NYCC 09 Spotlight: 7 Books & 7 Comic Books
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Whenever I go to a convention like New York Comic Con, I’m typically on the movie coverage beat. I spend most of my morning waiting on a lengthy line to get into whatever the big theater where all the movie panels are held and new footage from upcoming films is previewed. I then spend the rest of my day in said theater typing away on my laptop, then later I type away in the press room.

All of this means and barely eat or pee or see the light of day and when I do get a chance to break away, I head right to the Con floor to snag some freebies, check out some of the awesome costumes, and peruse through the enormous selection of books, comic books, and trades. Because while I’m obsessed with movies, I WANT BOOKS!!!

I was fortunate enough to gets lots of wonderful freebies, too many to mentioned here. Therefore, here’s a list of 7 noteworthy books plus 7 single-issue comic books (and a few honorable mentions) that I delightfully snagged at the Con.

Dracula’s Heir

I saw the little Quirk Books sign and instantly recognized them as the publishers of The Indiana Jones Handbook, which I reviewed back in June. So of course I ran right over and proceeded to salivate all over their selection of titles. While I wanted pretty much all of them, I decided on Dracula’s Heir, an interactive mystery based on the lost chapter of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula which takes place 10 years after the events of the classic novel. What adds to the coolness of the book (and the Quirk’s other “Interactive Mystery” titles) is that it comes with a bunch of removable clues like newspaper clippings and journal entries and once you’ve solved the mystery, there’s a final sealed up chapter at the end of the book that you break open — love it!!!

Here’s some other titles from Quirk that deserve a mention:

The Crimes of Dr. Watson: An Interactive Sherlock Holmes Mystery
The Official Nancy Drew Handbook
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [due out in April 2009]

The Surrogates

While sequestered at the IGN Theater (as usual), I got to see the first trailer for the new Bruce Willis film, The Surrogates, which is based on the Top Shelf comic by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele. Since the Top Shelf guys are always cool to the Geeks of Doom, I went over to their book to tell them how much I enjoyed the trailer and they handed me a copy of The Surrogates graphic novel signed by writer/creator Robert Venditti (yippee!). The comic book takes place in the near future where humans don’t ever have to leave their homes because they use their android replicas — surrogates — to interact with the outside world without the usual consequences. It’s a perfect world until a cyber terrorist tries to rid the world of surrogates to force humanity back to acting out their own experiences. A definite must-read for fans of futuristic sci-fi fans. Be on the look out in July 2009 when the creative team releases the next installment The Surrogates Volume 2: Flesh & Bone.

Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game

I absolutely loved David Petersen‘s Mouse Guard comic book series (Volume 1 of which I reviewed when it was release in collected hardcover). Now, there’s the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game by Petersen and Luke Crane. Play this all-ages game as one of the heroic mice of the Mouse Guard who protect the Mouse Territories from predators and other dangers in this RPG that uses a simplified version of Luke Crane’s Burning Wheels rules system. This 320-page hardcover also has art by Petersen and comes with three sample patrols and three sample missions to help you get started in the game. It also includes art and extensive background material on the Mouse Territories, maps, and character sheets. I was thrilled when I happened upon this book at the Con and totally had to have it. I’ll have to find someone to play this game with — actually, after this Con I think Geeks of Doom contributor Meegatron might be that person — but even if I never play the game, just reading through this book has been so much fun. If you enjoyed Mouse Guard and really dug its world, like I did, then check out this book.

Jesus Hates Zombies: Those Slack-Jawed Blues

The good folks over at the Alterna Comics booth were a pleasure to see, as usual. On sale there was the revised Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies) cover edition of Jesus Hates Zombies: Those Slack-Jawed Blues by Friend of Doom Stephen Lindsay, who was on hand to sign my copy of this gem. Anyhow, why was this a must-have at the Con? Umm… it’s Jesus … fighting Zombies! If that’s not enough, there’s the aforementioned Suydam cover, which is fucking awesome! Plus, this edition comes a bonus story Jesus Hates Zombies … and Sasquatch. Lastly, all of this came with some cool conversation from the handsome and personable author, who, from my copy’s personal dedication, loves Geeks of Doom more than Jesus does!

Honorable Alterna mention: Equally pleasant was Michael Bracco, creator, writer, and artist of Novo, who not only signed my copy of Novo Vol. 2: The Pride, but also drew something under the dedication. I love that!!! Also, Bracco was selling his t-shirts, which he personally designs and hand-screens (Dave3 got the Robot Blues shirt — just look at how the design goes all the way up to the collar, how cool!).

The Nixie’s Song (Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: Book 1)

Early on Friday, there were free copies being given out for The Nixie’s Song (Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) and they were all grabbed up real quick — but there still these oversized cards with images and quotes from the original Spiderwick series. I’m a big fan of The Spiderwick Chronicles books by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, but I hadn’t read any of the further adventures. The Nixie’s Song leaves the original setting of New England for Florida. Eleven-year-old Nick is unhappy when his father remarries and moves his new wife Charlene into their home in Mangrove Hollow. With Charlene comes her weird daughter, Laurie, who’s into unicorns and fairies and carries a book called Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide around with her and if you know anything about this field guide, you know it’s going to awaken some serious trouble for these youngsters.

