NEW STUFF ARCHIVES
Copacetic Arrivals: 1Q 2005


New for March 2005

Or Else #2Or Else #2
by Kevin Huizenga
This issue is a (only slightly) revised edition of Huizenga's mini-comic masterpiece, Super Monster #14: Gloriana Comics, possibly the greatest mini-comic ever published.  If you missed it, now's your chance to rectify that particular situation and get your hands on one of the most important comic books of the twenty-first century.  Here's what we had to say about SM #14 when it originally appeared:  "
At the center of Huizenga’s work there lies evocation.  Every piece of work he has produced works towards the evocation of a moment or  feeling or sensation or thought or idea or, in his best work, all of these together at the same time.  Huizenga’s dominant style is rooted in the clean-line school; something along the lines of Roy Crane via Hergé via Scott McCloud, and with what seems to be more than a passing familiarity with Jaime Hernandez’s work.  But he brings many diverse influences which he both layers over and integrates with this base.  Huizenga is also a highly-skilled observer and recorder of the world around him.  He incorporates pen and ink sketches of still-lifes, landscapes, and, although to a lesser extent, portraits.  In this he is one of the few people working in comics to pick up on what Frankie Sirk and Sirk Productions have been laying down in their publications of the last five years.  In addition, he is capable of using the computer here and there to achieve and/or enhance specific effects.  He also isn’t afraid to take chances, as he demonstrates in employing the formal techniques of traditional Chinese painting to evoke the lost patrimony of a Chinese baby put up for adoption in SM #9 (now reprinted in Or Else #1, retail price - $3.50  copacetic price - $3.00).  Super Monster #14, more properly titled Gloriana Comics, marks a breakthrough for Huizenga.  All the various methods and modes that he has been engaged with through the previous issues finally gel and really come together here.  Any doubts you might have as to whether self-published "mini" comics could ever reach their full potential will be eliminated once and for all once you've read this.  Let's hope that he manages to hold onto the creative advances achieved in the making of this work and continue on from here."  Bonus fact:  die-hard mini-comic fans will be pleased to learn that Kevin H hasn't abandoned them (see below).
retail price - $5.95  copacetic price - $5.00
100%

100%

by Paul Pope
100% is Paul Pope's most cohesive sustained work to date.  It's a science fiction tale of boho NYC set in 2038.  Sexy girls, gritty guys and groovy gimmicks intermesh in a thoroughly enjoyable tale remarkably rendered, as always, by the supremely talented Mr. Pope.
retail price - $24.99  copacetic price - $22.49





The Disappointment ArtistThe Disappointment Artist
by Jonathan Lethem
Lethem's first essay collection, The Disappointment Artist
is a rallying cry for fan boys of all stripes.  Within its pages you will find the laid bare soul of a pop culture fiend.  The novels of Philip K Dick, the comics of Jack Kirby, the films of John Cassavetes, Star Wars, The Searchers and more are shown as being worthy and sturdy foundations for building a life upon  --  or at least of retreating into, to escape, if only momentarily, from the vicissitudes of fate.  And there's more:  a paean to the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station, a personal memoir of a bohemian childhood, and a charting of the formation of identity through a personal constellation of pop culture artifacts.  For readers whose identities are likewise constructed out of the bric-a-brac of popular culture, ephemeral and otherwise, this is the book you've been waiting for.  
hardcover
retail price - $22.95  copacetic price - $19.50

Little Lulu 2


Little Lulu Volume 2: Little Lulu Takes a Trip

By John Stanley w/ Irving Tripp
This volume reprints the original Little Lulu issues #13 - 17.  Like the first, it is a solidly produced 200 page 6" x 9" volume printed on nice flat white paper stock.  We understand that one of the stories in this volume has two or four pages printed out of order, but we feel that this is a but a quibble next to the enjoyment to be found in these classics of comics innocence.  To learn more, check out our comments on the first volume in the series.
retail price - $9.95  copacetic price - $8.95




Big Bento BookThe Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu
by Kenji Kawakami
OK, we're not going to mince words here.  This is it.  You need this book.  It is a must for every home.  It is the entertainer's best friend.  You will wonder how you ever lived without it.  This book presents a tradition that is... not a parody, not a satire, but something else:  an oblique refraction of the essential essence of one of the most important relationships of the twentieth century:  that between the definitively American impulse to come up with an idea that will improve the quality of life through an incremental advance and the post-WWII Japanese tendency to adopt American cultural trends and make them their own, exploiting their own superb technical abilities and ingenious design sensibililties in the process:  In a word, chindogu.  But chindogu is more, it's a reflection on mankind's relationship with the material world, it's meta-materialism; it's a true child of the twentieth century that stands a chance of evolving to become one of the distinctive arts of the twenty-first; and -- it's fun.  Author Kawakami in the founder of the 10,000-member International Chindogu Society, so he should know.  Want another opinion?  Here's the NY Times review.  To learn more visit www.chindogu.com (make sure to learn the ten tenents of chindogu).  But be forewarned:  once you've crossed over, there's no going back.
retail price - $12.95  copacetic price - $11.65


