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June 2013

June is busting out all over with top-notch, class-act comics, once you’ve hunted down deep for those sparkling needles through the teetering haystack of product on offer. Old and new, reprints and debuts, English-language and translations from The Netherlands, Italy, France and Quebec, plus some actually interesting Superman products, all sit side-by-side in this shortlist of my top tips.

As part of his promotion for his new series Lazarus for Image Comics, American writer Greg Rucka calls for “more books about more things, not the same books about the same things with a new coat of paint.” Spot on. It is encouraging to see creators like Rucka break away from ‘legacy characters’ and branch out to originate projects of their own. The only snag is that ‘creator-owned’ does not always equal ‘creative’. All too often these scenarios sound a lot like familiar genre fare or wannabe movies or TV series. In North American comics, spectacular leaps in ambition and achievement have been made by former mainstream artists-turned-complete authors -  like Seth, David Mazzucchelli or David Lapham. Whereas these sorts of leaps don’t seem to happen quite so often, when it comes to mainstream writers ‘breaking free’ to pursue their dreams. They may be subject to publishers’ demands for commercial fan-pleasing material, and of course the need to pay those bills, but perhaps sometimes they also set limits themselves on their own creative liberty. Dream braver and bolder please and really deliver “more books about more things”.

For inspiration, here’s some more evidence of that exuberant diversity which is already out there.

A Matter of Life
by Jeffrey Brown
Top Shelf Productions

The publisher says:
After the acclaimed indie film Save the Date and the bestselling all-ages humor book Darth Vader and Son, graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Unlikely) returns to the autobiographical work that first made his reputation. In A Matter of Life, Jeffrey Brown draws upon memories of three generations of Brown men: himself, his minister father, and his preschooler son Oscar. Weaving through time, passing through the quiet suburbs and colorful cities of the midwest, their stories slowly assemble into a kaleidoscopic answer to the big questions: matters of life and death, family and faith, and the search for something beyond oneself. Check out a ten-page preview here.

A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting
by Guy Delisle
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Meditations on fatherhood from the author of Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. With A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting, the trademark dry humor that pervades Guy Delisle’s landmark and praised graphic travelogues takes center stage. Quick, light vignettes play on the worries and cares any young parent might have, and offer wry solutions to the petty frustrations of being a dad who works from home. Readers familiar with Delisle’s stranger-in-a-strange-land technique for storytelling (employed in Jerusalem, Pyongyang, Burma, and Shenzhen) will recognize the titular parent in this book; Delisle’s travelogues were simultaneously portraits of complex places and times, and portraits of a stay-at-home dad’s ever-changing relationship with his children while his wife is out working for Doctors Without Borders. The relationship between young child and all-too-irony-aware parent is beautifully done here, and Delisle’s loose flowing style has been set free, creating a wonderful sense of motion throughout. A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting is an intimate, offbeat look at the joys of parenting. There’s a sample page on D&Q’s blog here.

Beirut 1990: Snapshots of a Civil War
by Bruno & Sylvain Ricard & Christophe Gaultier

The publisher says:
The travel diary of two brothers to a land at war. 1990, off to join an aunt working for a relief organization, young Frenchmen Sylvain and Bruno Ricard come to discover the ins and outs of everyday life in Lebanon’s war-torn capital. More than a decade later the brothers recount their experiences with the help of artist Christophe Gaultier, as inspired by the real life pictures taken by the siblings on their journey of discovery. For fans of Guy Delisle’s work (Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea) as well as Joe Sacco’s (Footnotes in Gaza). Read four sample pages here.

Burning Building Comix
by Jeff Zwirek
Top Shelf Productions

The publisher says:
Presented for the first time under one cover and in full color, Burning Building Comix by Jeff Zwirek is a comics art object and reading experience like no other. The innovative format of this book allows readers to follow the plight of the trapped tenants in a ten story burning apartment building, with each tier of panels representing 1 “story” in the building.—a 40-page deluxe full-color hardcover graphic novel, 6.25” x 12.25” (unfolds to 6.25” x 24.5”), self-published by Jeff Zwirek and distributed by Top Shelf.  You can try the first three Burning Building Comix at Top Shelf’s site.



