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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

PG Previews July 2014

Coming up in July 2014 are these wonderfully diverse and diverting graphic novels, comics and manga for your comics-reading pleasure. And the creative roster comes from far and wide: America, Austria, Britain, China, Finland, France, Italy, Japan and Singapore. There really is a whole world of great comics being made out there and available in English. Explore and expand your horizons!

Beatles With An A
by Mauri Kunnas

The publisher says:
These are the first beats of the Beatles’ career as only legendary rock cartoonist Mauri Kunnas could tell them. The cover depicts John, Paul, George and Ringo crossing the street Abbey Road style, but the street is in Hamburg’s seedy Reeperbahn red-light district, and the flip cover adds lost Beatles Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe to the mix. Kunnas chronicles the band from Ringo’s birth (against a backdrop of the Luftwaffe shelling Liverpool) through the release of their hit ‘Please Please Me’/‘Ask Me Why’. Focusing on the band’s pre-fame days in a sly and irreverent style (and not shying away from Brian Epstein’s fixation upon John), Kunnas makes liberal use of corny in-jokes and hokey wordplay, but it’s all done in good fun. Hilarious moments and details not even dedicated fans will remember having heard before are all told with Kunnas’s characteristically raucous humour and virtuosic drawing skills. 80pgs colour hardcover.

Benson’s Cuckoos
by Anouk Ricard
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Workplace stresses may be killer in this off-the-rails office satire. Richard thinks he’s in luck when he snags a job at the cuckoo-clock factory, but things start to go wrong right off the bat. First of all there’s his boss, who doesn’t seem to have the strongest grip on reality and has an odd penchant for silly hats. Then there are his coworkers, who are alternately evasive and idiotic when asked about anything pertaining to actually getting work done. Finally there’s George, the employee Richard’s replacing, who supposedly quit but whose family has just appeared on national TV pleading for his safe return. It’s all adding up to a very strange workplace, and when the company goes on a retreat, everything spools quickly out of control. From the author of Anna and Froga comes a wry, offbeat whodunnit that centers on office life. Anouk Ricard’s subtle, sardonic humour undermines the characters’ desperate attempts to be taken seriously, as they bungle kidnappings, misunderstand social cues, and let petty disagreements become feuds. Ricard’s dim-witted characters aspire to deviousness but miss their mark, remaining firmly in the domain of slapstick. With cleverly observed dialogue, charming artwork, and brilliantly over-the-top plotting, Benson’s Cuckoos will delight the adult fans of Ricard’s comics for kids. 104pgs colour paperback. Download a 6-page extract here…

Bodies #1 (of 8)
by Si Spencer, Dean Ormston, Meghan Hetrick, Phil Winslade & Tula Lotay

The publisher says:
Vertigo brings you the miniseries of the summer, with four detectives, four time periods, and four dead bodies – all set in London. Edmond Hillinghead is an 1890s overachiever who’s trying to solve a murder no one cares about while hiding his own secret. Karl Whiteman is our dashing 1940s adventurer with a shocking past. Shahara Hasan is 2014’s kickass female Detective Sergeant, who walks the line between religion and power. And Maplewood, an amnesiac from post-apocalyptic 2050, brings a haunting perspective to it all. Si Spencer executes a centuries-spanning murder mystery like nothing you’ve ever seen before, with four sensational artists illustrating a six-page chapter in each issue: Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade, Meghan Hetrick and Tula Lotay. 32pgs comic book. Read an interview with Si Spencer here…

DKW: Ditko, Kirby, Wood
by Sergio Ponchione

The publisher says:
This gorgeous one-shot is an exquisite tribute to three of the most acclaimed comic book artists of all-time: Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and Wally Wood. Acclaimed cartoonist Sergio Ponchione pays tribute to the “holy trinity” of DKW in this wildly imaginative book, split into three chapters, with each chapter drawn in a pitch-perfect homage to one of his idols. A must-have for fans of these Silver Age legends. 32pgs colour comic book. Here is an Italian interview with sample images…

Finder: Third World
by Carla Speed McNeil
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
There’s never been a metropolis, slum, or building that Jaeger couldn’t infiltrate, escape, and/or loot—until now! Multiple award-winning creator Carla Speed McNeil collaborates with color artists Jenn Manley Lee and Bill Mudron to create the very first full-colour Finder graphic novel. First serialized in the pages of Dark Horse Presents, this Finder adventure now includes sixteen extra story pages and extensive annotations by McNeil. Finder: Third World also proves to be a massive, eye-opening turning point in the life of Jaeger, a major character in this mysterious, complex, sci-fi flavoured world and the intriguing, wily heart of Finder itself. 184pgs colour paperback.

