Monday, March 15, 2010

Reprint This! Update on Missionary Man and more

See, I was just saying I wasn't going to abandon this blog and here, five days later, I'm back with a very important update.

2000 AD's graphic novels editor Keith Richardson was the special guest on the latest edition of the Everything Comes Back to 2000 AD podcast, and he went into more detail about the forthcoming year's worth of books in the US and the UK. Of prime importance to this blog's mission statement, the fantastic Missionary Man, written by Gordon Rennie with artists including Frank Quitely, Simon Davis, Alex Ronald and many others, is due for a reprint in the forthcoming Simon & Schuster line of books in April of next year in the US, with a British collection coming some time afterward. My original post about Missionary Man can be read here.

You can listen to the 70-minute conversation by saving this link:

Richardson has clarified many points about the forthcoming line. As mentioned last time, Simon & Schuster is planning to release their books towards the US mass market, meaning, if they can overpower the buyers of big chains with their thrill-packed offerings, you'll be able to see these books on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and other big stores, and not languishing in some Diamond warehouse or other, ignoring the requests of comic shop owners who've ordered them. In the meantime, the established, terrific, line in Britain will continue as before.

So here's the lineup for American stores:

June 2010:
Judge Dredd: Complete Case Files 1, reprint of the British edition with a new cover
D.R. & Quinch: Not quite a reprint of the British edition. This time around, the 1987 Agony Pages by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis will be in color, plus it will include a couple of pages of Alan Moore’s scripts as a supplement.

July 2010:
Death Lives: A mammoth collection of various Judge Death outings, including episodes drawn by Brian Bolland which have been reprinted many times previously, and by Greg Staples, whose 1996 story "Dead Reckoning" has only been reprinted in magazine form once.
The ABC Warriors: "The Meknificent Seven" – Apparently a substantial upgrade from the last American edition. This one should include a bonus story, in color, by Alan Moore, Steve Dillon and John Higgins which has never been reprinted, and hopefully include the prologue and epilogue from Titan's early 1980s collection.

August 2010:
Harry Twenty on the High Rock: As mentioned last time, this is the first book collection of the highly-regarded classic by Gerry Finley-Day, Alan Grant and Alan Davis.
Judge Dredd: "The Mega-City Masters" volume one - This is an artist-led compilation with work by Brian Bolland, Cam Kennedy, Kevin O’Neill and others.

September 2010:
The Ballad of Halo Jones
Nemesis the Warlock volume one - These are reprints of the existing Rebellion collections, with new covers.

October 2010:
Judge Dredd: "The Mega-City Masters" volume one - This is a writer-led collection with work by John Wagner, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar.
Zombo: "Can I Eat You Please?" - Simultaneous release in the US and UK for this, the first collection of Al Ewing and Henry Flint's wild death planet adventure, the second series of which is running in 2000 AD right this minute.

November 2010:
Slaine: "Warriors’ Dawn," probably a straight reprint of the most recent Rebellion collection.
Hewligan’s Haircut: This hasn't actually been available in quite some time, but this new edition is being released, amazingly enough, to tie in to the Gorillaz' American tour this month!

December 2010:
The first year of the line wraps up with Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 2, again a reprint of the existing Rebellion book with a new cover.

Continuing the existing line, the next several months of releases in the UK and to American comic shops, where applicable, look like this:

April 2010:
Judge Dredd: Complete Case Files 15
Robo-Hunter: The Droid Files Volume 2

May 2010:
Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu-Earth Vol. 2

June 2010:
Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files 02
Leviathan (paperback)

July 2010:
Al’s Baby
The Stainless Steel Rat

August 2010
Judge Dredd: Complete Case Files 16, including the epic "Judgement Day"
Harlem Heroes

September 2010
The ABC Warriors: "The Volgan War" volume 3
Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty volume 1 - The Backlash

October 2010
Fiends of Eastern Front – both the original serial by Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Ezquerra and the sequel by David Bishop and Colin MacNeil
Zombo, published simultaneous to the American edition

November 2010
Meltdown Man - the complete cult classic by Alan Hebden and the late Massimo Belardinelli
Durham Red: "Island of the Damned" by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. So this month will see one really thick book (50 episodes) and one skinny one (12 episodes).

December 2010
Chopper: "Surf’s Up" is the title of a collection of what could be all of Chopper's solo adventures following the "Oz" epic from Judge Dredd Case Files 11, with stories by John Wagner, Garth Ennis and Alan McKenzie.
Mega-City Undercover volume two, incorporating stories from the Dreddworld series Low Life and DeMarco P.I.

January 2011
Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty volume two: Under New Management

February 2011
Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 17

March 2011
The Taxidermist - Three Dreddworld stories by John Wagner, with art by Cam Kennedy, Ian Gibson and Trevor Hairsine. One episode in the Gibson-drawn story introduces a minor character named Agnes "Lazer Gaze" Boulton and is, in fact, the funniest thing ever drawn.

It is indeed a terrific lineup of fantastic books. Rather than turning Reprint This! into another outlet for constant 2000 AD information, I hope curious readers will keep an eye on my other blogs, Thrillpowered Thursday and The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf, for more information on them. And thanks to Rich and Flint for running such a fun podcast, to Radiator for keeping the forum updated with the forthcoming thrills thread, and to Rebellion's Keith Richardson for answering fans' questions and keeping us all up to date with what's to come. Florix grabundae!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reprint This! Update on Battle Picture Weekly

Battle Picture Weekly was, of course, one of the best and most important comics ever published. It wasn't just a simply entertaining, well-written and drawn collection of great war stories, it was a critical building block in the development of modern comics. Since without it, you'd never have had a 2000 AD, I've always been interested in it, and any chance to see these terrific stories is one worth taking.

