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Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

PG Previews May 2014

Hey, I hope you enjoy looking through the forthcoming brand-new titles I’ve picked out for you, as I do every month. It’s another heady mix of classics and moderns, English-language and translations. I just received the Spanish edition of Flesh and Steel, the Russ Heath exhibition catalogue, which is revelatory, seeing so many of pages (and complete stories) as crisply reproduced original artwork with perceptive commentary and biography by Florentino Flores. If I had to pick just one original graphic novel this month, I’d wholly recommend This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. They work magic on the page and in your heart. This will be a gem you’ll treasure. See you next time!

Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared
by Franz Kafka, adapted by Réal Godbout
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
In his adaptation of Amerika, which took seven years to achieve, Godbout has tried to remain as faithful as possible to Kafka’s novel, while using the clear line aesthetic he has perfected in his series Red Ketchup. Unlike the common cliché of Kafka’s work, Amerika is not a dark and sinister novel, but a dynamic and colourful story, with a touch of absurdist humor. Perfect for an adaptation into a graphic novel. It tells the story of the young immigrant Karl Rossmann who, after an embarrassing sexual misadventure, finds himself “packed off to America” by his parents. Expected to redeem himself in this magical land of opportunity, young Karl is swept up instead in a whirlwind of dizzying reversals, strange escapades, and picaresque adventures. Despite the fact Kafka never set foot in America, his novel was uncannily prescient about certain aspects of the country that advertised itself, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as “the promised land.” Godbout, as a Quebecois artist and outsider to America, also provides a unique perspective. 184pgs B&W paperback.

Andre The Giant: The Life & Legend
by Box Brown
First Second

The publisher says:
Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Bride and a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who’d been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant. Box Brown brings his great talents as a cartoonist and biographer to this phenomenal new graphic novel. Drawing from historical records about Andre’s life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable figures. 240pgs B&W paperback. Read an extract here…

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
by Roz Chastl

The publisher says:
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of ageing parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-colour cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; ageing and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care. An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller. 240pgs colour hardcover. Read some reviews here…

Endless Sky: The Story of a Swiss in New York
by David Boller
Virtual Graphics
$24.95 / £19.95

The publisher says:
In 1992 David Boller left Switzerland for the USA to become a professional comic book artist. A simple goal turned into a sixteen year long adventure, populated with eccentric characters and accompanied by success and defeat that continue to have a profound influence on his life today. David talks about his experience in the American comic book industry, his struggles with his adopted family and his attempt at getting a piece of the American Dream in an honest and easygoing style. A captivating new autobiographical graphic novel by David Boller which is already a hit in Germany and France. 280pgs B&W paperback. Read it online for free at Zampano…

Flesh & Steel: The Art of Russ Heath
by Florentino Flores

The publisher says:
Following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Woodwork: Wallace Wood and Big John Buscema museum exhibition catalogues comes Flesh & Steel: The Art of Russ Heath. Following Heath from his very earliest days as an artist to the present, and featuring a cornucopia of rare and never-before-seen-art, many from Heath’s personal archives, Heath’s entire career is examined in an intricately researched biography, complete with an index of his work. 320pgs colour paperback. Watch a video of the exhibition in Palma Mallorca…

Grip: The Strange World of Men
by Gilbert Hernandez
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Comics luminary Gilbert Hernandez delivers a genre mash up unlike any other. When Mike Chang wakes up with nothing but a lipstick smudge, someone else’s suit, and amnesia, he’s thrown into a world of criminal gangs, crime fighters, skin swappers, and a one-eyed girl with bizarre powers. Finally collects the colour 2002 Vertigo mini-series Grip #1 to #5 in black and white, the newest entry in the Gilbert Hernandez (Fatima, Love and Rockets) library! Expanded with a new cover and story pages, never before collected. 128pgs B&W hardcover. Read Time Magazine’s 2002 review here…

Hatsune Miku: Unofficial Hatsune Mix
by KEI
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
It’s Hatsune Miku, the Vocaloid—the synthesizer superstar who’s singing your song! She’s a global cyber celebrity and a cosplay favourite at conventions. Now Miku’s creator, KEI, brings you Hatsune Miku: Unofficial Hatsune Mix, an omnibus manga of the musical adventures of Miku and her fellow Vocaloids Rin, Len, Luka, and more in both beautiful black-and-white and charming colour. With over 170,000 music videos uploaded to Youtube using Miku as the singer and over 900,000 friends on Facebook, Hatsune Miku is a true global phenomenon! 480pgs part-colour paperback with 44 pages in colour. Watch creator KEI sketch and answer questions here…

