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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

April 2015

Blimey! April is bursting with alluring releases, and here’s my cull, an attempt to narrow the choices down to a more manageable shortlist for your consideration. You might choose biographies, here of Pablo Picasso, Gavrilo Princip, The Smiths or Han Shan and Shih Te, two of China’s greatest poets, or a fanciful alternative past of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage.

Or if you prefer first-person autobiography, this month’s offering range from the classic naval gazing (sorry!) of sailor Sam Glanzman, to Israeli newspaper strip cartoonist Asaf Hanuka’s The Realist (above, from Archaia Press), recording life’s moments big and small, one page at a time. There’s even the first graphic novel submitted as a successful PhD, Unflattening by Nick Sousanis (eye-catching sample page below). And of course, there’s plenty of ‘pure’ fiction and fantasy transporting you back to the American Civil War to very possible near-futures of overcrowding or rising sea levels. Take a stroll and a scroll through my A to Z of April’s absolute showers, and join me each month as we take a glance ahead together.



A Glance Backwards
by Pierre Paquet & Toni Sandoval
Magnetic Press
$19.99

The publisher says:
Eleven-year-old Pepe’s world turns inside-out when he finds himself pulled inside the walls of his own home, seemingly trapped in a strange and surreal place. As he searches for a way out, he discovers a myriad of strange, intriguing, and frightening characters, who ultimately lead him to complete the greatest journey of them all: growing up. 96pgs colour hardcover.


A Sailor’s Story
by Sam Glanzman
Dover Publications
$19.95

The publisher says:
Golden Age comic book legend Sam Glanzman, now 90, draws upon his own World War II experiences in this outstanding graphic novel. Hailed by Eisner Award–winning Astro City author Kurt Busiek as “one of the most honest, dedicated and engaging cartoonists in comics history,” Glanzman wrote and illustrated this intimate account of his life aboard a Navy destroyer, the USS Stevens. As legendary X-Men scribe Chris Claremont noted, this “isn’t a story of make-believe super-beings; these are real people, with real fears, being transformed by events and circumstances into men of courage.” Back in print for the first time in more than twenty-five years, this new collection unites both A Sailor’s Story and its sequel, A Sailor’s Story: Winds, Dreams, and Dragons, plus a never-before-seen ten-page story of the USS Stevens, ‘Even Dead Birds Have Wings’. Exclusive Bonus Material includes: Foreword by bestselling author Max Brooks; Introduction by original editor Larry Hama; Afterword by Batman writer Chuck Dixon; exclusive Glanzman tributes by Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Denny O’Neil, Walt Simonson, Chris Claremont, Timothy Truman & many others. 160pgs colour paperback. Read CBR’s interview here…

Max Brooks, author of World War Z, says:
No one, from Stephen Ambrose to Steven Spielberg, can tell a better story than A Sailor’s Story.


Black River
by Josh Simmons
Fantagraphics Books
$18.99

The publisher says:
In this Shirley Jacksonesque graphic novel, set in a horrific (and blackly funny) post-apocalyptic world, a group goes in search of a semi-civilized city. Josh Simmons returns with his first full-length graphic novel since 2007’s acclaimed House. A group of women, one man, and two dogs are making their way through a post-apocalyptic world in search of a city that supposedly still has electricity and some sort of civilization. Along the way, they go to a comedy club, take a drug called Gumdrop, and encounter gangs of men who are either fools, lunatics, or murderous sadists. In other words, all manner of terrors. Josh Simmons is one of the field’s most distinctive voices in the horror genre (The Furry Trap, House), and this full-length graphic novel is his best work yet, echoing director John Carpenter’s perfect tick-tock pacing, as well as Shirley Jackson’s ability to transcend genre and turn it into literature. 112pgs B&W paperback.