Birth of a Nation SCBirth of A Nation
by Aaron McGruder, Reginald Hudlin & Kyle Baker!
softcover
This wonderful political satire is now available in an attractive affordable softcover edition.  Here's what we had to say about the hardcover edition:  "This is hands down the most entertaining and insightful political satire of the season.  Check it out:  Fred Fredericks, idealistic mayor of East St. Louis, rallies his fellow citizens to the polls only to have them become the victims of a trumped up, bogus, mass disenfranchisement.  As a radical form of protest Fredericks -- with the assistance of  shady black billionaire and old friend, John Roberts -- decides to have East St. Louis secede from the union.  Roberts opens an "offshore" bank (albeit in the heart of the USA) et voilá East St. Louis becomes The Republic of Blackland, the new Switzerland!  Soon idealistic young militants, OPEC-funded hitmen, CIA operatives, tabloid reporters and AWOL black servicemen eager to protect and serve the new nation arrive in swarms.  As one might expect, problems arise almost immediately.  There's some real serious food for thought here, along with a love story, whacky antics, male bonding and more!  Highly recommended.And here's a few other notable opinions the book has garnered since then:  "Birth of a Nation is the wickedly funny marriage of The Boondocks, House Party, and The Battle of Algiers.  Be prepared to laugh yourself silly while repeating over and over again -- 'how true.'" -- Julian Bond, chairman NAACP  "Birth of a Nation is a brilliant, biting and witty commentary on the chaos of the 2000 election.  Hudlin and McGruder have achieved that rarest of things: a political satire that is also an extremely important and moving work of literature, an achievement for any writer or any artist at any time.  Birth of a Nation is a unique event in the history of American literature." -- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  "Reggie and Aaron are doing to comic books what Public Enemy and NWA did to the music business." -- Ice Cube  While we agree with all these comments we feel that Kyle Baker is not given the props he deserves:  for our money his is the greatest contribution of all.  I mean let's get real for a minute here:  after you've read this book, try imagining it drawn by Aaron McGruder himself; or, say, Denys Cowan, or Ho Che Anderson, or any of the other many talented African American cartoonists and comics artists out there....  You can't.  Only Kyle could have pulled this one off.  So wise up people and give credit where credit is due!  Birth of a Nation is a masterpiece for our times.
retail price - $13.95  copacetic price - $11.85


Buddy Does Seattle

Buddy Does Seattle
by Peter Bagge
Collecting the first fifteen issues of Hate, P. Bagge's misanthropic masterpiece -- all of which were set in Seattle -- this 336 page volume defines an era.  It's a true classic of comics and it's a bargain:  this edition prices out to less than a dollar a comic, less than half the cost of the original comics; a third of the price of the previous cost of purchasing these issues in collected form!
retail price - $14.95  copacetic price - $12.70




Wobblies!Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World
edited by Paul Buhle and Nicole Schulman
Featuring the graphic work of Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar, Seth Tobocman, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Sabrina Jones, Sue Coe, Mike Alewitz and many others, this is a book that no self-respecting leftist comics fan can be without.
retail price - $25.00 copacetic price - $21.25


Project Superior

Project Superior
edited by Chris Pitzer
This is the first great new anthology of the year.  It's chock-a-block with meta-super tales by the best and brightest of the new voices in comics.  We'll have more to say once we get a chance to give it the once over, but for now, you can read this rave review on 4th Rail.
retail price - $19.95  copacetic price - $17.95





Untitled
by Kevin Huizenga
Remaining true to his indy roots, Kevin H. has found the time and energy to produce a new mini despite his spate of successful forays into the world of publisher supported comics such as his contributions to Orchid, Kramers Ergot #5, D & Q Showcase #1 and the latest, his new ongoing series Or Else (see above).  It is the agonizing over coming up with the title for this series -- and by doing so to get the project under way -- that is the subject of this 40-page mini.  Untitled provides its readers with a creative look at the creative process, with a primary focus on the decision making at its core.  Anyone who has tried his or her hand at self-publishing will find much to relate to here.  This work is not a typical autobiographical reminiscence of creating a comic, however, but is instead a raw, stripped bare look at the guts of the process itself, albeit formally tidied up for publication.  Having developed and come into the full possession of his creative powers almost entirely within the mini-comic milieu of self-publishing, Kevin Huizenga developed an understanding that there is an intimacy to work that takes this form that really can't be found anywhere else, and with Untitled he amply demonstrates that his understanding is undiminished by his recent successes elsewhere.
copacetic price - $1.50

Life's a Cakewalk Comics - A Cartoonist's Sketchbook Diary
by Paulette Poullet
And speaking of the grand tradition of self-published mini-comics, here's a new one from right here in the 'burgh.  You may or may not ever get the chance to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, but now's your chance to spend a month in someone else's mind  -- the month of February 2005, to be exact.  And you can experience this emotional roller coaster ride in the safety and comfort of your own home, courtesy of the magic that is comics.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll notice obvious plugs for The Copacetic Comics Company that render our objectivity in this matter suspect, but you'll be glad you picked it up.
copacetic price - $1.50