Serenity: Vol. 2: Better Days

This collected trade paperback from Dark Horse reunites the creative team of Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind for another adventure with the Firefly/Serenity gang. Serenity, Vol. 2: Better Days by Firefly creator Joss Whedon along with Brett Matthews and Will Conrad, sees these space cowboys — who gained popularity through the TV show, then later on the big screen — pull off a profitable heist, their first in quite a while. While they’d like to take a break and get some much deserved rest, their plans are interrupted when one of the crew members is taken captive!

Watchmen and Philosophy

This 240-page paperback from Wiley delves into the philosophical questions that arise from the seminal Watchmen graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series), edited by William Irwin and Mark D. White, contains essays from various authors employing standard philosophies like Free Will and Stoicism to ponder about Rorschach’s compulsion to tell the truth, the metaphysics of Dr. Manhattan, and whether The Comedian was actually a comedian or was just a jerk.

American Terror: Confession of a Human Smart Bomb Vol.1

In American Terror: Confession of a Human Smart Bomb Vol.1, by by Jeff Mccomsey and James Cooper, it’s 2041 and Victor Sheppard is an old man living in a new world where no one celebrates Veteran’s Day anymore. The world is a better place, though people don’t recall how that came to be, but Victor remembers how it was before the War of the Third World when cops had guns, and times were bad, and millions of people died for peace. The problem is, Victor remembers too much and has been silent for long enough… until now.

Comic Books (single issues)

I actually got tons more single-issue comics for older books, but I didn’t include them on this list below. The omission was mainly because, well, there’s so damn many of them! But also because they’re much older books that are released by major publishers, so they’re probably already on most people’s radar.

  • The Warriors #1
    Brand new from the Dabel Brothers, this comic book series is a faithful official adaptation of the cult favorite movie from the 1970s The Warriors about a gang from Coney Island trying to make their way back home after a riot breaks a citywide gang truce. Speaking of Dabel Brothers, the comics publisher is joining forces with Tor for a new series adapting Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, so be on the lookout for that. (Speaking of WoT, I was able to snag a Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time 2009 Calendar — yes!).
  • Planet Lovecraft #2
    This monthly magazine from Saturna Ink contains Lovecraftian-inspired exclusive comics, along with interviews and articles like a feature on Lovecraft on the internet. My copy came signed by two authors that had stories in this issue. Notable mention within this most excellent notable mention category: Vincent Ferrante has a comic in this issue that puts his Witch Hunter character into the world of the Old Ones! What’s Witch Hunter, you say? …
  • Witch Hunter #2
    … why, Witch Hunter is the central character in the Monarch Comics series of the same name created by Vincent Ferrante. Jon Redmont was a little boy burned at the stake as a witch in 1692, but his soul was resurrected 300 years later into the body of the Witch Hunter — and why Witch Hunter, he’s actually a witch who hunts the evil hunters of people (not himself a hunter of witches, get it?).
  • Jersey Gods
    The Image gang was in full force at the Con, so I was able to get a signed copy of Issue #1 — with the convention-exclusive cover — of their new superhero series by Glen Brunswick called Jersey Gods. Seeing that it’s set is in New Jersey and I’m from NYC, I immediately felt a connection with the comic and definitely wanted to check it out. Interestingly enough, at the back of the issue, the author answers the query “Why New Jersey?” by mentioning that he’s from NYC and that NJ is an underdog, always considered to be “a wasteland” and he’s all about the undergod (so am I!). In Jersey Gods, Barock, a war god from another planet who falls in love with a Jersey girl named Zoe while fighting an evil god at the Cherry Hill Mall. Since Zoe won’t move to Barock’s home planet, he’ll have to settle down in Cherry Hill, which begs the question… what is a war god to do in New Jersey?
  • No Quarter #0
    I see pirates and I’m interested. That’s what drew me to this #0 preview issue of Zenescope’s new series No Quarter by best-selling author and pirate master Pat Croce along with Adam Slutsky. The issue was only a few pages long, but the introduction of the mysterious 18th century pirate Charles Drake definitely hooked me in. Looks like the rest of this limited series starts in June 2009, so look for this one this summer. (Also, I got to check out Issue #0 of another Zenescope series 1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad, which is up to Issue #8 right now — good stuff.)
  • House of Mystery #1 Double Shot
    Oh Vertigo, how I love thee. This DC Comics imprint is responsible for gems such as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Bill Willingham’s Fables, and so many more glorious titles. At the Con, the Vertigo folks were giving out House of Mystery #1 Double Shot, which was the relaunch of the old DC anthology series. The new series is written by Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham, and takes place in a purgatory-like house where people trapped there are forced to each tell a story. Each issue contains contains a different story. Super awesome bonus are the appearance of original Mystery characters Cain and Abel, who also show up in Sandman and other Vertigo titles. If you’re not reading the revamped House of Mystery already, then definitely check it out.
  • Push #1
    Prior to the release of the action-fantasy film Push (with Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans), Wildstorm/DC released a comic book prequel miniseries by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Bruno Redondo. A secret war is about to begin, but the weapons to be used in it is the human mind, so the U.S. government creates the even more secret Division to fight the war. In this first issue, agent Ezra Lowe, who was trained at an early age in psychic warfare, is faced with a mission gone horribly wrong.

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