Cold Mountain: The Legend Of Han Shan And Shih Te, The Original Dharma Bums
by Sean Michael Wilson & Akiko Shimojima
Shambhala
$16.95

The publisher says:
A graphic novel portrait of the wild antics and legendary poetry of the “Laughing Pair”—Han Shan and Shih Te, two of China’s greatest poets. This is a smart, funny graphic novel exploring the life, legend, and lore of two of the greatest poets in Chinese history—Han Shan (known as “Cold Mountain”) and Shih Te—who reportedly lived during the Tang dynasty (618-906 CE). They were critics of authority (both secular and religious) and champions of social justice who left their poetry on tree trunks and rocks. They were also reportedly monastics, drunks, cave dwellers, immortals, and many other wild and wondrous things. There is much delightful uncertainty about this “Laughing Pair”—including whether or not they actually existed. What is known is that the poetry attributed to them was greatly influential in both China and Japan, and to the Beat writers in the United States during the 1950s and ‘60s. Acclaimed manga creator Sean Michael Wilson has brought these renegade poets to life, showing the places they went and the philosophical and meditative aspects of their lives, as well as revealing their humour and wackiness and their penetrating insights into the human condition.Their poetry is interwoven throughout, with translations by J. P. Seaton, one of the most respected translators of Chinese poetry in the United States. 128pgs colour paperback.


Crumbs
by various
Kingpin Books
£6.75

The publisher says:
Crumbs is an English-language anthology by diverse Portuguese ‘toast-makers’, comics creators who should be better known internationally, including work by André Caetano, Ana Matias, André Oliveira, Bernardo Majer, David Soares, Fernando Dordio, Francisco Sousa Lobo, Inês Galo, Joana Afonso, Mário Freitas, Nuno Duarte, Osvaldo Medina, Pedro Cruz and others. Crumbs is a celebration of that unique identity. Diverse crumbs of undeniable talent. Not Portuguese talent stricto sensu. World-class talent in itself. 144pgs B&W paperback. Read Pedro Moura’s review here…


Ghetto Brother: Warrior To Peacemaker
by S Julian Voloj & Claudia Ahlering
NBM
$12.99

The publisher says:
An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, a Bronx legend, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighbourhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background. 128pgs B&W paperback. Visit NBM’s Ghetto Brother mini-site here…


Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created MAD And Revolutionized Humor In America
by Bill Schelly
Fantagraphics Books
$34.99

The publisher says:
This biography reveals the true story of Mad creator Harvey Kurtzman—the man who revolutionised humour in America; it features new interviews with his colleagues Hugh Hefner, Robert Crumb, and others. Kurtzman was the original editor, artist, and sole writer of Mad, one of the greatest publishing successes of the 20th century. But how did Kurtzman invent Mad, and why did he leave it shortly after it burst, nova-like, onto the American scene? For this heavily researched biography, Bill Schelly conducted new interviews with Kurtzman’s colleagues, friends and family, including Hugh Hefner, R. Crumb, Jack Davis, and many others, and examined Kurtzman’s personal archives. The result is the true story of one the 20th century’s greatest humorists: Kurtzman’s family life, the details of the FBI’s investigation during the McCarthy Era, his legal battles with William M. Gaines (publisher of Mad), are all revealed for the first time. Rich with anecdotes, this book traces Kurtzman’s life from his Brooklyn beginnings to his post-Mad years, when his ceaseless creativity produced more innovations: new magazines, a graphic novel, and Little Annie Fanny in Playboy. 640pgs B&W hardcover.

 

Haunter
by Sam Alden
Alternative Comics
$15.00

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 “Anime” he explores the complicated dynamics of pop culture obsession. 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, his comic Haunter was excerpted in Best American Comics 2013, and he is the recipient of the Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent. He now lives and works as an illustrator and cartoonist in Montreal. 96pgs B&W paperback. Check out Sam Alden’s Haunter website…



If… The Graphic Novel
by Steve Bell
Jonathan Cape
£18.99

The publisher says:
In his daily cartoon for the Guardian and his long-running strip, If…, in the same paper, Steve Bell has proved that he is without equal in Britain as political cartoonist. Savage, funny, rude, constantly transgressing the rules of good taste, and of course beautifully drawn his cartoons are hated by those they lampoon and loved by everyone who likes to see authority subverted. In his new collection he covers the years of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, 2010-2015, fertile ground for Bell’s genius. From George Osborne in his bondage gear, the ‘Quiet Man’ zombie Ian Duncan Smith, Cable the elephant, Cameron the talking condom and Clegg the butler to Kipling and the IF penguins, every awful moment of the coalition years is re-run before your eyes … but Steve Bell style: ‘outrageous, anarchic, brilliant, sometimes inexplicable and a bit mad (not really)’, to quote John Pilger. 224pgs colour hardcover.


