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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

January 2015

Here’s my first A-to-Z shortlist of 2015, giving you my monthly PG Tips for the most interesting, intriguing releases for January or thereabouts. It’s another wide-ranging selection box, taking you inside worlds and lives, from real to unreal and surreal, which you might never experience -  from a problem inner-city American high-school to an outlaw motorcycle club, from the roots of The Great War a century ago to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Forced to choose, my personal pick of the bunch this time is Wrinkles, Knockabout’s translation of the Spanish creator Paco Roca’s pointed portrayal of a new arrival at a Spanish care home for Alzheimer’s patients. Another key work in the expanding filed of graphic medicine, Wrinkles helped stimulate social debate about mental health and healthcare in Spain and was adapted into an animated movie. Happy exploring and discovering comics, graphic novels and manga!


Barbarella & The Wrath Of The Minute-Eater
by Jean-Claude Forest
Humanoids
$34.95

The publisher says:
Jean-Claude Forest’s timeless erotic science fiction classic, from which the cult-favourite movie of the same name stems from, is now available featuring a brand new, contemporary English-language adaptation by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Marvel’s Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Dark Horse’s Ghost, Image’s Pretty Deadly). Published in black & white, this edition includes both the original Barbarella graphic novel and its never-before-published-in-the-English-language sequel, The Wrath of the Minute-Eater. With an introduction by Paul Gravett. 152pgs B&W hardcover



Considering Watchmen: Poetica, Property, Politics
by Andrew Hoberek
Rutgers University Press
$26.95

The publisher says:
 Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen has been widely hailed as a landmark in the development of the graphic novel. It was not only aesthetically groundbreaking but also anticipated future developments in politics, literature, and intellectual property. Demonstrating a keen eye for historical detail, Considering Watchmen gives readers a new appreciation of just how radical Moore and Gibbons’s blend of gritty realism and formal experimentation was back in 1986. The book also considers Watchmen’s place in the history of the comics industry, reading the graphic novel’s playful critique of superhero marketing alongside Alan Moore’s public statements about the rights to the franchise. Andrew Hoberek examines how Moore and Gibbons engaged with the emerging discourses of neoconservatism and neoliberal capitalism, ideologies that have only become more prominent in subsequent years. Watchmen’s influences on the superhero comic and graphic novel are undeniable, but Hoberek reveals how it has also had profound effects on literature as a whole. He suggests that Watchmen not only proved that superhero comics could rise to the status of literature—it also helped to inspire a generation of writers who are redefining the boundaries of the literary, from Jonathan Lethem to Junot Díaz. Hoberek delivers insight and analysis worthy of satisfying serious readers of the genre while shedding new light on Watchmen as both an artistic accomplishment and a book of ideas. 232pgs part-colour paperback

Junot Díaz author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao says:
In his erudite and fascinating study, Hoberek reveals how Watchmen, that singularity at the heart of the comic canon, rewrote our literary categories and why its disturbing visions of Apocalyptic American Superpowers continue to haunt readers decades after it first appeared.”



First Year Healthy
by Michael Deforge
Drawn & Quarterly
$14.95

The publisher says:
A mysterious, unsettling parable from one of North America’s most popular cartoonists. First Year Healthy purports to be the story of a young woman, recently released from the hospital after an outburst, and her burgeoning relationship with an odd, perhaps criminal Turkish immigrant. In a scant forty-five pages, working with a vibrant, otherworldly palette of magentas, yellows, and greys, Michael DeForge brings to life a world whose shifting realities are as treacherous as the thin ice its narrator walks on. First Year Healthy is all it appears to be and more: a parable about mental illness, a folktale about magical cats, and a bizarre, compelling story about relationships. DeForge’s singular voice and vision have, in a few short years, rocketed his work to the apex of the contemporary comics canon. Ant Colony was his first book with Drawn & Quarterly: It appeared on The New York Times Graphic Bestseller List and was lauded by the Chicago Tribune, The Globe and Mail, and Harper’s Magazine. His effortless storytelling and eye for striking page design make each page of First Year Healthy a fascinating puzzle to be unraveled. First Year Healthy, knotty and mysterious, demands to be read and reread. See some previews on the D&Q site…. 48pgs colour hardcover



Foolbert Funnies And Other Fictions
by Frank Stack (aka Foolbert Sturgeon)
Fantagraphics
$24.99