by Carol Swain

The publisher says:
In this graphic novel by Carol Swain, a bird watcher investigates the disappearance of a rare bird, aided by talking dogs. Helen is an amateur bird watcher and naturalist who lives in a rural community in Wales. When a local farmer Bill tells Helen that a “rare bird” named Emrys killed himself at Cuddig farm, she decides to investigate. One of the dogs at the farm tells her, by way of explanation, that Emrys “had no feathers and couldn’t fly.” She plucks an old cosmetic kit from a dumpster and discovers it belonged to Emrys. Inventorying the kit’s contents, she finds a spent .12 gauge shotgun shell. Her attempt to learn more about Emrys turns into a journey of self-discovery and ultimately a hard-fought reconciliation with the world — as it is. Carol Swain’s Gast is the rare kind of contemporary graphic novel critics are conjuring when they exult over the promise of the art form— a philosophically mature vision, uniquely executed by an artist wholly in control of her craft. In Gast, Helen’s inner life is slowly revealed through a mixture of naturalistic detail and phantasmagoric occurrences. 176pgs B&W paperback.

Gothic in Comics & Graphic Novels
by Julia Round
$40.00 / £32.50

The publisher says:
This book explores the connections between comics and Gothic from four different angles: historical, formal, cultural and textual. It identifies structures, styles and themes drawn from literary gothic traditions and discusses their presence in British and American comics today, with particular attention to the DC Vertigo imprint. Part One offers an historical approach to British and American comics and Gothic, summarising the development of both their creative content and critical models, and discussing censorship, allusion and self-awareness. Part Two brings together some of the gothic narrative strategies of comics and reinterprets critical approaches to the comics medium, arguing for an holistic model based around the symbols of the crypt, the spectre and the archive. Part Three then combines cultural and textual analysis, discussing the communities that have built up around comics and gothic artefacts and concluding with case studies of two of the most famous gothic archetypes in comics: the vampire and the zombie. 268pgs B&W hardcover.

Hugh Howey’s Wool: The Graphic Novel #1 (of 6)
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray & Jimmy Broxton
Cryptozoic Entertainment

The publisher says:
Wool as you’ve never read it before: The New York Times bestselling novel is now told in graphic novel format. This contemporary dystopian classic—hailed by Justin Cronin, New York Times bestselling author of The Passage, as “an epic feat of imagination”—will captivate readers both familiar and new. This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside. 24pgs colour comic book.

In Clothes Called Fat
by Moyoco Anno
Vertical Inc.

The publisher says:
From the pen of Moyoco Anno comes a stunning tale of self-image and self-loathing. In Clothes Called Fat details the lives of young women earnestly revealing the struggles women may have with their bodies and sexuality. Noko appears to be living a great life, she’s got a good job and a loving boyfriend, but beneath a thin veneer is a young woman who is struggling with her self-image and self-confidence as she fights to keep her weight down. To Noko, being five pounds overweight means being miles away from happiness in her lovelife and in her work-place. 200pgs B&W paperback.

It Never Happened Again
by Sam Alden
Uncivilized Books

The publisher says:
Here are two exquisite stories set at different times in the author’s life. In Ignatz Award nominated “Hawaii 1997,” few words are spoken, but Sam Alden’s imagery evokes the magic of a nighttime encounter at a Hawaiian resort. In “We Don’t Talk About It and We’re Not Going to Play It,” an older Alden explores the complicated gender dynamics surrounding a kidnapping attempt in New Orleans. Alden is one of the brightest young talents working today. Sam Alden was born in 1988 in Portland, Oregon. In 2013 he was an official guest at the BilBOLbul festival in Bologna, Italy, and his ongoing comic Haunter was excerpted in the Best American Comics 2013 from Houghton-Mifflin. He now lives and works as an illustrator and cartoonist in his hometown of Portland and is the recipient of the Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent. 96pgs B&W paperback.

Jason Shiga’s Demon #1 (of 21)
by Jason Shiga

The publisher says:
From Jason Shiga, creator of Meanwhile, Bookhunter, and Empire State comes a new 21 issue series about one man’s quest to conquer the world using mathematics and the power of demon possession. After killing himself, Jimmy Yee wakes up in a filthy motel room without a scratch on his body. Yesterday he was a mathematician working at Oakland’s leading actuarial firm. Today he’s the most wanted man in America. Using only his mathematical training to aide him, Jimmy must push himself to his mental limits if he is to figure out what is happening and stay one step ahead of the government agency determined to capture him. 36pgs comic book.