TCJ Special Edition 2005The Comics Journal Special Edition 2005 (#5)
Well, for our money at least, this volume is hands down the best so far.  It has a tripartite structure:  A survey of Manga Masters featuring pieces on Osamu Tezuka, Hideshi Hino, Suehiro Maruo, Saseo Ono and Yoshihiro Tsuge; a focus on Vaughn Bodé that features a critical appreciation, a revealing biography and a personal reminiscence  -- all amply accompanied by classic and rare Bodé comics, illustrations and rarely (if ever!) seen sketchbook pages; and then there's the giant comics feature:  this time around the theme is "seduction" and the contributions by many of today's best comics practitioners are top notch.  Among the contributors are Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Igort (whose 4-pager is among the highlights), Mary Fleener, Rick Geary, Bill Griffith, Megan Kelso, Paul Hornschemeier, Marc Bell, Gabrielle Bell (whose submission is her most accomplished work yet published), Carol Lay and many others.  This is a great volume to have just lying around:  no matter what page you open to you'll find something engaging.
retail price - $24.95  copacetic price - $19.95

Vaughn Bodé: Rare and Well Done
Well, while we're on the subject of Vaughn Bodé, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention this edition just published by Pure Imagination.  We'll be honest:  It's pretty much for Bodé fanatics and completists only.  It collects all that has so far remained uncollected:  his science fiction illustrations from the 1960s that originally appeared in Galaxy and If as well as those from science fiction and comic book fan publications and convention programs. Bodé brought his distinct vision and style to all his work, and that reproduced here is no exception.  He was truly one of a kind.
retail price - $20.00  copacetic price - $18.00

Best of American SplendorBest of American Splendor
by Harvey Pekar
Despite this somewhat misleading title, what we have here is a new collection of American Splendor stories that are all appearing in book form for the first time.  Only people who bought the original comic books and magazines that these stories originally appeared in between 1991 and 2004 have seen them before.  So, really, this new collection might be more aptly titled, "New American Splendor."  This is good news for most Pekar fans, as this means that they have 332 new pages of great comics to look forward to.  This is the biggest book yet and includes loads of great stories with art by the like of Joe Sacco, Frank Stack, David Collier, the team of Joe Zabel & Gary Dumm working together and on their own, and many others.  This one's a keeper!
retail price - $17.95  copacetic price - $15.25

Proper Box 82New Proper Boxes
PROPERBOX83  Various Artists   Stompin' Singers & Western Swingers
PROPERBOX82  Various Artists   Jazz at the Philharmonic
PROPERBOX81  Lonnie Johnson   The Original Guitar Wizard
PROPERBOX80  Jack Teagarden   Big "T"
As are all Proper Boxes, these are the best value available for their respective artist or category:  4 CDs holding 5 hours of some of the best music of the twentieth century, accompanied by a spiffy 48 - 64 page illustrated booklet.  We'd like to draw special attention to PB 82, Jazz at the Philharmonic: This one has five hours of fabulous live jazz recorded under the auspices of Verve founder Norman Granz from 1944 to 1953, check it out.  The players on this box are a veritable who's who of jazz during the period.
copacetic price - $22.50@

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New for February 2005


A Copacetic Spotlight on Comics Anthologies
We got it into our heads to stand on our virtual soapbox and give a micro-lecture on the history of comics anthologies -- incorporating a mercifully brief sermon on their virtues and followed by a guided tour of the best, brightest and biggest among their number so far in this 21st century.  Discover along with us that there's a lot to choose from. Really.

Arthur #15
We thought this would be a good time to remind you about one of the best free magazines in North America.  This issue inaugurates a new slimmer and sleeker format and comes wrapped with a split EP CD by American Analog Set and White Magic.  As with all issues of Arthur, this one's loaded with fab content including a cover-feature on acid-folkie Ben Chasny, an interview with novelist J.G. Ballard, a feature on perhaps the greatest outsider artist of all time, Henry Darger, an article on the hidden powers of meditation, and an excellent first column by Arthur's new "resident thinker guy," ace culture critic Douglas Rushkoff.  Worthy of special note:  Tom Devlin, erstwhile head of Highwater Books, put together this issue's swell comics section -- "Post-Election Funnies" --  which features Dan Zettwoch, Marc Bell, Ron Rege, Jr., and others.  And then there's all the regular features.  How do they do it? 
copacetic price - FREE!!!

High Grade DC Bronze
"Say what?" you say.  Well, not if you're a comic book collector.  And if you are, you might want to check this out:  we recently purchased a small but tidy collection of high grade DC comic books -- notably Batman and Detective Comics --  from the 1970s.  They've all been strictly graded, stored in mylar, and expertly priced -- at 20% - 50% below the 2004-2005 Overstreet Price Guide. The entire collection has now been posted to our site.  Check it out!