Feldstein: The MAD Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein!
by Grant Geissman & Al Feldstein

The publisher says:
Feldstein The MAD Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein! takes a long-overdue look at the entire remarkable career of this legendary artist, writer, and editor. Both a full biography and a coffee-table art book, we begin with the earliest surviving Feldstein artwork from the High School of Music and Art, present his very earliest comic-book work, and follow his development from the 1940s Victor Fox shop (including the titillating “headlight” comics Junior, Sunny, and Meet Corliss Archer). And we examine his highly visceral work for the classic E.C. comic book line. Along with rare and previously unpublished photographs, the book pictures every E.C. Feldstein comic book cover (many placed alongside the original artwork), presents several complete E.C. stories, plus nearly every splash page and house ad Feldstein did for E.C. We trace his thirty-year career as the editor of MAD, and present his post-retirement work as a “fine” artist, including his prize-winning Western canvases and his many commissioned paintings “revisiting” his classic cover images from the 1950s. We examine every aspect of Feldstein’s long career and fascinating personal life, not all of it sweetness and light.

Infinite Vacation
by Nick Spencer & Christian Ward
Image Comics

The publisher says:
Welcome to the Infinite Vacation, where alternate realities are up for sale, and buying and trading your way through unlimited variations of yourself is as commonplace as checking your e-mail. At long last the brilliant and beautiful series that turned alternate realities on its ear, collected together for the first time in a beautiful, lavish, oversized hardcover. All five issues, plus extras - and a five-page fold-out suitable for framing. Here are some extracts from the first issue.


In The Kitchen With Alain Passard: Inside the World (and Mind) of a Master Chef
by Christophe Blain
Chronicle Books

The publisher says:
Available in English for the very first time, In the Kitchen with Alain Passard is the first graphic novel to enter the kitchen of a master chef. Over the course of three years, illustrator Christophe Blain trailed acclaimed chef Alain Passard through his kitchens and gardens. With simple yet sublime drawings and thousands of colorful panels, this book gives the reader an inside, uncensored look at the world of Passard, who shocked the food universe in 2001 by removing meat from the menu at his celebrated Paris restaurant, L’Arpege, and dedicating himself to serving vegetables from his own organic farms. This irresistible hardcover combines a portrait of an amazing chef, an inside look at his creative process, and a humorous riff on fine dining culture—plus fifteen recipes for the home kitchen—in one haute cuisine comic book for foodies! Watch this Vimeo movie of Blain at work.

Magic Wind
by Gianfranco Manfredi & José Ortiz
Epicenter Comics

The publisher says:
After barely surviving a horrific train crash, and a shard of metal lodged in his brain, Ned Ellis wakes up with no memory.  Who is he?  Where did he come from?  And whose side is he supposed to be on? The Sioux who find him and nurse him back to health, name him Magic Wind, the white shaman. Epicenter Comics proudly brings you for the first time in English language, Italy’s best-selling, thrilling and unique graphic novel series, Magic Wind, from one of the world’s premiere comic book publishers, Sergio Bonelli Editore. Magic Wind masterfully combines the feel of the classic Western adventure with the spine-chilling atmosphere of gothic tales of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Alan Poe; where the old West confronts the one that is becoming obscure and macabre, and American Indian mysticism clashes with the ruthless, string pulling secret organizations hiding within Washington’s political system. Creator Gianfranco Manfredi’s electrifying scripts are perfectly complimented by the artwork of Europe’s foremost talent: Frisenda, Parlov, Milazzo, Ortiz, Ramella, Perovic and others. They pull us into the world of prairies and American Indian way of life or the streets of late 19th century cities or the dark places and creatures that inhibit our worst nightmares. Fans of western, horror and magic, get ready! Epicenter Comics offer you this sneak peak…

