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October 2013

OK, I know I have a tendency to over-enthuse, sorry about that. I so often rave about how much great graphic literature is coming out each month, but you’ll see that this October is pretty impressive, with new works by such sequential champions as Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III, delving into The Sandman‘s secret origins, Joe Sacco and Anders Nilsen, both trying their hand at lengthy, fold-out accordion-format narrative friezes, Peter Bagge doing a biography, and, most eagerly anticipated by me and many, the energising, ecstatic electricity of Paul Pope’s teen demi-god Battling Boy (above). I’m also buzzing that Sfar’s Pascin and Julie Maroh’s Blue Angel are getting translated from French, not to overlook some choice manga from the avant garde to a Viking saga. And the debut books are especially striking this month from North American and British creators. From the UK, Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow and Isabel Greenberg’s The Encyclopedia of Early Earth will stand as two of this year’s greatest graphic novel experiences, not just within their national scene but as truly outstanding achievements in world-class comics. And to top it all, Oscar Zarate presents his first solo graphic novel, The Park, preview pic below. Lots of people say we’re living in a ‘Golden Age’ of comics right now, but what do we call it when that Age keeps getting better, braver and bolder, and that Gold keeps shining brighter and brighter? Prepare to be dazzled!


by Gregory Benton
AdHouse Books

The publishers says:
B+F is Gregory Benton’s MoCCA Award of Excellence-winning fable. It explores an otherworldly forest with a woman and a dog as they encounter its denizens, both benevolent and malicious. A wordless meditation on goodwill, hostility, and isolation. 64 pages. Read an online preview here…


Battling Boy
by Paul Pope
First Second
$15.99 / $24.99

The publishers says:
The adventure begins in the new graphic novel by comics legend Paul Pope. Monsters roam through Arcopolis, swallowing children into the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is a match for them - the genius vigilante Haggard West. Unfortunately, Haggard West is dead. Arcopolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself. It’s time to meet an electrifying new hero. 208 colour pages, in paperback and hardback.
Note that, to tie in with this publication, PictureBox are releasing Paul Pope: Road to Battling Boy. a $35 96-page, oversized art book focusing on the last five years of Paul Pope’s work, up to and including Battling Boy. Here are full color scans of Pope’s original artwork for Battling Boy as well as his BB character and film designs. Half of this deluxe art book, though, is devoted to Pope’s brilliant sketchbooks, sexy fashion illustrations, and dozens of other unseen images. Half making-of, half-artist’s book, this is an essential look at one of the great cartoonists of our time.
Newsarama have an interview with Pope and Bleeding Cool put Pope together with Gene Yang for a conversation.

Blue Is The Warmest Color
by Julie Maroh
Arsenal Pulp Press

The publishers says:
The original graphic novel adapted into the film Blue Is the Warmest Colour, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. In this tender, bittersweet, full-colour graphic novel, a young woman named Clementine discovers herself and the elusive magic of love when she meets a confident blue-haired girl named Emma: a lesbian love story for the ages that bristles with the energy of youth and rebellion and the eternal light of desire. First published in French by Belgium’s Glénat, the book has won several awards, including the Audience Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s largest. The live-action, French-language film version of the book, entitled Blue Is The Warmest Color, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013. Directed by director Abdellatif Kechiche and starring Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos, the film generated both wide praise and controversy. It will be released in the US through Sundance Selects/IFC Films. 160 pages. Read an 8-page preview here…


CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices
by Katherine Dacey, Shaenon Garrity, Sean Gaffney and Ed Chavez
Dark Horse

The publishers says:
Dark Horse is proud to mark its 25th Anniversary of manga publishing with a new project from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices is a handbook designed to provide libraries, booksellers, and fans with a concise and informed overview of manga - its history, genres, and challenges. What sets this book apart among manga guides is its expert panel of contributors - not only scholars of the medium, but veterans of the manga industry itself who’ve worked from both the North American and Japanese sides of the field. CBLDF Presents Manga is an insider’s view on this dynamic and influential field.


by Corrine Maier & Anne Simon
$19.75 / £13.99

The publishers says:
As a boy Sigmund Freud dreamed of being an explorer, of discovering new lands and sailing the oceans. As an adult he set out to map a far stranger territory: the human mind. This stunning graphic novel by economist, historian, and psychoanalyst Corrine Maier explores the life and work of one of the twentieth century’s most influential thinkers. Freud is the perfect introduction to the man’s genius, his life, and his struggles with a revolutionary and divisive approach to the mind and its inner workings. Anne Simon spins this unique and captivating story into a seamless whirl of image and text, worthy of the master of psychoanalysis’ most extraordinary cases. Browse some lovely pages in French on FNAC here…

