Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Stores 4/29

Here are the highlights of books that are arriving in comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Collected Doug Wright: Canada's Master Cartoonist (Volume 1) HC - Important creator Doug Wright gets a retrospective courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly in two volumes, beautifully packaged. He created the long-running Doug Wright's Family/Nipper strip and is who the Canadian Wright Awards are named after.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Absolute Superman For Tomorrow HC
Apes & Babes: Art of Frank Cho HC
Archie High School Chronicles (Volume 1): Freshman Year TP
Astounding Wolf-Man (Volume 2) TP
Batman: Battle For the Cowl - The Underground #1
Dark Reign: The Cabal
Dean Koontz's Nevermore #1 (of 6)
Garth Ennis' Battlefields: Tankies #1 (of 3)
Green Lantern Chronicles (Volume 1) TP
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War (Volume 1) TP
Guardians of the Galaxy: Earth Shall Overcome HC
House of M: Civil War TP
Invincible (Volume 4) Ultimate Collection HC
Literals #1 (of 3)
Little Lulu (Volume 19): Alamo & Other Stories TP
Manhunter (Volume 5): Forgotten TP
Marvel Masterworks: Avengers (Volume 1) TP
Ms. Marvel #38 - Featuring Moonstone
The Muppet Show #2 (of 4)
New Exiles (Volume 3): Enemy Within TP
Path of the Assassin (Volume 15): Bad Blood Part 2 - Final volume!
Project Superpowers (Volume 1) TP
Queen & Country Definitive Edition (Volume 4) TP
RASL #4
Second Thoughts GN
Spider-Man: Spider-Woman TP
Supreme Power: Powers & Principalities HC
Thor: Ages of Thunder HC
X-Men: Proteus HC
X-Men Origins: Wolverine #1
Ultimate Iron Man (Volume 2) TP

Monday, April 27, 2009

Manga Monday: More Miki Aihara

Tokyo Boys & Girls (Volume 1)
Miki Aihara
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I was so taken with Miki Aihara's latest effort, Honey Hunt, that I tracked down some previous works by the shojo manga creator, beginning with the series Tokyo Boys & Girls (what Aihara is most known for is Hot Gimmick, which I will be reviewing next week). Tokyo Boys & Girls is an earlier work that runs five volumes total, with art that isn't as refined as is seen in Honey Hunt. All of the characters (including the supposedly beautiful best friend) have wide mannish jaws and the panels are arranged a little clumsily. But I can forgive Aihara given what's to come from her. The story centers around Mimori Kosaka, a bold naive girl who is beginning freshman year at her dream school, Meidai Attached High School. Immediately, she's made class rep and becomes friends with a beautiful girl who's the envy of the boys on the other side of the school. One of the boys that the girls meet is the mysterious Haruta Atsushi, who looks out for Mimori while maintaining the stance that he doesn't like her. They have some sort of ties to an elementary school they both attended together, but for her life, Mimori can't seem to recollect the handsome troublemaker. This book is really one of those shojo titles that makes you feel warm and fuzzy for the characters as they slowly build a little group of closeknit friends and discover how their relationships with one another are going to progress. Despite a little animosity at first, the half-dozen characters in Mimori's life genuinely begin to look forward to spending time with one another as they do your typical high school-type of things. The storytelling may feel a little rushed sometimes, but I really did come to enjoy the time I spent in the halls of Mimori's high school, and I'm sure there's plenty of more fun to come over the next four volumes.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wonderland HC

Tommy Kovac & Sonny Liew
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I loved loved loved this all-ages comic. I'm not particularly fond of Disney's Alice In Wonderland (though I don't not like it, I suppose), but this sequel of sorts is stunning. Fun, witty and just plain gorgeous, Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew continue Disney's version of the Lewis Carroll story with familiar faces, as well as some new ones. The protagonist of this new tale is Mary Ann, the White Rabbit's maid whom he mistakes Alice for in the original story. Mary Ann is a no-nonsense maid who happens to be obsessive-compulsive about making things pristinely clean. If she gets dirty, she gets a little crazy - if she sees a dirty dirt road, she'll dust like no tomorrow. She's utterly likable and is drawn beautifully, as is the rest of the book, by Sonny Liew with delicate lines and cartoony characters, in stunning colors. I'm kind of surprised more people aren't talking about this book, but I'm glad that Liew is at least being recognized and getting work at Marvel, doing covers for the new Pride and Prejudice mini-series and even doing a back-up story in the latest Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man (#50). Kovac came up with some pretty imaginative ideas for this sequel of sorts, touching on the fate of the other suits of cards, and reintroducing favorites like the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, and a butterfly-morphed caterpillar. This book is brimming with creativity and you have to pause to admire the artwork often, while taking in fun panel arrangements and the craziness that comes with this backwards world that Alice left behind (and the repercussions of her visit are felt in every corner of Wonderland). This is an absolute treat for readers of any age and should not be missed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Stores 4/22

