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Waiting Is the Hardest Part

(This  Stripped column originally appeared in the July 2-8, 1998 Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)

by Beth Hannan Rimmels


"So...what next?"

"A hot bath, a week's sleep, a prosthetic limb, and Armageddon, in that order."
   —Herr Starr in          Preacher #40 

I don't know about you, but I get really frustrated when a book I love goes AWOL. For instance, not only can I not find any sort of pattern to Maze Agency's release schedule, but I can't get its publisher, Caliber, to return any phone calls or letters regarding it. If it's canceled due to poor sales, I'll go ballistic. The AWOL title I get the most questions about is Fantagraphics' Coventry, a book I wrote about last July. Creator Bill Willingham concocted a delicious blend of horror, offbeat humor, great characters and cat-and-mouse plotting that quickly moved to the top of my favorite list. Unfortunately, the last issue available is number three, which came out last July. Since then, there's been nothing but a lot of rumors as to why it has been missing.

Willingham has always been rather elusive, but he recently released Pantheon, the first issue of a 12-part, bimonthly Lone Star Press series about two superhero groups vying for world control. But since Coventry is creator-owned, there's no obvious financial incentive to do one over the other.

The official answer from Fantagraphics is that Willingham decided to take a break to do an unrelated one-shot (and Pantheon, obviously) and that he'd return to Coventry some time thereafter. Unfortunately, there's no timetable for this, which disappoints the folks at Fantagraphics. "We were pretty crushed here, because it was our first comic since Acme [Novelty Library] debuted that had really taken off and become a bona fide hit," says company spokesman Eric Reynolds. "It was as if the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer suddenly called the WB and told them they were going to take a year off."

But all is not totally lost for fans. Willingham has promised Fantagraphics that he would at least finish the first Coventry story arc, which will last about seven or eight issues.

IT COMES OUT AT NIGHT   On the plus side, the recently AWOL book Nocturnals: Black Planet, will return this fall. Dan Brereton's miniseries was released in 1995 as part of Malibu's Bravura line and quickly earned a loyal following as well as several Eisner Award nominations. Malibu, also the original publisher of Men in Black, has long since disappeared since being acquired by a pre-bankruptcy Marvel. But a recent Nocturnals: Witching Hour one-shot at Dark Horse revived fan interest and led to the book's upcoming return. Jamie S. Rich, then editor for the Dark Horse project, is now an editor at Oni Press, which will release the original miniseries as a 180-page trade paperback in October.

The trade paperback will include new story pages, an original painted cover by Brereton, an introduction by Ken Sanzel, screenwriter of The Replacement Killers and new pinups by Bruce Timm, Mike Allred, Gene Colan, Kieron Dwyer and David Antoine Williams. If the trade edition does well, there could be more Nocturnals to come.

In Nocturnals: Black Planet, Doc Horror has come to Earth from another galaxy to save humanity from the aliens that destroyed his planet, but he finds that aliens have already set up camp here.

Doc teams up with other mystical misfits, such as Starfish, Polychrome, Gunwitch, Firelion and his daughter, Halloween Girl, to keep the darker element from succeeding.

"Dan's Nocturnals are a real thrill for anyone who has ever been scared by a Universal monster or a Hammer horror flick," says Bob Schreck, Oni Press publisher. "The thing about those old movies, though, was the coolest characters were the monsters themselves. But you didn't get as much focus on them because they were the villains. In Dan's world, the monstersgood, bad or in-betweentake center stage, and the stock, goody two-shoe supporting characters get second billing."

SHI'S BACK    Due for a July release is the first part of "Queen's Gambit" in Vampirella Monthly #7, in which William Tucci's Shi returns to Vampirella's world to prevent a vampire apocalypse. "Queen's Gambit" was written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar with art by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Media Connection: On 'Nuff Said this week, hosts Ken Gale and Ed Menje present the second of a two-part, live discussion with Jim Steranko. They will go into more detail with one of comics' most influential artists and take listener phone calls. 'Nuff Said airs from midnight July 5 to 1 a.m. July 6 on WBAI-FM (99.5).


Column 1998 Long Island Voice. Nocturnals artwork 1998 Dan Brereton.