Norli’s Comic Book Blowout

Norli is a chain of book stores here in Norway. There is a larger Norli store at Sandvika Storsenter, a local shopping mall, which has had an impressive collection of graphic novels and mangas, something you don’t generally find much of in Norwegian book stores. But they’ve decided to cut down on their comics selection and get some more shelf space for, I don’t know, cooking books or something. So they’ve been having a big sale – which a friend was nice enough to alert me of – selling off the bulk of their comic book stock. Most of the graphic novels were priced at 30 NOK each, with most of the mangas priced at 20 NOK each. (Think of it as 3 USD / EUR / GBP and 2 USD / EUR / GBP.) This is probably the best comic book sale I’ve encountered yet, both due to the low prices as well as the great selection, and I’ve made some really good finds and bargains – though I do wishI had found out about it sooner as I’m sure several good titles had already been sold before I showed up on the scene.

My Norli comic book blowout graphic novel loot.

... and my Norlic comic book blowout manga loot, plus Uzumaki vol. 1.

So for your enjoyment and envy, here’s a list of what I ended up buying for myself at the sale, complete with some brief notes on what the series are about and/or why I bought it.

Batman: The Long Halloween, by Jeph Loeb (w) and Tim Sale (a). I’ve wanted to read this for a while. I don’t know much about it, but it seems like it’s a crime mystery sort of tale, and it seems to be held in some regard.

Batman: Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? (Hardcover), by Neil Gaiman (w) and misc. artists. I’m a casual fan of Batman and a casual fan of Neil Gaiman. Plus, I like having books and comics in hardcover versions when I’m able, and 30 NOK for a hardcover comic you’re moderately interested in is a decent price.

The Complete Bite Club, by Howard Chaykin (w), David Tischman (w) and David Hahn (a). I bought this somewhat spontaneously as it said the complete on it, and one annoying thing with buying comics – single issues or collections – is that you’ll often have to hunt down the rest to get the complete story. I knew it had something to do with vampires too, and being a fan of the horror genre it seemed like it could be relevant to my interests.

Cat Getting Out Of A Bag And Other Observations, by Jeffrey Brown. Have seen this several times at my semi local comic book shop, and seems to have sold well. Been wanting to give it a try, being as big a fan of cute indie comics about animals as the next guy, so when I saw it on sale for 20 NOK I had to get it!

Cerebus Vol. 3 – 11, 14 – 16, by Dave Sim. Initially only bought the three first collections they had on sale of this – Church & State I, Church & State II, and Jaka’s Story, which are supposed to be some of the high points of the series –  before I thought “Aw screw it, I’ll never find these at this price again so I may as well buy all they’ve got”. So I bought the other volumes they had, too. I now only need volume 1, 2, 12, and 13 to complete the collection. While I haven’t read much of the series, what I’ve been exposed to had had some of the best slapstick I’ve seen in a comic – when it wasn’t busy interpreting the bible.

Clumsy, by Jeffrey Brown. Looks to be one of those run-of-the-mill badly drawn indie comics about the author’s life and adventures in love, which can often be pretty depressing and dull. But it’s one of cartoonist James Kochalka’s favourites, so I figured I’d give it a try.

Crying Freeman Vol. 1, 3 – 5, by Kazuo Koike (w) and Ryoichi Ikegami (a). I’ve seen, and loved, the anime. The first episode starts off well, but it becomes increasingly ridiculous as it progresses, though no less enjoyable. I’m curious how the manga compares. Will need to order the second volume though.

The Eternal Smile, by Gene Luen Yang (w) and Derek Kirk Kim (a). Through the latter days of the sale as the selection was dwindling due to hungry hoarding fans, this was one of the few things left that looked interesting. I looked it up to read about it, saw that it had reviewed well, and figured I’d buy it. The end.

Ex Machina Deluxe Edition Vol. 1, Brian Vaughan (w) and Tony Harris (a). About a politician who is also a super hero. It seemed to have been received well when it was first published, and it’s a series I’ve been wanting to check out.

