RSS Feed



Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

PG Previews June 2014

What grabs your attention? What floats your boat? How do you choose what to pick up and what to put down? We all have our personal quirks and taste buds and these gleanings from the upcoming month’s new releases are clearly unapologetically biased. If you’ve seen a lot of comics, and believe me, I have, you see a lot of repetitious writing, drawing and above all thinking. Styles, compositions, poses, faces, ideas, that ring alarm bells, because they sure feel awfully familiar. What lies beneath the veneer, the tropes, the sheer unthinking? Sure, sometimes, but only sometimes, looks, first impressions, can be deceiving and there’s more there than meets the eye. And then there are those special times when you pick up a comic and almost immediately you start to see things you’ve never seen before, read texts and enter a story that catch you off-guard. You feel it as it forces you to think and feel afresh, and literally ignites your brain and starts building new synapses. Those sort of comics are rarer but they are out there and worth hunting down. They might well be among these PG Tips. Happy hunting!

Alby Figgs
by Warren Pleece
Blank Slate Books

The publisher says:
A collection of Warren Pleece’s first year of strips with his talkative Londoner, Alby Figgs, as he wanders around town giving everyone the ‘benefit’ of his vast array of tales of the old times and his philosophical musings about life. But who is the unfeasibly similar Lenny Knowles? Where did he spring from? Is he going to snatch Alby’s crown as King of the Gabbers? This collection features 52 strips, plus sketches and other special features. 64pgs B&W softcover. Check out Alby Figgs strips online here…

Alone Vol. 1: The Vanishing
Fabien Vehlmann & Bruno Gazzotti
$13.95 / £7.99

The publisher says:
Five children wake up in a mysteriously deserted city. They must learn to survive—alone. Ivan, Leila, Camille, Terry, Dodzi. Five children who have never met each other, who live very different lives in a small city. Then, one day, they all wake up in their empty homes, walk out into empty streets and wander through the empty city… No adults, no other children; just the five of them eventually finding each other, and forced to band together to face the inevitable questions – and the dangers of a modern city suddenly emptied of its inhabitants. 56pgs colour paperback.

Comics: A Global History, 1968 to Present
by Dan Mazur & Alexander Danner
Thames & Hudson
$34.95 / £19.99

The publisher says:
The first global history of comics around the world from the late 1960s to the present day. Comics, manga, bandes dessinées, fumetti, tebeo, historietas… no matter the name, they have been a powerful medium across four continents for decades. This is the history of comics around the world from the late 1960s to the dawn of the 21st century. Comics is a richly illustrated narrative of extraordinary scope. Examples from all over the world include everything from Crumb and Kirby to RAW; from Métal Hurlant to Marjane Satrapi to nouvelle manga; from both the American mainstream and underground to the evolving and influential British scene. The images here are bright and colourful, dark and brooding, arresting and pleasant, all at the same time. An unprecedented collection includes around 260 expertly chosen illustrations, many reproduced in full-page format for more sophisticated analysis. The authors, two uniquely positioned and knowledgeable authorities, are the first to write a broadly comprehensive history of this most accessible, democratic, and occasionally subversive modern popular art form, displaying an intimate familiarity with schools and styles, writers, artists, and companies across countries and generations. In showing us both post-apocalyptic dreamscapes and portraits of the everyday, Comics looks at this thirty-plus year period through a very unique lens. 320pgs paperback, 289 illustrations in colour and black-and-white. Mazur has posted some great snippets on his site…

Everywhere Antennas
by Julie Delporte
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A poetic novel that plumbs the depths of self-doubt and technological fatigue. Julie Delporte’s Everywhere Antennas is a deeply affecting, sparely constructed novel, equal parts Walden and The Bell Jar. Told in the first person, it offers diary-like entries from an anonymous narrator who is undergoing a nervous breakdown and struggling to hold together a failing relationship. In soft, flowing coloured pencil, Delporte shows her narrator coming to terms with a rare and misunderstood sensitivity to the radiation emitted by the televisions, cell phones, and computers that permeate urban life. On each page a few words are paired with an image or two, conveying a moment or a thought simply but effectively. Over the course of the book, the anonymous narrator moves from place to place, looking for solutions to her melancholy in the countryside via isolation and in the city with friends, sometimes turning to medication for answers. Throughout, her emotional and intellectual landscape receives as much attention as her physical surroundings. Everywhere Antennas is the portrait of a woman caught in the margins, struggling to balance the demands of technology and modern life with the need to find meaningful relationships and work. Roughly hewn figures, sketched in pencil crayon on brightly contrasting backgrounds, populate the pages of this flowing, emotive work. With Everywhere Antennas, Delporte proves herself a master craftswoman of heartbreakingly personal, beautifully literary graphic fiction. 112pgs softcover. Read an preview pdf extract here.

Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Pioneering Legends of Comic Books
by Drew Friedman

The publisher says:
This collects Drew Friedman’s portraits of famous and not-so-famous cartoonists: the men and women who created superheroes, Mad magazine, and much more. Featuring over 80 full-colour portraits of the pioneering legends of American comic books, including publishers, editors and artists from the industry’s birth in the ’30s, through the brilliant artists and writers of behind EC Comics in the ’50s. All lovingly rendered and chosen by Drew Friedman, a cartooning legend in his own right. Featuring subjects popular and obscure, men and women, as well as several pioneering African-American artists. Each subject features a short essay by Friedman, who grew up knowing many of the subjects included (as the son of writer Bruce Jay Friedman), including Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, Jack Davis, Will Elder, and Bill Gaines. More names you might recognize: Barks, Crumb, Wood, Wolverton, Frazetta, Siegel & Shuster, Kirby, Cole, Ditko, Wertham… it’s a Hall of Fame of comic book history from the man call “America’s greatest living portrait artist!” 160pgs hardcover, full colour illustrations throughout.

How I Made The World
by Liz Plourde & Randy Michaels
How I Made The World Comics

The publisher says:
A college sophomore’s art project becomes an obsession that spins her life out of control. Strange students and dangerous dreams turn her midterm into a ‘Monster’. How I Made The World is a Xeric Award-winning series of semi-autobiographical comics featuring Liz, a college student and writer who translates her everyday experiences into epic adventures. The comics are the collaborative effort of writer Liz Plourde and illustrator Randy Michaels. 32pgs B&W comic book. see samples here… and listen to an interview here… and read an interview here…

I Was The Cat
by Paul Tobin & Benjamin Dewey
Oni Press

The publisher says:
Allison Breaking is a talented journalist with her own blog and a lot of bills to pay. So when she receives an offer from a mysterious stranger named Burma to write his memoirs, it’s an offer she can’t refuse, not even with all the red flags popping up. But Burma is quite literally unlike any man Allison’s ever known - because he’s a cat! And this cat has stories to tell about how he (over the course of a few lifetimes) has shaped the world - and another, darker story that Allison must risk all to uncover… a story of what this particular cat has been doing with the last of his nine lives. 114pgs paperback.

Moonhead and the Music Machine
by Andrew Rae
$24.95 / £15.99

The publisher says:
Life’s a peach when you’ve got a moon for a head and your head’s in space. You can wander out of the Earth’s atmosphere on intergalactic daydreams, drift blissfully across star-speckled skies and fly close to the Sun, like a fireproof Icarus. Snap! Back to reality—having a moon for a head at high school is much more tricky. You get picked on for your “crater-face” and the cool kids kick your head around like a soccer ball! But when the school talent contest is announced, Joey spots an opportunity to impress his classmates and so begins Joey Moonhead’s stellar mission to create a music machine that is out of this world! An imaginative and visually poetic take on the stock American high school drama, Moonhead and the Music Machine is a subtle blend between Wayne’s World and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Andrew Rae’s graphic novel is life-affirming and powerfully illustrated. Andrew Rae is a London-based illustrator with a worldwide client base through his work in advertising, print, publishing, and animation. 176pgs colour hardcover.

