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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

PG Previews April 2014

Apologies once more, I am about to blow your budget and overfill your bookshelves with another of my monthly gleanings of what I suggest are the best in graphic narratives on the horizon. These continue to be amazing times we’re living through, as creators fulfil and exceed their ambitions, as great works from around the globe crossover into English, as masterpieces from the past come back into print, sometimes even better than before, and as studies of comics grow richer and deeper. Enjoy!

Bohemians: A Graphic History
by Paul Buhle, David Berger & various artists
$16.95 / £9.99

The publisher says:
The nineteenth-century countercultures that came to define the bohemian lifestyle spanned both sides of the Atlantic, ranging from Walt Whitman to Josephine Baker, and from Gertrude Stein to Thelonius Monk. Bohemians is the graphic history of this movement and its illustrious figures, recovering the utopian ideas behind millennial communities, and covering the rise of Greenwich Village, the multiracial and radical jazz world, and West Coast and Midwest bohemians, among other scenes. Drawn by an all-star cast of comics artists, including rising figures like Sabrina Jones, Lance Tooks, and Summer McClinton, alongside established artists like Peter Kuper and Spain Rodriguez, Bohemians is a broad and entertaining account of the rebel impulse in American cultural history. Featuring work by Spain Rodriguez, Sharon Rudahl, Peter Kuper,  Sabrina Jones, David Lasky, Afua Richardson, Lance Tooks, Milton Knight, and others. The ebook edition is expanded from the paperback edition, and includes additional chapters on the swing music scene, La Boheme and midwest bohemians, as well as expanded material on the Greenwich Village intellectuals, Walt Whitman and Harlem jazz club Minton’s Playhouse. 304pgs B&W paperback

Captain Rugged
by Keziah Jones & Native Maqari
$45.00 / £29.90

The publisher says:
Captain Rugged is a multimedia graphic-novel collaboration between Nigerian musicians and artists Keziah Jones (born 1968) and Native Maqari (born 1980) that describes Nigeria’s oil boom of the 1970s. The hero, Captain Rugged, was conceived by Jones as an embodiment of the Nigerians who flooded the city of Lagos in hopes of making a living, inadvertently bringing about an extreme population explosion and a soaring crime rate. It also led to a bizarre jumble of architectural styles and uncompleted buildings around the city. From Captain Rugged’s birthplace in Makoko—an illegal water settlement on stilts within the Lagos lagoon—through the hectic bus stations of Obalende, this publication chronicles the hero’s adventures through the city. This publication includes a special card containing the url to download the tracks of Keziah Jones’ accompanying new album. 120pgs colour hardcover

by I. N. J. Culbard
$24.95 / £15.99

The publisher says:
In Los Angeles, Ray is sitting in gridlock when he receives a call from an LAPD officer with news about his wife. Fearing the worst, he listens intently—but suddenly the caller and everyone else around him disappears. In London, the moment two commuters catch sight of each other on a packed Monday morning tube train, everyone around them vanishes. In Japan, comic artist Yoshi has come to the Aokigahara Forest to hang himself. But when the attempt fails and he slides free, the forest comes alive with mythological creatures. Taking us through the empty freeways of Los Angeles, the deserted streets of London, and the dream world of the Aokigahara Forest, Celeste is an ambitious and profound graphic novel that explores what it means to be alive. 192pgs colour hardcover

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science Volume 1
by Philippe Squarzoni
Abrams ComicArts
$24.95 / £15.99

The publisher says:
What are the causes and consequences of climate change? When the scale is so big, can an individual make any difference? Documentary, diary, and masterwork graphic novel, this up-to-date look at our planet and how we live on it explains what global warming is all about. With the most complicated concepts made clear in a feat of investigative journalism by artist Philippe Squarzoni, Climate Changed weaves together scientific research, extensive interviews with experts, and a call for action. Weighing the potential of some solutions and the false promises of others, this groundbreaking work provides a realistic, balanced view of the magnitude of the crisis that An Inconvenient Truth only touched on. 480pgs B&W paperback. Here’s info and flip-through the original French edition…

