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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

PG Previews December 2013

It’s always time for great comics and graphic novels, even in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year. Here are my picks of what this December will bring, from compendia of two wonderful American newspaper strips to new graphic novels. Of them all, I’m singling out this month the opening episode of a truly classy period murder mystery set in the Twenties by Ellen Lindner. By an American ex-Londoner, now based in Brooklyn, The Black Feather Falls almost reads like a love-letter to the London and Britain she misses so fondly. Her title is not a reference to some waterfall, but describes the feathery clue which drops from a Holy Bible. This is one of the few possessions of a down-and-out double-amputee, apparently a survivor of World War I, who is found beaten to death in Jermyn Street in London’s fashionable St James’s district. Witness to this horror is American optician’s assistant and our narrator Tina Swift. When the police dismiss the case as accidental death, Tina is determined to get to the truth behind it, with help from sensible stenographer Miss McInteer, whose boss has been sent a black feather and has now disappeared. Chillingly, during the Great War a white feather, a symbol of cowardice, was given to men who did not enlist.

Sharply dialogued and elegantly designed and coloured, with a keen eye for period locations, manners and fashions, notably her passions for eyewear and knitwear, Lindner’s mystery entices and intrigues in the very best Agatha Christie tradition. Like me, you’ll find yourself hooked as it is serialised first online at Act-i-vate Comix and then in print in four parts by UK publishers Soaring Penguin Press. British readers should order your copy now from your local comics shop, using Diamond Distributors’ order code OCT132527.

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a shameless plug: Diamond Distributors UK are offering British shops my new book from Tate Publishing, Comics Art, in the latest issue of Previews. The order code for that is OCT132529 and the deadline is October 18th. Just in time for Christmas (sorry, North Americans will have to wait till February for the Yale University Press edition!).


Basil & Victoria: London Guttersnipes
by Yann & Edith
Humanoids Inc.

The publisher says:
London, 1887. While the British Empire is at its peak and influences the majority of the world, the majority of the population of London lives amid poverty and crime. Basil and Victoria are part of the thousands of orphans who survive by selling rats and whose only home is the docks. Helped by Cromwell, their faithful watchdog, the trio will wander from the streets of Whitechapel to lands far and wide, meet famous historical and literary figures along the way, and all the while bicker lovingly. Edith and the legendary Yann have created a magnificent and funny social fable in pure Dickensian tradition.

Brooklyn Quesadillas
by Anthony Huchette
Conundrum International

The publisher says:
Brooklyn Quesadillas follows a new father having a mid-life crisis as he navigates the surreal streetscapes of Brooklyn, trying to produce a TV show hosted by a coffeepot, while tracking down forgotten sitcom stars from the Eighties who live on a “fantasy” island. Antony Huchette is a French artist working in the animation industry in New York. He is also a musician and DJ. His previous book is La marée haute (6 Pieds sous terre). Brooklyn Quesadillas was published in French by Cornelius and this translation represents his first work in English. 72pp B&W softcover. See some preview photos here…

Dead Boy Detectives 1
by Toby Litt, Mark Buckingham & Gary Erskine

The publisher says:
From the pages of The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s dead boys get their own monthly series! As fans of storybook detectives, Edwin Paine (died 1916) and Charles Rowland (died 1990) will take on any and all mysteries - including their own untimely deaths! The dead boys head back to St. Hilarions, where bullying headmasters continue to rule the school. But when they investigate the lingering mysteries of their own deaths, they meet a young girl named Crystal whose tech skills and strange link to the undead earn her a place as a new detective. Dead Boy Detectives is a fast-paced adventure series that takes us from the bustling streets of contemporary London to Japanese-inspired video games and dangerous worlds perched somewhere between the now and nevermore. 32pp ongoing monthly comic book. Read an interview with Toby Litt at Comic Book Resources…

Jacky’s Diary
by Jack Mendelsohn

The publisher says:
Jackie’s Diary collects the complete run of the hysterically funny and whimsical strip by Jack Mendelsohn. The strip was produced by humor-savy Mendelsohn, who wrote for luminaries such as Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby, Mad Magazine, and the Beatles movie, Yellow Submarine. The book sports a fascinating, behind-the-scenes introduction by Jack Mendelsohn, and a Foreword by Beetle Bailey‘s Mort Walker and Mama‘s Mel Lazarus. 192pp colour hardcover.