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Tales Designed To Thrizzle #5 - Michael Kupperman's hilarious comic book series continues! The alternative comic pamphlet is becoming a rare breed, but Kupperman's book seems to be able to make the cut. There's also a collection of this series due out in July.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Batman: Battle For the Cowl -
.....Arkham #1
The Beats: A Graphic History HC
Blue Beetle: Boundaries TP
BPRD (Volume 10): The Warning
.....TP
Crayon Shinchan (Volume 8)
DC Library: Batman - The Annuals HC
Fantastic Force #1 (of 5)
Freakangels (Volume 2) TP
Gambit Classic (Volume 1) TP
Ghost Omnibus (Volume 2) TP
Nova (Volume 4): Nova Corps TP
The Question (Volume 4): Welcome To Oz TP
Scalped (Volume 4): The Gravel In Your Guts TP
She-Hulk (Volume 8): Secret Invasion TP
Showcase Presents: Legion of Superheroes (Volume 3) TP
Skrull Kill Krew #1 (of 5)
Spider-Man 2099 (Volume 1) TP
Venus Capriccio (Volume 1)
Wolverine: Not Dead Yet HC
Wolverine: Prodigal Son (Volume 1)
X-Men Omnibus (Volume 1) HC

Monday, April 20, 2009

Manga Monday: Honey Hunt

Honey Hunt (Volume 1)
Miki Aihara
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Honey Hunt is a manga currently being serialized in Shojo Beat magazine, and I have to say that I liked this first volume of the series so much that I've already purchased other manga from creator Miki Aihara: Hot Gimmick and Tokyo Boys & Girls neither of which I've read before. Honey Hunt has a premise that's not exactly unique in the world of shojo manga: Shy Yura is the daughter of a famous celebrity couple, and she's thrust into the spotlight when her father is caught in an affair, and the two decide to divorce. After making a passionate speech to reporters on television following a string of events, Yura is sought out by a talent scout, and she begins the tedious process of trying to build a name for herself - as an actress. There are definitely echoes of Nana in this, which may be why I was so taken by the book, but the main conflict in the book is really between Yura and her mother. Her mother is an award-winning, highly-regarded actress, and lies about things with ease, which is one reason she won the title of "best mother" among celebrities, even though she hardly spends any time with her daughter. In fact, the woman is extremely cold toward Yura and tries her best to hurt her when talking to her, going so far as to outright betraying her. She is the reason that Yura wants to become an actress, because she can never beat her mother, never be taken seriously, unless it's on her mother's turf. But getting into acting is not an easy thing, especially as Yura is utterly shy and she refuses to let her parents' celebrity status open doors for her. This all makes Yura an extremely likable character. We see her take this abuse with composure, and she only wants to better herself and earn a name on her own merits. Miki Aihara has really done a stellar job of executing this story, with perfect suspense, hitting the right notes emotionally, and providing a nice balance of supporting characters - equal parts friends and enemies in Yura's life. This is all illustrated very competently throughout, making for quite a ride.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Exiles #1

Jeff Parker & Salva Espin
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The reality-jumping, roster-switching team Exiles relaunched this past week with a new #1. This book's had a pretty damn impressive run. You'd think a premise like this would get old fast, but it just kind of keeps going. When I was reading the early issues of the original series, I remember that things were kept pretty fresh simply because when one character died and a new one came on, the new character brought a new group dynamic with them, a new soundboard for the more popular characters of the book like Blink and Morph, to play off of. But I also remember that some of the storylines were kind of boring. There are only so many alternate-universe-Magneto's-the-good-guy type of stories that can be more interesting than the last. The shock value wears off pretty quickly, so the writer has to be strong enough to keep things pretty engaging. Jeff Parker may be up for such a task. I admit that I was kind of excited to hear that he was coming on to this book. I'm really digging Agents of Atlas, and this type of straight-forward superhero book with a shifting group of characters could be a fun team book for him to take on. He begins his run with some short scenes introducing most of the Exiles he's chosen to start out with: Polaris, Forge, Beast, Blink and The Witch (The Scarlet Witch). Blink is the only character whose past life is neglected, which would be appropriate if she were the Blink that's been the team leader of the Exiles for most of its run, but...that doesn't seem to be the case. She seems as clueless and lost as the others as she's confronted with a new, skewed world. It's interesting to shroud things in mystery surrounding this character who is pretty much a staple of the Exiles at this point. Introducing a different Blink is a smart move - keeping fans satisfied, but still giving her a blank slate to build off of (if that's even truly the case). I also really like this version of Polaris he's introduced, very confident and strong - not the hanger-on that she tends to be in the regular Marvel U, but a real force. The others are kind of throw-away characters to me at this point, but we're one issue in and they haven't even begun to be developed. Morph is the Timebroker, which was another smart move that doesn't bog the team down with old faces, but keeps a mainstay with the book. And the art by Espin is very nice. There's a sketch gallery in the back of this debut issue too, for some extra goodies - I especially like the facial expressions of Black Panther that are thrown in. But anyways, a nice start for this book's latest incarnation, complete with some great choices by the creative team.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Stores 4/15