Complete Cul de Sac Boxed Set
by Richard Thompson
Andrews McMeel

The publisher says:
The complete library of all Cul de Sac cartoons and more!  In addition to every Cul de Sac cartoon ever published, selections of Thompson’s pre-syndication Cul de Sac art are included in this affordable, paperback boxed set. Cul de Sac began newspaper syndication in September 2007 and ended in September 2012, when creator Richard Thompson retired to focus on treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. In its too-short time on the comics page, Cul de Sac garnered an avid fan base, a Reuben and a Harvey Award, and remarkable admiration from the cartooning community. In tribute to the strip, all the cartoons that were ever published are gathered here and as a bonus, there are selections of Richard Thompson’s pre-syndication Cul de Sac watercoloured Sundays. If you haven’t discovered Richard Thompson’s wonderful Cul de Sac comic strip, you are in for a real treat. Cul de Sac is noted not only for its humour and intelligence, but also for creator Richard Thompson’s fun, imaginative watercolour artwork. Thompson’s drawings, along with his pitch-perfect timing and gentle humor, made the cartoon an instant classic. Cul de Sac is brought to life through manhole-dancing Alice Otterloop, a curious four-year-old who discovers life’s ups and downs in suburbia. Along with her Blisshaven Preschool classmates, Alice charms fans of all ages with her escapades. From crafting projects in a cloud of glitter and glue or just trying to comprehend a completely incomprehensible world, Alice is a creature of pure and indomitable will, an irresistible force. Alice describes her father’s car as a “Honda-Tonka Cuisinart” and talks to the class guinea pig, Mr. Danders. Alice is joined by her family:  her older brother Petey who is intent on being the King of the Picky Eaters; her dad, who’s the Assistant Director of Pamphlets at the U.S. Department of Consumption, Office of Consumer Complaints;  and her mom, who is capable of doing a million things simultaneously, about five of them well. This library of cartoons and art will both delight longtime fans and provide a fantastic introduction to new readers. Includes an introduction by Art Spiegelman. 648pgs part-colour paperbacks. Read reviews of previous Cul de Sac collections here…

by Chad Kultgen & Piotr Kowalski

The publisher says:
A new hard sci-fi epic from novelist Chad Kultgen. We poisoned our planet. Sucked it dry of natural resources, killed one another in the name of gods that never existed, and survived despite it all. But now, at the very edges of the fabric of space-time, the universe itself is starting to decay… Three warring races—the Human Empire, the organic Duron, and the cybernetic Luminids—must band together to stop their mutual destruction, and the future of the galaxy rests on Captain Rhodes and the crew of the H.E. Woden. 112pgs colour hardcover

by Paul Pope
Z2 Comics

The publisher says:
From the mind of three-time Eisner Award-Winner Paul Pope comes Escapo! Like a feverish mash-up of Fellini films, Heavy Metal magazine, and classic Jack Kirby comics, Escapo tells the tale of a circus escape artist extraordinaire, who can escape from any situation - even from Death himself! However, there is one force even more powerful than the Reaper which Escapo must face. A meditation on life, love, and mortality, Escapo is not to be missed! Originally published in 1999 and long out of print, the new Z2 edition of Escapo is fully coloured and redesigned in the French BD format, featuring 50+ pages of bonus content. Included here is the rare two-page alternate ending, only seen in the French edition, as well as a new ten-page story and added pin-ups and sketchbook content by Paul.160pgs colour hardcover

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War
by Matt Faulkner
Disney Press

The publisher says:
With a white mother and a Japanese father, Koji Miyamoto quickly realises that his home in San Francisco is no longer a welcoming one after Pearl Harbor is attacked. And once he’s sent to an internment camp, he learns that being half white at the camp is just as difficult as being half Japanese on the streets of an American city during WWII. 144pgs colour hardcover. Matt FaulknerCheck out his blog for page previews…

Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth Volume 1
by Alex Toth, Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell

The publisher says:
The Library of American Comics concludes its in-depth look at Alex Toth’s life and art with Genius, Animated. This companion volume to 2011’s award-winning Genius, Isolated and 2013’s Genius, Illustrated zooms in to focus on Toth’s groundbreaking contributions in the field of animation and features many rarely-seen or never-before-published pieces of art, much of it uncovered in the archives of Hanna-Barbera Studios! Featuring presentation illustrations for unsold series; character designs and storyboards for old favourites such as Space Ghost, Shazzan, and Superfriends; and work taken from both the beginning (Space Angel) and end (Bionic 6) of Toth’s “Saturday kidvid” career, this oversized art book features observations from animation professionals about his work, plus Alex’s own commentary on the cartoon shows that shaped a generation. 328pgs colour hardcover

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust
by Loïc Dauvillier & Marc Lizano
First Second

The publisher says:
In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps. Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II  ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read. 80pgs colour hardcover. Read an extract here…

Kids Are Weird: And Other Observations from Parenthood
by Jeffrey Brown

The publisher says:
As he’s shown in his previous hugely popular books, Jeffrey Brown has a real gift for finding humor in quirky yet universal truths. Now the bestselling author of Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess brings his witty comic observations to terrestrial parenting in this perceptive book celebrating the more surreal moments of raising a child. In charming colourful panels, Brown wryly illustrates his five-year-old son’s take on the world around him, from watching TV (“Elton John looks pretty in that shirt”) to playing with toys (“This truck can survive on very little water”) to odd requests (“Don’t feel happy at me”), capturing the sweetly weird times that mothers and fathers everywhere experience with their own curious, pure-minded kids. 108pgs colour hardcover. Take a look inside here…

Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story
by Alfred Hassler & Benton Resnick
Top Shelf Productions

The publisher says:
Nearly sixty years after its creation, a little-known landmark of comic book history returns! This 16-page comic is a simple but revolutionary account of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and 50,000 others used the power of nonviolence to battle segregation on city buses—and win. First published in December 1957 by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, it went unnoticed by the mainstream comic book industry but spread like wildfire among civil rights groups, churches, and schools, helping to mobilise a generation to join the global fight for equality—nonviolently. Personally endorsed by Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, over time this comic book has reached beyond his time and place to inspire activists in Latin America, South Africa, Vietnam, Egypt, and beyond… as well as inspiring March, the new graphic novel trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. This new fully-authourised reprint edition is published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in partnership with Top Shelf Productions. All proceeds go to F.O.R.‘s work promoting nonviolence around the world. 16pgs colour comic book

New Lone Wolf & Cub Volume 1
by Kazuo Koike & Hideki Mori
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Kazuo Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub is an acclaimed masterpiece of graphic fiction, and New Lone Wolf and Cub (‘Shin Kozure Okami’) is the 21st century sequel to this groundbreaking manga. Ogami Itto, the Lone Wolf, and his nemesis, Yagyu Retsudo, lie dead on the field of their titanic duel. Ogami’s young son, Daigoro, will not leave his father’s side, and none dare help the child, none save Togo Shigetada, a samurai on a desperate and deadly mission of his own! Written by legendary series creator Kazuo Koike, illustrated by Hideki Mori (Bokko), translated by Dana Lewis. 216pgs B&W paperback

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette
by Mary Talbot, Bryan Talbot & Kate Charlesworth
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
Sally Heathcote: Suffragette is a gripping inside story of the campaign for votes for women. A tale of loyalty, love and courage, set against a vividly realised backdrop of Edwardian Britain, it follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of the era. Sally Heathcote: Suffragette is another stunning collaboration from Costa Award winners, Mary and Bryan Talbot. Teamed up with acclaimed illustrator Kate Charlesworth, Sally Heathcote‘s lavish pages bring history to life. 192pgs colour hardcover. Kate has posted lots of lovely preview pages here…