Ev and Art
by Dorothy Howard
This new work, the first in quite awhile by recent Pittsburgh returnee Howard, features the trials and tribulations of Ev (mostly) and Art, two shy and lonely twenty-somethings who are each waiting for the other to make the first move. Made in Pittsburgh.
retail price - $3.00  copacetic price - $2.70

McSweeneys 15
McSweeney's 15
official hype - "Issue 15 is also known as The "Icelandic Issue". Printed in Iceland, half of the stories are written by actual Icelandic writers. And the kicker? It also comes with a Icelandic tabloid mini-mag filled with words you won't understand and images that speak for themselves.  Included in this issue are new stories from Roddy Doyle, Steven Millhauser and many exceptional newcomers.  Hardcover, bound in fine cloth. This issue makes us want to sit by a fireplace on a snowy day."
retail price - $24.00  copacetic price - $20.00






Warner Gangster Collection - DVD
Warner Gangster DVD CollectionThis follow-up collection to last year's well-received Noir Collection is now in stock.  Six great gangster pics at one great price -- but that's not all!  This time around each film is accompanied on disc by an original Warner Brothers cartoon, a newsreel, a short film, and a trailer reel -- thereby replicating the viewing experience of this bygone era.
The six films are:
•Angels with Dirty Faces
•Little Caesar
•The Petrified Forest
•The Public Enemy
•The Roaring Twenties
and...
•White Heat! 
Click here for details!
retail price - $69.92  copacetic price - $59.92


Collected Prose:
Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces and Collaborations with Artists
 by Paul Auster
The entire published prose oeuvre of this singular contemporary voice is now available, Paul Auster Collected Prosecomplete in one modestly priced, French-flapped, trade paperback edition.  The Invention of Solitude, Hand To Mouth, True Stories (aka The Red Notebook - a Copacetic favorite), Gotham Handbook, The Story of My Typewriter, and Northern Lights are all here.  All his previously published critical essays, prefaces, and small occasional pieces are included as well.  When you feel yourself in need of some intelligent, stimulating companionship and there's no one available, this volume will fill the bill nicely.
retail price - $17.00  copacetic price - $14.45


How To Be Alone

by Jonathan Franzen
How to be AloneWhile we're on the topic of intelligent stimulation available between two covers, we'd like to draw your attention to this fine collection of essays, also written by one of America's top contemporary fiction writers. Topics delved into here include:  whether or not its worth the trouble to bother to try to write a novel in today's day and age; why perfectly intelligent people, completely aware of the risks, nevertheless continue to smoke cigarettes; how to deal with the gradual decline and death of a parent; the prison industry -- from both inside and outside the walls; a revelatory account of how we here in America have some seriously wrong ideas about privacy; and, added to this softcover edition, a new essay on William Gaddis.  Smartly and persuasively written, you'll put down this book with a heightened sense of the world around you.
retail price - $14.00  copacetic price - $12.60


Comic Art #7
It's been a bit longer wait this time around, but the latest issue of the connoisseur's comic magazine is here.  The best production values in the business present an insider's look at Harvey Kurtzman's post-Humbug career by Denis Kitchen; Tante Leny and the Dutch Underground Press by Patrick Rosenkranz; an amazing look at some rare classic Sunday Funnies in "The Comics That Time Forgot" by Peter Maresca; a taut yet meandering personal reminiscence by the one and only David Collier; a look at Fred Guardineer's 1935-36 Journal by Dylan Williams (how did he get a hold of this!?!?!); and a close reading of Dan Clowes's David Boring by Ken Parille that is written in accordance with the standards and practices of contemporary academia and will have you screwing your thinking cap on tight.
retail price - $9.00  copacetic price - $8.10

BluesmanBluesman: Book One
by Rob Vollmar & Pablo G Callejo
The long awaited new graphic novel from the co-creators of  the Eisner-nominated The Castaways is here.  This 72-page work presents a convincing account of a fictional bluesman at the dawn of the blues era.  The creators of this fine piece worked hard to capture this era in pen and ink, and they did a great job.  Callejo's drawing presents a style that is finely crafted, yet still rough around the edges; perfectly complementing his material.  Vollmar has a good ear for dialogue and in Bluesman he successfully avoids the hackneyed contrivances of accent and dialect that have so often spoiled an otherwise good story.  No, here Vollmar relies on the rhythm of the speaker along with selected grammatical tics to lend an authenticity to spoken word, and he manages to pull it off.  Together the stylistic choices serve to bolster the believability of the characters and advance the story, making for a great experience for the reader.  We're looking forward to Book Two.
retail price - $6.95  copacetic price - $6.25

Buddha:  Volume 5 - Deer Park
buy Osamu Tezuka
Whew!  This one took forever to get here, but at last it has arrived.  The fifth in the series of the eight-volume biography of the one and only Buddha by Japan's answer to Jack Kirby -- Manga Master, Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy, Kimba, the White Lion and many other internationally renowned characters.  As with the other volumes of this series, it is a handsome hardcover  that is designed to be part of a uniform edition.
retail price - $24.95  copacetic price - $21.25


The Films of John Schlesinger on DVD
We've decided to highlight these films because several of them have recently become available on DVD for the first time, all are very reasonably priced, and primarily because his early British films are criminally under appreciated and little seen.  Here's what we've got:

Darling
1965 • B & W • 127 minutes
w/ Julie Christie, Dirk Bogard & Laurence Harvey
If any film can said to be the sequel to Fellini's La Dolce Vita, this is it.  Sumptuously filmed in B & W in a style that at times deliberately echoes Fellini, this film captures the ennui that lies at the center of striving after success and the concomitant materialistic cravings that such a lifestyle engenders and so deepened the reflective mood of reprioritization that characterized the 1960s.  A penetrating and beautiful masterpiece, this film took the 1965 Oscar® for Original Screenplay (by Frederic Raphael) and Christie took Best Actress -- rare wins for a British production.  Yet, like the next film on our list, it is a film for today as well.
copacetic price - $12.77

Sunday Bloody Sunday
1971 • color • 110 minutes
w/ Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson, Murray Head
Watching this film today is a real wake up call.  A totally matter of fact look at the varieties of human behavior and interactions, Sunday Bloody Sunday will have you wondering, "What happened?"  The citizens populating the 1971 portrayed in this film posses a reasonable and measured approach to living that we seem to have lost somewhere en route to the twenty-first century.  The screenplay by Penelope Gilliatt is a wonder of simple human being, refreshingly free of the hooks and plot gimmicks that so inundate the cinema of the present.  Schlesinger's direction is an all too rare mastering of naturalism.  A film to savor.
copacetic price - $12.77

Midnight Cowboy
1969 • color • 113 minutes
w/ Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voigt & Sylvia Miles
The only X-Rated film to ever win the Oscar® for Best Picture (it's rated R now), also gave Schlesinger an Oscar® for Direction.  A fable of innocence and despair, it somewhat caricatures its protagonists, but is nevertheless a film unique in the annals of Hollywood.
copacetic price - $12.77

The Day of the Locust
1975 • color • 144 minutes
w/Donald Sutherland, Karen Black & Burgess Meredith
And speaking of Hollywood, this film is an epic adaptation of Nathanael West's infamous novels of Hollywood in the late '30s that is at one with its subject.  The definitive '70s film about Hollywood.
copacetic price - $12.77

Marathon Man
1976 • color • 125 minutes
w/ Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier & Roy Scheider
Reuniting Schlesinger and Hoffman in a thriller involving a graduate student (Hoffman) and a Nazi fugitive (Olivier) locked in a deadly game of intrigue. Intense.
copacetic price - $12.77

The Falcon and the Snowman
1984 • color • 132 minutes
w/ Sean Penn & Timothy Hutton
Based on a true story, this film delves deeply into the cold war nexus of defense industries, the CIA, the KGB, and the underground world of drugs, and in the process demonstrates the parallels and linkages between them.
copacetic price - $12.77

The Believers
1987 • color • 114 minutes
w/ Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver and Robert Loggia
This time out Schlesinger looks for linkages in superstitions and conspiracies in the unconscious and asks the question, "When does religious belief become a crime?"
copacetic price - $12.77

Bizarro WorldBizarro World
DC lets its proprietary guard down for a contained barrage of absurdity; allowing its audience a glimpse at the super-id that lies beneath the super-ego of its stable of heroes.  This long awaited sequel to the popular Bizarro Comics is a veritable who's who of the indy comics world.  Starting off with a cover by Locas maestro, Jaime Hernandez, the line-up inside includes Rick Altergbott, Peter Bagge, Ariel Bourdeaux, Ivan Brunetti, Eddie Campbell, Dave Cooper (in a ten-page opus featuring Super Girl and Wonder Woman), Leela Corman, Evan Dorkin, Ben Dunn, Sarah Dyer, Phil Elliot, Hunt Emerson, Asaf & Tomer Hanuka, Gilbert Hernandez, Dylan Horrocks, James Kochalka, Michael Kupperman (he's in his element here), Roger Langridge, Tony Millionaire (with a very gothic Batman), Harvey Pekar teams up with Dean Haspiel, Craig Thompson, Pittsburgh's own Don Simpson -- even the French team of Philippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian!  And many more.  Fab fan fun.
hardcover
retail price - $29.95  copacetic price - $25.47

Black Panther
by Jack Kirby
In celebration of the launch of the new Black Panther (see below) Marvel has released this trade collection of Jack Kirby's 1970s Black Panther series. Jack throws in everything here, from cosmic saga and international intrigue to jungle action and romance, super heroics and more.  The end result is beyond genre and pure Kirby.  We can't pretend to understand how Marvel arrived at its decision to print only the first seven issues of Kirby's twelve issue run; it doesn't make any sense to us.  We can only hope that some day they print the remaining five.  We're grateful for the chance to revisit this series, though, and to their credit Marvel did a great job on what we have here.  KIRBY!
retail price - $19.99  copacetic price - $15.99

Black Panther #1
by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita, Jr.
Written by acclaimed Hollywood director (House Party, Boomerang) and co-author of the one and only Birth of a Nation, and drawn by the legendary in-house scion  of the house of Marvel, this take on T'Challa goes back to basics and back to Africa.  One of Marvel's great characters gets a new lease on life, and from the looks of it, is off to a good start.
retail price - $2.99  copacetic price - $2.69

