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Fantagraphics: The Complete Carl Barks!

January 3, 2011

It has been an exciting end of the year for this Duck fan and having just heard the news that in 2011 Fantagraphics will begin publishing the legendary Carl Barks’ complete Donald Duck library, I obviously had little choice but to share it here (this, in addition to the great news that Fantagraphics will be publishing Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse material beginning this March). I’ve been collecting Barks’ stories for years but it will be years still before I come anywhere close to completing my Barks collection so knowing that I’ll be able to pick them up in affordable, attractive volumes from Fantagraphics is the best Disney-related news I’ve heard in quite some time.

More from Fantagraphic’s Gary Groth in his interview about the initiative with Robot 6:

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, the Barks library has been one of the great missing links in a time that many have dubbed the “golden age of reprints.”  Acclaimed around the globe for his rich storytelling and characterization, as well as excellent craftsmanship, Barks has long been regarded as one of the great cartoonists of the 20th century, equal to luminaries like Charles Schulz, Robert Crumb and Harvey Kurtzman. He’s been one of the few major American cartoonists whose work has, up till now, not been collected in a comprehensive, manner respectful of his talent (at least not in North America), however, so this announcement comes as extremely good news for any who read and love good comics, let alone are familiar with Barks’ work.

Fantagraphics is always looking for ways to help spread the word and I’m happy to help where my little corner of the web is concerned. Please enjoy the full interview at the site for more about the price point, release schedule, format, stories etc.

Check back here for more in the coming weeks, and keep an eye peeled at stores for the first volume this fall!

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BOOM! Brings Back Classic Duck Tales

December 22, 2010

Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Vol. One features a beaut of a Don Rosa cover!

Pardon my enthusiasm, this just gets better and better for Disney and Duck fans as BOOM! celebrates Disney’s 70th Anniversary of Walt Disney Comics and Stories. These comics, of which I proudly own many, are among the highlights of my collection. So many of them contain superb works of art so by the verifiable legends of the comic field so if you’ve any degree of desire to see why these comics have lasted 70 years, please give one of the following treasuries a try.

Oh yea, about that…

…see BOOM! Studios Press Release:

Join BOOM! as we continue to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories with a plethora of classic collections hitting store shelves the first half of 2011; including WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOLUMES 1 & 2, WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES ARCHIVE VOLUME 1 and DISNEY’S FOUR-COLOR ADVENTURES VOLUME 1. These classic collections feature the most sought-after Disney stories told by legendary creators like Don Rosa, Floyd Gottfredson, Al Taliaferro, and more!

“When we say ‘Classics Are Back at BOOM!’, we mean it!” Said BOOM! Studios Marketing Director Chip Mosher. “BOOM! is bringing tons of classic Disney stories by such beloved creators as Don Rosa, Floyd Gottfredson, Al Taliaferro among others! The fans demanded it and BOOM! delivers!”

Fans will find within the pages of WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOLUME 1 Don Rosa’s first Donald Duck tales back in print! First up, Don Rosa’s “Return to Plain Awful” with Donald in search of square eggs . . . with Uncle Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold in tow! Next, our dashing duck fights it out with über-lucky Gladstone in “Oolated Luck” and “Give Unto Others.” Experience jerky Neighbor Jones in “Recalled Wreck,” and Donald’s own super-smart nephews in ‘Mythological Menagerie” and “Making the Grade!” All this plus other timeless tales including “Fit to be Pied,” “Rocket Reverie,” “Forget Me Not,” “Star-Struck Duck,” “Metaphorically Spanking,” “The Crocodile Collector” and the rare Christmas classic “Fir-Tree Fracas.” WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOLUME 1 also includes a cover gallery and ducky behind-the-scenes details never before told. WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOLUME 2 then continues to collect Don Rosa’s classic run of Donald Duck stories including Donald’s travels across the globe and time, from Norway for the Winter Olympics to the Middle Ages for an epic battle against none other than King Arthur himself. Are we aiming to win a Junior Woodchuck Merit Badge, or what?

With WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES ARCHIVE VOLUME 1 experience the longest-running comic series in history, reprinted in chronological order! This collection is an essential read for any fan of Disney comics. VOLUME 1 brings readers classic Disney stories from famed creators like Floyd Gottfredson, the legendary artist behind the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip, and Al Taliaferro, creator of fan-favorite characters Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Last but definitely not least, DISNEY’S FOUR-COLOR ADVENTURES VOLUME 1 cracks open the Disney vault to find some of the rarest Disney comics ever created! This volume features classic Disney comics and gag strips from such creators as Al Taliaferro, Disney Legend Jack Hannah and many more, reprinted for the first time in decades.

WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOLUME 1 ships in March, priced at $14.99 and caries an ISBN-13 of 978608866564. WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES ARCHIVE VOLUME 1 follows soon after shipping in April, with DISNEY’S FOUR-COLOR ADVENTURES shipping in May and WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOLUME 2 shipping in June.

More info. as it becomes available.

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Doctor Solar Illustrated by Michael Kormarck

December 15, 2010

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom cover #5, by Michael Kormarck

I’ve been waiting to pick up the trade paperback compilation of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom but I’m awful tempted to pick this one up just for the new Michael Kormarck cover. Each of the first 5 covers by Kormarck so far have been great and its a real treat to see him working on the covers for one of my favorite characters (the early Valiant years, not Gold Key…I’m not that quite that old yet)! Here’s hoping these covers are included in the TPB release…

If you’re inclined to pick up the single issue, it’ll be on store shelves later this month.

DOCTOR SOLAR, MAN OF THE ATOM #5
Jim Shooter (W), Roger Robinson (A), Agustin Alessio (A/C), Wes Dzioba (C), and Michael Komarck (Cover)

On sale Dec 29
FC, 40 pages
$3.50
Ongoing

Doctor Solar, the Man of the Atom, is the greatest single power in existence. But Tanek Nuro, a ruthless global power broker, has acquired the key code to the operating system of the universe, and he means to change things. With no limit to Nuro’s monstrous ambition and only Doctor Solar in his way, a war of biblical proportions starts now. Also starting now, the origin saga of the Man of the Atom. How did a middle-aged man of science come to command the fires of creation? Everything you know . . . and everything you didn’t . . . comes to the fore in this double-feature extravaganza not to be missed!

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Review: ‘The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive’ by Brandon Sanderson

December 8, 2010

The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

Introduction From the Back Cover:

I long for the days before the Last Desolation.

The age before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. A time when there was still magic in the world and honor in the hearts of men.

The world became ours, and we lost it. Nothing, it appears, is more challenging to the souls of men than victory itself.

Or was that victory an illusion all along? Did our enemies realize that the harder they fought, the stronger we resisted? Perhaps they saw that the heat and the hammer only make for a better grade of sword. But ignore the steel long enough, and it will eventually rust away.

There are four whom we watch. The first is the surgeon, forced to put aside healing to become a soldier in the most brutal war of our time. The second is the assassin, a murderer who weeps as he kills. The third is the liar, a young woman who wears a scholar’s mantle over the heart of a thief. The last is the highprince, a warlord whose eyes have opened to the past as his thirst for battle wanes.

The world can change. Surgebinding and Shardwielding can return; the magics of ancient days can become ours again. These four people are key.

One of them may redeem us.

And one of them will destroy us.

What Drew Me to the Book:

As anyone that’s visited Following that Raven in the last couple of years has likely surmised, Brandon Sanderson is currently my favorite modern fantasy writer so to say that I was looking forward to The Way of Kings would be something of an understatement. And even if I wasn’t already a huge fan, who could look at that epic Michael Whelan cover and not be drawn to the book!? It’s one of the strongest covers I’ve encountered and I suspect that more than a few readers will be gained gazing into the possibilities it suggests in its striking color and detail.

The Review:

Let me clarify that I will be reviewing The Way of Kings based on the Macmillan audio performance by fan favorites Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. I purchased the large tome for my library shelves as well, and am very impressed by the production values, illustrations, and reference material that it contains and will be referring to it often in the future to heighten my experience with the series no doubt, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to listen to the book as read by these two veteran voice actors that I already enjoy so much. Truthfully, it may have been their best performance yet. Whatever the case, they certainly brought their “A” game and I highly recommend that fans of the book (or potential fans) give the audio version a listen if at all possible.

The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive is the inaugural entry in a 10-volume epic, and it hits the ground at a sprint, thrusting the reader right into battle following an impressive prologue/prelude set-up which sets a grim mood following the wake of an apparent betrayal amongst immortal warriors, bringing desolation to the land of Roshar. The battles that ensue are fought not only by highly trained soldiers in the Alethi and Parshendi armies (the two warring sides in a 6-year struggle) but on a larger scale between great warriors donning coveted armored carapaces with superhuman capabilities, likewise by unarmored individuals able to harness the Stormlight prevalent in a world of high storms, granting them preternatural abilities, and one of Sanderson’s best magical “systems” yet. I can also say right off the bat that Sanderson crafts these clashes (and, yes, there are many) with meticulous care and outside the characters themselves the scenes of battle were the strongest part of the novels for me, rich in detail and never losing sight of the excitement that should be implicit in such scenes, particularly those involving close combat.