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Firebreather (Volume 2): All the Best Heroes Are Orphans TP - Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn's fun action series returned recently in a new ongoing series. Volume one collected the first mini-series, and this volume will be collecting the initial issues of that new ongoing series.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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100% HC
100 Bullets #100 - Final issue!
Alex Toth Goes Hollywood SC
Best of Simon & Kirby HC
Beta Ray Bill: Green of Eden #1
Dark Tower: Sorcerer #1
Dinosaur Hour (Volume 1)
Dylan Dog Case Files TP
Essential Dazzler (Volume 2) TP
Exiles Ultimate Collection (Book One) TP
Foolkiller: White Angels TP
Herbie Archives (Volume 3) HC
Hollow Eyed Mary GN
Honey Hunt (Volume 1)
Hulk (Volume 2): Red & Green HC
JSA (Volume 4): Thy Kingdom Come Part 3 HC
Marvel Apes HC
My Mom HC
Perhapanauts (Volume 1) TP
Punisher War Zone: Resurrection HC
Rampaging Wolverine #1
Star Trek Alien Spotlight: Klingons
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Volume 1)
Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft #1 (of 4)
Supergirl: Way of the World TP
Superman: The Coming of Atlas HC
Wolverine: Dangerous Games TP
Wolverine: Logan TP
Wolverine Noir #1 (of 4)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Manga Monday: The Color of Earth

The Color of Earth GN
Kim Dong Hwa
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The Color of Earth is the first of three books in a trilogy of manhwa from Korean creator Kim Dong Hwa. First Second Books is publishing it in English for the first time, with the two subsequent books, The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven, coming out soon.
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This beautifully-illustrated graphic novel is a coming-of-age tale that follows Ehwa, a young village girl that comes to understand the relationships between men and women as she grows up in a house with a widowed mother. While most of the focus is on Ehwa, her mother has her own interesting story, being the owner of a tavern, and falling in love with a traveler who leaves a brush every time he passes through. Ehwa learns a lot about love from observing her mother, but also from her friends: the boys who ask to see her private parts and the girls who compete for the affections of a young man with a broken arm (and hope to see his face in a reflecting pool that's rumored to show the face of your future husband). There are plenty of cute little stories throughout this book that, as adults, we're well aware of the answers, but it's interesting to see how young Ehwa and the other village children interpret things from their naive points-of-view, and uncover truths that slowly bleed away their innocence. Unfortunately, a lot of the explanations for love and sex told toward the beginning of this graphic novel are bogged down with meandering metaphors featuring flowers, quite heavy-handed and silly. Only when Ehwa starts to grow old enough to experience these things herself do things get interesting and Hwa leaves the cringe-worthy round-about explanations that are passed as wisdom, behind.
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This book is very blunt with sexuality as it progresses, which is fine with me. We all have to make our own discoveries about sexuality growing up, and this is just Ehwa's particular journey down that road. The loves that come and go are cute, but never seem too serious, as she's still quite young, and everything is quite innocent and flowery. But it's nice, very well-executed and illustrated simply and lovingly, with lush backgrounds, by a talented creator. I'm anxious to see how Ehwa grows over the next two books, and I'm invested enough in the character to hope that she retains a certain amount of self-respect and innocence.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Incredible Hercules: Love and War

Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry & Salva Espin
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I am really loving this series. I was surprised that I enjoyed Incredible Hercules: Secret Invasion so much, but I was equally surprised by how enamored I was with the following storyarc. I'm glad to see it wasn't a fluke. The Incredible Hercules: Love and War hardcover collects issues #121-125 of the series, and sees Hercules, er, "hanging out" with Namora of the Agents of Atlas (a character I also really like, who is written pretty pitch-perfect in this story). While Hercules is distracted in this manner, the Amazons wage war with Atlantis, and Namor gets involved, and it's a whole big mess. But on the plus side, Cho sees some love from a few of the Amazons in this tale of love and betrayal. There's a neat final chapter to the book that was done really well (and took real advantage of the elements in play), and I love the conclusion. Meanwhile, there are plenty of flashbacks featuring Herc in classic confrontations with characters like Atlas, and there's a war brewing in Asgard that's riding the waves of Dark Reign which will lead, I'm sure (based on the quality of writing this series has going for it), to some really cool places. I'm also finding that I like the humor of this book. It's very reminiscent of Excalibur (which I love) or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when the characters kind of pause in a tense battle to say something silly that's still completely appropriate. The art is wonderful throughout this collection, and I really liked the design for the Amazon love interest for Cho, Delphyne (who is also a gorgon). I'm just having a great time with this book, which could actually be my favorite superhero comic currently running. I highly recommend checking this book out.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

21st Eisner Award Nominees

The following are the nominees for Eisner Awards this year. The winners will be announced this summer at the San Diego Comic-Con, and my picks are in bold.

