No, really?

September 30, 2007

I have a pet peeve, and I’m wondering if it bothers anyone else. Does it ever irritate you when a publisher puts “A Novel” on the cover of… well… a novel? Like, “Oh, thank heavens, I would have mistaken it for a cookbook that had been mistakenly shelved here in the fiction section if it weren’t for that thoughtful note.” It’s kind of like when a store adds “-pe” to “shop,” just in case nobody could figure out it was supposed to be quaint.

It’s just me, isn’t it?

‘Tis the Seasonal Sampler

September 30, 2007

I need a bigger mailbox. I’ve had to go to the post office three times this week to pick up parcels that wouldn’t fit. I love getting parcels, but I could do without the extra errands.

They’ve been worth it, though. One parcel came from Top Shelf, and it contained their Seasonal Sampler. It’s a very handsome collection of excerpts from the publisher’s graphic novels, concentrating on upcoming and recent works, with well-written introductions and creator biographies. It’s over 250 pages long, and it’s free.

You can order it from Top Shelf’s web site while supplies last, or you can pick one up at SPX if you’re going. If you pick the latter route, get it early, so you can browse and focus your shopping at the Top Shelf booth later. You should also buy an Owly t-shirt, because they’re timelessly stylish and super-comfy.

It doesn’t adopt a particularly hard-sell approach. Top Shelf is obviously enthusiastic about their catalog; they wouldn’t have published the books if they weren’t. But for the most part, they let the work speak for itself, which is an approach I always prefer.

It also lets me browse some titles that aren’t readily available at the local comic shop. I’ve sampled a fair amount of Top Shelf’s all-ages books and really enjoyed them (the aforementioned Owly and Spiral-Bound in particular), and I think Renée French’s The Ticking is amazing, but it’s nice to get a sense of the publisher’s full range. (At the same time, it lets me know that I really don’t need to rush to get my hands on the works of Jeffrey Brown or snag a copy of that scabrous super-hero parody by James Kolchalka.)

On the bright side, it gives me added incentive to track down Jeff Lemire’s Essex County books, and Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny has rocketed onto my must-have list. Strangely, the book that excites me most isn’t really a comic at all but a collection of essays about American vice-presidents called Veeps by Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger. (I can even get past the designer’s choice not to use hyphens to make it look more olde-tyme-y.)