Petty Theft
by Pascal Girard
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A hilarious romantic comedy about kleptomania and booklovers. Pascal is in a bad place. He and his longtime girlfriend have just broken up, he’s got writer’s block, and when he goes out for a run to ease his frazzled nerves, he falls and injures his back so badly that he’s strictly forbidden from running. What’s an endorphin-loving cartoonist to do? In a bid to distract himself, Pascal throws himself into his other pleasure: reading. And while at the bookstore one day, he spies a young woman picking up his own book. But then she darts out of the shop without paying. Bemused, he decides to figure out why she did it. Petty Theft is a comedy of errors, a laugh-out-loud account of a man on a mission, and a testament to the addictiveness of book ownership. Pascal Girard intermingles an all-too-true-to-life snapshot of contemporary relationships with slapstick trials and dryly funny tribulations in this delightfully readable book. From the award-winning author of Reunion, Petty Theft is a deftly told, finely drawn contemporary romance that will keep booklovers on the edge of their seats from the first page until the denouement. 104pgs B&W paperback. Enjoy the first six pages here…

Photobooth: A Biography
by Meags Fitzgerald
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
For almost a century chemical photobooths have occupied public spaces; giving people the opportunity to quickly take inexpensive, quality photos. In the last decade these machines have started to rapidly disappear, causing an eclectic group of individuals from around the world to come together and respond. Illustrator, writer and long-time photobooth lover, Meags Fitzgerald has chronicled this movement and the photobooth’s fortuitous history in a graphic novel. Having traveled in North America, Europe and Australia, she’s constructed a biography of the booth through the eyes of technicians, owners, collectors, artists and fanatics. Fitzgerald explores her own struggle with her relationship to these fleeting machines, while looking to the future.  280pgs B&W paperback. See Meag’s dedicated site…

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer - Complete Edition
by Van Jensen & Dustin Higgins
Top Shelf Productions

The publisher says:
This puppet may not be a real boy… but he just might be a real hero! When bloodthirsty monsters invade Pinocchio’s hometown and kill his father, Geppetto, Pinocchio discovers a new benefit to his magical nose: telling lies produces a never-ending supply of wooden stakes to combat the vampire hordes! Will Pinocchio be able to defeat these horrors, avenge his father, and save his friends? Now, for the first time, the complete trilogy is collected together in a single deluxe softcover edition. Jensen (Green Lantern Corps) and Higgins (Knights of the Living Dead) present a captivating blend of comedy, horror, romance, and adventure, rooted in the original Italian novel, but brought - as if by magic - to new life. 528pgs B&W paperback. Visit the series’ website here…

Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson Vol. 1
by S. Clay Wilson, edited by Patrick Rosenkranz

The publisher says:
This is a biography of a legendary underground cartoonist (contemporary and collaborator with Robert Crumb), most famous for his Checkered Demon character. This is the definitive account of the boldest and most audacious of the legendary underground cartoonists: the taboo busting, eyeball blistering S. Clay Wilson. This first volume contains all of his underground comic stories from Zap Comix, Snatch, Gothic Blimp Works, Bogeyman, Felch, Insect Fear, Pork, Tales of Sex and Death, and Arcade magazine as well as the many adventures of the Checkered Demon, Star-Eyed Stella, and Captain Pissgums, and even his earliest collaborations with William Burroughs. Also: selections from his teenaged and college years, both in comics and painting form. First person accounts from his peers, as well as Wilson’s own words, offer a revealing portrait of the artist who hid his shyness behind brash behaviour and bluster. This first of a three-volume biography and retrospective gets to the heart and soul of an artist who lived his dreams and his nightmares. 224pgs hardcover. Colour and black & white illustrations.Fantagraphics give you a taster here…

Ritual Decay: Vile Decay One-Shot
edited by Malachi Ward
Revival House Press / Alternative Comics

The publisher says:
In this stand-alone science fiction tale from Malachi Ward (Prophet, The Scout, Best American Comics), an old woman recounts to her grandson, from the safety of a virtual seaside computer program, how she thinks the world went bad. Printed in two colours on cream felt paper. A Revival House Press production distributed by Alternative Comics. 24pgs comic book.

by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Ballantine Books / SelfMadeHero

The publisher says:
The highly anticipated new standalone full-color graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley, author and artist of the hugely bestselling Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over: 1. Write your mistake; 2. Ingest one mushroom; 3. Go to sleep; and 4. Wake anew. And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions. From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise. 336pgs hardcover in full colour. Thom Buchanan’s posted Tantalising sneak peaks and interview extract here… Bryan Lee O’Malley makes two exclusive appearances to launch Seconds in the UK, at Comica Festival 2014 at The British Library, London on Friday August 15th, and at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday August 16th.

