Sunday, May 08, 2016

Heresy at the comics shop

I'm starting to feel more at home when I visit comics stores these days, by which I mean that I can comfortably swap artists' and writers' last names with the proprietors and clerks, and I often know who we're talking about.

But I committed a heresy today when checking out with my purchases of the two hardcover collections you see here. One thing I like about these two books, I said to the woman working the cash register, is that they're nothing but story: no extra crap.

I understand that extra material in hardcover comics collections and trade paperbacks may interest hardcore comicheads, but, as I wrote after reading the "definitive edition" of the fine Queen and Country espionage/soap opera comic, the third omnibus of which collects four fewer issues than do the first two omnibuses:
"The modern comic-book industry sells and resells the same stories, publishing `special editions' and bundling books into collections and collections into mega-collections, adding scripts, sketches and other extras at each step to flesh out the page count and entice potential buyers who have already read the stories elsewhere."
But that didn't matter because the clerk still gave me the sort of frozen smile I'd have got if I'd broken wind at a formal dinner. I got a kick out of her discomfort, but maybe you should be careful about what you say when buying comics.

Back to the books I bought before I farted in the temple: If You Steal by the one-named Norwegian cartoonist Jason, whose Left Bank Gang, which I read a few years ago, brings Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and James Joyce together in Paris as anthropomorphic animals who plan a bank heist (I dare to try to resist that premise), and the first volume of Jacques Tardi 's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. Crime fiction readers may know Tardi for his graphic-novel adaptations of Jean-Patrick Manchette's noir classics. I'll report back when I've read them.

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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13 Comments:

Blogger Cary Watson said...

FYI The French did a film adaptation of Adele Blanc-Sec a few years ago. The quirkiness content was pretty high, but it was quite entertaining.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

Did you visit on National Free Comic Book day? I hit the two local shops just because I love the spirit of the thing and I'll take whatever they're willing to give out. But I also bought a couple of books, Guy Delisle's Shenzhen and Belle Yang's Forget Sorrow. I'm already familiar with Delisle, so no surprise I'm enjoying this one. Still working my way through the free ones, though.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cary: My copy carries not only a "Now major motion picture" blurb, but the additional information that the movies meteur-en-scene is the "legendary" director Luc Besson.

My mind has been so polluted by blockbusters that as I read the book, all I could picture was special effects.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana: I visited two comic shops on National Free Comic Book Day: a small one still packed with children late in the afternoon and a bigger one that had a long line outside for free comics. The manager of the first shop said that the shop had ordered enough free comics to last eight hours this year as opposed to eight minutes in previous years. I got some free books, but I also bought a volume of Criminal and, in an exception to buy general policy of buying hardcovers and trade-paperback collections, the most recent single issue of Velvet, an espionage series that I am enjoying highly.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, is Shenzen set in China's special economic zone of that name?

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

Besson is "legendary" but often for the wrong reasons. He didn't screw up Adele too badly.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I may look for the movie, but I'll probably look for more Jacques Tardi first.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

Yes on Shenzhen. He has a hard time there, at least initially, because unlike Hong Kong, few people speak English. In Burmese days he was in Burma with his wife and young son, but on this trip he seems to be quite alone.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

I should say that both the comic book stores seemed quite well stocked on the free stuff even though it was crowded. But it was also raining, so maybe not quite as big a turnout as a sunny day might have meant. I was staring at the wall where the free stuff was, not sure what the limit was, and a young guy comes up and says go ahead, you can take one of everything. I said really? And he said yeah, it's a holiday for nerds! And he meant that in the kindest way, although I don't actually belong to that rarified class. I'm a comic book nerd about one day of the year.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, is he also the guy who wrote a graphic novel about a visit to North Korea?

I have never been to Shenzhen, but I did visit Guilin, in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, just inland from Shenzhen. I saw some weird, comical examples of China's early integration of West European- and American-style consumer capitalism there.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One of the shops I visited offered up to three free comics, and I think I heard someone at the shop with the line that visitors could take eight items. But I lacked the patience to get in that line.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

Yes, he wrote one called Pyongyang, though I haven't read it. He has apparently also done one on Jerusalem.

May 09, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I remember flipping through the Pyongyang book and thinking it as visually grim as one would expect from a book with such a setting.

May 09, 2016  

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