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April 2012

I do this, so you don’t have to. My trawling through all the massive amount of upcoming comics product can be a daunting and sometimes disappointing task. Every month brings more ‘properties’, more old but recognisable characters, dusted off in another attempt to sell us more of what we bought before, more of the same.

So for example in April alone, The Shadow, Popeye, Airboy, and Ming the Merciless, for goodness sake, are among the supposedly thrilling franchises to be re-licensed to publishers. Now these are being crafted by appropriate professionals, like writers Garth Ennis and Roger Langridge, but aside from their die-hard collectors’ fan-base, they are really of only passing interest to anyone who believes comics can be an innovative, creator-owned, creator-driven, expansive medium, rather than some subsidiary offshoot in cross-platform marketing of yet another ‘brand’ that must be sold to us yet again. Everything seems to come back again eventually, as I’ve noticed the once-dead Human Torch has ‘flamed on’ again at Marvel, while next month brings the long-unawaited resuscitation of the largely forgotten and forgettable Valiant superheroes. And the announced prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ stand-alone work of genius are sadly probably not the last straw.

As for what pass for ‘new’ and ‘original’ offerings, many smack of savvy, button-pushing predictability with a steely stare fixed on that movie and game development deal. Luckily, I managed to find that small, special seam of individuality, creativity, quality and quirkiness, hand-picked here for you and based on publishers’ advance listings (actual release dates may vary and my further commentaries will follow). And what a month this is, including major new titles to look forward to by Alison Bechdel, Guy Delisle, Simone Lia, Peter Bagge and Darryl Cunningham, amongst others. Happy reading ahead! 

Are You My Mother?
by Alison Bechdel
Houghton Mifflin / Jonathan Cape
$22.00 / £14.99

The publisher says:
Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood ... and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother - to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers. From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.

But I Really Want To Be An Anthropologist
by Margaux Motin
$24.95 / £14.99

The publisher says:
The highs and lows of life as an illustrator, mother, blogger and shoe-fanatic. Meet Margaux: thirty-something mother, self-confessed geek, style-goddess and red wine drinker. We follow her real life, collected from her illustrated blog, as she makes her way as a freelance illustrator in Paris. Anyone who has ever worn inappropriate shoes to the supermarket or danced around the house in their underwear will be charmed by Motin’s irreverent humour. Margaux Motin is an illustrator and blogger living in Paris, France. She studied Visual Communication in Paris and began her career as an illustrator with a monthly column in the magazine Muteen. From there, she began to work for Nova, and eventually began to regularly draw for Elle France, Cosmopolitan France and Fluide Glamour magazine, as well as drawing for advertising and on her blog. She illustrated the covers for the French editions of Bridget Jones’ Diary. She has recently illustrated a graphic novel called Bad Twinz, working with fellow writer and artist Pacco. But I Really Wanted to be an Anthropologist, originally titled J’aurais adoré être Ethnologue, was her first published book, and has become a bestseller in France,  selling over 82,000 copies.


Fafi: The Carmine Vault
by Fafi

The publisher says:
Fafi’s creative output has turned the definition of street art on its head. Exploring a class of female stereotypes through the sexy, aggressive, and stylized renderings of her Fafinettes, this demimonde has expanded into a fully realized fantasy world now peopled with a diversity of characters - female, male, and animal. Fiercely feminine and extravagantly rendered in color, her particular style has won her global acclaim. Appealing to consumers of streetwear and high fashion, her art and designs can be found everywhere from the streets of Tokyo and New York, the boutiques of M.A.C. Cosmetics and Adidas, to the pages of Vogue, Elle, Nylon, and XLR8R. A favorite of Colette Paris, her work has been shown in the gallery of the Faubourg St-Honoré institution multiple times. As a multidisciplinary artist, Fafi has developed an international cult following that has transformed her from artist to brand. Centred around a character called Birtak and his desire to join the Paris Opéra Ballet, The Carmine Vault brings to life Fafi’s colourful and irreverent world for the first time in a lavish graphic-novel format. Combining comic book elements with the prestige and allure of art books, the book employs elegant compositions and innovative printing effects to reproduce vivid, never-before-seen work from this celebrated artist.