Jack Kirby: Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth, Vol. 1
by Jack Kirby
IDW
$ tbc

The publisher says:
Of all Jack Kirby’s celebrated DC Comics creations, perhaps none has struck such an enduring chord with readers as his post-apocalyptic adventure Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Now, to the delight of fans far and wide, this much-anticipated series joins the esteemed ranks of Jack “King” Kirby’s Artist’s Editions. Long after the age of super heroes, Kamandi triumphed as humanity’s last beacon in a world ruled by beasts. Traveling the remnants of civilization after a great disaster, the Last Boy on Earth found both friends and foes among the irradiated animal kingdom that now inhabited the world. Written and drawn by Kirby, the series was unique to comics and completely unlike anything else readers had seen. This enthralling Artist’s Edition features some of the most influential complete issues from the revered series, including issues 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9, along with additional covers and other bonus material. At 160 pages and measuring 12” by 17,” this Artist’s Edition will amaze and delight fans. 160pgs oversized colour hardback.
           

Johnny Viable And His Terse Friends One-Shot
by Steve Aylett
Alternative Comics
$7.95

The publisher says:
Collects stories from Dodgem Logic plus several new tales. This is not a comic you can read and still expect to live a normal life. Says Alan Moore: ‘The most original and consciousness-altering living writing in the English language, not to mention the funniest.’ 64pgs colour comic book.

 

 


Kurdles
by Robert Goodin
Fantagraphics Books
$24.99

The publisher says:
In this all-ages graphic novel, Sally the Teddy Bear gets separated from her family and encounters a town that just might grow legs and run away!
Sally is a teddy bear who gets separated from her owner while on a drive in the country. Desperate to find her way home, she stumbles upon Kurdleton, home to a most peculiar group of characters in the midst of a crisis: their forest house has grown hair, eyes, and a mouth! The creatures work with their new friend to keep Kurdleton from growing legs and running away! Goodin, an animation industry veteran, delivers a timeless classic in his debut graphic novel, introducing an unforgettable and charming cast of characters. Printed in an oversized format to showcase Goodin’s stunning, hand-painted artwork, The Kurdles will capture the imagination of all ages. 64pgs colour oversized hardcover. Goodin posted some work in progress here…


Last Of The Sandwalkers
by Jay Hosler
First Second
$16.99

The publisher says:
Nestled in the grass under the big palm tree by the edge of the desert there is an entire civilization—a civilization of beetles. In this bug’s paradise, beetles write books, run restaurants, and even do scientific research. But not too much scientific research is allowed by the powerful elders, who guard a terrible secret about the world outside the shadow of the palm tree. Lucy is not one to quietly cooperate, however. This tiny field scientist defies the law of her safe but authoritarian home and leads a team of researchers out into the desert. Their mission is to discover something about the greater world…but what lies in wait for them is going to change everything Lucy thought she knew. Beetles are not the only living creatures in the world. Deftly combining suspenseful adventure storytelling with the principles and tools of scientific inquiry, entomologist and cartoonist Jay Hosler has created in Last of the Sandwalkers a tale that satisfies and fascinates even the most bug-averse among us. 320pgs B&W paperback. Read an 8-page preview here…


No Mercy #1
by Alex De Campi & Carla Speed McNeil
Image
$2.99

The publisher says:
It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. But after tragedy strikes, a handful of once-privileged US teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn’t like them, and at worst, actively wants to kill them. 32pgs colour comic book. Image have some sample interiors here…

 

 

