlet. It’s with the knowledge that they’ll be the ones making the headlines, being referenced by other sites and getting the attention. But if we wait till the story breaks or the Wednesday books go on-sale, someone else is going to buy the issue early in the morning and break the news. Is it possible that mainstream outlets will still pick up on the news then? Yes, it’s possible. But the only way to guarantee that big, sweeping placement worldwide — as you’ve seen with the Death of Spider-Man — is to break it before anyone has a chance. And that kind of placement is, as I mentioned above, what will get us attention from outside the industry.” [ComicsAlliance]
Retailing | Toronto retailer Chris Butcher worries about how well the two late Green Lantern movie prequel comics — one shipping this week, one shipping in August — will sell so long after the film’s release. He also discusses the lateness of the final issue of the War of the Green Lanterns crossover, which won’t come out until after the epilogue story in this week’s Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #11. [Comics212]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d probably put it towards the latest issues of series I’ve been enjoying for awhile: Batman Inc. #4, New York Five #3, Justice League of America #55 – Yes, even with my nervousness over Brett Booth’s art – (All DC Comics, $2.99) as well as Jeff Parker and Gabe Hardman’s Hulk #31 (Marvel Comics, $3.99).
If I had $30, however, I’d probably put JLA back on the shelf and add The Arctic Marauder (Fantagraphics, $16.99), instead. I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and
Splurgewise, it’s a tough one – I’d like to pick up the collection of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s second Demo series (DC/Vertigo, $17.99), but I see that the hardcover collection of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s spectacular Stumptown (Oni Press, $29.99) is out this week, and that really falls into the
category of having to have it. I’ll grab Demo next week.
There’s nothing else in the world quite like Ben Katchor’s comics. Perhaps that’s because there’s nothing in the world quite like the people and places you’ll find in them. Best known for his newspaper strip Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer, Katchor is an inventor of lost culture. His comics chronicle imaginary occupations and cultural attractions, like an island whose economy revolves around tourists visiting the ruins of abandoned public restrooms, “humane hamburgers” consisting of tiny slices of meat snipped from still-living cows so gently that they barely notice, or a seaside cellphone stand whose employees hold their phones aloft at the shore for ten minutes at a time so callers can hear the sounds of the ocean for a price. All of these things are just this side of plausible, feeling like old-fashioned customs that have been rendered obsolete or great ideas that never caught on, drowned out by the bustle of life in the big city.
But in his upcoming book The Cardboard Valise, due out on March 8 from Pantheon, Katchor takes a journey beyond his customary imaginary American-urban setting. This collection of strips culled from a variety of publications tells the loosely intertwined stories of two men dealing with our increasingly small world in two very different fashions: One is a literal travel addict who can’t stop visiting distant lands and cultures; the other proudly and loudly denounces the very notion of differing nations and customs, seeking to wipe out the physical and psychological borders that divide the world. Unsurprisingly, Katchor proves himself just as adept at chronicling the dislocations of travel and internationalism as he is at showing us (to use the subtitle of one of his books) the pleasures of urban decay.
As part of Robot 6’s second anniversary spectacular, Katchor allowed us to pick his brain about his new book, the allure of exoticism, the danger of nationalism, print vs. digital, and making the impossible possible.
It’s always exciting to get the quarterly publishing catalogs from Random House in the mail and see what Pantheon, the best of the major New York City-based book publishers when it comes to graphic novels, has in store. And yesterday’s special delivery of the Spring 2011 catalog to “Fort Collins” was a real doozy: Major new works are on the way from a pair of alternative-comics titans, Wilson‘s Daniel Clowes and Julius Knipl‘s Ben Katchor.
First up is Daniel Clowes’s Mister Wonderful, a collection of the Eisner Award-winning serial strip that kicked off The New York Times Magazine‘s Funny Pages comics section. What’s new about this, you ask? How about fully 40 pages of new material, according to the publisher? That’s practically a whole new strip. Looks from the cover image in the catalog like the work’s being reformatted from broadsheet to landscape, too — which is maybe where some of that new page count is coming from, come to think of it. But either way, I’m excited to revisit the story of a lonely middle-aged man and his too-good-to-be-true blind date, which was sort of the genial GoodFellas to Wilson‘s brutal Casino. The book retails for $22.95 and hits in April 2011.
Next is Ben Katchor’s The Cardboard Valise, the acclaimed cartoonist’s first book in over ten years (!). Instead of the slightly more fantastical version of New York City found in much of his previous work, Katchor’s constructing an entire new country for this one: Outer Canthus, a strange region inhabited by travel junkie Emile Delilah, the exiled king Boreal Rince, and globalist Elijah Salamis. Together they explore, and I quote, “a vast panorama of humane hamburger stands, exquisitely ethereal ethnic restaurants, ancient restroom ruins, and wild tracts of land that fit neatly next to high-rise hotels.” That’s our Katchor! There’s really nothing else out there like Katchor’s inky, off-kilter explorations of the spaces people build, inhabit, and forget, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. The Cardboard Valise can be opened for $22 when it arrives in February 2011.