Genius Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth
by Alex Toth, edited by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell
IDW $49.99

The publisher says:
Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell continue their comprehensive review of the life and art of Alex Toth in Genius, Illustrated. Covering the years from the 1960s to Toth’s poignant death in 2006, this oversized 9.5 by 13-inch book features artwork and complete stories from Toth’s latter-day work at Warren, DC Comics, Red Circle, Marvel, and his own creator-owned properties, plus samples of his animation work for Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and others, as well as sketchbook pages, doodles, advertising art, and other rarities provided through the cooperation of Toth’s family and his legion of fans. Two of Toth’s best stories are reproduced complete from the original artwork: ‘Burma Skies’ and ‘White Devil… Yellow Devil’. A full-length text biography will chart the path from Toth’s increasingly reclusive lifestyle to his touching re-connection to the world in his final years. Fans of comics, cartoons, and all-around great artwork revere Alex Toth. See why Genius, Illustrated  - along with its companion volume, 2011’s Genius, Isolated - are being praised as the definitive examination of the life and art of The Master, Alex Toth. Volume 2 of a definitive three-volume series.

Gum Girl Volume 1: Catastrophe Calling!
by Andi Watson
Walker Books

The publisher says:
Grace Gibson aka ‘Gum Girl’ stars in three short stories rolled into one very entertaining book - the first in a series of four. Gum Girl might be pink, but she’s got bite, she’s got bubbles, and she’s not afraid to use them! Grace has just moved to Catastrophe where her dad is the new head teacher at Calamity Primary School. It sure is no ordinary town. This is a place where disaster rules the day. Meteors fall from the sky. Volcanoes erupt. Giant robots roam the streets. Villains are on the loose. And evil geniuses are plotting revenge on a daily basis. What’s more, no one seems to care. Least of all the girls in Grace’s class who would rather primp and preen than help a victim in distress. But, one day, a chance accident up in the loft with an old chemistry set and a stick of bubblegum leads Grace to an extraordinary discovery. It’s going to save her life. In fact, it’s going to save the lives of everyone in Catastrophe. But she has to keep it a secret. And, for that, she will need a whole new identity…

Hugo Tate
by Nick Abadzis
Blank Slate
$19.99 / £13.99

The publisher says:
After 15 years of clamouring from fans, the Hugo Tate series is finally collected in a single volume. Beginning his life in print as a stick-man in a figuratively drawn world, readers witness the eponymous Hugo visually develop alongside the comic itself. Originally conceived as an acerbic humour strip, Hugo rapidly developed into a British equivalent to Love & Rockets, filled with a richly developed cast and a branching web of stories of life in London. Includes commentary from Nick Abadzis and a foreword by Garth Ennis.


Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
by Guy Delisle
Drawn & Quarterly / Jonathan Cape
$24.95 / £16.99

The publisher says:
Acclaimed graphic memoirist Guy Delisle returns with his strongest work yet, a thoughtful and moving travelogue about life in Israel. Delisle and his family spent a year in East Jerusalem as part of his wife’s work with the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders. They were there for the short but brutal Gaza War, a three-week-long military strike that resulted in more than a thousand Palestinian deaths. In his interactions with the emergency medical team sent in by Doctors Without Borders, Delisle eloquently plumbs the depths of the conflict. Some of the most moving moments in Jerusalem are the interactions between Delisle and Palestinian art students as they explain the motivations for their work. Interspersed with these simply told, affecting stories of suffering, Delisle deftly and often drolly recounts the quotidian: crossing checkpoints, going kosher for Passover, and befriending other stay-at-home dads with NGO-employed wives. Jerusalem evinces Delisle’s renewed fascination with architecture and landscape as political and apolitical, with studies of highways, villages, and olive groves recurring alongside depictions of the newly erected West Bank Barrier and illegal Israeli settlements. His drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything. Jerusalem showcases once more Delisle’s mastery of the travelogue.


by Pierre Wazem & Frederik Peeters
Humanoids Inc

The publisher says:
Addidas is a bright and quirky young girl who spends most of her time helping her widowed father in his job as a chimney sweep in the industrial metropolis they live in. When she ventures too far into a chimney, she encounters a bizarre new friend. Their meeting will topple the mysterious forces at work!