Steranko Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition
by Jim Steranko with additional script by Stan Lee & Roy Thomas, and additional layouts by Jack Kirby
$ Please Enquire

The publisher says:
In the mid-1960s, Jim Steranko burst into the Marvel Age of comics in a BIG way, and the innovative, cinematic techniques he introduced in his brief tenure at The House of Ideas stand to this day as a high-water mark in the history of graphic storytelling. More than any other series, Steranko is most associated with Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. This Artist’s Edition collects the first 12 stories of Steranko’s run, from Strange Tales #151 to #162, as well as all his covers from these issues. Additionally, there will be a select number of extras presented. And, as usual, nearly all the pages have been scanned from the original art, from Steranko’s private archives. 176pgs colour oversized hardback.

The Cigar That Fell In Love With a Pipe: Featuring Orson Welles & Rita Hayworth
by David Camus & Nick Abadzis
$22.95 /

The publisher says:
On the eve of the release of his latest movie, The Lady From Shanghai, Orson Welles receives a gift: An admirer has sent him a box of cigars. Rich and full bodied, they are the finest he’s ever tasted. But then, these are no ordinary cigars: They’ve been assembled by the most famous cigar roller in Cuba, Conchita Marquez. It is an exquisite gift, though one not appreciated by Welles’s wife, Rita Hayworth. As he smokes these most coveted of cigars, he daydreams about the plump genius Conchita Marquez, whose story of triumph, despair, and love unfolds within the pages of this stunning and imaginative graphic novel. 128pgs colour hardcover.

The Love Bunglers
by Jaime Hernandez

The publisher says:
Contains the critically acclaimed and award-winning short comic Browntown, as well as other stories chronicling the life and loves of Maggie. Featuring Hernandez’s longtime Love and Rockets heroine Maggie, the suppression of family history is the initial thread that ties the The Love Bunglers together. Because these secrets can’t be dealt with openly, their lingering effect is even more powerful. But Maggie’s ability to navigate and find meaning in her life, despite losing her culture, her brother, her profession, and her friends, is what’s made her a compelling character. After a lifetime of losses, Maggie finds, in the second half, her longtime off and on lover, Ray Dominguez. In taking us through lives, deaths, and near-fatalities, The Love Bunglers encapsulates Maggie’s emotional history as it moves from resignation to memories of loss, to sudden violence (a theme in this story) and eventually to love and contentment. Much like what John Updike created in his four Rabbit novels, Jaime Hernandez has been following his longtime character, Maggie, around for several decades, all of which has seemed to be building towards this book in particular. 112pgs B&W hardcover

The Sleep of Reason
by Blue, C Delliquanti, Ainsley Slego & various
Iron Circus Comics

The publisher says:
The Sleep of Reason is a 360-page black-and-white anthology of horror comics for mature readers. Inspired by likes of Taboo, Uzumaki, and Black Hole, this collection is devoid of the familiar by design. There are no garden-variety monsters in The Sleep of Reason; no well-worn terrors from film and television. This is an anthology of comics that strive to inspire unparalleled dread. Mature Themes. 368pgs B&W paperback

Truth is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries
by Gabrielle Bell
Uncivilized Books

The publisher says:
“For an impoverished cartoonist, I do an awful lot of international traveling.” Raw, bare-boned, scathingly funny dispatches from the renowned comic diarist Gabrielle Bell, with biting cultural commentary mixed with her signature introspective, self-deprecating humor, and surreal digressions (from car-driving bears, through Zombie Apocalypses, to cute babies, and . . . more bears!) as she visits France, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Colombia, back to Brooklyn, and finally landing in upstate New York. In Truth is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries Gabrielle Bell proves she can be . . . funny! 160pgs B&W paperback.