Tiempos FinalesTiempos Finales: Tripas Sangrientas de los Demonios
by Samuel Hiti
This excellent self-published release has finally made its way to our shelves.  Here's a Xeric prize winner where there's no doubt that the grant committee made the right decision.  Everything falls into place here: layouts, pencils, inks and two-tone colors are all enhanced by fabulous production values.  The work looks as though its informed by equal parts Chester Brown, Dave Cooper, Paul Pope and Hugo Pratt.  Don't let the Spanish title dissuade you:  Despite the presence of Spanish and Latin American themes,the text is almost entirely in English (the book itself is "printed and bound in Minnesota").  Hiti has produced a few comics in the past, but this piece is head and shoulders above what we've seen by him before.  On the spine of this book, it states, "Vol.1." We're looking forward to Vol. 2.  BONUS:  All of our copies include an original signed sketch by Hiti on the title page.
retail price - $9.95  copacetic price - $9.50

Gemma Bovery
Gemma Boveryby Posy Simmonds
Long known to readers of the British newspapers, The Guardian (which, by the way, awarded their 2001 literary prize to Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware) and The Independent, which serialized this work, Posy Simmonds brings a sophisticated literary sensibility to the world of Comics.  In Gemma Bovery, she reimagines Flaubert's Madame Bovary as it might be,  should it unfold at the close of the twentieth century.  It's also a piece of meta-fiction as well, with its own unique twist on the literary fashion set in motion by A.S. Byatt's Possession of having twentieth century lives intertwine with those of eighteenth century literary characters.    In Gemma Bovery, Ms. Simmonds shows us how life can seem to be imitating art in the mind of one obsessed with a particular work -- in this case Madame Bovary --  and that, perhaps, it is possible that such an obesssion can lead, in actuality, to life being molded after art; and, then again, perhaps not.  She's definitely studied the late work of comics master Will Eisner's later work, and this study has reaped substantial dividends for the reader.  Simmonds' has concocted a unique blend of text, illustration and comics that manages to retain the best of both worlds and communicates a wealth of emotional terrain.  Students of comics will be intrigued to discover which aspects of the storytelling process are parcelled out to the visuals and which to the text.  This piece is quite worth a look, and we encourage you to seek it out.  Gemma Bovery stands right at the intersection of the broad boulevard of purely prose literature and the freshly laid tar on the side street of comics lit and stands to appeal to adventurous readers going both ways.
hardcover
retail price - $19.95  copacetic price - $17.95

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New for January 2005



Black Hole #12Black Hole #12
by Charles Burns
It's over!  Ten years after #1 started it off, #12 closes the curtains on what has to rank up there as one of the greatest limited series in comic book history.  It is a work that transcends the generic conventions it employs to tell an exquisitely haunting tale of teenage alienation that cuts to the core of what it is like (or, at least, was like, in the 1970s) to grow up in the United States of America when forced to confront and come to terms with the animal being that every human being contains within.  Even though it's been nearly a year between issues on average, every issue has been worth the wait, and this one is certainly no exception.  It's a surprisingly satisfactory conclusion and not at all what we expected.  Black Hole is a masterpiece and Charles Burns is an artistic genius who, through applied, long-term, disciplined focus, has managed to channel what could have remained simply an obsession, into a great body of work of which this series is the climax.  Let's all offer him a hearty round of applause!
retail price - $5.95  copacetic price - $5.00


Love & Rockets v.2#12Love and Rockets V.2 #12
by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez
What can we say?  These guys are still at the top of their form.  This issue delivers:  three more-or-less connected, Maggie-related shorts by Jaime venture into the dark underbelly of LA at the same time as they plumb the depths of the human soul, while a relatively (but not entirely) light-hearted romp featuring Hopey looks at relationships; two longer pieces by Gilbert provide more insight into the family romance that lies at the heart of all human character development, with a special focus on the ignorance that poses as superiority in "A Gift for Venus" and more heartbreak soup in the latest installment of "Julio's Day."
retail price - $4.50  copacetic price - $3.60


Wolverine Woo-BaitThe Mystery of Wolverine Woo-Bait
by Joe Coleman
This item was originally released in 1982 in an edition limited to 2,000 copies, and has been out of print for nearly twenty years.  This edition includes the entirety of the original along with an added bonus in the form of the six-page short story, "Highay," that serves as a sequel of sorts.   Wolverine Woo-Bait is an intense, paranoid, freak-out of a comic book, with a crazed and overly-detailed pen-and-ink drawing style that perfectly captures the energy of the story, and is the only solo comic book that noted painter/illustrator, Joe Coleman ever produced during a career that spans four decades.   40 pages
retail price - $4.95  copacetic price - $4.45


Belly Button 2Belly Button Comics #2
by Sophie Crumb
Well, she's back:  it's one year later and the daughter of Aline Kominsky and R. Crumb has put out another comic; and if you're interested in knowing what kind of heir the reigning king and queen of underground comics have produced, here's where you'll find out.  Based on the evidence of this comic, the news is surprisingly good:  it's witty, insightful, self-deprecating and funny!  Sophie Crumb is off to a good start.  Let's wish her luck and hope that she keeps it up as long as her parents.  32 pages
retail price - $4.95  copacetic price - $4.45


Flaming Carrot #1 (33)