The publisher says:
This book collects the “best of” Frank Stack, who was one of the first underground cartoonists. “Cult” cartoonist Frank Stack is best known as the artist behind Harvey Pekar’s award-winning graphic novel, My Cancer Year (his art was featured in the American Splendor film), and as the creator of the first underground comic book, The Adventures of Jesus. Foolbert Funnies collects comics—inspired by Stack’s pop culture-filled childhood and travails as a fine arts professor—that ran in National Lampoon and other publications. For decades, Stack’s work was published under the pseudonym “Foolbert Sturgeon” to protect his career. In Foolbert Funnies, you will find adventuress Dirty Diana; nostalgic time traveler Frank Crankcase; commonsensical Dr. Feelgood; politician Paddy Booshwah; “Southern Fried Homicide”; and a host of Amazons, artists, and pulp heroes, all depicted in Stack’s scratchy, hatchy “crowquill” style. This “best of the rest” is a tribute to a Texan who’s been quietly creating observational, iconoclastic art for more than forty years. 176pgs B&W paperback



Henshin
by Ken Niimura
Image
$19.99

The publisher says:
I Kill Giants co-creator Ken Niimura (International Manga Award winner and Eisner nominee) brings a unique vision of life in Japan to the page in Henshin. The lives of a kid with peculiar superpowers, a lonely girl discovering herself in the big city, and a businessman on a long night out are some of the short stories included in this collection that will make you laugh, and even maybe shed a tear. Explore Tokyo as you’ve never seen it before under Niimura’s masterful and imaginative storytelling, printed here for the first time in English.
292pgs B&W paperback



Jaco The Galactic Patrolman
by Akira Toriyama
Viz Media
$9.99

The publisher says:
Akira Toriyama, manga legend and creator of Dragon Ball Z, is back with the quirky comedy Jaco the Galactic Patrolman! Retired scientist Omori lives alone on a deserted island while continuing his research into time-travel. His quiet life is interrupted when galactic patrolman Jaco crash-lands and decided to move in with him. Can Jaco get along with the old man long enough to save the earth from a dangerous threat? Includes a special bonus chapter introducing Dragon Ball Z hero Goku’s parents! 192pgs B&W paperback



Judas: The Last Days
by Maxwell Prince, John Amor & Kurt Huggins
IDW
$24.99

The publisher says:
Two thousand years after he betrayed Messiah, Judas Iscariot is still alive, wandering a world he doesn’t recognise. A world where the strangest of fictions have come true: monsters, immortals, gnome-librarians who monitor human history-they’re all real. And all Judas wants to do is kill himself. So why can’t he? The most transcendent story of the year is here in this all-new original graphic novel chronicling history’s preeminent backstabber and his quest for suicide.
180pgs colour paperback



Love Vol.1: The Tiger
by Frédéric Brrémaud & Federico Bertolucci
Magnetic Press
$17.99
The publisher says:
A day in the life of the king of the jungle, this lavishly illustrated story follows a single majestic tiger through a wordless adventure of survival as it hunts pray and defends itself from other would-be killers defending their territory. This exciting tale is told without narration or dialogue, conveyed entirely through the beautiful illustrations of Federico Bertolucci. A beautiful, all-ages title that explores genuine natural behaviour through the dramatic lens of Disney-esque storytelling. Like a nature documentary in illustration. 80gs colour hardcover



Lucia
by Andy Hixon
Jonathan Cape
£16.99

The publisher says:
Lucia is a hard town, full of hard people. It stands looking out across the unforgiving sea that is slowly swallowing it. Its people are all unemployed, with nothing to live for but a pint and fight. Among them are Brick and Morty, one a disabled, heartbroken divorcee and aspiring writer, the other his best friend and protector, a fantasist and aspiring Ultimate Fighting Welterweight Champion of the world. 112pgs colour hardcover



Lucifer’s Sword: Life And Death In An Outlaw Motorcycle Club
by Phil Cross & Ron Sutton
Motorbooks
$22.99

The publisher says:
A graphic novel by a lifelong motorcycle club member, inspired by the secrets of one percenters. Phil Cross has been a Hells Angel for over 40 years. In the world of outlaw motorcycle clubs, there are many stories that can’t be told, for a variety of reasons, but they have spurred Phil’s imagination to create a fictional story inspired by real events. One-percenter antiheroes populate these pages - tougher and wilder than any character ever played by Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, or Marlon Brando. The guys in the tales Phil spins might remind you of Easy Rider and The Wild One, but the hard glint in their eyes proves that they are based on the real deal. Illustrator Ronn Sutton provides stunning visuals to bring Phil’s stories to life. These bikers aren’t going to ride off into the sunset any time soon. 96pgs B&W paperback