Best Short Story
“Actual Size” by Chris Ware, in Kramers Ergot 7 (Buenaventura Press)
“Chechen War, Chechen Women,” by Joe Sacco, in I Live Here (Pantheon)
“Freaks,” by Laura Park, in Superior Showcase #3 (AdHouse)
“Glenn Ganges in ‘Pulverize,’” by Kevin Huizenga, in Ganges #2 (Fantagraphics)
“Murder He Wrote,” by Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto, and Andrew Pepoy, in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #14 (Bongo)

Best Continuing Series
All Star Superman. by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy, and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and various (Marvel)
Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series
Groo: Hell on Earth, by Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier (Dark Horse)
Hellboy: The Crooked Man, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)
Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Omega the Unknown, by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel)
The Twelve, by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston (Marvel)

Best New Series
Air, by. G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC)
Echo, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca (Marvel)
Madame Xanadu, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley, and Richard Friend (Vertigo/DC)
Unknown Soldier, by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (Vertigo/DC)

Best Publication for Kids
Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper, by Kazu Kabuishi (Scholastic Graphix)
Cowa! by Akira Toriyama (Viz)
Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Image)
Stinky, by Eleanor Davis (RAW Junior)
Tiny Titans, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC)

Best Publication for Teens/Tweens
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Crogan’s Vengeance, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
The Good Neighbors, Book 1: Kin, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (Scholastic Graphix)
Rapunzel’s Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

Best Humor Publication
Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero, by Douglas Paszkiewicz (Arsenic Lullaby)
Chumble Spuzz, by Ethan Nicolle (SLG)
Herbie Archives, by “Sean O’Shea” (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)
Petey and Pussy, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics)
Wondermark: Beards of Our Forefathers, by David Malki (Dark Horse)

Best Anthology
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
Best American Comics 2008, edited by Lynda Barry (Houghton Mifflin)
Comic Book Tattoo: Narrative Art Inspired by the Lyrics and Music of Tori Amos, edited by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
Kramers Ergot 7, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
MySpace Dark Horse Presents, edited by Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn (Dark Horse)

Best Digital Comic
Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw, www.dashshaw.com
Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil, www.shadowlinecomics.com/webcomics/#/finder/
The Lady’s Murder, by Eliza Frye, http://theladysmurder.elizafrye.com
Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican, by Elan Trinidad, www.theoryofeverythingcomics.com/SNE/
Vs., by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari, www.smithmag.net/nextdoorneighbor/2008/12/08/story-18/

Best Reality-Based Work
Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (Houghton Mifflin)
Fishtown, by Kevin Colden (IDW)
A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child, by Rick Geary (NBM)
What It Is, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album—New
Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)
Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
Three Shadows, by Cyril Pedrosa (First Second)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Berlin Book 2: City of Smoke, by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)
Hellboy Library Edition, vols. 1 and 2, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
Sam & Max Surfin’ the Highway anniversary edition HC, by Steve Purcell (Telltale Games)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse)
The Umbrella Academy, vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite deluxe edition, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
The Complete Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray (IDW)
Explainers, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics)
Little Nemo in Slumberland, Many More Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles (IDW)
Willie & Joe, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
Creepy Archives, by various (Dark Horse)
Elektra Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Marvel)
Good-Bye, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
Herbie Archives, by “Sean O’Shea” (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Alan’s War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
Gus and His Gang, by Chris Blain (First Second)
The Last Musketeer, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
The Rabbi’s Cat 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
Tamara Drewe, by Posy Simmonds (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan
Cat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz)
Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
The Quest for the Missing Girl, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
Solanin, by Inio Asano (Viz)

Best Writer
Joe Hill, Lock & Key (IDW)
J. Michael Straczynski, Thor, The Twelve (Marvel)
Mariko Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)
Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
Bill Willingham, Fables, House of Mystery (Vertigo/DC)

Best Writer/Artist
Ricky Geary, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child (NBM); J. Edgar Hoover (Hill & Wang)
Emmanuel Guibert, Alan’s War (First Second)
Jason Lutes, Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
Cyril Pedrosa, Three Shadows (First Second)
Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library (Acme)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales, Thor (Marvel)
Guy Davis, BPRD (Dark Horse)
Amy Reeder Hadley/Richard Friend, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
Jillian Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
Lynda Barry, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly)
Eddie Campbell, The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard (First Second)
Enrico Casarosa, The Venice Chronicles (Ateliér Fio/AdHouse)
Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
Jill Thompson, Magic Trixie, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Best Cover Artist
Gabrial Bá, Casanova (Image); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
Jo Chen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity (Dark Horse); Runaways (Marvel)
Amy Reeder Hadley, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Grendel: Behold the Devil (Dark Horse)