Vertigo Quarterly: CYAN #1
by various creators
DC Vertigo

The publisher says:
The four colours that are the basis of comics colouring serve as the jumping-off point for creators to push the boundaries of short graphic fiction in the new Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK series. Starting with stunningly simple, bold covers, CMYK will defy all conventions of traditional comics anthologies. The unifying colour could suggest a mood, a plot point, a colouring technique – limited only by the imagination of the fantastic creators we’ve lined up. And starting with CYAN, we have tales by some of the best talents in comics – a who’s who of creative minds. Jock, Fabio Moon, James Tynion IV, Robert Rodi, Shaun Simon, Amy Chu, Joe Keatinge, Cris Peter, Tony Akins and more will take on the challenge of telling compelling stories that scream cool “blue.” Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK will continue through 2014 with MAGENTA in summer, YELLOW in fall and finally BLACK in winter. Be prepared to see colour as only Vertigo can deliver! 80pgs colour comic book

Weapons of Mass Diplomacy
by Abel Lanzac & Christophe Blain

The publisher says:
Following 9/11, President Bush’s “War on Terror” with plans to invade Iraq erupted into a cultural clash between French reluctance and American assurance over the case for “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” In Weapons of Mass Diplomacy, diplomat Abel Lanzac reveals the tension and politics through a French insider’s point of view, with satirical humor that softens the controversial subject matter. Readers follow Lanzac’s fictionalised self, Arthur Vlaminck, a speechwriter for the French Foreign Minister. As part of a team of flamboyant ministerial advisors, he has been tasked with drafting France’s response to the growing international crisis in the Middle East, which is then delivered before the United Nations Security Council. A graphic milestone of diplomacy, Weapons of Mass Diplomacy, a bestseller in Europe, pro­vides a revelatory account of a period that saw French fries become “freedom fries” and an alternative perspective on the decisions leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. 200pgs colour hardcover

What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 1
by Fumi Yoshinaga
Vertical Inc.

The publisher says:
From the Award-Winning author of Antique Bakery and Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Fumi Yoshinaga, comes a casual romance between two 40-year-old men and the many meals they share together. A hard-working middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo come to enjoy the finer moments of life through food. After long days at work, either in the law firm or the hair salon, Shiro and Kenji will always have down time together by the dinner table, where they can discuss their troubles, hash out their feelings and enjoy delicately prepared home cooked meals! 200pgs B&W paperback

Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay (Great Comics Artists Series)
by Katherine Roeder
University Press of Mississippi

The publisher says:
Cartoonist Winsor McCay (1869-1934) is rightfully celebrated for the skillful draftmanship and inventive design sense he displayed in the comic strips Little Nemo in Slumberland and Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. McCay crafted narratives of anticipation, abundance, and unfulfilled longing. This book explores McCay’s interest in dream imagery in relation to the larger preoccupation with fantasy that dominated the popular culture of early twentieth-century urban America. McCay’s role as a pioneer of early comics has been documented; yet, no existing study approaches him and his work from an art historical perspective, giving close readings of individual artworks while situating his output within the larger visual culture and the rise of modernism. From circus posters and vaudeville skits to department store window displays and amusement park rides, McCay found fantastical inspiration in New York City’s burgeoning entertainment and retail districts. Wide Awake in Slumberland connects McCay’s work to relevant children’s literature, advertising, architecture, and motion pictures in order to demonstrate the artist’s sophisticated blending and remixing of multiple forms from mass culture. Studying this interconnection in McCay’s work and, by extension, the work of other early twentieth-century cartoonists, Roeder traces the web of relationships connecting fantasy, leisure, and consumption. Readings of McCay’s drawings and the eighty-one black and white and colour illustrations reveal a man who was both a ready participant and an incisive critic of the rising culture of fantasy and consumerism. 240pgs part-colour hardcover.

Posted: February 5, 2014


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