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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

May 2015

Welcome back! Just for you I’ve once again rummaged through publishers’ solicitations for new releases due to be published this coming May or soon after, to arrive at this more manageable shortlist of the most intriguing and promising titles. Plenty to look forward to here, from masters like Philippe Druillet, Wally Wood, Shotaro Ishinomori, Alex Toth, Jiro Taniguchi and Satoshi Kon (Japanese cover of Dream Fossil above) to some of today’s very brightest sparks. As usual. I’ve given you where available links to more images and info, and this time added a few interior sample pages to give you a flavour.

One inescapable landmark this month is the first monthly instalment of the new 12-part mini-series Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (wraparound cover below). Horror is a genre that Moore has startlingly revolutionised in comics before, from Swamp Thing to From Hell, among others. His return to the unspeakable terrors of H.P. Lovecraft looks set to warp all expectations all over again.

Adventures of Tad Martin # Sick Sick Six
by ‘Casanova Frankenstein’ (aka Al Frank)

The publisher says:
Casanova Frankenstein reclaims the confessional, auto-bio comic book and transcends the well-worn shock of self-exploitation. He demonstrates the raw power of the comic book form by dissolving genre tropes and reader expectations. His ink bears witness to the allness of life, the ambiguity and the messiness, and does not define any one thing in order to manipulate or steer your emotions. This is the language of the heart! 66pgs B&W comic book.

Creepy Presents Alex Toth
by Alex Toth & various writers
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
A brilliant storyteller who wielded a dynamic, minimalist style, Alex Toth is considered a master in the fields of comic book storytelling, animation, and design. With Creepy Presents Alex Toth, all of his vibrant and thrilling stories from Creepy and Eerie are collected in a deluxe, magazine-sized hardcover for the first time ever! With an introduction by Darwyn Cooke (DC: The New Frontier, Richard Stark’s Parker), this collection of timeless tales will thrill, educate, and excite fans of horror, comics, and stellar illustration work. Major collaborations with Archie Goodwin, Doug Moench, Carmine Infantino, and others are included. 168pgs B&W hardcover.

Don’t Get Eaten By Anything
by Dakota McFadzean
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
For the past five years cartoonist Dakota McFadzean has been drawing a four-panel comic strip every day and posting to his website. Every day! This is a remarkable achievement – though a schedule familiar to any syndicated newspaper cartoonist – but in the digital age artists can do it themselves. Inspired by James Kochalka’s American Elf, McFadzean began the project in January 2010, originally as an autobiographical daily. Soon, however, it morphed into its current state: death, cosmic insignificance, facial mutation, and ghosts are all used to point out the absurdity of life and the fundamental loneliness of the human condition, more often than not to humorous effect. McFadzean features characters with disparate ages in these strips because they provide different perspectives on related experiences. A kid character is experiencing everything for the first time, but an older one may wonder if he’s experiencing something for the last time. This collection of The Dailies will document three years of sequential strips into one handsome package. 368pgs colour hardcover. All McFadzean’s Dailies are online here…

Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels
edited by Tom Devlin & various artists
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
North America’s pioneering comics publisher celebrates its quarter-century with new and rare archival comics; essays from Jonathan Lethem, Margaret Atwood, and more. Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels is an eight hundred-page thank-you letter to the cartoonists whose steadfast belief in a Canadian micro-publisher never wavered. In 1989, a prescient Chris Oliveros created D+Q with a simple mandate to publish the worlds best cartoonists. Thanks to his taste-making visual acumen and the support of over fifty cartoonists from the past two decades, D+Q has grown from an annual stapled anthology into one of the world’s leading graphic novel publishers. With hundreds of pages of comics by Drawn & Quarterly cartoonists, D+Q: 25 features new work by Kate Beaton, Chester Brown, Michael DeForge, Tom Gauld, Miriam Katin, Rutu Modan, James Sturm, Jillian Tamaki, Yoshihiro Tatsumi alongside rare and never-before-seen work from Guy Delisle, Debbie Drechsler, Julie Doucet, John Porcellino, Art Spiegelman, and Adrian Tomine, and a cover by Tom Gauld. Editor Tom Devlin digs into the company archives for rare photographs, correspondence, and comics; assembles biographies, personal reminiscences, and interviews with key D+Q staff; and curates essays by Margaret Atwood, Sheila Heti, Jonathan Lethem, Deb Olin Unferth, Heather O’Neill, Lemony Snicket, Chris Ware, and noted comics scholars. D+Q: 25 is the rare chance to witness a literary movement in progress; how a group of dedicated artists and their publisher changed the future of a century-old medium. 776pgs colour hardcover.