Best Coloring
Steve Hamaker, Bone: Ghost Circles, Bone: Treasure Hunters (Scholastic Graphix)
Trish Mulvihill, Joker (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)
Val Staples, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)
Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien: The Drowning, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, The Unbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Body Bags (Image); Captain America: White (Marvel)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)

Best Lettering
Faryl Dalrymple, Omega: The Unknown (Marvel)
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Comic Book Resources, produced by Jonah Weiland (www.comicbookresources.com)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael (www.comicsreporter.com)
Comics Comics, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (www.comicscomicsmag.com) (PictureBox)

Best Comics-Related Book
Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, by Todd DePastino (Norton)
Brush with Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens, edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner (Underwood)
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
Kirby: King of Comics, by Mark Evanier (Abrams)
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu (Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Best Publication Design
Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! designed by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
Comic Book Tattoo, designed by Tom Muller, art direction by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
Hellboy Library Editions, designed by Cary Grazzini and Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
What It Is, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)
Willie and Joe, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1 (of 3)

Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart
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Between Batman gigs, Grant Morrison returns to his fan-favorite Vertigo character Seaguy in the second of three trilogies following the young would-be hero. It's been years since the last trilogy, so I didn't recall too much before reading this issue except the big stuff - mainly, that his best friend died. But this is a book where you don't really have to have read the original series to get what's going on. I'd forgotten that Seaguy was captured by Mickey Eye and brainwashed, then given a new partner, but it was pretty easy to discern within the context of this issue. For those who remembered the death of Chubby, his chain-smoking fish buddy, Seaguy sees shadowy fish tails here and there as he slowly begins to recall things from his past life, and there's a nice little homage in the form of Claudette, his pet fish that he accidentally let die in the opening scene, neglecting to feed her while he was on vacation with his new partner, the parrot Lucky (who is working for Mickey Eye to keep an eye on the insubordinate Seaguy). Still, there are a few things I did miss by not rereading the original Seaguy before this issue, like the bearded woman that he wishes to impress. Even with a little cameo appearance by the character, I didn't recall her until I read a synopsis of the first trilogy after this issue. But is it really necessary to recall every detail of the first trilogy to enjoy this issue? Certainly not. It helps, but I feel like there's so much symbolism in the goings-on of this book as is that I'm going to be missing things either way. I think when all is said and done and the entire Seaguy epic is finished, there will be plenty of discussion and dissection into the many layers of the book. But for now, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy it one issue at a time.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

In Stores 4/8

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Shortcomings TP - My favorite graphic novel of 2007 finally comes out in paperback! Adrian Tomine's graphic novel is phenomenal. You owe it to yourself to check this book out.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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All-New Savage She-Hulk #1
.....(of 4)
The Color of Earth GN
Daredevil Noir #1 (of 4)
Dark Reign: Hawkeye #1 (of 5)
The Dark Tower: Treachery HC
Deadpool: Suicide Kings #1
.....(of 5)
Exiles #1 - Jeff Parker takes a stab at the title.
Gantz (Volume 4)
Green Arrow: Year One TP
Harvey Comics Classics (Volume 5): Harvey Girls TP
Justice League Unlimited Heroes TP
The Legend of Zelda (Volume 4)
Marvel Zombies 2 TP
Marvel Zombies 3 HC
Marvel Zombies 4 #1 (of 4)
Naruto (Volume 42)
Naruto (Volume 43)
Naruto (Volume 44)
Phantom Dream (Volume 2)
Popgun (Volume 3) GN
Showcase Presents: The Doom Patrol (Volume 1) TP
Slam Dunk (Volume 3)
Timestorm 2009 2099 #1 (of 4)
Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny HC
Vampire Knight (Volume 6)
War of Kings: Ascension #1 (of 4)
Wolverine: Weapon X #1
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever HC
Ythaq: No Escape #1 (of 3)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Manga Monday: Emma Continues

Emma (Volume 8)
Kaoru Mori
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Emma may have had her story come to a climax in the last volume to be published through CMX a year ago, but Kaoru Mori isn't done with the characters she created for her Victorian world. In the latest volume of Emma, Mori gives some of the secondary characters of the book center stage in short stories. The first story is of Emma's widowed employer, Kelly Stowner, when she was young and in love. Together with her husband Doug, the two of them scrape up enough money to go to the legendary Great Exhibition of England, where they marvel at the sites and have an altogether pleasant time, one that Kelly will look back on in the future fondly. Next we get a look at the lives of characters following the events of the previous Emma volumes, in the form of a sullen Eleanor Campbell, whose shocking broken engagement has left her depressed and gossiped about in some corners. Her protective sisters watch out for her and try to cheer her up, but it takes the interest of a young gentleman to snap her out of her stupor, and she realizes things will ultimately be okay. I'm really glad we got to see more of Eleanor. As much as I love the romance between Emma and William, I felt so awful for poor innocent little Eleanor, being set aside for another woman when she truly fancied herself to be in love, as naive as the idea was. It's a story that everyone can relate to who's had a broken heart, and it's told beautifully, filtered through Mori's historically accurate, wonderful drawings of this time period. The one story I didn't really care for in this volume was "The Times," where the life of a newspaper is examined, from the ads that some people take out, like some characters from Emma have done, to its "death" as it's used as wrap for fish, burned for warmth, drawn on by children, etc. This volume ends on a high note, with the lovely little "With Family" story, in which we are treated to maid Tasha's visit home, where she discovers the true meaning of family and what it means to be a part of a group of people who love and understand her, faults and all. Overall, this was a very satisfying experience, being a ravenous Emma fan, and I'm excited to hear that another volume focusing on side characters will be coming soon. I can only hope that we will see more of Emma herself sometime in the future...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Previews: June 2009

