Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vhy Vasn't You Dere, Sharlie? (apologies to Jack Pearl)

I haven't reviewed many comics-related items in this space of late, primarily because a lot of the "big-ticket" releases of the early Fall were -- or still are -- unexpectedly delayed. Just this week, I finally got THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1973-1974 after a weeks-long wait caused by "a lack of copies provided by the publisher." Now, I know that Fantagraphics hasn't been selling as many copies of the most recent PEANUTS collections, but then, why are they trying to yank the chains of those of us who've been riding the train from the beginning? Wouldn't you want to AVOID alienating your "base" in this manner?

TCP is not the only Fantagraphics project that's been spinning its wheels recently. E.C. SEGAR'S POPEYE VOLUME 4, featuring the marvelous "Plunder Island" continuity, is now a month overdue, and I've all but given up on HERRIMAN'S HOOMINS, which was supposed to appear at the end of May. Then, of course, there's the reigning champion of ALL Fantagraphics filibusterers...

Originally slated for release in October 2007, Volume 1 of THE COMPLETE POGO was postponed to October '08... then November '09... and now, according to Fantagraphics' Kim Thompson, it won't appear until 2010 "at the earliest." The company's apparently having more trouble than expected restoring a number of the early Sunday strips, a number of which have never previously been collected. Fanta's guesstimate is actually optimistic compared to the forbidding omens for THE ART OF WALT KELLY, a book solicited some time ago in PREVIEWS. The putative publisher, The University Press of Mississippi, shows no sign of any sort of impending release on its Web site. Are the Kelly heirs mucking up the swamp waters again? As a result of the false starts and abrupt finishes of earlier Kelly projects, Kelly is now unknown to all but a circle of serious comic-strip fans and creators, which is a crying shame, given how popular and successful POGO actually was during its heyday.

Even Boom! Studios is cutting things close in order to fulfill its earlier promise that the company's first set of "classic" Disney comics will be released by the end of September. Next week's preliminary ComicList gives no joy. Nor is there any hint of an imminent release on Boom!'s Web site. Is the studio still trying to gather up its marbles after being decked with the Disney-Marvel "sucker punch"?

2 comments:

Ryan Wynns said...

An unfortunate, but probably inevtiable, reality. I purchased a copy of Popeye Volume 1 a few months and have been meaning to get around to reading it, and intended to collect all subsequent volumes. Would also very much like to read The Complete Pogo - I've actually never been exposed to any of that legendary strip (excepting perhaps the occassional excerpted panel augmenting an article or book).

As much as I was apprehensive about Boom!'s Disney plans, I was looking forward to them, in a fashion after the proverbial "train wreck you can't look away from"!

No, in all seriousness, I was intrigued by the cover image displayed on their site representing their first Mickey issue, which seemed to portray Mickey as some sort of Medieval warrior. Now, I never really liked the "sword and sorcery" Duck and Mice stories that Gemstone printed, but was looking forward to seeing how Boom! would handle an apparently "darker", "edgier" Mickey.

The lead stories in Disney Comics' Mickey Mouse Adventures are some of my favorite Mouse comics of all time, coming in somewhere (the distance undetermined) behind Gottfredson and Scarpa. They were flawed and inconsistent, but I liked them for their ambitions more than anything. I appreciated trying to "up the ante" with a "Marvelization", even if, in many ways, the comics weren't actually a departure from the Mickey comic book tradition. (Mickey was a detective and adventurer - the genre was essentially the same as it always had been. Not so for the "fantasy" stories published by Gemstone and now, evidently, the ones produced by Boom!) I always felt that the eighteen issues of that title were perfect blueprint for Mickey's equivalent of DuckTales. Anyway, the reason that I went into this is because, on the one hand, I like the idea of a return of Mickey comics with "a harder edge", but I'd rather see them have Mickey playing himself.

Anyway, sorry for being long-winded about this. In way, have been haunted by Mickey comics for almost my entire life. I tried to not be a Disney comics fan for some years, but in the end, couldn't deny it forever! :)

Chris Barat said...

Ryan,

I think that "Wizards of Mickey" will go down nicely, provided that a good translator is found. The "Shambor" stories, not to mention "Kingdom Hearts," have prepared the way for at least some people to accept the sort of story. You're correct, however, in noting that Mickey should be allowed to "be MICKEY" in these stories. That's one reason that I'm worried about "Ultraheroes" and the "Donald Double-Duck" story, especially the former. I fear that the roles will end up dominating the characters, rather than the other way around.

Chris