Gold Pollen & Other Stories
by Seiichi Hayashi, edited by Ryan Holmberg

The publishers says:
Seiichi Hayashi was a leading figure in the hotbed of avant-garde artistic production of 1960s and early 70s Tokyo. This volume collects a selection of Hayashi’s most important manga from this period, including Red Dragonfly (1968), Yamauba’s Lullaby (1968) and Gold Pollen (1971). Published here in their original full colour, these stories mix traditional Japanese aesthetics with Pop art sensibilities, and range in topic from the legacies of Japanese rightwing nationalism and World War II, to the pervasive influence of America over 1960s Japanese youth culture. This first color reprinting of Hayashi’s work captures the vivid experimentation of Japanese art at this time. In addition, Hayashi’s youth and beginnings as an artist are illuminated by an autobiographical essay from 1972, translated here for the first time into English. Art historian Ryan Holmberg discusses Hayashi’s place in postwar Japanese art and manga, as well as his wider contributions to the Tokyo avant-garde as a designer and experimental animator. This lavishly illustrated book is likely to have widespread crossover appeal for design and fashion aficionados, as well as for students of the manga genre. Seiichi Hayashi (born 1945) is best known for his lyrical and experimental manga for Garo, the famous alternative comics magazine. His animated films have been screened at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, among other institutions. Since the 1970s Hayashi has been a nationally revered illustrator, famous for his classically informed depictions of contemporary women and an important influence on acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, among others. Hayashi lives and works just outside of Tokyo. His Red Colored Elegy was translated by Drawn & Quarterly. 176 pages. PictureBox has some preview extracts here…

by Brendan Leach
Secret Acres

The publishers says:
A gritty, authentic account of street gangs and life in the margins of Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound district in the early ‘60s. With elements of noir mystery and crime drama, Leach’s ability to evoke place presents a complex narrative about the tenuous relationships of characters mired in conflict and fear. 252 pages. Read lots of online extracts here…


Lighter Than My Shadow
by Katie Green
Jonathan Cape

The publishers says:
Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast. But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly. Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the vulnerable, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness. 528 pages. Katie has posted a 24-page preview on the book’s dedicated website.

Look Straight Ahead
by Elaine M. Will
Alternative Comics

The publishers says:
Jeremy Knowles is a 17-year-old outcast who dreams of being a great artist. But when he suffers a severe mental breakdown brought on by bullying and other pressures at school, his future is called into question - as is his very existence! Can he survive the experience through the healing power of art? And just what does it mean to be “crazy,” anyway? Elaine lets you read parts of her seven chapters here…

Other Stories and The Horse You Rode In On
by Dakota McFadzean
Conundrum Press

The publishers says:
Other Stories and the Horse You Rode in On is a collection of Dakota McFadzean’s comics. Short stories filled with yawning skies, dark humour, and quiet ruminations on memory, aging, and time. Drunken gnomes, sensitive teenagers, and a meditative cowboy all wander toward a sprawling, ghost-ridden horizon. McFadzean’s stories have been featured in the Best American Comics anthology for 2012 and in Regina’s Prairie Dog Magazine. His minicomic Ghost Rabbit won a Shuster Award and The Dailies was shortlisted for Slate magazine’s Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of 2012. 160 pages. Get a taster of his short comics on his site…

Jason Lutes, author of Berlin, says:
The wide open prairie of Saskatchewan, the domestication of garden gnomes, the psychoanalytic breakdown of 8-bit video games — into these and other subjects Dakota McFadzean digs with his pen and brush, unearthing truths that discomfit even as they entertain. This collection of his best work to date mashes cuteness into cruelty, hope into resignation, and life into death, leaving us with one slow-burning ball of phosphorescent comics.

by Joann Sfar, translated by Edward Gauvin
Uncivilized Books

The publishers says:
Pascin, a biography of the noted Jewish modernist painter Julius Mordecai Pincas, known as Pascin (March 31, 1885–June 5, 1930), is Joann Sfar’s most personal and important work. Pascin is portrayed by Sfar both as a kindred spirit and an aesthetic revolutionary struggling to redefine an art form. Sfar revels in the artist’s celebration of all things corporeal in the world of art. Though the story is drenched in sex, it is never eroticized. Created in a direct and immediate drawing style, Sfar focuses more on the artist’s personal and sexual life than on his art, and brings Pascin to life as the ultimate bohemian. Joann Sfar is considered one of the most important artists of the new wave of European comics. He is the author and artist on a great number of acclaimed graphic novels including The Rabbi’s Cat, Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East, Vampire Loves, and Dungeon. He wrote and directed Gainsbourg: Une Vie Heroique, the biopic of the illustrious French songwriter and singer. The film was released in 2010 to international acclaim. 200 page hardcover. Sfar posted some extracts in French here…