Here are the highlights from the most recent Previews Catalogue. These comics will be coming to comic stores in June!
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Abstract Studios
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Terry Moore's Echo (Volume 2): Atomic Dreams TP - The second collection fro Moore's beautiful superhero comic.
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Archaia Studios Press
After some pretty sporadic publishing during their restructuring, Archaia Studios Press is back in full force this month with some nice new offerings, including some titles we haven't seen for awhile like The Killer.
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Awakening (Volume 1) HC - It's been a year and a half since the first issue of this mini-series came out, but enough of that issue stuck with me to want to check out the collection of the first five issues after all that time.
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Robotika: For a Few Rubles More #1 & #2 Double-Sized - This is the sequel to the great Robotika mini-series. I enjoyed the first issue, but it was so long ago that Archaia is now offering that initial issue with the follow-up for just $4.99. Check out creator Alex Sheikman's site and get a "coupon" with the order codes.
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Some Kind of New Slaughter HC - The award-winning creative team behind The Lone and Level Sands returns with an exploration of the great flood myths.
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Avatar Press Inc
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Anna Mercury 2 #1 (of 5) - Warren Ellis returns to his red-headed beauty for another go of science-fiction adventure.
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Bluewater Productions
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William Shatner Presents Tek War #1 - A new comic book series based on William Shatner's best-selling novels.
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Dark Horse
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires - This one-shot from the Buffy-verse comes to us courtesy of Becky Cloonan and Vasilis Lolos. A consolation prize for what seems to be a month void of Season Eight.
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DC Comics
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Absolute Justice HC - The recent 12-issue series gets the "Absolute" treatment.
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Batman and Robin #1 - Ah, yeah. The team behind the recently wrapped All-Star Superman, and writer Grant Morrison of the recent acclaimed Batman run (which included Batman: R.I.P.) return together on a highly-anticipated project that returns Batman to the DC Universe following his recent death, with the boy wonder at his side.
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Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 - A new forty-page comic series that will feature two stories per issue. One story will be by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen (of Detective Comics), while the other will be featuring Manhunter! That's right, Kate Spencer is back! Written by Manhunter writer Marc Andreyko, with art by Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight artist Georges Jeanty!
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Emma (Volume 9) - Another manga volume of Emma by Kaoru Mori! This one, like the last, features a story surrounding supporting characters.
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Filthy Rich HC - With 100 Bullets wrapped up, Brian Azzarello is releasing a new graphic novel through Vertigo, featuring the art of Victor Santos.
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Gothan City Sirens #1 - Another new Paul Dini ongoing series set in Gotham! This book features the big three female Batman villains: Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and my favorite Poison Ivy!
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The Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby HC - The classic Sandman stories are finally collected. More Jack Kirby goodness!
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Digital Manga Publishing
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Swallowing the Earth (Volume 1) - Just keep bringing on the Osamu Tezuka! This time it's not from Vertical, however, so I was a little surprised to see this show up. The series follows the mysterious woman Zephyrus who acts in the name of the fairer sex.
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Fantagraphics Books
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Abstract Comics: The Anthology HC - The name kind of says it all. Featuring the art of Saul Steinberg, R. Crumb, Gary Panter, Lewis Trondheim, James Kochalka, and more!
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The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective - Like the recent Rory Hayes retrospective, here's a look at another deserving artist's work in the field.
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Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray HC - The follow-up to the omnibus Locas collection from a few years back.
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You Shall Die By Your Own Creation! - This collects the rest of Fletcher Hanks' comics that were not in the first I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! collection - making it twice the size of that first book.
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IDW Publishing
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Pebbles (Book One): Pebbles Conquers Camp HC - This is a new all-ages graphic novel series featuring the baby Flinstone character!
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Image Comics
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T.Runt! HC - Utterly adorable! Part of Image's Silverline Books, this all-ages comic features a dinosaur runt of the litter!
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Marvel Comics
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Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday Omnibus HC - Yep, this is going to be mine. The entirety of Whedon and Cassaday's run on the flagship X-Men title is collected together in one volume with plenty of extras.
