Here, laid out for ogling (no jostling, dammit!) is the as-promised sumptuous prize package to be delivered to the fortunate and determined Pinax.

Some points to note: two of these books are not strictly duplicates, but rather differing versions of material I have in another format, the McCay book and the Gonick book.

There are two possible collectibles in the batch: a first-year, possibly first printing (but it doesn’t say) volume three of the ground breaking, still-sells-like-hotcakes DARK KNIGHT series by Frank Miller, and Chris Ware’s ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY NUMBER 10. I can’t tell if the Ware book is a reprint or not.

Chris Ware’s ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY No. 10.

Ware is a genius, and this little book of bitter misanthropy has made me laugh so I hard I’ve frightened small children. Purchased by mistake while hypnotized by the pretty colors and enchanting landscapes that populate his work. Keep that Prozac handy so you don’t slit your wrists from the grim hopelessness and misery!

Larry Gonick’s CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE VOLUME 7: ALL ABOUT ATHENS.

This forms Chapter One of the second collected book of Gonick’s monumental work of cartoon scholarship. It remains the single best cartoon introduction to the sweep of Classical Greek history (did that come out right?), and there’s never a dull moment. The period covered here is from the defeat of the Persian invasion of Greece to Alexander the Great’s ill-fated venture to India, roughly 480 B.C. to about 330 B. C., just shy of that gifted and peculiar man’s death.

I could go on and on, but just take my word for it, a whole lot of very interesting, profoundly influential things happened during this time, stuff that directly affects your life in ways you don’t even think about. Gonick sets it up and provides a bibliography while cracking wise every step of the way.

Winsor McCay’s LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND, Book 2, in the unfortunate Blackthorne Press edition.

Winsor McCay invented the fantasy comic as well as the entire field of animation. No, really, he did. LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND was his sunday full-page comic from very early in the century, and his work on the series is noted for immense, surrealistically detailed drawings and fantastic attention to detail in coloration, all within overall, full-page compositions that still, nearly one hundred years later, grab your eye and just won’t let go.

For reasons unkown to any living man, the erstwhile publishers of this version of the work, Blackthorne, have decided to cut the strips up, reproduce them in black and white only, and to randomly blow up or reduce the panels so they’ll fit the misguided format better.

Thankfully, Fantagraphics has come to the rescue with a multi-volume beautiful coffee-table-size series of reprints that do some justice to the work of this early cartoonist and giant of American art.

This book is still of value as an introduction, and hopefully Pinax may be moved to learn more about McCay’s wild body of work.

Frank Miller and Co.’s HUNT THE DARK KNIGHT, volume three in the initial publication of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, 1986.

I have no idea how I ended up with two copies of this one issue of the series. For all I know it’s worth something. At any rate, the collected edition – along with Alan Moore’s roughly contemporaneous WATCHMEN – is still on the best seller list for graphic novels, year in, year out.

Ah, that year it was really something. Comics were changing! Art was possible, and you could even make art with superheroes! The big publishers were gonna open up to cool new narrative techniques!

Watching Miller and Moore slug it out to boggle the comic reading public’s mind remains one of the fantastic spectacles of my youth.

How do they fare, nearly twenty years on? They still surprise, although the visual shock of some of Miller’s innovations is gone; you can still see their influence on both mainstream and alternative publishers in the increased quality of paper and printing and the artistic latitude and encouragement given to artists in developing new, flashy approaches.

In the end, though, Moore’s WATCHMEN stands out as truly original; Miller’s debt to Sergio Leone and the image of Eastwood’s amoral wanderer – relected back at Miller in Eastwood’s ’92 UNFORGIVEN, which liberally borrows from DARK KNIGHT – has become clearer over time. Which is not to say DARK KNIGHT isn’t cool.

I don’t know how easy it will be to follow the tale with just this one chapter.

Jaime Hernandez’ WOAH, NELLIE #2, 1996.

In WOAH, NELLIE, one of Jaime’s post LOVE AND ROCKETS mini series (it might be the first, I forget) he follows his leading lady Maggie as she goes on the road with a relative acting as the road manager for an all-ladies professional wrestling league.

I drifted away from comics shortly after the initial publication of this book, and still have not caught up with the who-all-what that’s gone down since I checked out. At the time, ’96, both the Hernandezes were checking out too, along with the cast and crew I’d spent many a drunken punk rock night reading up on.

We were all getting older, and hitting the road, having kids, or seriously comitting to self-destruction appeared to be the only items on the agenda.

I managed to avoid all three, thanks to the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride we affectionally refer to as “the internet” around here. I wonder what’s become of all my old pals from Hoppers.

They’re all YOURS, Pinax – just send me your mailing address privately and I’ll have them loaded into an anti-grav-mounted statis slab for interstellar delivery within several short, short months! How time will fly as you await your picture books.

3 thoughts on “Sumptuous!

  1. Woo hoo!

    What a great selection! You were serious when you said you had comics. And all that for hanging around trying to break your site all afternoon Sunday…

    This is quite the eclectic and distinguished list. After the stimulating commentary on Chris Ware, I am seriously looking forward to checking out an Acme Novelty Library issue. And a comic book about ancient Greece (appropriate – as I have chosen a classical nom de plume!)

    I shall be the envy of the neighborhood. I can hardly wait.

    Shipping address coming soon…

  2. I showed this display of lovelies to my (17 year old) son, and even he, in his miasma of teenage coolness, thought that these were pretty cool…

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