Week of July 29 Pull List: Comic Con Edition! Dapper Men, Locks and Keys, and Timey Wimey Stuff

Anyone with a fondness for books knows how quickly a To Be Read pile can get out of control.  It seems the more I read, the more books end up on that pile.  These are the books that hit my radar and got added to that list over the past week.

After the whirlwind of San Diego Comic Con, I’m still trying to catch up to the real world, sorting through emails, catching up at work, trying to find clean pants amidst the piles of dirty laundry… those kinds of things.  I haven’t had much time to wander the interwebs to find new books to covet.  I did, however, purchase a couple of books during my San Diego stay, so I thought I’d feature those this week until we here at WFTM get back to our normal schedule.


Locke & Key: Head Games (volume 2)
Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows (volume 3)
by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

IDW (2009 / 2010)

Buy them on Amazon here

My review of Volume 1

New York Times bestselling writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, the creators behind the acclaimed Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, return with the next chapter in the ongoing tale, Head Games.  Following a shocking death that dredges up memories of their father's murder, Kinsey and Tyler Locke are thrown into choppy emotional waters, and turn to their new friend, Zack Wells, for support, little suspecting Zack's dark secret. Meanwhile, six-year-old Bode Locke tries to puzzle out the secret of the head key, and Uncle Duncan is jarred into the past by a disturbingly familiar face. Open your mind - the head games are just getting started!

The description above is for volume 2.  I’m avoiding the GoodReads.com page for volume 3 because I hate spoilers.  Spoilers hurt puppies.

I kind of fell madly in love with this series in the middle of our plane trip to San Diego.  It was dark and mysterious, interesting and creepy, like a brand new, modern take on a Grimm’s’ faerie tale.  The characters were fully created and the twist at the end threw me for such a loop that I almost started cursing loudly on the plane.  Thankfully I just turned to Fernando and demanded he find some magical way to get me the next book in the series while we were hundreds of miles in the air.

He, of course, was unable to do such magic, and I had to purchase the next two books in the series at the con.  I waited until Sunday so that I wouldn’t devour them so quickly while waiting in the Ballroom 20 line.  I might have bought a couple of key replicas from the IDW booth early on and caressed them while whispering “My preciouses…” but there isn’t anybody to prove that, now is there? 

These comics need to be savored, slowly and uninterrupted.  Thankfully there is also a volume 4, though I don’t know if the series continues past that.


Days Missing (volume 1) by Phil Hester, David Hine, Ian Edginton & Matz
Archaia (February 2010)

Since the beginning of time, there has existed a being whose interaction and interference with mankind has shaped human history. His powers of time and intellect have allowed his secrecy and resulted in certain days being absent from any historical record. Their stories have never been told. Their details have never been documented. Their existence is not remembered. But, the occurrences of these days have forever changed the course of humanity's evolution. These are the "Days Missing" from our existence, and they are about to be revealed.

The good people at Archaia were having a buy 1, get 1 sale on Sunday and since I desperately needed to possess Return of the Dapper Men (see the end of this post), I wandered the rest of their selection to find a suitable freebie.  I like stories that play with time and, in this case, it sounds like time is a character all its own.  Flipping through the pages, the art looked crisp and consistent.  While there were other books that looked equally lovely, this one grabbed my interest and refused to let go.


Gronk by Katie Cook
Self-Published (July 2011)

Purchase it from Katie's Store here

Read Gronk online here

Ah, Gronk, how you get me through my Friday afternoons at work.  This is a collection of the wonderful first year of Katie Cook’s Gronk web comic.  Everything Katie touches becomes adorable.  Gronk is no exception.  It’s about a little monster who doesn’t want to be scary, so she turns her back on the other monsters and ends up living with a young woman and her pets, a giant dog and a little white cat.  I mostly bought it for me (along with some art I hope to show off tomorrow), but also a little bit to share with my little nephew in a not-so-subtle way to turn him into a geeky comic reader in the future.  If you haven’t checked out Gronk or heard of Katie Cook, you should go here right now.  She’s fantastic, if for nothing else other than her take on Aquaman.