Last Days of an Immortal
by Fabien Vehlmann & Gwen De Bonneval
Archaia Entertainment

The publisher says:
In the distant future, Elijah is a member of the ‘Philosophical Police’, who must solve conflicts that arise out of ignorance of the Other. Two species are fighting a war with roots in a crime committed centuries ago, and Elijah must solve the crime and bring peace between their species, while also confronting his own immortality in a world where science provides access to eternal life. In a world where death no longer exists, why do so many want to give up on life?


Miss Annie Volume 1: Freedom
by Frank Le Gall & Flore Balthazar
Lerner Publishing Group

The publisher says:
Miss Annie is a kitten with ambitions, and the big, wide world beyond the window calls! Outdoors there are trees to climb, birds to chase, and other cats. Even though she’s only a few months old, Miss Annie thinks she’s big enough for adventure right now. If only she can convince her human family that she can take care of herself - or can she?



Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin
The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpiece of Johnny Gruelle
Edited by Rick Marschall

The publisher says:
A spectacular re-presentation of a lost classic. The second Marschall Books collection from Fantagraphics is a magnificent collection of Mr. Twee Deedle, Johnny Gruelle’s masterpiece, unjustly forgotten by history and never before reprinted since its first appearance in America’s newspapers from 1911 to 1914.  The title character in the Sunday color page, Mr. Twee Deedle, is a magical wood sprite who befriends the strip’s two human children, Dickie and Dolly. Gruelle depicted a charming, fantastical child’s world, filled with light whimsy and outlandish surrealism. The artwork is among the most stunning ever to grace an Amercian newspaper page, and Gruelle’s painterly color makes every page look like it was created on a canvas. Gruelle’s creation was the winning entry out of 1,500 submissions to succeed Little Nemo, which the New York Herald was losing at the time to the rival Hearst papers. With such import, the Herald added a $2,000 prize, a long contract, and arguably the most care devoted to the reproduction of any color newspaper comic strip before or since. Yet the wood sprite and his fanciful world have been strangely overlooked, partly because Gruelle created Raggedy Ann immediately after the strip’s run, eclipsing not only Mr. Twee Deedle, but almost everything else the cartoonist ever did.

Mr. Twee Deedle stands as a bizarre time-warp: at a time when most children’s literature and kids’ comic strips were somewhat violent or starkly moralistic (the Brothers Grimm; The Katzenjammer Kids; and even Little Nemo itself, which often depicted nightmares, fears, and dangers), Twee Deedle was sensitive and whimsical. Instead of stark moralizing, it presented gentle lessons. It reads today like a work for the 21st century - indeed for all times, all ages. Mr. Twee Deedle is edited and includes an introduction by comics historian Rick Marschall. The volume will present the first year of the forgotten masterpiece and selected episodes from later years, as well as special drawings, promotional material, and related artwork. 128 pages of full color.


Nevsky: Hero of the People
by Ben McCool & Mario Guevara

The publisher says:
A true legendary Russian hero, a groundbreaking Russian filmmaker! Alexander Nevsky is a central figure in Russian history, having lived during one of Russia’s darkest periods - the invasion of the Teutonic Knights. Alexander Nevsky helped establish the Russian nation by defeating the Teutonic Knights, invaders from the last vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire, with an army comprised of ordinary citizens who were poorly-equipped soldiers, but fought for their freedom. This ragtag band, against overwhelming odds, defeated the invaders in an epic battle on the frozen lake Peipus - a spectacular achievement that is still celebrated in Russia to this day. In 1938, the great Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, much acclaimed for his masterful historical interpretations, as seen in Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Ivan the Terrible (1944), brought the story of Alexander Nevsky to life on the silver screen in an innovative and brilliant way, by developing new film techniques that remain in use almost 100 years later by some of the greatest directors of our time. Now, following in the steps of Eisenstein, IDW is proud to present one of the most compelling historical graphic novels ever produced - one that is as relevant today as it was at any time in history!


No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics
by various artists, edited by Justin Hall

The publisher says:
Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. Until recently, queer cartooning existed in a parallel universe to the rest of comics, appearing only in gay newspapers and gay bookstores and not in comic book stores, mainstream bookstores or newspapers. The insular nature of the world of queer cartooning, however, created a fascinating artistic scene, with an aesthetic forged from underground comix, gay erotic art, punk zines, and the biting commentaries of drag queens, bull dykes, and other marginalized queers. LGBT comics have been an uncensored, internal conversation within the queer community, and thus provide a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of queer people for the last four decades. No Straight Line: Four Decades of Queer Comics celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.