Obituary Man
by Philippe Girard
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
Behold: Obituary Man! A nondescript man who gains indescribable energy from reciting the eulogy at the funerals of strangers. He has never felt so alive! Maurice Petit is the unremarkable type, unaware of his own loneliness until, one morning, on his way to work he feels the crowds in the street press on him. He chokes on the weight of his routine. At work he consults his horoscope, which says that some great threat is close at hand. This warning seems the harbinger of some great end, the death he assumes to be imminent. Next to the horoscopes he finds the Obituary section and the name of a classmate from his elementary school. Maurice Petit has reached that lackluster age when peers die of heart attacks, and his own heart races. As he flees the office he tells the secretary, “I have an appointment with a dead man.” At the funeral something compels Maurice Petit to stand tall and speak. For a moment he is Obituary Man and has a voice for the dead. But will his newfound power rejuvenate him or get him mixed up with the wrong crowd?

by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks
First Second

The publisher says:
Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves. Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal. BoingBoing have a ten-page preview for you.

Redrawing French Empire in Comics
by Mark McKinney
Ohio State University Press

The publisher says:
Redrawing French Empire in Comics by Mark McKinney investigates how comics have represented the colonization and liberation of Algeria and Indochina. It focuses on the conquest and colonization of Algeria (from 1830), the French war in Indochina (1946–1954), and the Algerian War (1954–1962). Imperialism and colonialism already featured prominently in nineteenth-century French-language comics and cartoons by Töpffer, Cham, and Petit. As society has evolved, so has the popular representation of those historical forces. French torture of Algerians during the Algerian War, once taboo, now features prominently in comics, especially since 2000, when debate on the subject was reignited in the media and the courts. The increasingly explicit and spectacular treatment in comics of the more violent and lurid aspects of colonial history and ideology is partly due to the post-1968 growth of an adult comics production and market. For example, the appearance of erotic and exotic, feminized images of Indochina in French comics in the 1980s indicated that colonial nostalgia for French Indochina had become fashionable in popular culture. Redrawing French Empire in Comics shows how contemporary cartoonists such as Alagbé, Baloup, Boudjellal, Ferrandez, and Sfar have staked out different, sometimes conflicting, positions on French colonial history. 304pp hardcover.

by Gerrit de Jager, Gert Jan Pos & Typex

The publisher says:
Follow the entire painting career of Rembrandt, one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history. This is the story about one man’s artistic vocation and the work it demands, about life and death, love and bereavement, fame and loss. This graphic novel aims at authenticity, and where there is an absence of facts, the author has drawn inspiration from the wealth of the anecdotes about Rembrandt’s life. This unique collaborative enterprise between the author, Typex, The Netherlands foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture and the Rijk museum, home of the world’s largest and most important Rembrandt collection, guarantees a spectacular result - a stunning and surprising graphic novel on Rembrandt’s life. Rachel Cooke writes a rave review in The Observer with images here.

Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell
by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Tardi and Manchette team up once again for a graphic novel noir thriller about a botched kidnapping. After the teeth-rattling, one-two punch of West Coast Blues and Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, Jacques Tardi makes a third appointment with ace crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette for his wildest adaptation yet. Michel Hartog, a rich industrialist, hires a troubled young woman, Julie, straight out of the psychiatric asylum to which she has been consigned for several years, to work as a nanny for his bratty nephew Peter. But Hartog’s seemingly altruistic impulse to help rehabilitate a troubled soul hides a darker motive: He plans to stage a fake kidnapping of his nephew and use Julie as a scapegoat. Unfortunately for Hartog, Julie proves infinitely more tough and resourceful than he expected, the kidnapping goes horribly, bloodily wrong, and now Julie and Peter are on the run, pursued both by the police and by Hartog’s goons, led by the aging but fantastically dangerous contract killer Thompson — one of Manchette’s most unforgettable creations, a golem of Terminator-like tenacity who is barely slowed down by physical punishment that would instantly kill a lesser man (he does not end the book with the same amount of eyes and feet as he started). As with the other Tardi/Manchette books, Run Like Crazy… is full of moments of pitch-black humor, and a strong current of socio-political satire runs beneath its bleak surface. It’s a ride to hell, but a devilishly fun one.

Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
by Brad Ricca
St. Martin’s Press

The publisher says:
In the vein of Schulz and Peanuts, this is the first comprehensive literary biography of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, creators of the DC Comics superhero Superman and the inspiration for Michael Chabon’s Kavalier and Clay. Drawing on ten years of research in the trenches of Cleveland libraries, boarded-up high schools, and secret, private collections, and a love of comic books, Brad Ricca’s Super Boys is the first ever full biography about Superman’s creators. Among scores of new discoveries, the book reveals the first stories and pictures ever published by the two, where the first Superman story really came from, the real inspiration for Lois Lane, the template for Superman’s costume, and much, much more. Super Boys also tracks the boys’ unknown, often mysterious lives after they left Superman, including Siegel’s secret work during World War II and never-before-seen work from Shuster. Super Boys explains, finally, what exactly happened with the infamous check for $130 that pulled Superman away from his creators—and gave control of the character to the publisher. Ricca also uncovers the true nature of Jerry’s father’s death, a crime that has always remained a mystery. Super Boys is the story of a long friendship between boys who grew to be men and the standard that would be impossible for both of them to live up to. You can read Ricca’s introduction online.


Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1: 1958-1961
by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan & others

The publisher says:
The Man of Steel’s newspaper adventures ran for more than 25 years, from 1939 until 1966. Only about 10% of these strips have ever been reprinted. The complete comics will be released in three sub-sets, starting with The Silver Age, then The Atomic Age, and finally, The Golden Age. The black-and-white daily and color Sunday strips contained distinct storylines and will be released in separate, concurrent, series of deluxe hardcovers. The line kicks off with Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1: 1958-1961. Fans can look forward to nearly 800 strips featuring classic artwork by Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye. While most of the stories from the Atomic Age and Golden Age were original and completely different from the comic books, under Mort Weisinger’s editorship in the late 1950s Silver Age stories, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was brought in to script adaptations of then-current comic book tales.

Tales of the Buddha Before He Was Enlightened
by Alan Grant & Jon Haward
Renegade Arts Entertainment

The publisher says:
Collecting all the stories so far for the very first time, from the powerhouse team of Alan Grant, Jon Haward and Jamie Grant. Tales of The Buddha Before He Got Enlightened answers the question ‘just what did this holiest of men do before gaining enlightenment? ‘The comic strips take an extremely lighthearted approach to Buddha’s journey of discovery as he samples different religions whilst hanging out with other well know religious icons, as well as getting the chance to experience life’s more physical pleasures along the way.  69 pages (including covers) of comic strips and pinups from artists including Simon Bisley, Cam Kennedy, and Glen Fabry. The book also includes Jon Haward’s ‘How to draw Buddha in six easy steps’ guide. Renegade have posted a Christmas episode on their site.

The Castle
by Franz Kafka, David Zane Mairowitz & Jaromir 99

The publisher says:
The protagonist of this Kafka classic, K., finds himself in a faraway, snow-covered village with a castle looming above. The inhabitants of the mysterious castle are also the strict officials who govern the village. When K. tries to reach out to the officials, he gets himself into a complex misunderstanding over the contradictory rules and regulations that dictate the daily life of the villagers. The Castle explores the conflicting tension of power between individuals—represented by K.—and the authorities—the officials in the castle. David Zane Mairowitz talks about the adaptation process at BD & Comics Passion on Sunday June 2nd at the Institut Français, London.

Zombiellenium Vol. 1: Gretchen
by Arthur de Pins

The publisher says:
Francis von Bloodt, a vampire and good family man, operates the one-of-a-kind theme park Zombiellenium. But this unique amusement park doesn’t just hire anyone: mere mortals need not apply—only genuine werewolves, vampires, zombies, and other citizens from the undead community are employed. A stunningly beautiful, fully painted graphic novel, this work presents a wryly humorous and lighthearted take on the traditional horror genre. Click here to watch the trailer!

Posted: April 22, 2013


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