Pretty Deadly #1
by Kelly Sue Deconnick & Emma Ríos

The publishers says:
Kelly Sue Deconnick (Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel) & Emma Ríos (Dr. Strange, Osborn) reunite to bring you an all-new ongoing series that marries the magical realism of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher. Death’s daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her tale of retribution is as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage. You can read the opening pages courtesy of Tim Hanley here…

Rage of Poseidon
by Anders Nilsen
Drawn & Quarterly

The publishers says:
A wise and funny collection of modern-day parables about the ties between humans and their gods. Imagine you are Poseidon at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The oceans are dying and sailors have long since stopped paying tribute. They just don’t need you anymore. What do you do? Perhaps, seeking answers, you go exploring. Maybe you end up in Wisconsin and discover the pleasures of the iced latte. And then, perhaps, everything goes wrong. Anders Nilsen, the author of Big Questions and Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, explores questions like these in his newest work, a darkly funny meditation on religion and faith with a modern twist. Rage of Poseidon brings all the philosophical depth of Nilsen’s earlier work to bear on contemporary society, asking how a twenty-first-century child might respond to being sacrificed on a mountaintop, and probing the role gods like Venus and Bacchus might have in the world of today. Nilsen works in a unique style for these short stories, distilling individual moments in black silhouette on a spare white background. Above all, though, he immerses us seamlessly in a world where gods and humans are more alike than not, forcing us to recognize the humor in our (and their) desperation. Rage of Poseidon is devastating, insightful, and beautifully hewn; it’s a wry triumph in an all-new style from a masterful artist. 80 page B&W accordion-format hardcover. Nilsen released and exhibited at handmade version last year - take a look…

Spectral Engine
by Ray Fawkes
McCLelland & Stewart

The publishers says:
To catch a glimpse of the Spectral Engine is to face death itself. In Ray Fawkes’s stunning and boldly conceived new graphic novel, the Spectral Engine is also the supernatural device that ties together wide-ranging true stories, set across the country and throughout time, of discovery and loss, migration and dislocation, ambition and the casualties of history - as told by the train’s own ghostly passengers. Decades after the Empress of Ireland, a luxury passenger steamboat, disappears into the dark waters of the St. Lawrence River along with 1,012 souls, the wreck of the ship continues to claim victims. A young escaped slave attempts to make the treacherous journey across the Detroit River to freedom via the Underground Railroad. A ghostly white horse is a heartbreaking reminder of a bloody conflict between two First Nations tribes. The triumphant completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway brings only tragedy to a Chinese railway worker. And in a poignant story of urban isolation and the desire for human connection, a young woman discovers that loneliness transcends death. By turns chilling and moving, this breathtaking book is a powerful reminder of the deeply human yearning to be remembered.


The Cage
by Martin Vaughn-James
Coach House Press

The publishers says:
First published in 1975, The Cage was a graphic novel before there was a name for the medium. Cryptic and disturbing, it spurns narrative for atmosphere, guiding us through a labyrinthine series of crumbling facades, disarrayed rooms and desolate landscapes, as time stutters backward and forward. Within the cage’s barbed-wire confines, we observe humanity only through its traces: a filmic sequence of discarded objects - headphones, inky stains, dishevelled bedsheets - scored by a deafening cacophony of breaths, cries and unsettling silence. This new edition, which includes an introduction by comics master Seth, brings Martin Vaughn-James’s nightmarish vision to a new generation of readers. 192pp B&W paperback.

Seth in his introduction says:
I don’t use the word “masterpiece” lightly. I think The Cage is a masterpiece of comic art.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
by Isabel Greenberg
Jonathan Cape / Little, Brown-Bond Street Books
£16.99 / $23.00

The publishers says:
Readers! This book is not a real encyclopedia! It is an epic work of fiction, detailing the many tales and adventures of one lonely storyteller, on a quest for Enlightenment and True Love. This book contains many stories, big and small, about and pertaining to the following things: Gods, monsters, mad kings, wise old crones, shamanes, medicine men, brothers and sisters, strife, mystery, bad science, worse geography, and did we already mention true love? Critics are saying it is probably the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even since bread knives. 176 pages. Isabel lets you sneak-peak some pages on her site…