Perfect Nonsense: The Chaotic Comics and Goofy Games of George Carlson
by George Carlson; edited by Daniel Yezbick & Rick Marschall

The publisher says:
Perfect Nonsense spans the career of one of the most innovative and under-rated Golden Age artists, classic children’s illustrators, and nonsense poets in American history. Perfect Nonsense tells the complete story behind one of the most innovative and under-rated Golden Age artists, classic children’s illustrators, and nonsense poets in American history. For more than 50 years, George Carlson created thousands of distinctive and dynamic cartoons, comics, riddles, and games that thrilled both children and adults with their fanciful spirit and nonsensical humor. There has never been a career retrospective of this startling cartoonist and illustrator — until now! Carlson’s inspired cartoons — ranging from the intellectual to the surreal — place him at home with not only acknowledged masters of American humor like George Herriman, S. J. Perelman, Milt Gross, Bill Holman, and Jack Kent, but also globally celebrated absurdists like Beckett, Pirandello, and his life-long inspiration, Lewis Carroll.

Carlson also made his mark as an accomplished designer of more serious themes including magazine covers, political cartoons, advertisements, locomotive and naval illustration, and, most famously, the original book jacket for the first edition of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Now, after more than 15 years of searching, compiling, and conjuring, the incredible depth of George Carlson’s artistry and ingenuity finally gets the comprehensive treatment it has so long deserved with copious full color examples of material both exquisite and obscure. Alongside plentiful cartoons, individual drawings, and comics (including Carlson’s “ghost” work on Gene Byrnes’ Reg’lar Fellers), this edition offers a meticulously researched critical introduction, rare examples of original art and unpublished projects, and a biographical timeline of Carlson’s first three decades as a commercial artist drawing on recently unearthed artifacts from the Carlson family estate. Perfect Nonsense focuses on Carlson’s prolific work as a gag cartoonist, children’s illustrator, commercial designer, and art instructor from 1907 to just before World War II.

Decades before his celebrated Jingle Jangle Comics, Carlson forever altered the nature of children’s publishing during his tenure as chief artist and designer for the pioneering children’s pulp, John Martin’s Book. Carlson turned the magazine itself into a toy, filled with seasonal games, holiday cut-outs, curious crosswords, graphic exercises, puzzles, riddles, rebuses, and more. As Carlson himself once observed, his early works brim with a unique spirit of happiness and fun. We have not only captured the very best of that spirit in this collection, but also the many secrets behind its legacy. Loaded with wonder and wit, the creations of George L. Carlson will inspire cartoon and comics aficionados, teachers of children’s media, scholars of American humor, and anyone interested in the ever-evolving landscapes of image and language. 320pp hardcover.

Rusty Riley Vol 1: Dailies 1948-1949
by Frank Godwin
Classic Comics Press

The publisher says:
Classic Comics Press is pleased to present the long-awaited first volume of Frank Godwin’s classic American comic strip Rusty Riley. This volume will include dailies from the comic strips beginning January 26, 1948 to November 29, 1949. Included in this volume is an introduction by Howard Chaykin (Black Kiss, American Century, Bite Club), an interview with Frank Godwin’s daughter, rarely seen Godwin art and more!

by Jean Duffaux & Grzegorz Rosinski

The publisher says:
When the Lament is heard again, the heir to the kingdom will rise… The land of Eruin Dulea is ruled by a powerful and merciless sorcerer. A generation ago, he defeated his last challenger to the throne, Wulf, in a titanic battle. Wulf’s widow, Lady O’Mara, and his daughter Siobhàn can finally stop hiding, though. By marrying Lord Blackmore, Lady O’Mara places herself under his protection. But Siobhan is a strong-willed young woman, more at ease with a sword than a spinning wheel, and Blackmore himself isn’t all he seems to be… 64pp colour paperback.

by Sage Stossel

The publisher says:
Powerless? For Amy Sturgess, life in the big city comes with even bigger problems. Her marketing career is being derailed by a conniving coworker stealing her accounts. Her family crises range from her down-and-out brother running afoul of the law to her mother’s growing affections for the house cats. And Amy’s love life just flatlined thanks to an unexpected reunion with the one that got away—who’s now engaged. When Xanax and therapy fail to relieve her stress, Amy does what any young woman in her position would do: She uses her superstrength, speed, flight, and ability to generate 750 volts from her hands to fight crime as the mysterious masked vigilante Starling. But while Starling is hailed as a superhero, will Amy remain a super-zero? 208pp softcover.

The Black Feather Falls Book One (of Four)
by Ellen Lindner
Soaring Penguin Press
£3.95 / $5.95

The publisher says:
The Black Feather Falls Book One (of four) is a really good-looking mystery set in 20s London from the author of Undertow. Tina Swift has just arrived in London from the hinterlands of the United States, expecting to lead a quiet life.  But when the street where she works turns into a crime scene, Tina discovers a crucial clue – and her connection to the case keeps growing stronger. Disgusted by a murder the police seem keen to sweep under the carpet, Tina picks up a thread of intrigue that leads all the way back to the trenches of World War I. 36pp colour comic book.

The Blighted Eye
by Glenn Bray

The publisher says:
The Blighted Eye features work by a pantheon of cartooning masters from the famous to the obscure including Dan Clowes, Robert Crumb, Matt Groening, Jaime Hernandez, Charles Schultz, and many, many others. Charting the increasing sophistication of comics over the last thirty years in the form of graphic novels, journalism, and memoirs, these reproductions of hand-crafted original art - brush strokes and pen lines inked on paper - offer unique insight into the form, a different way of perceiving the artists’ work as objects of beauty in their own right. 400pp colour hardcover. More information on the Fantagraphics site…


The Complete Multiple Warheads Vol. 1
by Brandon Graham

The publisher says:
Ex-organ smuggler Sexica and her werewolf boyfriend Nikoli travel across a sci-fi/fantasy version of Russia while the hardcore organ hound Blue Nura tracks a bounty across radioactive wastelands. Slice of life comics from a world where magic and monsters are commonplace. Collects Multiple Warheads #1-4 and Multiple Warheads: Down Fall. 200pp colour softcover.


The Ring of the Seven Worlds
by Giovanni Gualdoni, Gabriela Clima & Matteo Piana
Humanoids Inc. / Sloth Publishing Ltd.
$29.95 / £19.99

The publisher says:
An epic fantasy adventure for fans of the steampunk works of Katsuhiro Otomo and Hayao Miyazaki. Made up of seven worlds linked to one another by a giant ring, the Empire of the Seven Worlds enjoys peace and prosperity until one of the transdimensional doors unleashes an ancient enemy of the Empire. It is now up to Luce and Timo, a pair of star-crossed teenagers, to save them all. 240pp colour hardcover. Read an extract on the Humanoids site here…

Uncle Bob Adventures
by Darryl Cunningham
Blank Slate Books

The publisher says:
Darryl Cunningham moves away from his real-world cartooning that has made such a success of Psychiatric Tales, Science Tales and his online conspiracy theory strips. The Uncle Bob stories are full of modern adventure and horror characters as they interact with Uncle Bob on his outrageous travels. Now readers can see what happens when Bob meets King Kong, Frankenstein’s Monster and many more. Drawn in Darryl’s flat attractive style, these will be stories that all kids can find fun, laughs and, maybe just, the odd scare in. 100pp colour paperback.

Where Bold Stars Go To Die
by Gerry Alanguilan & Arlan Esmena
Slave Labor Graphics

The publisher says:
From the creator of the acclaimed Elmer graphic novel comes this new story of love, lust and compulsion. Lovestruck Daniel fell in love with a long forgotten, once popular sex starlet by the name of Anna Marie through a video cassette he found at an old downtown thrift shop. What began as an infatuation soon becomes an obsession as Daniel’s fantasies push him to find love in places beyond reason, beyond reality, and beyond this world. 70pp B&W paperback.

Posted: September 28, 2013


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