March Book Two
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell
Top Shelf Productions
$19.95

The publisher says:
The award-winning, best-selling series returns, as John Lewis’ story continues through Freedom Rides and the legendary 1963 March on Washington. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, continues his award-winning graphic novel trilogy with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, inspired by a 1950s comic book that helped prepare his own generation to join the struggle. Now, March brings the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, powerfully and urgently relevant for today’s world. After the success of the Nashville sit-in movement, John Lewis’ commitment to social change through nonviolence is stronger than ever — but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart. But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy… and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he’ll find himself helping to lead the greatest demonstration in American history: the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Watch Lewis and Aydin discuss March and showcase the Book Two cover on CNN here… 176pgs B&W paperback



Michael Jordan: Bull On Parade
by Wilfred Santiago
Fantagraphics
$24.99

The publisher says:
A kinetic graphic biography about Michael “Air” Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time and most influential athlete in history, from the creator of the acclaimed and best-selling 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. This tour-de-force graphic biography explores basketball superstar Michael Jordan’s public successes and private struggles, with Santiago’s passion for his subject shining through on every full-colour page. At the age of 19, Jordan scored the winning jump shot in the final seconds of the 1982 NCAA Championship, earning him the moniker “Air.” He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, a team with a decade of failure. By 1991, Jordan led the Bulls to their first NBA championship, besting Magic Johnson and the L.A. Lakers. In 1992, Michael Jordan joined the Dream Team, an assembly of 12 legendary NBA players who steamrolled everyone at the Barcelona Olympics and brought the gold back home. Despite taking a season off to try his hand at professional baseball, Jordan still led the Bulls to three consecutive NBA Championships. However, his life is not without controversies or calamities, and no amount of success or money can shield him from it. But everyone wanted to be like Mike, and Santiago comes closer than anyone to putting you on the parquet floor of the Chicago’s United Center in your very own pair of Air Jordans. 200pgs colour hardcover



Museum Of Mistakes
by Julia Wertz
Atomic Book Company
$24.00

The publisher says:
In 2004, Julia Wertz began a series of funny, irreverent autobiographical comics she called The Fart Party. After posting these comics online to acclaim and controversy, she eventually started collecting these comics as self-published minis which found their way to Atomic Books in Baltimore, who thought they ought to be collected into a proper book so as to garner Julia more laughs and hate mail. As these things go, the first volume was so successful, there was a second volume. Both are now out of print, but Museum of Mistakes collects them into one book, plus numerous pages of Julia s early comic work, unpublished and/or previously uncollected comics, short stories, illustrations, process pages, hate mail, sketchbook pages, tear stains and more. 400pgs B&W paperback



Pussycat
by Peyo
Papercutz
$19.99

The publisher says:
From comics master Peyo (The Smurfs, Benny Breakiron) comes Pussycat - a loveable, mischievous tuxedo cat who spends his time chasing after milk and snacks and framing other members of his family for his shenanigans. This cat isn’t exactly the noble hunting type - he’d rather play a game of kickball with the resident mouse than chase after him - and most of the humour originates from his clever, yet often foolish ways of trying to get what he wants (e.g. milk and snacks). Originally published in Spirou magazine in France, this is a delightful collection of comics that can be enjoyed by all-ages. 192pgs colour hardcover



The Last Days Of Mankind
by Reinhard Pietsch & David Boller
Virtual Graphics
$19.95

The publisher says:
100 years ago, one of the great tragedies of the twentieth century began on June 28, 1914. The assassination of the heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo set in motion a chain reaction that ended in what is today known as WWI. At the time Austrian writer Karl Kraus wrote his epic masterpiece The Last Days of Mankind, about the sentiments during the time of the war which seems as relevant today as it was back then. Reporting mostly from the point of view of Austrian society in Vienna, this satirical and eye-opening graphic novel teaches us one thing: in regards to war, mankind has learned absolutely nothing in 100 years. 184pgs B&W paperback



The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
by Eric Orner
Northwest Press
$24.99