Fallen Angel – The Premiere Collection 1, by Peter Devid (w) and J. K. Woodward (a). Definitely the most expensive comic I bought; originally priced at 75 USD, but I got it for 30 NOK. Collects the first thirteen issues of the second series, switching publishers from DC Comics to IDW. This collection is of the over-sized variety and comes with a few minor extras, like the series’ original pitch (which seemed quite different from what I actually read, but I’m guessing the pitch was for the first series and not the second), a signed print, and a short unillustrated story. The sleeve was a bit torn, unfortunately.

Fallen Angel Vol. 3 – 4, Peter David (w), Dennis Calero (a), Joe Corroney (a), Kristian Donaldson (a), and J. K. Woodward (a). More or less picks up where the Premiere Collection stops; the third volume collects #11 – 16, meaning it overlaps with three issues. The fourth volume stops at #21, and the remaining issues will be collected in a forthcoming omnibus collection I just might pick up.

Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition 4, by Natsuki Takaya. I loved the anime, and have been wanting to read through the manga – which apparently diverges heavily from the anime, with the anime ending in 2001 and the manga not ending until five years later in 2006. I already have the first Ultimate Edition, which collects the first two volumes of the manga. Guess I’ll need to order Ultimate Edition 2 and 3, but apparently the third one is out of production and being sold for a premium through Amazon resellers. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they made some mistake when printing it and recalled it without reprinting a new edition, or maybe they just did a very limited print run for some reason. So I might have to buy volume 5 and 6 of the regular manga instead.

Heavy Liquid (Hardcover), by Paul Pope. I bought this mostly for shallow reasons; its original retail price was fairly high (40 USD), it was still shrink wrapped, it was complete (no need to hunt for additional volumes to get the full narrative), and it was a hardcover version. Didn’t hurt that it had reviewed pretty well, too.

Imadoki! Vol. 1 – 3, 5, by Yuu Watase. It looked cute!

The Invisbles Vol. 1, 3 – 7, by Gran Morrisson (w) and misc. artists. One of those series I’ve heard about and seen advertised for frequently, and as I did enjoy Grant Morrisson’s runs on Animal Man and New X-Men I figured I might as well buy it and see what all the fuss was about.

Johnny The Homocidial Maniac: Director’s Cut (Hardcover), by Jhonen Vasquez. I’ve enjoyed Jhonen Vasquez’s Squee! comic book series, as well as his Invader Zim cartoon series, and I’ve been wanting to read this for a while. So was very excited about stumbling over this, and the hardcover version no less!

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, by Alan Moore (w) and Kevin O’Neill (a). I really enjoyed the first collection, and have yet to read the second collection (despite having had it in my bookshelf for maybe five years now – yes, I’ve a bit of a comic book backlog, too). This is the third collection, but it seems to be a spin-off story which experiments some with the narration. At one point it was slated to be released together with a vinyl record, but at least it still comes with 3D glasses (which I’m guessing few will actually remove from the comic, not wanting to ruin its collector’s value).

The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons, by Akira Himekawa. One of the many mangafications of the Legend Of Zelda games, which retells the stories from the franchise’s various games.

The Maxx Vol. 1 – 6, by Sam Kieth. Sam Kieth’s breakthrough series on the newly-established Image Comics about a reality-confused superhero and his surrealist adventures. A series I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and now I finally can!

Ojo, by Sam Kieth (w/a), Alex Pardee (a) and Chris Wisnia (a). I sort of get this by mistake; when I went to the register I found out it was actually selling for its full retail price, so it must have been placed among the comic books which were on sale by mistake (though another copy of the same comic was there as well). So I asked it to be removed from the final sum, and thus it was. But when the girl bagged my comics, she put this in by mistake, which I didn’t notice until I came home. I considered going back with it and explaining what had happened, but in the end I didn’t.