Flaming Carrot #1 (really, it's #33, but you know how it is...)
by Bob Burden
Kippy-yi-yi-yay, Flaming Carrot is back!  And from Image comics, no less.  Absurd?  Yes!  Inane?  Yes!  Bizarre?  Yes!  Childish?  Yes!  Sexist?  Yes!  Flaming Carrot is good trashy fun and proud of it; but it is also just plain weird. 
retail price - $2.95  copacetic price - $2.65






Manga: 60  YearsManga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics
by Paul Gravett
This is a heavily illustrated -- in both color and black & white, as the situation calls for --  oversize volume that may very well be the best contemporary survey of Manga currently available.  Written and compiled by internationally recognized British comics authority, Paul Gravett, this book provides a well designed and perfectly positioned window on the world of Manga.  Excellent examples of the fabulous and mind-boggling variety and range of manga abound.  Literally hundreds of different styles, schools and genres are featured.  Readers really get a good sense of the cultural legacy and growing international influence of manga.  This  book makes an excellent gift for any manga fan.  (one caveat:  there are a small number of illustrations -- amounting to less than 1% of the total -- featuring adult situations -- both sexual and/or violent in nature -- that make the book inappropriate for anyone under 15 or 16). 
retail price - $24.95  copacetic price - $22.45


the walking manThe Walking Man
by Jiro Taniguchi
This 160-page french-flapped softcover volume collects eighteen zen-like tales of the "man who walks."  Reflective, insightful meditations on the modern, suburban condition, these stories embody the soul of manga.  While the landscape through which our hero walks is indisputably Japanese, the stories told and the lessons learned on his brief treks are indisputably universal.  Taniguchi has managed a unique feat here.  The comics work in The Walking Man is stripped of all extraneous elements.  There is a near total absence of narrative in the pieces collected in this volume.  With extraneous temporal distractions removed, the pure essence of comics remains and we are left face to face with a direct, graphic communication of the here and now.  These are comics that dig deep into the mind and trigger a panoply of sensations: the heat of the sun on one's back, a cool breeze along the side of one's face, the smell of flowers, the cold, creamy taste of ice-cream, the hard exertions of a fast run, the overall feel of the encroaching darkness, the sounds of children laughing, water flowing, a passing train... all these sensations and more are triggered by the series of images that the reader is presented with as the pages are turned and the walking man goes on his way.  To get a better idea, check out this previewRecommended. 
retail price - $16.99  copacetic price - $15.29
 

Kafka on the Shore
by Haruki Murakami
And speaking of things Japanese in origin yet universal in application (you see, there is a method to our madness) here's the new Murakami novel to start off 2005 with.  The expectations for this book are of such magnitude that the hyperbole surrounding its release is a bit over the top, but we'll give you this:  it involves an "odyssey" where "Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall fro the sky."
retail price - $25.95  copacetic price - $22.00


New Frontier 1DC: The New Frontier - Volume One
by Darwyn Cooke with Dave Stewart 
What was the best superhero comic book series of 2004 is now set to be the best superhero trade back collection of 2005.  It's hard to sing this work's praises without lapsing into a sort of rabid, gushing fanboyese, but we'll try.  With The New Frontier, Darwyn Cooke -- with the very able assistance of Dave Stewart -- has flawlessly executed his vision of a classic American masculinity and completely delivered the goods.  The series is, technically, a piece of historical fiction, as is takes place primarily during the decade long gap between the Golden Age and Silver Age of superhero comics -- roughly 1946 to 1956 -- before bringing us to the edge of the "new frontier" as defined by President Kennedy.  This period is known, in comic book collector circles at least, as the Atomic Age.  Cooke works to imagine the "real" lives of the superheroes during this historical era where superheroes were – with the notable exception of the holy trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman – absent from the American scene.  In so doing, the story captures that transition from the values of the WWII generation to that of the generation that follows:  Not the "Greatest Generation" but not yet the "Baby Boomers" either, this was the generation that fell in the gap, but nevertheless managed to change the direction of our culture.  The New Frontier presents us with the Super Hero -- specifically, the DC superhero -- version of this generation and this period.  But it is more:  Like its excellent (and now criminally out of print) predecessor, The Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules by James Sturm, Guy Davis, R. Sikoryak and Craig Thompson, The New Frontier is a work of metacomics.  At precisely the same time that it is a swashbuckling adventure yarn, it provides a psychological deconstruction of the adventure narrative.  At the same time that it presents us with vision of a time when men were men and women were women, it asks us to ask what this means.  At the same time that it is a flat out masterpiece of graphic narrative it is an homage to the heroic comics creators of the Atomic Age:  Jack Kirby and Alex Toth first and foremost among them, but also, close behind, Wally Wood, Johnny Craig, Bob Powell, Joe Kubert and many more.  When you read this book you really can have your cake and eat it too.  And the colors, oh, the colors:  the color is alchemically integrated into the very fabric of the meaning of this work.  How messrs. Cooke and Stewart managed to collaborate at such a deep level on what has to be one of the most intuitive of tasks -- that of breathing the life of color into the strength of pen and ink lines -- will probably remain forever a mystery; but what a glorious mystery it is.  Simply put, DC: The New Frontier is a prime example of something that is unbelievably good -- you just can't bring yourself to believe that anything could be as good as they say until you finally experience it yourself.  That said, the caveat must be made that readers lacking a grounding in the conventions of superhero comics might have difficulty plugging in.  But, hey, we say that even then it's worth the try, if you're willing.
DC • 192 pages • full color
retail price - $19.95  copacetic price - $17.95