The series and serials in BPW were drawn by some of the best artists working in Britain at the time, including Eric Bradbury, Joe Colquhoun, Carlos Ezquerra, Cam Kennedy and Mike Western. Many of the stories were devised by Pat Mills and John Wagner, and while they only scripted a few themselves, they assigned others to the likes of Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Hebden. They all developed storylines, sometimes sharply different from each other in tone, with vulnerable anti-heroes, radically different from the indestructible leads in American war comics. Reading just one issue of BPW after an identikit Robert Kanigher DC adventure is the greatest breath of fresh air in the medium.

Titan Books, which has been collecting Battle's most lauded strip, Charley's War, for several years now, landed the reprint rights to several old IPC properties what seemed like an eternity ago, and late last year finally released the first of their new Battle collections. The Best of Battle is similar in feel to their two Roy of the Rovers samplers, three hundred pages of reprints in a slightly oversized format with a paperback cover. The book contains the first 3-5 episodes of eighteen different series. Each comes with an introductory page and a short blurb written by either Mills or BPW's one-time editor, Dave Hunt.

I think the format is a good one, as far as samplers go, but it looks to me like Titan was a draft or two shy of assembling something really special. The most aggravating example is Hold Hill 109, a six-part serial by Steve MacManus and Jim Watson. Four of the six episodes are included in this book, which is nice, but what are the odds that Hold Hill 109 will ever be reprinted anywhere else? Between Charley's War, Johnny Red and Darkie's Mob, there are 12-13 episodes which are either already available in Titan collections or are due for release within a few months. Couldn't eight of those pages be given up to see all of Hold Hill 109?

I'm also a little surprised that Battle Action Force isn't even mentioned in the book. Admittedly, even with the nice artwork by John Cooper, the toy line tie-in, sort of a parallel antecedent to Hasbro's G.I. Joe line of the 1980s, was the sign that the comic's brightest moments had passed, but it still has a huge number of fans. Evidently there's some rights issues at work, as Palitoy still owns those characters like Baron Buckethead or whoever it was they were fighting prior to Cobra Commander, but considering just how important the Action Force was to Battle's later days - Johnny Red and Charley's War wouldn't have made it to their ends without Action Force sales propping up the comic - I think it should have been mentioned.

If readers would forgive the regular quibbling of a Monday morning quarterback, the book is truly a fine introduction to Battle, and one which will certainly get new readers excited about the other material Titan has planned. Six volumes of Charley's War are already out, the first collection of Johnny Red should be with us by the end of the month, and a complete Darkie's Mob - all 44 episodes - is solicited in the current Previews for later in the spring. The book also promises that collections of two of my favorite Battle series, Major Eazy and Rat Pack, are on the horizon.

The only other quibble that I have is that getting accurate shipping dates and advance plans from Titan is really like pulling teeth. Most of their books seem subject to interminable delays - where the devil is the third volume of Jeff Hawke, guys?! - and so it's impossible to guess exactly when we'll get the follow-up volumes that I've been craving. It's simply bad business to serve up an appetizer as tasty as this and shy away from the main course!

Read more of what I've written about Battle Picture Weekly at A Journal of Zarjaz Things.

Read other reviews of The Best of Battle:

Steve Holland at Bear Alley
Bart Croonenborghs at Broken Frontier
John Freeman at Down the Tubes

In other news, artist Steve Lieber was nice enough to drop me a line about his Image Comics series Underground, written by Jeff Parker. It's a five-part series about a park ranger in Kentucky trying to save a fragile cave system from developers in a town which badly needs the tourist business, leading to an ugly cat-and-mouse game. Underground doesn't seem to have shown up on many bloggers' radars, but it's a fine adventure with sympathetic characters and some really nice artwork. Image is releasing a collected edition of the miniseries on April 21.

Over at Dark Horse, underground pioneer Denis Kitchen is the subject of a forthcoming retrospective. The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen is a 200-page hardcover collection with an introduction by Neil Gaiman. Apparently, Kitchen was planning a similar project back when he was running the late, lamented Kitchen Sink Press in the early nineties, but it never came to fruition. The book's sure to be anticipated by fans of underground comix and goes on sale June 23rd.

There is some big news, equally confusing and wonderful, from Rebellion, publishers of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, 2000 AD. Seems they have signed a new deal with Simon & Schuster to distribute their line of graphic novels in the US. This deal looks like it's meant to target American mass market retailers - and not the direct market - with two collections every month, starting in the summer.

To be honest, there's little in the line to excite longtime 2000 AD fans like me, who've bought this material in multiple editions already, but putting the material out there for new readers to finally sample at every bookstore in America sounds like a very good thing indeed. The exception to that sentence is Harry Twenty on the High Rock, a 1983 serial written by Gerry Finley-Day (and an uncredited Alan Grant) with art by Alan Davis, who's contributing a new cover to the book. While it's been dusted off for magazine reprints, this serial has never been collected in book form before, and should be out in August.

Rebellion is also continuing their long-running line of collections which are available to British booksellers and, occasionally, to the American direct market via Diamond. August will see the release of the classic Harlem Heroes by Tom Tully, Dave Gibbons and Massimo Belardinelli, perhaps also including the sequel series, Inferno, along with the sixteenth in the series of Judge Dredd Case Files.

On that note, I would like to thank readers for reading Reprint This!, and hope you'll understand that I've decided against continuing in the present format. I really seem to have exhausted the supply of good feature ideas for reprints that I would be genuinely excited to see and purchase at this time, and I've kind of been noticing that the "reprint news" summary like this one has been feeling more like work. I will continue using this blog to spotlight news and announcements that appeal to me, and have no intention of abandoning it, but I am removing the "deadline" element of it, so that I can continue sharing exciting news when it's fresh, rather than having a chore. Thanks for reading!