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Compiled August, 1999 by Joe Zabel ---- Publishers Guide
Top Secret Comics ---- Comic Shop Locator: (888)266-4226

Indypreviews

For September, 1999

CONSUMER CHOICE UNDER ATTACK

Editorial by Joe ZabelAstronauts in Trouble is a superb example of the quality found in small-press independent comics!

Most comics fans think they don't have enough choices of comics they can buy. But influential voices in the comics industry have lately been expressing opinions that are hardly sympathetic to the concept of choice. Even worse, their comments are being directed against small-press independent comics, where the greatest diversity of choices exist.

Indypreviews surveys the entire field of independent comics solicited in Previews each month, and we're quite aware of what books are actually being solicited. We share the average comic fan's frustration with publishers who churn out sloppy, amateurish work; but in fact, these publishers are not the small presses, but larger, financially-secure firms who've managed to find an audience for their output.

With very few exceptions, the small presses Diamond allows in the catalog are publishing interesting and craftsmanlike books that have the potential to reach a larger audience-- often an audience that extends beyond the core of current comics fandom.

Most of these titles will fail. That is in the nature of things. In fact, one of the better self-publishers listed this month is apparently throwing in the towel after one final issue of an exceptional series.

But it is an utterly boneheaded misconception to think that because of the financially marginal nature of these titles, the comics market would be better off without them.

For one thing, the volume of small press output is hardly overwhelming. Each of the big four publishers puts out more new titles each month than the entire small press (not counting mid-sized presses such as Chaos and VIZ). The idea that small press competition is choking Image or Fantagraphics titles is laughable.

Secondly, the small press is the comics medium's laboratory for experimentation and innovation. Not all of these experiments are aimed at pleasing college professors; Kenzer & Company's KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE for example, is a casually-drawn send-up of the preoccupations of war gamers and hobbiest, and has achieved a loyal following from that crowd. New publisher Astonish Comics is offering HEROBEAR AND THE KID #1 this month, a title that promises to attract an imaginative juvenile readership. And publisher Ait/Planetlar's ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: LIVE FROM THE MOON is a hard SF series that's drawing much critical acclaim. Knights of the Dinner Table is a popular delight among the war- game fans it makes fun of.

Finally, we all benefit from choice. A diverse market is a growing market. Many of the titles listed below can help pull into the marketplace parents and friends of the hardcore comics fan. As young fans mature, they need comics to accomodate their broadening range of interests. If those interests can't be satisfied by available comics, those fans will seek elsewhere.

Is this a call for action? Yes! Diamond currently has a relatively reasonable policy of allowing small press publishers access to their market. They even donated a page in their latest catalog to the Xeric Foundation to publicize small press comics underwritten with Xeric grants. But influential parties such as those quoted above could persuade Diamond to drastically change their policy, especially if there's no one on the other side advocating consumer choice.

If you agree with us, we urge you to contact Diamond and let them know how you feel. Contact information for Diamond is at http://www.diamondcomics.com.

FROM HELL

Considered by many to be their finest work, this collaboration by Eddie Campbell and Alan Moore is a grim, fascinating, and highly experimental study of the crimes of Jack the Ripper.

Published sporadically in the 1990s, complete collections of this cult classic are rare. The 560-page TP reprint from Eddie Campbell Comics is a welcome opportunity to read the story in its entirety for the first time-- if you dare!

Pet Peeve of the Month

It seems the big four aren't content to take the first 200 pages of the Previews catalog-- they've been buying up pages in the independent section, trying to steer readers towards buying more corporate product.

For example, the latest catalog has an ad for DC comics Preacher on page 215, with the heading, 'Converting new readers every month.'

If DC wants to 'convert new readers' to this ultra-violent series, I've got a suggestion:

Instead of 'slumming' in the segregated indy comics section, why doesn't DC use their influence to TEAR DOWN THE WALL! If we went back to the system where comics were listed alphabetically by publisher, DC could have their entire line mixed in with the cool indy books, and I'm sure they would benefit as much as anybody by the cross-over business.


CONNECT SALES COMICS



DIRECT SALES COMICS
 A Silent comics

ARSENIC LULLABY NOVEMBER 1999
Douglas Paszkiewicz stylishly-sick anthology!

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 Aardvark-Vanaheim

CEREBUS #248
Dave Sim.

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 Abstract Studios

STRANGERS IN PARADISE #28
Terry Moore.

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 Ai Lai Q Productions

RES PUBLICA: THE NATION OF SPACE #1
Dan Kennedy and Jacob Minor's tale of
interplanetary sabotage in what appears
to be a 'hard' science fiction saga.

--------------------------------
 Ait/Planetlar

ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: 
LIVE FROM THE MOON TP
Collects issues 1-5.

--------------------------------
 Alchemy Press

BRYAN TALBOT'S BRAINSTORM
Talbot's early British underground work.

--------------------------------
 Amaze Ink/ Slave Labor

Waiting Place Vol. 2 #1
Sean McKeever & Mike Norton helm this 
true-to-life series about small-town life.

-------------------------------- 
 Antarctic Press

BOX OFFICE POISON #16
Alex Robinson's acclaimed series about
housemates and close friends may be headed
for a shake-up, with two of the regulars
apparently headed for the door!

--------------------------------
 Arrow Comics Group

SPANK THE MONKEY #5
This issue, Randy Zimmerman's acerbic simian
skewers the comics industry!

--------------------------------
 Astonish Comics

HEROBEAR AND THE KID #1
All-ages tale by Mike Kunkel focuses on the
adventures of a young boy who inherits his
grandfather's stuffed bear.  Looks like it
has potential...