Please God Find Me A Husband!
by Simone Lia
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
Simone Lia’s Fluffy is one of the best-loved books on the Cape graphic novel list. As her new book opens we find her in Leicester Square. She’s just been dumped by her boyfriend and she’s talking to God, telling Him that she’s nearly thirty-four and if He wants her to get married, He’d better get a move on. Amazingly, God sends a reply, prompting Simone to plan an ‘Adventure with God’ that starts with a fortnight in a nunnery, then takes her to Australia in search of a hermit. The one she finds proves a disappointment, unlike Brett, the handsome horseman who takes her riding. She thinks he looks just like Crocodile Dundee; he thinks she looks just like Penelope Cruz. Is this the man she’s been searching for, or is God making fun of her? Funny, touching and even occasionally profound, Please God Find Me a Husband! will be essential reading for spinsters, seekers after enlightenment and lovers of the very best graphic novels.


Reset 1
by Peter Bagge
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
If you could relive major events in your life, would you take a stab at making things better and would your best attempts only make things worse? Or would you use your second chance to put your most twisted, perverted fantasies in motion? These are questions washed up actor and comedian Guy Krause asks himself after he signs up to be the main research subject for a virtual reality experiment.


Resident Alien 0
by Peter Hogan & Steve Parkhouse
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Surviving a crash landing that ruins his spaceship, a stranded alien hopes to quietly live out his life in the sleepy town of Patience, USA, masquerading as a semi-retired doctor. He has some alien powers of empathy and the ability to mask his odd appearance from most people but how long can he last undercover? After three long years of living below the radar, something in Patience is about to pull him out of hiding and into an uncomfortable spotlight! An alien adventure with humor, heart, and mystery from acclaimed creators Peter Hogan (2000 AD, Tom Strong) and Steve Parkhouse (Bojeffries Saga, Milkman Murders, Doctor Who)!

Paul Gravett says:
The latest incarnation of Dark Horse Presents as a $7.99, 84-page, full-colour, squarebound anthology offers a monthly mixed bag of superstar creators and characters alongside relative newcomers and new projects. It tends to be rather hit-and-miss and the short serialised chapters make it bitty, but British team Hogan and Parkhouse stood out here from the start with their fresh collaboration Resident Alien. They narrate the story from the unique perspective of a lone, and lonely, extraterrestrial keeping himself to himself and hiding for three years in the small, seemingly sleepy American town of Patience, living on a remote property as a Dutch research doctor, Vanderspeigle. The fear of discovery is always there -  “Don’t see me as I am” - but if he lies low, only one in a million Earthlings can see him as he truly is. When the town’s doctor is murdered, he is corralled by the police to examine the body and gradually becomes embroiled and fascinated by the mystery, to the point where, to avert suspicion, he has to accept the mayor’s request that he become the town’s temporary stand-in doctor. What emerges is that this murder may not be an isolated case after all. Our otherwordly medic finds himself enjoying his first close interactions with humans. He can read his patients easily; their body signals are completely transparent to him - “And their hands are so… eloquent.” But how long will his disguise and secret stay secure?

This zero issue compiles the three first episodes from DHP 4, 5 & 6, to be followed in May by another three issues to complete this first series. Peter Hogan let me know, “Just finished writing the second four-issue series, and most people seem to like it  ... maybe I’ve done something right for a change!” He most definitely has. Resident Alien brings to the police procedural a warm, understated wit, a frisson of science fiction, and a surprising viewpoint on humanity. I could see it working rather well as an offbeat TV detective drama, but why wait when you can enjoy it right now in its original comic-book form? 

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score
by Darwyn Cooke

The publisher says:
Fresh from his Eisner Award-winning efforts on The Hunter and The Outfit, Darwyn Cooke now sets his steely sights on The Score, the classic Richard Stark Parker novel from 1964. Parker becomes embroiled in a plot with a dozen partners in crime to pull off what might be the ultimate heist - robbing an entire town. Everything was going fine for a while, and then things got bad. Considered one of the best in the Parker series, The Score is the perfect vehicle for Darwyn Cooke to pull out all the stops and let loose with a book that has all the impact of a brutal kick to the solar plexus! IDW, hardback, 160 pages