Dream Fossil:
The Complete Stories of Satoshi Kon

by Satoshi Kon
Vertical Comics

The publisher says:
From the internationally renowned director of Paprika and Perfect Blue comes a collection of short stories penned as he transitioned from animator to comicker to movie director. Featuring 16 shorts, including his award winning debut Toriko, this collection dives into the heart of Satoshi Kon like no book has before. 520pgs part-colour paperback. Halcyon Realms have scans from the Japanese edition here…

Exquisite Corpse
by Penelope Bagieu
First Second

The publisher says:
Zoe isn’t exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn’t recognise world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment…and into his life. It’s also why she doesn’t know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as “lost manuscripts,” in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she’s there anyway… Penelope Bagieu was born in Paris in 1982, to Corsican and Basque parents. She is a bestselling graphic novel author and her editorial illustrations have appeared all over the French media. She blogs, drums in a rock band, and watches lots of nature shows. Exquisite Corpse is her first graphic novel to be published in English. 128pgs colour hardcover. Eight-page extract online here…

From Now On
by Malachi Ward
Alternative Comics

The publisher says:
A collection of hauntingly beautiful science fiction and horror short stories by Prophet and Ritual artist Malachi Ward. Collects stories from Mome, Study Group Magazine, Sundays, Best American Comics 2013, and more. In a dozen stories Malachi explores and blends the classic themes of fantasy and science fiction using a range of illustration techniques and styles. In “Utu” a Shaman arrives at an outpost with prognostications of a terrible war. He claims his visions come from a mysterious god, but can he be trusted? In “Hero for Science” a time-travelling rescue mission turns dour when a team member goes native. In “The Scout” while retrieving information in a remote cave, a scout encounters another version of himself. Malachi Ward is the creator of the Ritual comic book series from Revival House Press, The Expansion series with Matt Sheean, The Scout, Utu, and Top Five, which is included in the 2013 edition of Best American Comics. Malachi has done work for Brandon Graham’s Prophet, Mome, Nobrow, and Study Group Comics. He is currently an artist on the Image Comics series Prophet Strikefile. 144pgs part-colour paperback

by Jiro Taniguchi
Fanfare/Ponent Mon

The publisher says:
Go with the flow. Slowly but surely he takes a promenade through Edo. Furari could be loosely translated as ‘aimlessly’, ‘at random’, ‘bend in the wind’ or ‘go with the flow’. But our stroller this time leaves nothing to chance. Jiro Taniguchi returns with this delightful and insightful tale of life in a Japan long forgotten. Inspired by an historical figure, Tadataka Ino (1745–1818), Taniguchi invites us to join this unnamed but appealing and picturesque figure as he strolls through the various districts of Edo, the ancient Tokyo, with its thousand little pleasures. Now retired from business he surveys, measures, draws and takes notes whilst giving free reign to his taste for simple poetry and his inexhaustible capacity for wonder. As he did with the lead character in The Times of Botchan, the writer Soseki, Taniguchi slips easily into the heart and mind of this early cartographer and reveals his world to us in full graphic detail so we may fully perceive and understand. 208pgs B&W hardcover. Four pages are previewed here…

Harrow County #1
by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Emmy always knew that the deep, dark woods surrounding her home crawled with ghosts, goblins, and zombies. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she learns that she is connected to these creatures-and to the land itself-in a way she never imagined. Don’t miss the first issue of this southern gothic fairy tale from the creator of smash hit The Sixth Gun, beautifully and hauntingly realised by B.P.R.D.‘s Tyler Crook. 32pgs colour comic book. Comic Book Resources have an interview with Cullen Bunn here…

His World: The Life And Legend Of Wallace Wood
edited by Bhob Stewart

The publisher says:
This biography is an incisive look at the life and career of one of the greatest and most mythic comic book creators—the maddest artist of Mad magazine, the man behind Marvel’s Daredevil, and self-publishing pioneer of Witzend—Wallace Wood. Who was Wallace Wood? His World is an incisive look back at the life and career of one of the greatest and most mythic figures of cartooning. Edited over the course of thirty years by former Wood assistant Bhob Stewart, His World is a biographical portrait, generously illustrated with Wood’s gorgeous art as well as little-seen personal photos and childhood ephemera. Also: remembrances by Wood’s friends, colleagues, assistants, and loved ones. This collective biographical and critical portrait explores the humorous spirit, dark detours, and psychological twists of a gifted maverick in American pop culture. 304pgs part-colour paperback.