--------------------------------
 Blue Corn Comics

PEACE PARTY #3
Fantasy adventure mixed with true-to-life
portrait of an Indian reservation.  See
review of issue 1 in Amazing Montage
Magazine for July!
Schmidt, Dupras, & Janowsky.
  
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 Cartoon Books

STUPID, STUPID RAT TAILS: THE ADVENTURES OF
BIG JOHNSON BONE, FRONTIER HERO
Jeff Smith, Tom Sniegoski

--------------------------------
 Colonia Press

COLONIA #4
Continuing Jeff Nicholson's clever
fantasy series, with time travel,
talking animals, and a pirate queen!

--------------------------------
 Dancing Elephant Press

KANE #27
Paul Grist's atmospheric noir!

--------------------------------
 Duality Press

COLLECTIVE #1
SF tale of a utopian colony on a distant
planet, by Arvin Loudermilk and Miek Iverson.

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 Eddie Campbell Comics

FROM HELL TP
The groundbreaking graphic novel finally
collected in one volume!  See featured 
comics above! 

-------------------------------- 
 El Capitan Books

STRAY BULLETS #21
Comics Noir pioneer David Lapham returns 
with a tale about a psycho-cop's abusive
marriage!

--------------------------------
 Exhibit A Press

WOLFF & BYRD SONOVAWITCH PACK
Bargain pack collecting Batton Lash's
acclaimed 3-issue saga of witchcraft
and sexual harrassment!

--------------------------------
 Fantagraphics

CAN OF WORMS
An adopted child searches for her birth 
mother in Catherine Doherty's complex graphic
novel.

--------------------------------
 G. T. Labs

DIGNIFYING SCIENCE TP
Jim Ottaviani's anthology of fascinating
tales about women scientists, with art by
Donna Barr, Mary Fleener, Roberta Gregory,
Carla Speed McNeil, Linda Medley, and many
others!

--------------------------------
 Happy Predator Comics

FRED THE POSSESSED FLOWER tp
416 page collection with new material 
Nick Hardcastle!

--------------------------------
 Hemlock Park Press

MISADVENTURES OF BREADMAN & DOUGHBOY #1, #2
Tucker, Gorski, & Pelc with superhero parody!

--------------------------------
 Highwater Books

CATCH AS CATCH CAN
Greg Cook's graphic novel is a riotous fable
about cigarettes and gingerbread men.

--------------------------------
 Insight Studios Group

LIBERTY MEADOWS #4
Collecting Frank Cho's exquisitely-illustrated
newspaper strip!

--------------------------------
 Kenzer & Company

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #37
War gamer's satire.

-------------------------------- 
 Lazlo Press

ALL THE WRONG PLACES #5
Conclusion of Tom Galambos' realistic
series.

--------------------------------
 Mprints Publishing

ERNOR #3
Adventure fantasy about odd creatures
in a prehistoric forest.

--------------------------------
 NBM

ONE BIG HAPPY-- NICE COSTS EXTRA
Collecting Rick Detorie's humor strips 
about mischievous tike Ruthie!

--------------------------------
 New England Comics

TICK'S BIG YULE LOG SPECIAL 2000
Christmas special superhero satire.

--------------------------------
 Oni Press

Jingle Belle #1
Paul Dini and Stephen DeStefano with 
light-hearted tale about Santa's daughter.

--------------------------------
 Phoenix Enterprise Publishing Company

KIRA
Riccardo Crosa's wordless fantasy about a 
nocturnal predator's encounter with a 
demonic presence!

--------------------------------
 Radio Comix

FURRLOUGH #83
8th anniversary of this
Anthropomorphic anthology!

--------------------------------
 Sandberg Publishing

JUPITER #4
Surrealistic satire by Jason Sandberg!

--------------------------------
 Scorpion Productions

DIABOLIK VOL. 1 #5: THE REVENGE OF EVA
Check out the comic that inspired the
motion picture Diabolik, featured in
the penultimate episode of Mystery Science
Theater 3000!

--------------------------------
 Shanda Fantasy Arts

SHANDA THE PANDA #26
The longest-running anthropomorphic 
slice-of-life comic!

NAUTILUS #3
Anthropomorphic SF about social life and
intrigue on a space station!

--------------------------------
 Sick Mind Press

SHEBA VOLUME 2 #8
The final issue of Walter S. Crane IV's
fascinating series about a mummified cat
in ancient Egypt!

--------------------------------
 Sirius Entertainment

POE #20
Jason Asala.

--------------------------------
 Slab-O-Concrete Publications

SUGAR BUZZ
Collecting the series from Slave Labor,
by Woodrow Phoenix and Ian Carney.

PUNK STRIPS
Collecting celebrated punk cartoonist
Simon Gane's newpaper and zine strips.

MISSIVE DEVICES
Full-color mini comics that self-seal and
can be mailed like a postcard!  Including
work by Roberta Gregory, Jacob Klemencic,
Peter Bagge & Donna Mathes, and Simon Gane
& Rachel Browne.

--------------------------------
 Sleeping Giant Comics

THE BROCCOLI AGENDA SC
All-new 96-page graphic novel by outstanding
graphic artist David Yurkovich!  

--------------------------------
 Sunset Strips

LOUIS JOOS PRESENTS JAZZ #1
Full-color 4-issue series about a
white musician in the '20s Bronx
jazz scene!  Dorion & Joos!

--------------------------------
 Three Finger Prints Publishing

3 GEEKS VOL 2 TP
Rich Kosowski's Einser-nominated series.

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 VIZ Communications

PULP VOL. 3 #12

BLACK & WHITE #4