Can you tell I'm a huge fan?


The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Dial (9/2/04)

Purchase it from Amazon here

Alyss Heart can't stand that "master of fantasy" bunk; she knows that Lewis Carroll was nothing more than an incompetent reporter. After she generously shared her Wonderland experiences with this fledgling author, he totally botched the retelling, even mangling her name. Alyss, however, refuses to merely grouse; she and royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan decide to make another emergency excursion down the rabbit hole, opening our eyes to parallel realms that prim Rev. Dodgson never imagined. A refreshing take on a Victorian classic.

I can’t resist alternate versions of classic stories, and after talking to Frank Beddor at his booth and seeing the gorgeous robot cover art, I had to purchase a copy of the first book in the trilogy.  There is also a concurrent trilogy of comics focusing on the adventures of the Mad Hatter when he’s away from Alyss.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Beddor twists the well-known tale into something new and exciting, set partly in the “real world”.


Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken by Ray Friesen
Top Shelf Productions (7/12/11)

Buy it from Ray's Site here

Pirate Penguin and Ninja Chicken are friends. Or maybe they're enemies. Heck, if they can't keep track, then how can we!? Whatever they are, they're definitely hilarious. We think you'll like this book: there are about a bajillion jokes inside, and it's filled with action, adventure and arguments. Sometimes the stories are really teeny, about stuff like ice cream smoothies or making fun of your friends (just like real life!), and sometimes the story gets really epic-tastic, filled with spaceships and giant monsters and evil koalas and stuff (just like real life!). Plus, since it's about pirates, there are at least 17 swordfights (that's the rule with pirates).

Perfect for friends, enemies, and "frenemies," this full-color collection of wacky adventures will keep you cracking up with no "troublem."

Here’s another one I bought partly for me and partly as an attempt to get my nephew into comics.  He’s a bit young for the book now, but I think his love for all things penguins and pirates will last for a while.  Friesen’s art is a lot of fun and I think this will be a great graphic novel to share in a few years.  Anything that combines ninjas, pirates and spaceships is all right by me any day.  You can see more about Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken here.

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee
Archaia (11/27/10)

Enter a world in between time, where children have played so long it's almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play, and all the clocks have stopped at the same time. This is how this land has remained, until 314 dapper-looking gentlemen rain down from the sky and set off in different directions to start the world anew. Now Ayden, the only boy to still ask questions; Zoe, the robot girl all other machines hold dear; and the Dapper Man known only as "41" must discover what happened that made time stop, understand what their true places are in this world, and learn what "tomorrow" really means. The sun is setting for the first time in memory, and once that happens, everything changes!

The Return of the Dapper Men is a visually stunning fairy tale that combines steampunk with fantasy and science fiction with Renaissance style, brought to life from the minds of award-winning playwright and comic book writer Jim McCann (New Avengers: The Reunion) and critically acclaimed visual artist Janet Lee. Together they have created a world where J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carrol, and Maurice Sendak meet Jim Henson and Tim Burton. All sharply dressed in a pin-stripe suit and a dapper bowler hat.

This book is goooooooooooorgeous!  One of my top goals of this Comic Con was to get a copy of it to snuggle with on cold winter nights.  I only vaguely even knew what it was about, but I’d seen its art floating around and loved its uses of pastel colors, the vague steampunk feel, and, of course, all of the very dapper men.  Learning more about it at the Archaia booth, the story sounds like it might just have been written for me as well.  Altered worlds, robot girls, and men falling from the sky?  I think I’m going to have to stop snuggling and/or staring at this gorgeous book long enough to actually read it.

Return of the Dapper Men happened to win an Eisner award (the Academy Award of comics) for best graphic novel during the con, so I was lucky to get my hand on the very last copy Archaia had out at their booth.  I didn’t get back to Artist Alley to have the authors sign in, but I have a feeling I’ll be attempting to buy art from them next year.  Did I mention it’s gorgeous?


All book blurbs pulled from the wonderful Goodreads.com