Library of American Comics Essentials 5: The Bungle Family 1930
by Harry J. Tuthill

The publisher says:
Art Spiegelman called The Bungle Family “the most underrated comic strip in our history.” Bill Blackbeard wrote, “There has been nothing like it in comic strips since.” Hogan’s Alley magazine proclaimed, “The Bungle Family was about as wholly an adult comic strip as the field has ever known.” Yet only sporadic examples of Harry J. Tuthill’s masterpiece have been available to modern readers. This volume collecting the complete 1930 dailies remedies that situation. The strip revolves around a squabbling couple, George and Josephine Bungle, apartment dwellers who are constantly at odds with not only each other, but with their neighbours, landlords, relatives, and just about anyone who crosses their paths, constantly conniving and scheming for financial or social advantage, and trying to marry their daughter, Peggy, to a rich prospect (including the recurring con man, J. Oakdale Hartford, who figures prominently in this volume). The Bungle Family displays no visual panache; rather, it’s Tuthill’s deft ability to define characters and his engrossing writing style that is the strip’s core. Perhaps no other comic strip better defines LOAC Essentials’ mission to reprint the daily newspaper strips that are essential to comics history in yearly volumes so we can have an experience similar to what newspapers readers had may decades ago - reading the comics one day at a time. 336pgs B&W hardcover.

by Jean-David Morvan & Bengal
Magnetic Press

The publisher says:
Naja is the perfect killer because she feels nothing… literally. Her body registers no pain, nor does her heart, coldly executing jobs given to her by her mysterious boss, known only as “Zero”. When another killer in Zero’s organization targets Naja for elimination, she has no choice but to fall off the grid and seek answers, as bloody as they might be… Written by international creative powerhouse JD Morvan (Sillage, Zaya) and illustrated by French sensation Bengal (Meka, Luminae), this volume collects the entire 5-book Naja series into a single lavish album. Foreword by Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Last Days of American Crime). 256pgs colour hardcover. See some preview pages & read a Morvan and Bengal interview here…

Over Easy
by Mimi Pond
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A fast-paced semi-memoir about diners, drugs, and California in the 1970s, Over Easy is a brilliant portrayal of a familiar coming-of-age story. After being denied financial aid to cover her last year of art school, Margaret finds salvation from the straight-laced world of college and the earnestness of both hippies and punks in the wisecracking, fast-talking, drug-taking group she encounters at the Imperial Café, where she makes the transformation from Margaret to Madge. At first she mimics these new and exotic grown-up friends, trying on the guise of adulthood with some awkward but funny stumbles. Gradually she realises that the adults she looks up to are a mess of contradictions, misplaced artistic ambitions, sexual confusion, dependencies, and addictions. Over Easy is equal parts time capsule of late 1970s life in California—with its deadheads, punks, disco rollers, casual sex, and drug use—and bildungsroman of a young woman who grows from a naïve, sexually inexperienced art-school dropout into a self-aware, self-confident artist. Mimi Pond’s chatty, slyly observant anecdotes create a compelling portrait of a distinct moment in time. Over Easy is an immediate, limber, and precise semi-memoir narrated with an eye for the humour in every situation. 272pgs colour hardcover. Check out an 11-page pdf preview here…

Phantoms of the Louvre
by Enki Bilal

The publisher says:
Superstar comic artist Enki Bilal reimagines the Louvre as a ghostly place in this series of 22 portraits. The Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a reclining Christ, an Egyptian bust—these and other works of art are seen through the eyes of their own particular phantom. The motley collection of men, women, and children presented in these vignettes— a Roman legionary, a muse, a painter, and a German officer, among others—have little in common other than their often violent demises and an eternity spent haunting the iconic Parisian museum. Bilal recounts the life stories of these lost souls in dramatic biographies that combine fiction and historical reality, often evoking the creation of the works in question. The paintings that compose this graphic novel were presented in a special exhibition at the Louvre in early 2013. 144pgs colour hardcover. NBM are posting previews, with translations to follow, here…

Spain & Morocco
by Alex Fellows
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
Since 2009, Spain & Morocco was serialised weekly online to much acclaim and a steadily growing readership. The story follows two young roommates, Walt and Dan, who decide to leave behind their uneventful lives to go on a two week trip through Spain and Morocco. With little money, not much travelling experience, and almost no social skills, they hope to find something that will awaken their spirits. What they do find is that the mundane routine of life as roommates doesn’t always translate well to the hectic pace of life on the road. Their bonds of friendship are put to the test as the story takes a menacingly surreal turn. Fellows takes us on the journey with Walt and Dan, as they negotiate women and food and where to sleep at night, all rendered in gorgeous watercolours, and leading us to an unforgettable climax. 176pgs colour hardcover. Alex is posting pages here…