Pablo
by Julie Birmant & Clement Oubrérie
SelfMadeHero
$27.50 / £16.99

The publisher says:
This award-winning graphic biography of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) captures the prolific and eventful life of one of the world’s best-loved artists. Pablo explores Picasso’s early life among the bohemians of Montmartre, his turbulent relationship with artist/model Fernande Olivier, and how his art developed through friendships with poets Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, the painter Georges Braque, and his great rival Henri Matisse. Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie depict a career that began in poverty and reached its climax with the advent of cubism and modern art. 344pgs colour hardback. SelfMadeHero offer teaser panels here…


Rebels #1
by Brian Wood & Andrea Mutti
Dark Horse
$3.99

The publisher says:
In a rush of great public resistance to an oppressive and excessive government, a homegrown militia movement is formed in rural America. This is not 2015, but 1775. With the war for independence playing out across the colonies, young Seth and Mercy Abbott find their new marriage tested at every turn, as the demands of the frontlines and the home front collide. 32pgs colour comic book. Nerdist has a lengthy illustrated interview here…


Roger Dahl’s Comic Japan
by Roger Dahl
Tuttle Publishing
$15.95 / £13.99

The publisher says:
Roger Dahl’s Zero Gravity cartoon strip has been a popular feature of Japan’s leading English-language daily newspaper, The Japan Times, since 1991. Now, for the first time, Roger Dahl’s Comic Japan brings together the best of Zero Gravity in book form. Offering a Western artist’s take on Japan, the strip stars Larry and Lily, a young American couple working as English teachers in Tokyo. Larry and Lily never manage to fully integrate into Japanese society, and Zero Gravity takes a whimsical approach to the meeting of cultures as well as the quirky dynamics of changing relationships between generations and subgroups within Japan. Besides Larry and Lily, Zero Gravity features their close friends, the Koyama family, whose three very different generations encounter plenty of misunderstandings of their own! This anthology contains eight chapters featuring the best selection of strips from Larry and Lily’s life in Japan. Each chapter opens with a brief passage about its theme, and a 3-page illustrated introduction provides information about Dahl, his career, and his inspiration for Zero Gravity. Graphic novels and comic books have experienced explosive growth in recent years, and Roger Dahl’s Comic Japan offers humorous cross-cultural observations that will delight visitors to Japan and armchair travelers alike. 168pgs B&W paperback. Enjoy Dahl’s online strips here…


Supermutant Magic Academy
by Jillian Tamaki
Drawn & Quarterly
$19.95

The publisher says:
Unrequited love, underage drinking, and teen angst rule at a high school for mutants and witches. The New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serialising online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humour and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns. Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modelling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating. SuperMutant Magic Academy has won two Ignatz Awards. This volume combines the most popular content from the webcomic with a selection of all-new, never-before-seen strips that conclude Tamaki’s account of life at the academy. 224pgs part-colour paperback. Explore the MutantMagic website here…


Tales Of The Smiths
by Con Chrisoulis
Omnibus Press
$24.95

The publisher says:
Tales of The Smiths is a comic book retelling of the band members’ teenage years, before the group was famous, and includes fascinating digressions about their influences (the New York Dolls, Nico, Sex Pistols, NY punk, Patti Smith, etc) and the times in which they were growing up. The story reaches its climax with the meeting of Morrissey and Marr, the formation of the band in 1982 and their first gig as The Smiths. 464pgs B&W paperback.

 

Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, The Assassin Who Ignited World War I
by Henrik Rehr
Lerner Publishing Group
$11.99

The publisher says:
This much we know: On June 28, 1914, a young man stood on a street corner in Sarajevo, aimed a pistol into a stalled car carrying the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and pulled the trigger. Within a few minutes, the archduke was dead, and Europe would not know peace again for five years. More than 16 million people would die in the fighting that came to be known as World War I. Little else is known about the young man named Gavrilo Princip. How could a poor student from a tiny Serbian village turn the wheel of history and alter the face of a continent for generations? Danish artist Henrik Rehr’s dark and riveting graphic novel fills the gaps in the historical record and imagines in insightful detail the events that led a boy from Oblej to become history’s most significant terrorist. 232pgs B&W paperback.


