In 24 hours, I will be deep in mosquitos and brush. Yes, this is how I spend my summer vacations: in Northern Ontario, secluded in a cabin in the woods with friends, family, Labatt Blue, and the fickle weather. My bags may not yet be packed, but I've been saving several comics collections and graphic novels for months in preparation for my trip. I have comics for sunny days on the dock, rainy days by the fireplace, quiet nights while the loons call to one another, and mornings full of blueberry pancakes and records. I always pack too many books and leave a few in the cabin to rediscover next year.
Up first is The Incal: Classic Collection by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (Humanoids). A friend recently clued me in to cult film director Jodorowsky's second life as a comics writer. I started with The Metabarons and moved to The Technopriests, but both series spin out of The Incal, which has been in and out of print for decades. UK publisher Humanoids recently released this edition, and I quickly secured a copy--but chances are this print run will not last long. Jodorowsky's sci-fi world contains bizarre, perverse, and challenging concepts at the turn of every page, and legendary illustrator Moebius is the perfect complement to bring them all to life.
When I need a breather from the heady material above, Justice League International Vol. 6 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Adam Hughes, and Bart Sears (DC) is the answer. These welcome reprints of the classic JLI prove that no matter what the latest upheaval is in the DCU, humor is everlasting. This latest volume is particularly noteworthy because it marks the DC debut of superstar artist Adam Hughes. Teammates and best pals Booster Gold and Blue Beetle yuck it up with plenty of Bwah-ha-has!, while Batman broods and Power Girl pouts. Before the dire events in Identity Crisis, this is how most fans remember the do-gooders.
Jeffrey Brown's latest, Incredible Change-Bots Two (Top Shelf), is packed for the plane ride. Brown's spoof on the Transformers may seem a decade late, but it's in a world all its own ("Twice as much as met the eye last time!"). The robots transform or "incredible change!" with sound effects like "Chee choo chook" and their weapons fire with "Bew! Bew!" Every character is in full deadpan wit and the material is rife with laughs. It's the perfect way to begin my trip.
Enough people have praised Orc Stain Volume 1 by James Stokoe (Image) that I had to pick up a copy. Its plot sounds a little hazy (involving an orc thief who may very well be the chosen one to lead his orc people out of their savage ways), but the artwork is incredibly dense and surprisingly adult. I hope this one makes it past customs.
At night I can appreciate a few scares, and an advance copy of B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth Volume 1: New World by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis (Dark Horse) thankfully crossed my desk just in time for the trip. At Emerald City Comicon 2011, I spoke with allthree of the creators at length about the series and I can't wait to finally read it. This book picks up after King of Fear and promises a new direction for the Hellboy spin-off that's become a fan favorite in its own right.
Last year, Fantagraphics made its first leap into manga with the beautiful A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio. Wandering Son: Book One by Shimura Takako is the next in their line, and it's a complex tale of a young boy and girl, both of whom desire to be the opposite of their respective sexes. I confess my cultural ignorance to the genre, but this seems like a smart way to continue my education. It's yet another sharply designed hardcover with a few color pages, a pronunciation guide and an essay in the back. The package is worth the extra weight in my luggage.
When I was younger I owned both Impossible Man Summer Spectaculars, but they've long since disappeared from the cabin. Never fear, summertime readers, Marvel Comics released the Impossible Man collection this month, and it's 360 pages of green-skinned, shape-shifting nonsense. The Impossible Man is an alien prankster who has annoyed just about everyone in the Marvel U, from the Fantastic Four to the Silver Surfer. He's lewd and clueless, and this hefty paperback captures all his misadventures from the 1960s to today. It will be my most nostalgic read, and I'm securing it in a safe place when I leave this summer so I can return to it next year.
That's it for the next two weeks, readers. While I'm away, be sure to post what you'll be reading. Happy summer vacation!