Monday, April 19, 2010

Reprint This! Update on Rian Hughes

In April of last year, I proposed that what we really needed on bookshelves was a nice set of Rian Hughes' work for 2000 AD. It turns out that the good folk at Rebellion have met me halfway on the project and, this month, released all of Hughes' splendid episodes of Robo-Hunter.

To give a little background, Robo-Hunter, as told by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ian Gibson, concluded in 1985. Seven years later, the property was revived by Mark Millar and a rotating team of artists. Two one-off episodes were also contributed by writer John Smith. These episodes proved to be very unpopular with readers, and when Peter Hogan took over as writer, most people didn't notice, despite the fact that Rian Hughes illustrated all but one of the fourteen episodes. I've written extensively about the underrated magic of Peter Hogan's tenure and it won't take you long to find a Thrillpowered Thursday or a dozen or so message board threads where I've raved about them.

Last year, Rebellion issued a big phonebook omnibus of Robo-Hunter tales. This was solicited by Diamond to American comic shops but the distributor later canceled the orders, leaving those of us who wanted it to buy it from England. The second volume was not even solicited here, but the first reports on the book came out last week. Frankly, I was expecting a slightly thinner volume than the first, just concluding the Wagner/Grant/Gibson canon of stories, but Rebellion has pulled a nice surprise on us.

Nobody was expecting the Mark Millar run to be included, and of course it is not. Despite some occasionally nice art by Anthony Williams and Simon Jacob, his run is universally derided as a point-missing waste of paper. However, they did include one of the two Smith-written episodes, with art by Chris Weston, and all fourteen Peter Hogan episodes - that's thirteen episodes drawn by Hughes and one drawn by Jacob. The stories are silly, whimsical detective adventures and Hughes draws the hell out of them, designing a strange, timelost world of atomic-age architecture and zap guns. Their inclusion is just about the greatest news we've ever had, and it's downright criminal that Diamond didn't want to carry this book. (And that it has completely snuck up on buyers without a word of hype!!)

That's something like seventy pages of Rian Hughes awesomeness that many people have never seen, just waiting for you in a book that's also got something like 250 pages of Ian Gibson at his greatest. Here, I even found it on Amazon UK for you. Run, don't walk!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reprint This! Update on Doonesbury

It isn't quite the news that we're looking for, but the publisher Andrews McMeel has announced an October 26 release date for 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. Here's the press release for the book:

Andrews McMeel will publish 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, a massive anniversary collection packaged by the same team that did The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and The Complete Far Side. The book will street on October 26th, the 40th anniversary of the appearance of the first Doonesbury strip. To give some idea of the scale of cartoonist G.B. Trudeau’s body of work, the 1800 strips reprinted in this massive hardcover volume are only around 13% of the over 14,000 strips Trudeau has penned since that first strip in 1970.

The strips and accompanying features in 40 examine the characters of the strip in depth. Trudeau contributes 18 original essays, including an introductory piece and contemplations of individual characters and groups of characters. A four-page fold-out centerfold charts the character’s connections in a “family tree.”

The 664-page, 9-3/4” x 13-1/2” hardback will retail for $100. First printing is 100,000 copies.

Doonesbury is currently syndicated in over 1,400 Sundays and daily newspapers.

It's certainly not as ideal as a full collection would be, but it's a good start, and the eighteen essays sounds like good reading. Maybe Santa Claus will be nice to me.

For more reading, see this blog's original feature on Doonesbury, from back in 2007, and also Walden College Library, my blog about the reprint collections already released.