by Jaako Ahonen & Lauri Ahonen
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Disney meets Kafka in this beautiful, intense, original tale. The story of a very small and very scared little bird, who lives a lonely, isolated life in a great big house with his infirm mother. He’s never been outside the house, curious but terrified of the world outside, and he will never leave if his mother has a say about it. Winner of 2013 “Comic Book Finlandia” prize, the debut work of Finnish siblings Jaako and Lauri Ahonen combines a dark story with glimmers of hope and friendship with beautifully painted illustrations and the mostly-wordless charm of a Chaplin film. 126pgs colour hardcover. Read the first sixty pages online here…

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book: The Graphic Novel Vol.1 (of 2)
by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell & various artists
Harper Collins

The publisher says:
The first volume of a glorious two-volume, four-colour graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s #1 New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book, adapted by P. Craig Russell and illustrated by an extraordinary team of renowned artists. Inventive, chilling, and filled with wonder, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book reaches new heights in this stunning adaptation. Artists Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, and Stephen B. Scott lend their own signature styles to create an imaginatively diverse and yet cohesive interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s luminous novel. Volume One contains Chapter One through the Interlude, while Volume Two (in September) will include Chapter Six to the end. 192pgs colour hardcover.

by Nicolas Mahler & Heinz Wolf
Soaring Penguin
$7.99 /

The publisher says:
A Serial Killer is on the loose with a rather large razor! A hairdresser with a pronounced predilection for extravagant hair sculptures is kidnapped by a sinister gangster - all during the shave of a depressed used car salesman. Having recently been left by his dolled-up dentist wife for a man with better hair and a convertible. Now he has a slightly crazed homicide detective stalking him, and half a beard still to shave off. This is a hair-raising graphic thriller… 80pgs B&W paperback.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III: Century: The Complete Edition
by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Top Shelf Productions / Knockabout
S29.95 / £19.99

The publisher says:
It is the early years of a new and unfamiliar century, and forces are emerging that appear to promise ruin for the Murray group, the nation and indeed the world, even were it to take a hundred years for this apocalyptic threat to come to its disastrous fruition. From the crime-haunted wharfs of 1910, through the criminal, mystical underworlds of 1969 to the desolated streets of 2009, the remnants of Miss Murray and her League must combat not only the hidden hand of their undying adversary, but also the ethical and psychological collapse accompanying the new era. 256pgs colour hardcover.

The Shadow Hero
by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
First Second

The publisher says:
In the comics boom of the 1940s, a  legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics characters. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity… The Green Turtle was the first Asian American super hero. The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but the acclaimed author of American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang, has finally revived this character in Shadow Hero, a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the Green Turtle. With artwork by Sonny Liew, this gorgeous, funny comics adventure for teens is a new spin on the long, rich tradition of American comics lore. 176pgs colour paperback. Five-page preview here…

Words for Pictures: The Art & Business of Writing Comics & Graphic Novels
by Brian Michael Bendis

The publisher says:
Best-selling Marvel Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis reveals the comic book writing secrets behind his work on The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New X-Men, Powers and more. Arguably the most popular writer in modern comics, Brian Michael Bendis shares the tools and techniques he uses to create some of the most popular comic book and graphic novel stories of all time. Words for Pictures provides a fantastic opportunity for readers to learn from a creator at the very top of his field. Bendis’s step-by-step lessons teach comics writing hopefuls everything they’ll need to take their ideas from script to dynamic sequential art. The book’s complete coverage exposes the most effective methods for crafting comic scripts, showcases insights from Bendis’s fellow creators, reveals business secrets all would-be comics writers must know, and challenges readers with exercises to jumpstart their own graphic novel writing success. 224pgs part-colour paperback.

Youth is Wasted
by Noel Van Sciver
AdHouse Books

The publisher says:
Youth Is Wasted collects several of Noah Van Sciver’s most outstanding short stories from his critically acclaimed, award-nominated comic book series, Blammo, as well as various anthology submissions. His weekly comic strip 4 Questions appears every week in the alternative newspaper Westword. His work has appeared in The Best American Comics 2011, Mad magazine, Sunstone, The Comics Journal, MOME and numerous comics anthologies. His first graphic novel The Hypo was published by Fantagraphics. 112pgs B&W paperback.

by Jean-David Morvan & Huang-Jia Wei
Magnetic Press, Inc.

The publisher says:
Zaya tells the story of secret agent in the distant future who left her post to seek a normal life as an artist and mother. When a biomechanical threat destroys an orbiting colony station and former fellow agents start dying, she is called back into the field to find and stop the danger. Her investigation leads to many questions about her own past, filled with explosive revelations. 232pgs colour hardcover. See some sample pages here…

Posted: May 10, 2014


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Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

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