Following four principle characters throughout, The Way of Kings provides strong characterization in each case: Szeth is a reluctant assassin whose great power is as mysterious as his past and he gets the ball rolling quickly in the book with a thrilling battle and the death of a king, Shallan is a young woman who rides the high seas seeking an opportunity to apprentice under a gifted scholar, and heretic, named Jasnah; but there are motives underlying her quest that will have great repercussions the both of them, particularly as she begins to confront herself. Dalinar, the “Blackthorn,” is an aging Alethi high prince, a wielder of  Shardplate armoer, and a commander in King Elhokar’s army who awakens to visions of a cryptic “final desolation” while striving to unite his fellow high princes as a unified force to win the war against the drawn out war against the Parshendi and prepare for its coming. Finally, Kaladin, a great military man (and former surgeon’s apprentice) in the Alethi army tragically finds himself a slave to the very army in which he was enlisted after having been betrayed by a “light eyes” he once trusted. His trials as a bridge-runner (a job with a rather high mortality rate) provide the bulk of the narrative, and seeing him awaken to the potential within himself in this dire situation is a joy to behold throughout the narrative, particularly as his and Dalinar’s story begin to run parallel, ultimately converging.

Roshar is world whose hard landscape is filled with ever present danger, be it the constant threat of death on the shattered plains in battle, terror at being confronted by one of the many massive beasts that roam the chasms, mistrust and deceit among companions and peers, assassinations around every bend, or even the elements themselves that ravage the landscape with consistent high storms to deadly consequence. The characters that inhabit this world have to have a bit of grisliness in them simply in order to survive and while I have run across the minor criticism that the main players are cut a little too rigid in this mold, offering black and white morality in their roles, it is a criticism that I cannot level as I readily found what I perceived to be real “character” in both the righteous and deplorable actions of notable players (never having been one to believe that “character” is necessarily found in the gray areas) and real concern for the sticky situations that certainly provided the reader opportunities to fret over the actions they took and the consequences that followed. You’ll root for and against the principle and supporting cast and that certainly indicates something worthwhile to me. Additionally, there’s a lot to be said for supporting characters like Jasnah, Sylphrena (“Sil”), Navani, Wit and Saddeus (among others) that populate the novel. At times they outright steal the show and, along with the particulars of Sanderson’s magic system, make the world a much richer, more interesting, place to visit.

The tale interweaves through each character with ease as they come into spheres of influence one with another, the story working its threads skillfully toward a cohesive whole despite a few unanswered questions at the novels end — but such is the case with this being the first in a large multi-volume series and I was not unsatisfied at the conclusion. To the contrary, I was champing at the bit for the next novel. With my studies ramping up I knew that 2010 would be a hectic one and that I wouldn’t be able to read nearly as many novels of my own choosing as I’d like, but I am glad to have been able to finally experience this one and am glad to say that it’s definitely a journey worth taking — incidentally, something the novel itself has more than a little to say about.

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Oh Great, More Books to Read…

November 24, 2010

I have to thank Aidan at a A Dribble of Ink for hosting his Brandon Sanderson interview on the eve of the release of Towers of Midnight and for inadvertently pointing me to an author I need to be reading thanks to his penchant for asking his interviewees which creators they’d recommend readers check out.

Well, Sanderson mentioned Dan Wells in his answer, and while I’ve actually listened to Dan Well’s podcast series “Writing Excuses” (good fun), and have heard great things about the book,  I’ve yet to pick up his novel I Am Not A Serial Killer (funds, I need ’em!). I will definitely have to make it a point to do that because if Dan Wells’ real life wit finds its way into the book to any degree, I know it’ll be a good read. And I hear the unique narration of the stories protagonist is a selling point for the book so I look forward to seeing how Wells incorporates that voice as well.

Anyone have any experiences with Dan Well’s books to share? Any other authors whose work I should pick up while I’m dolling out yet more money for books (which is admittedly not nearly as painful as I make it sound)?

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A Reading Update…

November 16, 2010

This time of year is always really hectic, I’ve just finished my mid-terms in the last couple of weeks and have had my nose buried in books on Judaism as I work to complete the courses in my Jewish Studies minor (they are very good, however, so it’s definitely not as much of a chore as one might think).