EpilepticEpileptic
by David B.
How's this for value: the complete 360 page graphic novel in hardcover for the same price as the 160 page Book One in softcover?  Yes, the page size is a tad smaller, and the paper quality on this Pantheon complete edition of this excellent work by contemporary French comics master, David B. is a notch below that of the earlier stand alone edition of Book One issued by Fantagraphics a couple years back, but the price will more than make up for this for all but the most  particular of readers, who will at least be happy to learn that Fantagraphics' own Kim Thompson completed his translation for this edition.  Originally published in six volumes in France between 1996 and 2004, this edition represents the first time the complete story has appeared in English.  As readers of David B.'s recently released Babel already know, he is a formidable graphic stylist with a strong and sure line and a great sense of how to use blacks to create a balanced page.  Epileptic is the story of an idyllic childhood abruptly and traumatically shattered by the onset of a brother's epilepsy, followed by the ordeal that ensued and the intermittent retreats into fantasy that proved to offer respite.  This book prompted Joe Sacco (Palestine) to state that "David B. is clearly one of the best storytellers in the medium of comics," and inspired Jason Lutes (Berlin) to rave, "David B. works a real kind of deeply human magic on the page – something forged from black ink and a soul's struggle that marks Epileptic as one of the first truly great narrative artworks of the new millennium."
hardcover - Pantheon Books • 360 pages • B & W
retail price - $24.95  copacetic price - $21.25

new smithsonian comicsThe New Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories: from Crumb to Clowes
edited by Bob Callahan
Yes, this book leaves a lot to be desired, and, yes, it has its problems, but, hey, it's from the  Smithsonian Institute, that national icon on the Mall in Washington DC, that is (thankfully) as close as we come in this country to an official cultural repository, and if the same culture that is currently playing host to the blinkered Bush administration decides to place its imprimatur on the works of R. Crumb, Dan Clowes, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, Ben Katchor, Gary Panter, Melinda Gibbe, Rick Geary, Charles Burns, GIlbert Shelton, Paul Mavrides, Art Spiegelman, Kim Deitch, Spain Rodriguez, Frank Stack, David Mazzucchelli, along with the likes of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, well, we have to say that, all in all, this is a very good thing; a veritable break in the clouds of gloom allowing a stray ray of hope to break through.
retail price - $39.95  copacetic price - $29.95 ¡special!

The Book of Ballads
by Charles Vess & Co.
Charles Vess is one of the last -- and best -- practitioners of the lush illustrative pen and ink drawing style that emerged in the United States at the dawn of the twentieth century.  His work occasionally graces the covers and, less so, the interiors of comic books from mainstream comics publishers, particularly Vertigo, where he has teamed up with Neil Gaiman on occasion, but his art is of the careful, detailed and thoughtful -- and therefore highly labor intensive -- variety and cannot flourish in the deadline driven marketplace of the monthly comic book.  Here in the book of ballads we have together in one place the fruits of a decade's labors accomplished in collaboration with some of today's best fantasists.  Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Sharon McCrumb, Jeff Smith, Jane Yolen and others team up with Vess to adapt a series of popular Ballads from the British Isles to comics form. 
- hardcover - Tor • 192 pages • B & W
retail price - $24.95  copacetic price - $21.25

Sticks and Stones
by Peter Kuper
Managing to get away from his illustration work for the New York Times, Time Magazine and others, Peter Kuper is back in comics form with a new pantomime graphic novel.  Like Eric Drooker (Flood), his on and off cohort at WWIII Illustrated,  Kuper's longer work deftly employs the strengths inherent in the shorthand of visual storytelling to work in the allegorical form.  In Sticks and Stones he presents us with an epic fable of empire gone wrong. 
Three RIvers Press • 128 pages • B & W and Color
retail price - $13.95  copacetic price - $12.55

In my darkest hourIn My Darkest Hour
by Wilfred Santiago
Working in the distinguished lineage that goes something like this --  Jeff Jones, Baron Storey, Bill Seinkeiwicz, Kent Williams, Ho Che Anderson, David Mack, David Cho, et al -- Wilfred Santiago brings his own computer savvy sensibility along with a studied casualness towards integrating photographs into his highly stylized artwork, and so, seemingly off-handedly, brings in issues of representation into play, thereby adding another layer to this already richly textured tale of life here in these United States, as experienced by young lovers grappling with our tumultuous times.  Yes, it's multi-culti, but it's anything but politically correct.  Most of all, it strives to be real, and true to it's characters' lives.
Fantagraphics Books • 192 pages • two-color with full gray-scale
retail price - $14.95  copacetic price - $12.70



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4Q 2004: October - December, New Arrivals
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4Q 2003: October - December, New Arrivals
3Q 2003: July - September, New Arrivals
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1Q 2003: January - March, New Arrivals

2002:       January - December New Arrivals
 

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