The Amateurs
by Conor Stechschulte,

The publisher says:
In this graphic novella, butchers mysteriously suffer memory loss with disastrous results. A local medical expert and sheriff are summoned to investigate a strange sighting that sets the stage for Conor Stechschulte’s debut graphic novella: a severed human head that still seems to be talking. We flashback to a pair of butchers who arrive at work one morning to find not only that there is no meat in their shop but also that they have forgotten completely how to do their job. As customers arrive, they are too fearful for their livelihood to admit their dilemma, leading to increasingly disastrous events. But what has caused their strange amnesia? This often hilarious, enigmatic and uncomfortable book will establish Stechschulte as an exciting new talent.72pgs B&W paperback. Check out this 8-page preview from Fantagraphics…

The Art of Neil Gaiman
by Neil Gaiman & Hayley Campbell
Harper Design / Ilex Press

The publisher says:
With unprecedented access to Neil Gaiman’s personal archives, author Hayley Campbell gives an insider’s glimpse into the artistic inspirations and musings of one of the world’s most visionary writers. Over the last twenty-five years, Neil Gaiman has mapped out a territory in the popular imagination that is uniquely his own. A master of several genres, including, but not limited to, bestselling novels, children’s books, groundbreaking comics, and graphic novels, it’s no wonder Gaiman has been called a rock star of the literary world. Now, for the first time, Gaiman reveals the inspiration behind his signature artistic motifs, giving author Hayley Campbell a rare, in-depth look at the contents of his personal notebooks and early work, even some of his abandoned projects. The result is a startling, intimate glimpse into the life and mind of one of the world’s most creative visionaries. The book is the first comprehensive, full-color examination of Gaiman’s work to date, tracing the genesis of his creative life as a starving journalist in the UK to his life as a successful comic book writer and, ultimately, a bestselling novelist. Complete with running commentary, interview text, and annotated material that contextualizes the visual material, this deluxe compendium contains never-before-seen material and promises to be every bit as inspired as Gaiman is himself. 320pgs colour hardcover.

The Good Inn
by Black Francis, Josh Black & Steven Appleby
Harper Collins / SelfMadeHero

The publisher says:
rom legendary Pixies front man, Black Francis, in collaboration with writer Josh Frank and renowned illustrator Steven Appleby, comes The Good Inn, a bold and visually arresting novel about art, conflict, and the origins of a certain type of cinema
In 1907, the French battleship Iéna was destroyed when a nitrocellulose-based weapon propellant it was carrying became unstable with age and self-ignited, killing 120 people. A year later, La Bonne Auberge became the earliest-known pornographic film, depicting an intimate encounter between a French soldier and an innkeeper’s daughter. Like all films at the time, and for decades afterward, it was made with a highly combustible nitrocellulose-based film stock. Loosely based on historical events, The Good Inn follows the lone survivor of the Iéna explosion as he makes his way through the French countryside. He falls into a strange love affair with an innkeeper’s daughter and, even more deeply, into a volatile counteruniverse where war and art exist side by side. But The Good Inn is also the very real story of the people who made the world’s first stag film, and Francis weaves together real historical facts to re-create this lost piece of history, as seen through the eyes of a shell-shocked soldier who finds himself that film’s subject and star. Through his journey we explore the power of memory, the simultaneously destructive and restorative power of light, and how the early pioneers of pornography helped shape the film industry for generations to come.152pgs colour hardcover.

The Secret Files of Dr. Drew
by Marilyn Mercer & Jerry Grandenetti
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
In 1949, three of Will Eisner’s most talented “ghosts” created the remarkable horror comic strip featuring Dr. Desmond Drew, a paranormal investigator and “supernatural Sherlock Holmes.” Gorgeously drawn by future Creepy contributor Jerry Grandenetti and written in a gripping pulp style by Marilyn Mercer, Will Eisner’s business assistant, these thirteen chilling stories have been collected and digitally restored while retaining the exquisite design and artwork that characterised the output of the Eisner studio. All thirteen hard-to-find Dr. Drew stories in a single volume. 160pgs colour hardcover. Four-Color Shadows offers two tales online…