Science Tales: Lies, Hoaxes and Scams
by Darryl Cunningham
Myriad Editions

The publisher says:
A documentary comic book debunking myths and exposing the lies of scientific naysayers and conspiracy theorists, and the role of the media. By the author of the best-selling Psychiatric Tales, Darryl Cunningham turns his questioning mind and sharp intelligence to de-coding the myths and lies that have shaped some of the most fiercely-debated issues of the past fifty years. A graphic milestone of investigative reporting, Science Tales takes on controversies surrounding climate change, electro-convulsive therapy, the moon landing, the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine, homeopathy, evolution, the tobacco industry and science denialism. Thoroughly researched and sourced, Cunningham’s clear narrative, graphic lines and photographic illustration explain complicated and controversial issues with deceptive ease.


Space Ducks: An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness
by Daniel Johnston
Boom! Town

The publisher says:
Space Ducks is a visceral work of art by celebrated musician Daniel Johnston, who has spent the last 30 years exposing his heartrending tales of unrequited love, cosmic mishaps and existential torment to an ever-growing cult audience, including Beck and Kurt Cobain. This book combines his unique characters, images, words and music, and the musical and artistic contributions of fans.


Supreme 63
by Alan Moore, Eric Larsen & Cory Hamscher

The publisher says:
In ‘Revelations’, the legendary Supreme returns! Alan Moore’s final Supreme tale is the ultimate jumping on point for new readers! The triumphant return of Image Comics’ most powerful hero! As Supreme romances Diana Dane he takes her on a tour of the Citadel Supreme and tells all of his innermost secrets just as Supreme’s most hated nemesis, Darius Dax, makes a most unfortunate discovery; the key to defeat his abhorred adversary! It’s most mind-blowing cliffhanger in the history of comics! Featuring a story by award winning author Alan Moore (Watchmen) and art by fan favorites Erik Larsen (Spider-Man, Savage Dragon) & Cory Hamscher (X-Men). You wish all comics were this good!


The Adventures of Jodelle
by Guy Peellaert & Pierre Bartier

The publisher says:
Fantagraphics proudly presents Guy Peellaert’s long out of print 1960’s Pop-Art masterpiece The Adventures of Jodelle in a lush, oversized hardcover edition. A satirical spy adventure set in an eye-popping psychedelic ancient Rome of horsedrawn Cadillacs, billboards and vampires, Jodelle has been re-translated and re-colored and features a huge annotated bonus selection of never-before-seen archival art and photographs


The Boy Who Made Silence
by Joshua Hagler
AAM Markosia
$22.99 / £17.99

The publisher says:
Rural boy Nestor Gudfred mysteriously loses his hearing when pulled from a river by a girl of his age. As Nestor adjusts to a silent world, other mysteries arise, including an ability to create silence around him, causing anyone in the area to sink into the pasts and memories of others. Former winner of a Xeric Grant, Hagler imagines the intersecting lives of a small town through a surrealist lens.


The Pterodactyl Hunters
by Brendan Leach
Top Shelf

The publisher says:
The Pterodactyl Hunters is a story of sibling rivalry and family tradition in a rapidly changing world: a version of 1904 New York where generations of working-class hot-air-balloonists take to the skies each night to defend their city from a dwindling population of pterodactyls. In this town, heroic hunter Eamon Sullivan dominates the headlines, while his brother Declan, a nightwatchman, tires of looking on. As the last pterodactyl and its trackers circle each other above four-story tenements, brick smokestacks, and wooden watchtowers, a face-to-face showdown may prove to be the end for all of them. The Pterodactyl Hunters (in the Gilded City) received a prestigious Xeric Award in 2010 and was included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics of 2011. A 44-Page oversized softcover graphic novel with stapled-in newsprint interiors


Worse Things Happen At Sea
by Kellie Strom

The publisher says:
Inspired by tales mythical sea creatures and the tall stories of doomed voyages passed down from sailor to son Kellie Strom has created a rich tapestry of wonderment. Historical ships are attacked, enveloped and engorged by monstrous creatures surfacing from the deepest depths of the darkest oceans. This monster of a concertina book contains over 20 panels with each image unfolding like a foreboding fable from the cracked lips of an old sea captain. A intricate and elaborate masterpiece of fantastical creatures and the most beautiful vessels to grace the seven seas.

Posted: February 26, 2012


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