I’ve got a couple of research papers left to write, and finals to study for, but beyond that it’s not as bad as it has been in past years and there’s even been moderate time to breathe and…relax a little (please don’t tell ’em!). When I can crack something other than study material I’ve been alternating between GGK’s Under Heaven (still on the final stretch) and Dragonlance books from Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

On the audio front, I’m 39-chapters into Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings and, so far, the book is definitely exceeding my expectations, high as they were. I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve read from Sanderson, as I’ve noted here at the blog many times in the past, but this is definitely his best work to date and I’m happy to say I’m in for the long haul, and that I’m glad it’ll be a lengthy journey in this case. Everything is just starting to really hit the fan in the book at this point so I’m going to have an awful lot to enjoy as I sit in traffic listening for the next couple of weeks.

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The Classics are Back at Boom!

November 1, 2010

From time to time here at Follow that Raven, I’ll be covering comics that I feel are something special and where classic Disney comics and stories are concerned, I feel confident in saying that they are definitely worth your time, and that they certainly aren’t something just for the younger crowd to sit back and enjoy. A good Carl Barks tale, for example, will transport you back to the days of your childhood when all you wanted to do was explore and find out about the world, and when Barks, Gottfredson, Rosa, Jippes and the rest have you there, it’s awfully hard not to wear a big ‘ol smile. Who among us can’t appreciate that kind of creativity?

Well, at this year’s New York Comic Con Boom! Studios announced their ‘BOOM Kids! 2.0!’ initiative and a number of us wondered what that meant? Well, our first indication came earlier today in their latest press release:

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, ‘Classics are back at BOOM!’ Beginning in January, WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #715 and MICKEY MOUSE #304 will feature some of the greatest Disney comic book stories ever told, including some that have not seen print in almost 50 years. The new initiative is the latest stage of ‘BOOM Kids! 2.0’ which was previously announced at the New York Comic Con.

So, yea, this is great news.

When Boom! Studios was awarded the Disney license a couple of years ago I was curious to see what they’d offer new and old fans alike. Disney has a massive vault of treasures at their disposal (enough to make Scrooge himself envious) and I was hoping they’d really tap into that reservoir, but to say that they stumbled out of the gate would be a huge understatement where I’m concerned. Their focus was  almost solely on new stories, and even that would have been fine for a time if the quality of those stories would have been up to muster, but they just couldn’t go toe to toe with the classic Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson material that Gemstone Publishing had been sustaining fans on for years to that point and the only place fans of the classic Disney stories could turn were their overpriced (there’s no way around it) hardcover collections.

I had resigned myself to simply picking up these collections (those featuring material we hadn’t already seen collected recently that is) online when they were discounted when Boom! announced that Duck Tales (based on the animated series in the 80’s) would once again become a feature in their Uncle Scrooge comic.  Like most kids in the late 80’s, I loved Disney’s Duck Tales so that certainly got my attention. Then, Boom! announced that the successful Darkwing Duck would return in his own mini series as well. Sales were impressive enough on that front that there’s an ongoing Darkwing Duck comic and they went a step further by announcing a Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers ongoing. All of these look very impressive and given the creative teams on board (creators that care about the properties) things really started looking up and I’m anxiously awaiting the collected editions of each of these.

So, in January it appears that fans will see a new focus on Disney classics (which hopefully they can balance effectively with newer material) and if all of this is indicative of the approach Boom! Studios is taking into the New Year then I’m grateful that they’re doing so and that I’ll gladly support them where I can.  I hope you’ll give these a go as well so that you can see just why these stories have been beloved the world over for so long.

Shipping as an oversized anniversary issue, WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #715 features:

– “Life Savers,” a Carl Barks-written story from 1969 newly illustrated by Dutch master Daan Jippes in the Barks style and starring the Junior Woodchucks – published for the first time in the U.S.!

– Writer Ruud Straatman and American master artist Don Rosa’s Daisy Duck story “Forget Me Not” from 1989.

– “70th Heaven!” by Dutch master artist Daan Jippes in its American publishing debut.

– A previously untitled Li’l Bad Wolf/Donald Duck tale by Gill Turner in its first appearance since 1950!

Bursting at the seams with 40 pages, WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #715 ships with A and B covers by beloved classic Disney comics artists William Van Horn and Daan Jippes respectively.

MICKEY MOUSE #304 features:

– Bill Walsh/ Floyd Gottfredson tale “The Pirate Ghost Ship!” marking its first reprint with every single panel complete since 1944.

– Legendary Mickey Mouse artist Floyd Gottfredson’s “Laundry Blues” from 1932 in its first re-printing ever!

– A Goofy tale by Italian master Romano Scarpa, “Don’t Worry About It,” printed for the first time in English!

Also weighing in at 40 pages, MICKEY MOUSE #304 features covers by modern Mickey master artist Casty and the legendary Floyd Gottfredson!

I love the fact that they’re offering so many unpublished classics, including the Carl Barks & Daan Jippes material and, I tell ya, January can’t come soon enough.