The Lunch Witch Vol. 1
by Deb Lucke
Papercutz
$14.99

The publisher says:
For generations and generations, the women of Grunhilda’s family have stirred up trouble in a big, black pot. Grunhilda inherits her famous ancestors’ recipes and cauldron, but no one believes in magic anymore. Despite the fact that Grunhilda’s only useful skill is cooking up pots full of foul brew, she finds a job listing that might suit her: lunch lady. She delights in scaring the kids until she meets a timid little girl named Madison with a big set of glasses who becomes an unlikely friend. Madison needs help at school and at home, but helping people goes against everything Grunhilda’s believes in as a witch! Will this girl be able to thaw the Lunch Witch’s icy heart? Or will Grunhilda turn her back on a kindred spirit? 180pgs colour paperback.


The Oven
by Sophie Goldstein
AdHouse Books
$12.95

The publisher says:
Ozone depletion and dwindling resources have driven the human race into domed cities where population controls are strictly enforced. When a young couple goes looking for an anti-government paradise in the desert they may have found more than they bargained for. Sophie Goldstein is a graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies. In 2014 she won an Ignatz Award for her mini-comic House of Women, Part I. 80pgs B&W paperback. AdHouse have posted some advance pages here…


The Realist
by Asaf Tanuka
Archaia
$24.99

The publisher says:
In 2010, Israeli newspaper The Calcalist asked Hanuka, already well known in Israel as a commercial illustrator and as a contributor to the animated film Waltz With Bashir, for a weekly comic strip. The first of the autobiographical strips chronicled Hanuka discovering that he and his wife and their young son need to find a new place to live, immediately and in a “crazy” Tel Aviv real estate market, because the apartment they’ve been renting has been sold. As an artist, husband, father or a regular Israeli citizen, Asaf Hanuka chronicles everyday life in his country, with humour that is offbeat and sometimes surreal. Shot for shot, Hanuka’s home is depicted as a vibrant metropolis and provides a brilliant depiction of modern Tel Aviv. Archaia’s edition of The Realist translates and collects both volumes of the work previously titled KO À Tel Aviv into a single book for the first time. 192pgs colour hardcover.  Follow Tanuka’s strips online here…

The Spectators
by Victor Hussenot
Nobrow Press
$22.95 / £14.99

The publisher says:
What if we are merely shadows, our characters defined by a simple inflection of light? The realm of possibilities opens up, because in our world we are nothing but spectators. The Spectators unfolds as a poetic and philosophical introspection on the nature of man. Victor Hussenot’s palette is awash with subtle colour, gently carrying the narrative and allowing the reader to envelop themselves in the lyricism of the work. Reminiscent of French New Wave cinema with its clipped dialogue, gentle pacing, and departure from a classic narrative structure, The Spectators is an exciting new graphic novel by a unique illustrator. Victor Hussenot is a French artist who has already seen major success in his career and is continuing to go from strength to strength. Whilst studying Visual Arts at Beaux-Arts de Nancy, France, he was shortlisted for Angoulême’s Young Talent Prize. From this he went on to meet Warum, his first publisher, and has since published several other books in French. Hussenot has exhibited his work all over France. He lives in Paris. 128pgs colour hardcover.


The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace & Babbage
by Sydney Padua
Pantheon Books / Particular Books
$35.00 / £16.99

The publisher says:
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage… in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures. Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealised inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar proto-programmer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines. But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible. 320pgs B&W hardcover. Read Lovelace’s ‘origin’ to get a flavour here…


Towerkind
by Kat Verhoeven
Conundrum Press
$15.00 / £10.99

The publisher says:
Towerkind is an oblique end-of-the-world story as seen through the eyes of a diverse group of kids in Toronto’s St James Town, a neighbourhood densely filled with high rise apartments. The kids in this ‘towerhood’ become aware of an impending catastrophe through their strange supernatural abilities… Something is revealing itself through cracks and crevices - and through the children in the neighbourhood. Towerkind was originally self-published by Kat Verhoeven as a series of mini comics. This Conundrum Press edition collects all issues of her Ignatz Award-nominated series. 164pgs B&W paperback. Read Tom Murphy’s review at Broken Frontier here…