The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme
by Joe Sacco
W.W. Norton / Jonathan Cape
$35.00 / £20.00

The publishers says:
Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and there were more than one million casualties by the time the offensive halted a few months later. In The Great War, acclaimed cartoonist Joe Sacco depicts the events of that day in an extraordinary, 24-foot-long wordless panorama: from the riding exercises of General Douglas Haig to the massive artillery positions and marshalling areas behind the trench lines, to the legions of British soldiers going ‘over the top’ and being cut down in No-Man’s-Land, to the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers retreating and the dead being buried en masse. Printed on fine accordion-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe hardcover slipcase with a 16-page accompanying booklet, The Great War is a landmark work in Sacco’s illustrious career, and makes visceral one of the bloodiest days in history. David Abrams previews one panel here…

The Listening Agent
by Joe Decie
Blank Slate Books

The publishers says:
Smudging the line between reality and fiction. Whether he’s contemplating the emotional state of the last pickle in the jar or detailling his four-year-old son’s new business of running a fashionable East London tattoo parlour, there’s definitely something different about Joe Decie’s tales of everyday life. In this new collection of half-embellished tales, Decie takes a sideways look at everything from shopping malls to identity theft and reveals the strange challenges (and stranger rewards) of parenthood. In this volume, Decie’s son competes with his father for centre stage and stars in some of the cartoonist’s funniest and most touching strips yet. If you’re still yet to join the legion of readers around the world who have fallen in love with Joe Decie’s left-field wit and beautiful ink-washed art, The Listening Agent is the perfect opportunity to see one of Britain’s brightest new comic stars at work. Don’t miss out. 56-page B&W hardcover (previewed on Flickr here).
Note that Death and The Girls by Donya Todd and Playing Out by Jim Medway, both previously announced, are also out now from Blank Slate Books.

The Park
by Oscar Zarate

The publishers says:
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, an incident takes place in a North London park. Chris is accidentally bitten by an excited dog, and aims a defensive kick at it. The owner, well-known polemicist Ivan Grubb, takes to his blog to express his outrage, spinning the story to sit happily within his own narrative. When Ivan and Chris relate the event to their children, they are surprised and confused by the strength of feeling their reactions have provoked. The Park is a delicate examination of how anger, repression and powerlessness can overwhelm even the most logical and well-intentioned person in a confusing modern world. 160-page colour hardback.

The Sandman Overture #1 (of 6)
by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III

The publishers says:
Twenty-five years since The Sandman changed the landscape of modern comics, Neil Gaiman’s legendary series is back. The Sandman Overture heralds New York Times best-selling writer Neil Gaiman’s return to the art form that made him famous, ably abetted by artistic luminary JH Williams III (Batwoman, Promethea), whose lush, widescreen images provide an epic scope to The Sandman’s origin story. From the birth of a galaxy to the moment that Morpheus is captured, The Sandman Overture will feature cameo appearances by fan-favorite characters such as The Corinthian, Merv Pumpkinhead and, of course, the Dream King’s siblings: Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction and Destiny. “People have often asked me what happened to Morpheus to make it possible for him to be captured in The Sandman #1,” Gaiman said. “And now they get to find out. And finding out, they get to learn secrets of the Endless that I’ve kept to myself for 25 years. Family secrets. And I should warn you: one of the Endless dies on page five.” The first issue of this 6-issue, bimonthly miniseries features a stunning double-page interior foldout. Neil chats to The Independent, Wired, The Detroit News, and The LA Times, unveiling impressive preview covers (a variant by Dave McKean) and inside pages.

The Secret History of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire
by Blake Bell & Dr. Michael J. Vassallo

The publishers says:
The untold story of the House of Ideas. Marvel Comics is home to such legendary super-heroes as Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, all of whom have spun box office gold in the 21st century. But Marvel Comics has a secret history hidden in the shadows of these well-known franchises. The Secret History of Marvel Comics digs back to the 1930s when Marvel Comics wasn’t just a comic-book producing company. Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman had tentacles into a publishing world that might have made that era’s conservative American parents lynch him on his front porch. Marvel was but a small part of Goodman’s publishing empire, which had begun years before he published his first comic book. Goodman mostly published lurid and sensationalistic story books (known as “pulps”) and magazines, featuring sexually-charged detective and romance short fiction, and celebrity gossip scandal sheets. And artists like Jack Kirby, who was producing Captain America for eight-year-olds, were simultaneously dipping their toes in both ponds. The Secret History of Marvel Comics tells this parallel story of 1930s/40s Marvel Comics sharing offices with those Goodman publications not quite fit for children. The book also features a comprehensive display of the artwork produced for Goodman’s other enterprises by Marvel Comics artists such as Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Alex Schomburg, Bill Everett, Al Jaffee, and Dan DeCarlo, plus the very best pulp artists in the field, including Norman Saunders, John Walter Scott, Hans Wesso, L.F. Bjorklund, and Marvel Comics #1 cover artist Frank R. Paul. Goodman’s magazines also featured cover stories on celebrities such as Jackie Gleason, Elizabeth Taylor, Liberace, and Sophia Loren, as well as contributions from famous literary and social figures such as Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and L. Ron Hubbard. These rare pieces of comic art, pulp and magazine history will open the door to Marvel Comics’ unseen history. Black & white with some colour, 168 pages.