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Captain America #600 - 104 pages of Cap goodness with a new Brubaker issue, as well as an essay by Joe Simon, contributions from past creators, a classic Cap story and a photo gallery, all for $4.99.
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Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual #1 - Hurray! I've been holding my breath for this day, especially since it's been teased in the ongoing Captain Britain and MI-13 book - Meggan returns!! Or does she? This issue sees Captain Britain's wife struggle to escape Hell and is a "key part" of the recent "Vampire Nation" storyarc.
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Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia - The first Avengers/X-Men crossover in fifteen years? It seems like we would have been seeing a lot of these, but I guess not. This probably leads into the Dark X-Men that Marvel has been teasing lately. I guess Emma Frost isn't keeping the mutants in check like she promised Osborne...
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Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1 (of 3) - It seems not all villains are "good enough" to be allowed free reign in Norman's new world order. This team of villains' villains consists of characters like Grim Reaper and Absorbing Man.
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Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 (of 3) - Joe Casey and Nathan Fox are bringing us this new mini, featuring a supervillain unwilling to roll over for Osborne.
Golden Age Marvel Comics Omnibus (Volume 1) HC - A new omnibus featuring a treasure-trove of Golden Age superhero comics, including those featuring Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch.
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Essential Thor (Volume 4) TP - This rounds out Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's amazing run on this title (and brings on a group of new talent).
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Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis (Volume 1) TP - I am SO excited about this. I was waiting and waiting for more Excalibur Classic volumes (even though the last volume contained some pretty atrocious stories - stuff that would not be able to be published today), but it looks like Marvel decided to skip over more crappy material and get right to the good stuff. This is Alan Davis' return to the title, where he wrote and drew everything, adding new characters and getting pretty creative with some cool storylines. This also contains some of the very first superhero comics I ever read, so I'm particularly looking forward to this.
*** Pick of the Month!***
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Hercules: Prince of Power Premiere HC - With a successful ongoing currently going, some classic Herc stories are begin collected here for the first time.
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The Irredeemable Ant-Man TP - I kind of liked this series, and here's the entire twelve issues featuring the little perverted back-stabber. This character's now part of the new Thunderbolts lineup.
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Kick-Ass HC - All eight issues of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s original superhero book is collected.
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Miss America Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special - Some obscure characters from Marvel's past are getting reprinted for Marvel's 70th anniversary, including Miss America. Also, look for Young Allies Comics #1 featuring Bucky and Toro.
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Power Pack Classic (Volume 1) TP - Sure, why not? The latest comic to be a part of Marvel's "Classic" line of superhero reprints.
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Runaways #11 - Kathryn Immonen (of the recent excellent Patsy Walker: Hellcat mini-series) takes over writing chores on Runaways!
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X-Men Forever #1 - I didn't realize that this was going to be an ongoing. But that is one classic lineup, including my favorite: Kitty Pryde! For those who don't know, this is Chris Claremont's vision of the X-Men if he'd never left the titles in the 90's.
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X-Men Origins: Gambit #1 - A one-shot exploring the origin of the Cajun mutant. You can thank the new movie for this one.
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Sunday Press Books
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Queer Visitors From the Marvelous Land of Oz HC - This hardcover collects rare Sunday comics from Oz creator L. Frank Baum, and Walt McDougall, as well as all of the episodes of Scarecrow and the Tinman by the illustrator on the Oz books, W.W. Denslow, and comics by John R. Neill.
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Tokyopop
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Fruits Basket (Volume 23) - Will Tokyopop be able to survive without Fruits Basket? We'll find out soon enough, as this is the final volume of the highly-successful shojo title.
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Top Shelf Productions
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Welcome To Forest Island HC - The first art book produced featuring the art of Bwana Spoons, the innovative jack-of-all-trades artist.
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Villard Books
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Flight (Volume 6) GN - The latest volume in the fantasy anthology hits stores!
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Yen Press
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Cirque du Freak: The Manga (Volume 1) - The popular teen series is translated to manga! Lots of monsters and whatnot in this series soon to be make into a film.
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Misc.
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Crazy Hair HC - A new children's picture book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Cecil and Jordan In New York: Stories