Island of Memory: Vol. 1 (of 4)
by T. Edward Bak
Floating World Comics

The publisher says:
Island of Memory, T Edward Bak’s first volume of Wild Man: The Natural History of Georg Wilhelm Steller, examines the human condition within the natural order at the extremes of the unknown. Part natural history, part adventure yarn and part experimental narrative, this 72-page full-colour fever dream is the artistic realisation of Bak’s inquiry into the socio-ecological consequences of empire. Georg Wilhelm Steller(1709-1746) journeyed as a naturalist with the historic Second Kamchatka Expedition, which brought the Russians to Siberia and Alaska in the 18th century. Steller’s first-hand descriptions of the natural and human worlds at this crossroads of continents illuminate the unique confluence of culture and ecology binding North America to Asia via the North Pacific. 72pgs colour paperback. Floating World have more info and links to interviews and previews here… and Bak has posted a YouTube video about the book here…

Louise Brooks, Detective
by Rick Geary

The publisher says:
A fictional story centred on actress Louise Brooks, this graphic novel by Rick Geary is spun around her actual brief meteoric career as a smouldering film actress who popularised bangs. Geary fantasises about her coming back to her home town of Wichita where she becomes intrigued by a murder involving a friend, a famous reclusive writer and a shady beau. Not before she gets herself in great danger will she emerge with the solution the police fail to grasp. 80pgs B&W hardcover.

Material #1
by Ales Kot & Will Tempest & cover artist Tom Muller

The publisher says:
A man comes home from Guantanamo Bay, irrevocably changed. An actress receives an offer that can revive her career. A boy survives a riot and becomes embedded within a revolutionary movement. A philosopher is contacted by a being that dismantles his beliefs. Look around you. Everything is material. 32pgs colour comic book.


by Noelle Stevenson
Harper Collins
$17.99 / $12.99

The publisher says:
The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.” Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-colour graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones. Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit. 272pgs colour hardcover / paperback. Read the first three chapters here…

Providence #1 (of 12)
by Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows
Avatar Press

The publisher says:
The most important work of 2015 begins here with the long-awaited arrival of Alan Moore’s breathtaking epic Providence with his artistic partner Jacen Burrows. In his most carefully considered work in decades, Moore deconstructs all of Lovecraft’s concepts, reinventing the entirety of his work inside a painstakingly researched framework of American history. Both sequel and prequel to Neonomicon, Providence begins in 1919 and blends the mythical visions of HPL flawlessly into the cauldron of racial and sexual intolerance that defined that era on the East Coast of America. Every line from artist Jacen Burrows is perfectly honed to complete this immersive experience. The result is a breathtaking masterpiece of sequential art that will define modern horror for this generation. Invoking a comparison it to a prior literary masterpiece is not something to be handled lightly, but in scope, importance and execution Providence is the Watchmen of horror. Moore has designed every cover, every single page, and every nuance of this work to create his most fully-realised vision to date. There are no ads, all 32 pages are written by Moore, and Jacen Burrows has spent the past two years slaving over the finest detail possible on the pages. The entire work is already written, intricately crafted to tie the most nuanced threads together over the breadth of the series. Painstakingly researched, meticulously produced, this is a sequential masterpiece that will serve as important a call to the next generation of comic book writers as Watchmen did 30 years ago. This is a definitive demonstration of just how good a comic book can be. 32pgs colour comic book.

Russian Olive To Red King
by Kathryn & Stuart Immonen
AdHouse Books

The publisher says:
When your lover may be dead, how long can you hold on to what remains? To whatever is left of you? A plane crash, a package, her dog, her voice. A notebook, his writer’s block, and heat-distorted summer memories of a search for Jumbo the Elephant and an absent father. From the creators of Moving Pictures, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., Journey into Mystery, All-New X-Men, Hellcat, All-New Captain America, and Runaways. 176pgs B&W hardcover. The Immonens have a few lovely colour teaser pages here…

A Silent Voice Vol. 1 (of 7)
by Tow Ubukata & Yoshitoki Oima
Kodansha Comics

The publisher says:
Learning to listen. Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favourite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his  past mistakes, or is it too late? 192pgs B&W paperback.