Vinland Saga Vol. 1
by Makoto Yukimura
Kodansha Comics

The publishers says:
For Honour and Vengeance. As a child, Thorfinn sat at the feet of the great Leif Ericso and thrilled to wiled tales of a land far to the west. But his youthful fantasies were shattered by a mercenary raid. Raised by the Vikings who murdered his faimily, Thorfinn became a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band’s leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Sustaining Throfinn through his ordeal are his pride in his family and his dreams of a fertile westward land, a land without war or slavery…the land Leif called Vinland From the author of Planetes. 464 pages. To learn more from fans of the manga, explore the Vinland Saga Wiki…

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel
by Sharon McKay & Daniel Lafrance
Annick Press

The publishers says:
The life of a child soldier is full of unthinkable violence ... But the human capacity to connect with others and for survival is remarkable. Jacob is a 14-year-old Ugandan who is sent away to a boys’ school. Once there, he assures his friend Tony that they need not be afraid—they will be safe. But not long after, in the shadow of the night, the boys are abducted. Marched into the jungle, they are brought to an encampment of the feared rebel soldiers. They are told they must kill or be killed, and their world turns into a terrifying struggle to endure and survive. In time, the boys escape. Hunted by the rebels, stalked by a lion, and even pursued by river crocs, they miraculously succeed in reaching safety. However, it is no longer enough. Jacob wrestles with the question of whether we are all really beasts inside. He decides the way through the pain is to record his story. Daniel Lafrance’s powerful, striking, and poignant artwork and the crisp, evocative text vividly capture the haunting experiences of a young boy caught in a brutal war. This graphic novel is based on an award-winning YA novel by Sharon McKay. Sharon has spent time with child soldiers and based this story on real-life accounts. 176 pages. Daniel Lafrance has some samples on his site.

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger
by Peter Bagge
Drawn & Quarterly

The publishers says:
The alternative-comics master offers an indelible and idiosyncratic take on the protofeminist. Peter Bagge’s Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story is a dazzling and accessible biography of the social and political maverick, jam-packed with fact and fun. In his signature cartoony, rubbery style, Bagge presents the life of the birth-control activist, educator, nurse, mother, and protofeminist from her birth in the late nineteenth century to her death after the invention of the birth control pill. Balancing humor and respect, Bagge makes Sanger whole and human, showing how her flaws fueled her fiery activism just as much as her compassionate nature did. Sanger’s life takes on a whole new vivacity as Bagge creates a fast-paced portrait of a trailblazer whose legacy as the founder of Planned Parenthood is still incredibly relevant, important, and inspiring. 80 pages. Comic Book Resources chats to Bagge, partly about Woman Rebel here…

World Map Room
by Yuichi Yokoyama

The publishers says:
In this, Yuichi Yokoyama’s long-awaited original graphic novel, published simultaneously in Japan and France, a stripped-back plot and minimal characterizations allow the artistry of Yokoyama’s ethereal drawings to shine through. The events within the narrative are spare and enigmatic: Yokoyama is as much fascinated by shapes and visual effects as he is by character and plot. First, the protagonists visit a city; then, our heroes watch airplanes departing and arriving at an airport; next, they go on board a ship and cross a river. Eventually, they arrive at a building where a man welcomes and guides them to the “world map room,” where they inspect a library. Eventually they leave, and reach a pond with a sunken ship. Their guide starts to explain the ship’s history, and slowly, with casual suddenness, the novel comes to a close. Yokoyama is the author of Travel, New Engineering, Color Engineering and Garden (all published by PictureBox). He was the subject of a one-man show at The Kawasaki City Museum in 2010, and has exhibited in galleries and museums in Tokyo, Singapore, Rome and San Francisco. He lives and works in the suburbs of Tokyo. 176 pages. PictureBox have posted a few interior pages…

Posted: July 27, 2013


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My Books

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

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

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing