Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reprint This! Update on Grant Morrison's "The Flash"

About twelve years back, one of my favorite comics writers, Grant Morrison, co-wrote a memorable nine-issue run of DC Comics' The Flash in conjunction with his then-partner, Mark Millar. It was an exciting, engaging run of very good comics, and DC has finally put it back in print. And they've bumbled it completely.

DC decided to to reprint the nine issues across two trade paperbacks, padding out the second with a three-parter that Millar wrote himself. So if you, dear reader, would like to read all of Morrison's nine comics, you have to buy two books. Worse, there's still a fair chunk of story missing. Morrison's run comprises a pair of three-part adventures, with three "one-shots" between them. The last of these "one-shots," however, is actually the last part of a three-episode crossover with the other DC titles Green Arrow and Green Lantern. DC's collection doesn't contain any backstory or recap of what happened in those comics; you'll have to scour the back issue bins to find them.

So, to recap: a proper Morrison Flash reprint should have contained eleven issues. These would be the nine that he co-wrote and the two crossover issues. Instead, DC reprinted twelve issues: the nine Morrison wrote and what is to my mind an unrelated three-parter, and they did it in two books when it could have fit in one. What a shambles; you'd do well to avoid these collections until somebody at DC gets their head screwed on right and does it correctly.

Read more about what I've written about Grant Morrison at A Journal of Zarjaz Things

I have not seen any substantive reviews of this book. If you see any or have written any, drop me a line and I will list them here.

In other reprinting news, the good folk at Down the Tubes have mentioned some interesting news from English publishers Reynolds & Hearn: A little later this month, they're releasing a pair of paperback collections which compile a random assortment of strips based on old Gerry Anderson properties, including some of the Thunderbirds material I've mentioned once before in this feature. Other series in the books include Fireball XL-5, Lady Penelope and Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, along with Zero-X, which Wikipedia tells me was a spacecraft which crosses between the continuity of a couple of these Supermarionation shows.

The comics feature work from the likes of Frank Bellamy, Mike Noble and Ron Embleton, and originally appeared in the anthology TV21. Amazon ordering links: volume one and volume two.

Back in October, I mentioned that Fantagraphics has a complete collection of Sam's Strip by Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas due out soon. This arrived in most comic shops last week, or you can order the $22.99 softcover from the publisher now. Chad Nevett reviewed the book last month for Comic Book Resources.

Finally this month, IDW announced at February's WonderCon that they'll be bringing out a complete edition of Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer. There will be a standard hardcover and an oversized deluxe edition with several pages of previously unpublished drawings, both of which will contain all of the original episodes, and they're due out in October. Editor Scott Dunbier and new colorist Laura Martin talked about the project at Comic Book Resources.

See you next month! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reprint This! Cat's Eye

Reprint This! is a periodic feature where I talk about some out-of-print comic book gems that are not available in collected form for readers to enjoy. This is hoping to let rights owners know that, yes, readers are out here, and we'd like to buy the things we can't get at this time!

Despite such an enormous variety of books available these days, and genuine efforts to present the material in reasonably-priced, archival volumes, there are still countless fabulous series from the US, Britain and Japan which are overdue for new editions. I've selected several titles which should be on bookshelves, but at this time are not.

One missing gem is CAT'S EYE by Tsukasa Hojo. It's very 1980s, but it's a really entertaining story about three sisters who have turned the art world upside down with a string of spectacular heists from museums. It's all for allegedly good motives, of course, but it's great fun watching them run rings around the policeman assigned to bring them in, unaware that he's dating one of the thieves.

When I first flirted with Japanese animation fandom in the late 1980s, Cat's Eye was never a series that I was especially interested in. It was just one of dozens of shows based on comics that people passed around and enjoyed a little. A few months back, I ran across some volumes of the comic and was pleasantly surprised to learn how fun it is. The series is set around the Kisugi sisters, Rui, Hitomi and teenaged Ai, the daughters of a German art dealer. He had assembled one of the world's greatest collections, but had to break it up and sell everything in a big hurry when he went underground to avoid some ugly criminal interest in him. The sisters believe that he may have left clues to his present whereabouts in some of the paintings, so they begin reacquiring them.

The sisters - skilled to implausible levels in everything you'd need for a criminal career as top-drawer art thieves - leave a calling card with a cat's eye at the scene of every crime, probably because that's what they heard Lupin III did, or something. The girls even have an inside man of sorts, as Hitomi has agreed to marry a clumsy detective working the case, who unwittingly reveals facts about the police investigation, and security plans for pieces on their list to swipe.

Cat's Eye was the first regular series by Tsukasa Hojo, and it originally ran between 1981 and 1985 in the pages of Shonen Jump. Hojo, who is probably better known for his work on City Hunter, used a very realistic style in the comic and dressed his characters in the trendiest early-80s fashions. Along with some other design flourishes in the collected editions, Cat's Eye looks about as close to a comic populated by characters from a Patrick Nagel print as you're likely to see.

The series was collected in a run of 18 digest-sized volumes. Honestly, it's not the most unique or original series in the world, but it's full of harmless, charming fun, with some engaging characters. Viz could certainly do worse than snap up the rights to this comic and find a new way to take my money. So how about it, Viz?