The System
by Peter Kuper
PM Press

The publisher says:
Actions speak louder than words.
It’s said that the flutter of insect wings in the Indian Ocean can send a hurricane crashing against the shores of the American Northeast. It’s this premise that lies at the core of The System, a wordless graphic novel created and fully painted by award-winning illustrator Peter Kuper. From the subway system to the solar system, human lives are linked by an endless array of interconnecting threads. They tie each of us to our world and it to the universe. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, get ready to run for cover! A sleazy stockbroker is lining his pockets. A corrupt cop is shaking down drug dealers. A mercenary bomber is setting the timer. A serial killer is stalking strippers. A political scandal is about to explode. The planet is burning. And nobody’s talking. Told without captions or dialogue, The System is an astonishing progression of vivid imagery, each brilliantly executed panel containing a wealth of information, with layer upon layer forming a vast and intricate tour of an ominous world of coincidences and consequences. 112pgs colour hardcover. Read more about The System here…

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains
by Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell
William Morrow

The publisher says:
Beautifully illustrated by renowned artist Eddie Campbell, this is a four-color edition of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novelette “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”—a haunting story of family, the otherworld, and a search for hidden treasure. The text of The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains was first published in the collection Stories: All New Tales. This gorgeous full-color illustrated book version was born of a unique collaboration between writer Neil Gaiman and artist Eddie Campbell, who brought to vivid life the characters and landscape of Gaiman’s story. In August 2010, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains was performed in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House to a sell-out crowd—Gaiman read his tale live as Campbell’s magnificent artwork was presented, scene by scene, on large screens. Narrative and art were accompanied by live music composed and performed especially for the story by the FourPlay String Quartet. 80pgs colour hardcover. Neil Gaiman performs this piece with live music at The Barbican, London, July 4th & 5th 2014…

This One Summer
by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
First Second / Groundwood Books
$17.99 / $21.99

The publisher says:
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens - just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy - is caught up in something bad… Something life threatening. It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. This One Summer is a tremendously exciting new teen graphic novel from two creators with true literary clout. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of childhood - a story of renewal and revelation. 320pgs one-colour hardcover or paperback. Macmillan offer a taster extract here…

Weird Love #1
edited by Craig Yoe

The publisher says:
From the people that bring you the acclaimed Haunted Horror comic comes a horror like no other… WEIRD Love! WEIRD Love presents the most sexy, bizarro, sick, twisted, politically incorrect, kinky “romance” comics of the 1950s and beyond. In this OMG-I-Can’t-Believe-This! first ish, you are going to be astonished to read luridly illustrated pulp comics fiction like “Love of a Lunatic,” “I Fell for a Commie,” “The Taming of the Brute,” the wacko “You Also Snore, Darling,” and more! This collector’s edition which begins the WEIRD Love series “ends” with a pre-code comics ode to the female derrier(!). No wonder the censors wanted this stuff banned! Sure to be a must-have big-buzz comic-and it’s bargain-priced! 48pgs colour comic book.

Whispered Words Vol. 1
by Takashi Ikeda
One Peace Books

The publisher says:
Whispered Words is the story of two high school girls, Sumika and Ushio. One is in love with the other, but unable to confess. Both of them prefer girls, but Ushio likes cute and petite types while Sumika prefers the athletic outgoing girls. To complicate things, a cross dressing boy, Masaki, is in love with Sumika. What ever will happen to this mixed-up bizarre love triangle mess? 472pgs B&W paperback.

by Wally Wood & various creators

The publisher says:
This book collects one of the earliest (and most groundbreaking) indy-comic anthologies by influential creators such as Wallace Wood, Art Spiegelman, Frank Frazetta and many more. When the formulaic constraints, censorious nature, and onerous lack of creator’s rights in mainstream comics got to be too much for the brilliant cartoonist Wallace Wood, he struck out on his own with the self-published Witzend”>witzend. It became a haven for Wood and his fellow professional cartoonist friends where they could produce the kind of personal work that they wanted to do, without regard to commercial demands — and with friends like Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Reed Crandall, Ralph Reese, Archie Goodwin, Angelo Torres, Steve Ditko, Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Elder, Art Spiegelman, Don Martin, Vaughn Bodé, Jim Steranko, Jeff Jones, Howard Chaykin, Trina Robbins, Bernie Wrightson, and literally dozens more, it was bound to be a great ride! Now, Fantagraphics presents the complete run of Witzend in this beautiful slipcased 2-volume set with a special introduction by Bill Pearson and a history by Patrick Rosenkrantz. 608pgs 2-volume hardcover boxed set, black and white with 26 pages of colour.

Posted: March 2, 2014


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