A lot of news comes out of the San Diego Comic Con International. As a service to the loyal Neon Monster reader, we’ve compiled a list of what announcements we think you should pay attention to.
1) Fantagraphics’ Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson
Back in 1930, Floyd Gottfredson began one of the greatest comic strips of all time, featuring the most popular cartoon character in the world and chances are you’ve never read it.
Previously only partially available in two very out-of-print and unauthorized single issues published by Eternity Comics, Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse strip languished in obscurity for decades due to content issues. Lets just say the 1930s were a little more lenient on guns and racism.
Now Fantagraphics, publisher of the Complete Peanuts and the recently announced Pogo collections, are undertaking a very long awaited repackaging of this material. Their new collections will eventually cover the entire length of the strip, all the way to Gottfredson’s conclusion in 1975.
2) Long Live The Rocketeer!
It’s hard to boil this down to just one project as IDW has been reintroducing the public to Dave Stevens’ classic hero beginning with last year’s remastered definitive edition The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures. This Eisner-award winning project, spearheaded by editor Scott Dunbier, turned out to merely be a precursor to what was to come.
During the convention IDW released The Rocketeer: The Artist’s Edition, a hardcover consisting of direct scans of Stevens’ original art – warts and all – at its original size. It’s the closest most folks are ever going to get to owning original pages by the Rocketeer creator. Considering Stevens’ reputation as an artist’s artist, this quickly became the hit book of the convention.
It turned out this wasn’t all IDW had up their sleeve. They announced an all-new anthology featuring some of comics biggest names would once again bring the character to the public eye. Covers will be by Alex Ross and contributions from creators like Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, John Cassaday, Darwyn Cooke, Michael Golden, Gene Ha, Michael Kaluta, Garry Leach, Bruce Timm, Bill Willingham, Geoff Darrow, Art Adams, Jeff Campbell and Mike Mignola.
You may recognize those folks as masters of comics.
I’ll admit: when rumors of this anthology first swirled around I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. Rocketeer without Dave Stevens felt like Peanuts without Charles Schulz. You just don’t do it. However, considering the type of talent IDW is bringing to the table as well as the blessing of Stevens’ own mother, I don’t doubt this project will do his legacy justice.
3) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #2: 1969
Alan Moore is pretty much done with comics these days.
The writer, who first made his name known with such classics like Swamp Thing and Watchmen, has declared he’ll be stepping away from the industry with very few exceptions. The exception I’m personally most stoked for his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, his ongoing series of graphic novels with one of my all-time favorite cartoonists, Marshall Law’s Kevin O’Neill.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then published by DC Comics, began as a super team of literary proportions formed at the turn of the 20th Century. Allan Quartermain, Dracula’s Mina Harker, The Invisible Man, Jekyl and Captain Nemo comprised the original series’ team roster. It was soon revealed they were merely a single iteration in a long line of team’s comprised of fiction’s finest heroes and sometimes villains.
Coming off the heels of the century-spanning secret origin of the League, The Black Dossier, came the first League series from Top Shelf, Century. Free from the constraints and forced publications schedule of DC, O’Neill and Moore have turned each edition of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen into an eagerly anticipated event in the form of 96-page graphic novels released whenever they’re ready.
Top Shelf announced the second volume is not only due out in 2011, but it will also feature the series’ furthest jump in time, all the way up to 1969, and the impending birth of The Antichrist.
4) Dark Horse’s The Manara Library
My last post was dedicated entirely to why Milo Manara is a cartoonist you need to be reading and how Dark Horse’s upcoming Manara Library is the best way to do it so you might think its redundant to discuss it again here. However, given how long it’s been since these volumes have been in print in the States, if ever, I thought it a good idea to push its importance.
As evidenced most recently by their Black Sad edition, Dark Horse really knows what they’re doing when importing European works to American audiences. This nine-volume series will no doubt be the definitive library for Manara’s wide body of work.
5) Batman Inc. by Grant Morrison
For a character almost a century old, it’s an amazing feat when a creative team can make them seem fresh and exciting. Writer Grant Morrison has been doing so with Batman ever since his “Batman & Son” arc in 2006 with artist Andy Kubert. Since then he’s taken the character through the ringer in just about every way possible, including turning a cliché like a greatest villain being someone’s father into something absolutely brilliant. He’s reintroduced discarded ideas from Batman’s madcap 1950s run in a way which made them relevant without becoming pretentious and boring. In my opinion, his complete Bat-saga is up there on the big list of great comic book runs.
The saga’s next stage will begin as Batman & Robin, featuring Dick Grayson and Batman’s son Damian Wayne as the dynamic duo, comes to an end and Batman Inc. begins.
While the lid on details is extremely tight, Morrison has said this will focus on Bruce Wayne’s new role in Gotham and the world as he begins to franchise out the cowl in a natural extension of Dick’s current control of the mantle and the reintroduction of the international Club of Heroes.
6) Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura’s Immortal Sergeant
Last year Niimura & Kelly introduced the world to I Kill Giants, an Eisner-nominated limited series, which has since become my go-to book for introducing any prospective comic fans to the medium. If you haven’t already read the Neon Monster Summer Reading List, check it out for more information on why I Kill Giants is so damn good. Anyway.
Image announced Kelly and Niimura will once again team up for a new series entitled Immortal Sergeant. All I know at this point is it involves father issues. You may think this isn’t enough to get excited about, but you would be wrong.
Kelly and Niimura could do a comic about paint drying and it would deserve acclaim. Their first go proved they’re a team that can do no wrong. Anything these two creators do together or alone from here on out will be a project worth reading.
7) John Byrne’s Next Men Returns
After Image Comics kick started the creator-owned revolution in 1992, many companies made attempts to emulate their business model. Most failed, but Dark Horse’s response, Legend, succeeded.
It would have been hard not to as the creator-owned lined featured eventual classics like Frank Miller’s Sin City, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Mike Allred’s Madman, Art Adams’ Monkeyman & O’Brien, Paul Chadwick’s Concrete, Dave Gibbons’ Martha Washington, Geoff Darrow’s Hard Boiled and John Byrne’s Next Men. I loved all these titles, but I really, really loved Next Men.
John Byrne made a huge name for himself on quite a few celebrated superhero runs including The Uncanny X-Men with Chris Claremont and a solo jaunt on The Fantastic Four. However, Next Men was the first time I had ever read John Byrne completely free of any big company restraints. Next Men allowed him complete and total freedom to explore superheroes the way he always wanted to.
His take was to really consider what superpowers could do to someone, like a speedsteer’s upper thigh muscles growing to an abnormal size or a Cyclops-like laser burning the eyes they shoot from.
The series had a celebrated thirty issue and one prequel graphic novel run, but it culminated in one of the most frustrating cliffhangers of all time.
Life and career got in the way of finding out what happened next for a very long time. However, Byrne’s recent success at IDW has paved the way for the creator to finally return to the series in December 2010. Those eager to catch up in time can easily do so in the publisher’s two softcover, black and white “Complete” editions or three oversized, full color hardcovers.
8) Witchdoctor at Robert Kirkman’s Skybound
Comic Con was flooded with promotion for the AMC adaptation of writer Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, but I was most excited for the news on Kirkman launching his own imprint at Image Comics. The imprint will feature both The Walking Dead and Invincible alongside a very select few books Kirkman will take under his wing.
The first two books announced were Thief of Thieves with Morning Glories writer Nick Spencer and the medical/horror drama Witchdoctor by writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner.
If you read my write up on Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack, you know I’m a sucker for medical driven comics and Witchdoctor looks to be that series heir apparent, despite being completely different in its approach.
In Witchdoctor, the planet is a living organism as the horrors of the earth – vampires, ghouls and other such monsters – disrupt its natural order. Only the titular Witchdoctor can bring heal the world by destroying the supernatural infections.
Having read the con-exclusive preview issue, I can assure you its one of the smartest written and gorgeously illustrated reads I’ve experienced in awhile. Expect to be reading a lot more about it on this blog, as I haven’t been this excited for an all-new from brand new creators in quite awhile. It’s going to be a debut you’ll be talking about from years to come. Plus, considering the guy who brought you The Walking Dead endorses it, I imagine you’ll want to check it out.
9) Flex Mentallo May Be Collected
So, DC recently had some major changes. The formation of DC Entertainment led to a new power structure at DC Comics. Said new power structure – including Dan Didio and Jim Lee in the co-publisher cockpit – has resulted in a new way of looking at things.
For instance, Warren Ellis’ long banned Hellblazer story, Shoot, will finally be printed. This was something thought long lost, but again – there are new kings. New rules.
Almost ten years ago Batman’s Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly collaborated on a four-issue mini-series entitled Flex Mentallo. This mini-series was an offshoot of Morrison’s Doom Patrol run and focused on a ‘man of muscle mystery’ inspired by fitness guru Charles Atlas.
In fact, the Charles Atlas people thought it was too inspired.
One lawsuit later and DC never reprinted the series. The original single issues remain holy grails for many fans. Only those willing to seek them out and pay a pretty penny have had any chance of owning them. Well, that may change.
During his spotlight panel Morrison was asked if Flex Mentallo would have any chance of being reprinted, given DC’s new hierarchy. For the past several years we always got the same answer. No.
That’s no longer the case.
Morrison stated he’s confident the series will be reprinted under the new administration. This is all we currently have to go on, but considering how adamant Morrison and DC have been on it never seeing the light of day in the past it’s huge news for readers eager to finally have access to this lost classic.
10) Jim Henson’s Lost Graphic Novel by Archaia
However, Henson fans are in for a completely unprecedented project as Archaia is developing a graphic novel based off a lost script of Henson’s entitled A Tale of Sand.
While it was originally set to be a motion picture, Henson’s lost script became too large in its many drafts. It was abandoned until Archaia discovered the tale of a boy kicked out of his town only to find it completely surrounded by sand in every single direction.
Their adaptation is set to arrive in Summer 2011.