The Art of Flying
by Antonio Altarriba & Kim
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
When published in 2009, The Art of Flying was hailed as a landmark in the history of the graphic novel in Spain for its deeply touching synthesis of individual and collective memories. A deeply personal testament, Altarriba’s account of what led his father to commit suicide at the age of ninety is a detective novel of sorts, one that traces his father’s life from an impoverished childhood in Aragon, to service with Franco’s army in the Civil war, escape to join the anarchist FAI, exile in France when the Republicans are defeated, to return to Spain in 1949 and the stultifying existence to which Republican sympathisers were consigned under Francoism.
The Art of Flying is immensely moving and vivid, beautifully drawn by Kim. It was highly praised in Spain on first publication, where it was compared to Art Spiegelman’s Maus. It went on to win six major prizes, including the 2010 National Comic Prize. 208pgs B&W hardcover.

The Disappearance of Charley Butters
by Zach Warton Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
Following the success of Zach Worton’s The Klondike comes a new graphic novel about the final throes of a death metal band. While filming a music video they stumble upon an old cabin in the woods containing the archives of a disappeared artist. The discovery sets in motion a chain of events which eventually leads to one character’s redemption. 128pgs B&W paperback. Couple of interior pages here…

The Hunter
by Joe Sparrow
Nobrow Press

The publisher says:
In a time centuries before our own, one arrogant hunter has grown bored of sport. Only the legends of a mythical beast excite him now, but when he goes hunting for the creature he quickly discovers that he is outmatched. Because this beast is not any mythical animal but is composed of all the hunted prey killed in the past, and it is most certainly out for revenge. Joe Sparrow was born in London and grew up in Cornwall, United Kingdom. He has worked on commercial animation for various studios and has self-published several of his own comics. 24pgs colour comic book in the 17x23 series. Joe Sparrow has some advance panels like this on his tumblr here…

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
by Shotaro Ishinomori
Perfect Square

The publisher says:
A full-colour graphic novel by manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori based on the classic video game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an adaptation of the beloved, internationally bestselling video game originally released for Nintendo’s Super Entertainment System. This comic book version by Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009, Kamen Rider) was first serialised in Nintendo Power magazine and later collected into a graphic novel. Long out of print, this stunning, full-colour graphic novel is now available once again. 196pgs colour paperback.

The Outside Circle
by Patti Laboucane-Benson & Kelly Mellings
House of Anansi Press

The publisher says:
In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers — both gang members — surrounded by poverty and drug abuse, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives. Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. After returning home one evening, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, get into a violent struggle, which sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail. Initially maintaining his gang ties, a jail brawl forces Pete to realise the negative influence he has become on Joey and encourages him to begin a process of rehabilitation through a traditional Native healing circle. Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of Aboriginal men who are gang-affiliated or incarcerated. 264pgs colour paperback. Some more images here…


The 6 Voyages of Lone Sloane
by Philippe Druillet
Titan Comics

The publisher says:
It’s been 800 years since a catastrophic event called the “Great Fear”. Lone Sloane, a rebel and a troubled space traveller, is captured by an entity called “He Who Seeks”, after his space ship is destroyed. The entity transports him to different dimensions, where he must fight for his life, as he finds himself caught in an intergalactic struggle between space pirates, gigantic robots, dark gods and other-dimensional entities. 72pgs colour hardcover.


Verity Fair: Custard Creams & Pink Elephants
by Terry Wiley
Borderline Press

The publisher says:
The sixth Borderline Press release is this critically-acclaimed British created collection. Who is Verity Bourneville? She’s a bit-part actress and occasional drunken buffoon, with sticky-out ears, a heart of gold and too many miles on the clock, in search of a decent role and a good night’s sleep. A story that will trip you up, surprise you and warm the cockles of your heart, even though that’s not where cockles come from… Wiley is renowned for Sleaze Castle, Borderline Magazine’s ‘Miffy’ and many other UK favourites. 176pgs colour paperback. Richard Bruton has reviewed all six episodes…

You Don’t Say
by Nate Powell
Top Shelf Productions

The publisher says:
A celebrity glares. A community burns. A child’s heart breaks. A recipe summons a ghost. A dying woman makes her peace. An art form sustains the spirit. In You Don’t Say, award-winning graphic novelist Nate Powell - of the #1 New York Times Bestseller March: Book One, and the Eisner Award-Winning “Graphic Novel of the Year” Swallow Me Whole - collects a decade of powerful short works. Autobiography, fiction, essay comics, collaborations, and more fill these thoughtful, pitch-black pages, comprising rare and previously unreleased material from 2004-2013. 176pgs B&W paperback.

Posted: March 1, 2015


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My Books

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

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

Comics Unmasked by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning from The British Library