Gabrielle Bell
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I'm not too big into anthologies just because the comics within are so hit and miss for me, but I've heard plenty of good things about artist Gabrielle Bell from people. When I heard that this hardcover collection of comics was coming out from Bell, it caught my attention and I decided to give it a look. Cecil and Jordan In New York: Stories collects various short works from Bell out of various anthologies over the past five years like MOME and Kramer's Ergot. The story that the book is named after follows a woman who eventually turns herself into a chair as not to be a nuisance to those around her, becoming happy to be such a useful object. The eleven stories included in this book are a mixture of fiction and semi-autobiographical works, that follow young people. "Cecil and Jordan In New York" includes one of the few uses of fantasy in the collection - most stories are very realistic, although there are a few other instances of the fantastic. My favorite story overall was a longer one called "Felix," where an artist whose received some harsh criticism is hired by a famous sculptor to teach his son how to draw. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on here between the three characters, especially considering their roles in the story. Overall, this is a very consistent book. There aren't any stories that don't really work, or seem out of place alongside the others. From beginning to end, it's very entertaining and at its best, strikes a chord with the reader or introduces a fresh idea.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Movies-and-More: April 2009

Here's the run-down of April release dates for films, books, DVDs and music, as well as my box office predictions.
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In Theaters April 3rd
Adventureland
Alien Trespass
C Me Dance
Fast and Furious
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Predictions: 1. Adventureland ($35 million), 2. Monsters and Aliens ($32 m), 3. Fast and Furious ($31 m), 4. The Haunting In Connecticut ($9 m), 5. Knowing ($7 m)
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In Theaters April 10th
Dragonball Evolution
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Observe and Report
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Predictions: 1. Hannah Montana: The Movie ($36 m), 2. Observe and Report ($29 m), 3. Adventureland ($18 m), 4. Monsters and Aliens ($16 m), 5. Fast and Furious ($15 m)
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In Theaters April 17th
17 Again
Crank: High Voltage
State of Play
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Predictions: 1. 17 Again ($28 m), 2. Hannah Montana: The Movie ($19 m), 3. Observe and Report ($18 m), 4. Crank: High Voltage ($10 m), 5. State of Play ($9 m)
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In Theaters April 24th
Fighting
The Informers
Obsessed
The Soloist
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Predictions: 1. The Soloist ($23 m), 2. 17 Again ($15 m), 3. Obsessed ($14 m), 4. Observe and Report ($11 m), 5. Hannah Montana: The Movie ($8 m)
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Your Other Entertainment Needs:
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April 7th
On DVD: Alias: Season Five, Bedtime Stories (4/1), Ben Ten Alien Force: Season One: Volume Three, Beverly Hills 90210: Season Seven, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Doubt, Dynasty: Season Four: Volume One, The Tale of Despereaux, Yes Man
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On CD: Arcade Fire, Ciara, Billy Ray Cyrus, Fat Joe, Ben Folds, Lady Sovereign, Lil Wayne, Rascal Flatts, James Taylor, Vienna Teng, The Tragically Hip, Cassandra Wilson, Niel Young
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In Bookstores:
Cecelia Ahern's Thanks For the Memories
Jim Butcher's Turn Coat
Carol Higgins Clark's Cursed
Mary Higgins Clark's Just Take My Heart
Paulo Coelho's The Winner Stands Alone
Arthur Phillips' Song Is You
L.J. Smith's Night World (Volume 3): Huntress, Black Dawn, Witchlight
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April 14th
On DVD: Knots Landing: Season Two, The Reader, The Spirit, Skins: Volume Two, Splinter, Wings: Final Season
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On CD: Deathcab For Cutie, Fastball, Ida Maria, Metric, Silversun Pickups, Bernie Williams
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In Bookstores:
Kristin Chenoweth's A Little Bit Wicked
Ted Dekker's Boneman's Daughters
Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes
Kathy Lee Gifford's Just When I Thought I'd Dropped My Last Egg
Lisa Lillien's Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200
Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound
Luanne Rice's The Geometry of Sisters
Tori Spelling's Mommywood
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April 21st
On DVD: Caprica, Dallas: Season Eleven, Frost/Nixon, Hawaii Five-O: Season Six, Life of Ryan: Complete Series, Notorious, Rhoda: Season One, The Wrestler
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On CD: 17 Again OST, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Depeche Mode, Jars of Clay, Pet Shop Boys, The Soloist OST
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In Bookstores:
David Baldacci's First Family
Iris Johansen's Deadlock
Melissa Marr's Fragile Eternity
Amanda Quick's The Perfect Poison
Tom Robbins' B Is For Beer
Ellen Schreiber's Dance With a Vampire
Alexander McCall Smith's Tea Time For the Traditionally Built
Stuart Woods' Loitering With Intent
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April 28th
On DVD: Bride Wars, Hotel For Dogs, Marvel X-Men 1, Marvel X-Men 2, Mission: Impossible: Season Six, Star Trek: The Original Series: Season One (Blu-Ray), The Uninvited, The Waltons: Season Nine
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On CD: Bob Dylan, Melody Gardot, Ben Lee
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In Bookstores:
Kelley Armstrong's The Awakening
Dale Brown's Rogue Forces
Denis Johnson's Nobody Move
Madeleine L'Engle's Camilla
Debbie Macomber's Summer On Blossom Street
James Patterson's The 8th Confession
Nora Roberts' Vision In White
Selene Roberts' A-Rod
Darryl Strawberry's Straw: Finding My Way
J.R. Ward's Lover Avenged