Runaways: Dead End Kids, Dead Wrong, Rock Zombies (Hardover), by misc. I loved the first story arc of this series, and I have fond memories of reading it in my luxurious cabin while on a cruise ship heading for Denmark. The series has never quite lived up to that first arc, but it has still been enjoyable and I have developed a bit of an affection for the characters. But from what I’ve read from reviews, since the series’ creator (Brian K. Vaughan) left, it has been on a steep decline in quality, and the series has been put on pause by the publisher for a possible retooling for a possible relaunch at some possible point in the future. While they may not be on par with the previous installments, I’d still like to read the arcs from the series I haven’t yet read, and – as I picked these up, which collects the issues I haven’t read – now I can!

Rundetid, by Øystein Runde. The Rundetid comic strips were the highlight of the (generally pretty dreadful) free teen-oriented hipster-magazine Spirit. Though this collection has been given the subtitle The Very Best Of (yes, in English, even though the comic is in Norwegian), the author reveals that he tried to include everything he’s made of the series. Unfortunately he hasn’t quite succeeded, as one of the Rundetid comic strips I cut out from the magazine and taped to my door back in the day is nowhere to be found here. So that’s a bit disappointing. Curious if any other strips didn’t make it either.

Spawn Vol. 5, by Todd McFarlane (w/a), Brian Holguin (w), Greg Capullo (a) and Dwayne Turner (a). I used to buy the Spawn comic when it was published here in Norway. In fact it’s partially what turned me on to then-modern American comics, and lead me to seek out others of its ilk. But eventually they stopped publishing it here, and this collection picks up roughly where the Norwegian series stopped (which was at #85, and this collects #76 – #96).

Tellos Collossal Volume 1, by Todd Dezago (w) and Mike Wieringo (a). I already own the hardcover version of this collection, and this is the trade paperback version. I figured I’d buy it as I’m a bit of a Tellos collector (I already own the two previous trades that were released which I believe collects the same content as the Colossal collection, as well as all the single issues with all the variant covers sans one), or it could make a nice gift for someone sometime down the line. The hardcover was released about a year prior to the paperback release, with over-sized pages, which I’m guessing is why they called it Collossal; the paperback is as big as normal paperbacks though, but still retains the name, which I found a bit odd. And though it’s called volume 1, I doubt a volume 2 will ever be released, sadly, as I don’t think the collection sold too well. If a second volume would be released, I’m guessing it would collect the spin-off Tellos comics: the three-issue Tales Of Tellos, and the three prestige-format one-shots. Or the volume two slot could be reserved for a hypothetical second “season” of the main series, but with Mike Wieringo’s tragic passing a continuation of the series seems more unlikely than ever.

Uzumaki Vol. 2, 3, by Junji Ito. I had actually bought the first volume at a prior sale, but I didn’t realize there were more volumes to the series it until I saw these. Not wanting to have an incomplete collection, I picked them up.

Daniel Clowes’ Caricature, Ice Haven, and Twentieth Century Eightball. Three works by one of the more recognized alternative comic book creators. Daniel Clowes biggest hit was his graphic novel Ghost World, which was made into a film which was even better than the source material. I guess I’m a casual fan, and at this price  these seemed worth picking up.

Doug TenNapel’s Black Cherry and Iron West. I enjoyed the Earthworm Jim video game back in the day, and I really fell in love with the cartoon. Since then I’ve had a casual interest in Doug TenNapel’s works, and try picking up his graphic novels when I stumble over them in proverbial bargain bins. I have two others so far and they’ve been enjoyable, so it’s probably a habit that’ll stick.

I guess how much money I “saved” in the end is debatable; while I made some good purchases, including a lot of comics I’d been wanting for some time (like The Maxx and Cerebus), I also made a lot of purchases I wouldn’t have done otherwise (like The Invisibles and Fallen Angel). Still, even though I blew off a fair bit of money, I still feel pretty happy with the loot I acquired. No buyer’s remorse yet. I’m actually feeling a few subtle pangs of non-buyer’s remorse due to some of the comics I didn’t buy, including Roots Of The Swamp Thing, the Aliens omnibuses, and the first Museum Of Terror manga. But I think I managed to buy most of the items I actually wanted, and I doubt I’ll find a sale of this quality and quantity again anytime soon.

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