Trash Market
by Tadao Tsuge
Drawn & Quarterly
$22.95

The publisher says:
Tadao Tsuge was one of the key contributors to the legendary avant-garde Japanese comics magazine Garo during its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, renowned for his unpretentious journalistic storytelling and clear, eloquent cartooning. Trash Market brings together six of Tsuge’s compelling, character-driven stories about life in post–World War II Japan. ‘Trash Market’ and ‘Gently Goes the Night’ touch on key topics for Tsuge: the charming lowlifes of the Tokyo slums and the veterans who found themselves unable to forget the war. ‘Song of Showa’ is an autobiographical piece about growing up in a Tokyo slum during the occupation with an abusive grandfather and an ailing father, and finding brightness in the joyful people of the neighbourhood. Trash Market blurs the lines between fiction and reportage; it’s a moving testament to the grittiness of life in Tokyo during the postwar years. Trash Market features an essay from the collection’s editor and translator, Ryan Holmberg, who is a specialist in Japanese art history. He explores Tsuge’s early career as a cartoonist and the formative years the artist spent working in Tokyo’s notorious for-profit blood banks. 272pgs B&W paperback. See a D&Q Gallery of panels here…



by Nick Sousanis
Harvard University Press
$22.95

The publisher says:
The primacy of words over images has deep roots in Western culture. But what if the two are inextricably linked, equal partners in meaning-making? Written and drawn entirely as comics, Unflattening is an experiment in visual thinking. Nick Sousanis defies conventional forms of scholarly discourse to offer readers both a stunning work of graphic art and a serious inquiry into the ways humans construct knowledge.
Unflattening is an insurrection against the fixed viewpoint. Weaving together diverse ways of seeing drawn from science, philosophy, art, literature, and mythology, it uses the collage-like capacity of comics to show that perception is always an active process of incorporating and reevaluating different vantage points. While its vibrant, constantly morphing images occasionally serve as illustrations of text, they more often connect in nonlinear fashion to other visual references throughout the book. They become allusions, allegories, and motifs, pitting realism against abstraction and making us aware that more meets the eye than is presented on the page. In its graphic innovations and restless shape-shifting, Unflattening is meant to counteract the type of narrow, rigid thinking that Sousanis calls “flatness.” Just as the two-dimensional inhabitants of Edwin A. Abbott’s novella Flatland could not fathom the concept of “upwards,” Sousanis says, we are often unable to see past the boundaries of our current frame of mind. Fusing words and images to produce new forms of knowledge, Unflattening teaches us how to access modes of understanding beyond what we normally apprehend. 208pgs B&W paperback.


Vacancy
by Jen Lee
Nobrow Press
$12.95

The publisher says:
In a disheveled and ransacked backyard, a dog named Simon has been forgotten by his owners. Simon breaks free and partners with a raccoon and a deer who take him into the woods. But Simon realizes he is not quite ready to live in the wild. And in the abandoned areas of the town strange things begin to happen. . . . Vacancy explores the ways that animals think; how they internalize their changing environment and express their thoughts, fears, or excitement. Jen Lee currently freelances in a farmhouse in Idaho. Her clients include Drop Dead Clothing, Burton, Boom! Studios, and Nickelodeon. 24pgs colour hardcover.

World Water Wars
by Johnny Lau
Goff Books
$19.95

The publisher says:
In World Water Wars the Singaporean comics artist Johnny Lau tells the story of a time, just like ours, when the wars of the world are fought over water. In this struggle, a special team has been formed with agents from all over the world to try to bring peace to the world. The Singapore-based headquarters, which is located underneath the Singapore River, is headed by its management known informally as the ‘Trinity’. Though known as an agency that deals with domestic water issues that has global significant, the agents spend most of their time ‘exporting’ their “water mind” from one country to another, to fight species and unknown earthly creatures that are the cause of great floods and droughts globally. 120pgs colour paperback.

Posted: February 15, 2015

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