The publisher says:
Eric Orner’s groundbreaking comic strip debuted in 1990 and appeared in paper in a hundred cities across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Now, for the first time, every subversive, laugh-out-loud funny, and occasionally surreal episode from the gay everyman’s 15 years in print is in one deluxe collection. Includes bonus material and a foreword by New York Times-bestselling author David Ebershoff. Read lots of online strips here… 208pgs colour hardcover



Twelve-Cent Archie
by Bart Beaty
Rutgers University Press
$26.95

The publisher says:
For over seventy-five years, Archie and the gang at Riverdale High have been America’s most iconic teenagers, delighting generations of readers with their never-ending exploits. But despite their ubiquity, Archie comics have been relatively ignored by scholars—until now. Twelve-Cent Archie is not only the first scholarly study of the Archie comic, it is an innovative creative work in its own right. Inspired by Archie’s own concise storytelling format, renowned comics scholar Bart Beaty divides the book into a hundred short chapters, each devoted to a different aspect of the Archie comics. Fans of the comics will be thrilled to read in-depth examinations of their favorite characters and motifs, including individual chapters devoted to Jughead’s hat and Archie’s sweater-vest. But the book also has plenty to interest newcomers to Riverdale, as it recounts the behind-the-scenes history of the comics and analyses how Archie helped shape our images of the American teenager. As he employs a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, Beaty reveals that the Archie comics themselves were far more eclectic, creative, and self-aware than most critics recognise. Equally comfortable considering everything from the representation of racial diversity to the semiotics of Veronica’s haircut, Twelve-Cent Archie gives a fresh appreciation for America’s most endearing group of teenagers. 232pgs part-colour paperback



UR
by Eric Haven
Adhouse Books
$14.95

The publisher says:
UR is a collection of work that has appeared in various comic anthologies. Dark, absurdist, and deadpan, these stories reflect the apocalyptic undercurrent of the modern era. Also included is Eric Haven’s long-running comic strip Race Murdock which appeared in The Believer magazine. 48pgs colour paperback

 

 


Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948
by Noah Berlatsky
Rutgers University Press
$26.95

The publisher says:
William Marston was an unusual man—a psychologist, a soft-porn pulp novelist, more than a bit of a carny, and the (self-declared) inventor of the lie detector. He was also the creator of Wonder Woman, the comic that he used to express two of his greatest passions: feminism and women in bondage. Comics expert Noah Berlatsky takes us on a wild ride through the Wonder Woman comics of the 1940s, vividly illustrating how Marston’s many quirks and contradictions, along with the odd disproportionate composition created by illustrator Harry Peter, produced a comic that was radically ahead of its time in terms of its bold presentation of female power and sexuality. Himself a committed polyamorist, Marston created a universe that was friendly to queer sexualities and lifestyles, from kink to lesbianism to cross-dressing. Written with a deep affection for the fantastically pulpy elements of the early Wonder Woman comics, from invisible jets to giant multi-lunged space kangaroos, the book also reveals how the comic addressed serious, even taboo issues like rape and incest. Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics reveals how illustrator and writer came together to create a unique, visionary work of art, filled with bizarre ambition, revolutionary fervour, and love, far different from the action hero symbol of the feminist movement many of us recall from television. 232pgs part-colour paperback



Wrinkles
by Paco Roca
Knockabout
£12.99

The publisher says:
Admitted to a home for the elderly because he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, for Ernest community life feels like an ordeal. But soon he accepts his new environment and decides to fight to escape from giving in to his awful destiny. For the author, the human community is like a library where books are piled up in mountains populated by yellowing paper of dreams and fantasies. 104gs colour hardcover



Yo Miss: A Graphic Look At High School
by Lisa Wilde
Microcosm Publishing
$14.95

The publisher says:
Yo, Miss – A Graphic Look at High School takes the reader inside Wildcat Academy, a second chance high school in New York City where all the students are considered at-risk. Through strong and revealing black and white images, the book tells the story of eight students who are trying to get that ticket to the middle class – a high school diploma. Whether they succeed or not has as much to do with what happens outside the classroom as in, and the value of perseverance is matched by the power of a second chance. It is a story that shows these teens in all their beauty, intelligence, suffering, humour, and humanity (and also when they are really pains in the behind.) A view from the trenches of public education, Yo, Miss challenges preconceptions about who these kids are, and what is needed to help them graduate. Read chapters online here… 192pgs B&W hardcover

Posted: October 29, 2014

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