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
by Nick Bertozzi
First Second

The publisher says:
Ernest Shackleton was one of the last great Antarctic explorers, and he led one of the most ambitious Antarctic expeditions ever undertaken. This is his story, and the story of the dozens of men who threw in their lot with him - many of whom nearly died in the unimaginably harsh conditions of the journey. It’s an astonishing feat - and was unprecedented at the time - that all the men in the expedition survived. Shackleton’s expedition marked the end of a period of romantic exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic, and this is as much a book about the encroaching modern world as it is about travel. But Nick Bertozzi has documented this remarkable journey with such wit and fiendish attention to detail that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the drama of the voyage. Shackleton is a phenomenal accompaniment to Bertozzi’s earlier graphic novel about great explorers, Lewis & Clark. 128pgs B&W paperback. First Second have some previews here…

The Bad Doctor
by Ian Williams

The publisher says:
Cartoonist and doctor Ian Williams takes his stethoscope to Dr Iwan James, a rural GP in need of more than a little care himself. Incontinent old ladies, men with eagle tattoos, traumatised widowers, Iwan’s patients cause him both empathy and dismay, further complicated by his feelings for his practise partners: unrequited longing for Dr Lois Pritchard and frustration at the antics of Dr Robert Smith, who will use any means to make Iwan look bad in his presence. Iwan’s cycling trips with his friend and mentor, Arthur, provide some welcome relief for him. 224pgs B&W paperback.
More info and advance praise here…

The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition: A New History of The Great Depression
by Amity Shlaes, Chuck Dixon & Paul Rivoche
Harper Perennial

The publisher says:
An illustrated edition of Amity Shlaes’s #1 New York Times bestseller, featuring vivid black-and-white illustrations that capture this dark period in American history and the men and women, from all walks of life, whose character and ideas helped them persevere. This imaginative illustrated edition brings to life one of the most devastating periods in our nation’s history—the Great Depression—through the lives of American people, from politicians and workers to businessmen, farmers, and ordinary citizens. Smart and stylish, black-and-white art from acclaimed illustrator Paul Rivoche provides an utterly original vision of the coexistence of despair and hope that characterized Depression-era America. Shlaes’s narrative and Rivoche’s art illuminate key economic concepts, presenting the thought-provoking case that New Deal regulation prolonged the Depression. The Forgotten Man reveals through striking words and pictures moving personal stories that capture the spirit of this crucial moment in American history and the steadfast character and ingenuity of those that lived it. 320pgs B&W paperback. Sample page here…

The People Inside
by Ray Fawkes
Oni Press

The publisher says:
A new original graphic novel from the Eisner-nominated cartoonist of One Soul. This ground-breaking new book looks at the lives and relationships of 24 individuals in a way only the medium of sequential art could. Relationships change, grow, and end, but the one thing that always remains is the people inside who define both ourselves and our liaisons. 132pgs B&W hardcover.

Through the Woods
by Emily Carroll
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Faber & Faber
$21.99 / £14.99

The publisher says:
Discover a terrifying world in the woods in this collection of five hauntingly beautiful graphic stories that includes the online webcomic sensation “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time. Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page. Already revered for her work online, award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll’s stunning visual style and impeccable pacing is on grand display in this entrancing anthology, her print debut. 208pgs colour hardcover. Forbidden Planet International have some samples and details here…

Twelve Gems
by Lane Milburn

The publisher says:
In this graphic novel space epic, a scientist sends three heroes to search the galaxy for the Twelve Gems of Power. This sci-fi epic takes place somewhere in the outer cosmos, beyond reckoning or observation. The mysterious Dr. Z has enlisted three space heroes to search the galaxy for the fabled Twelve Gems of Power: the hulking alien-brawn Furz; the beautiful and deadly sabre-wielding Venus; and the soft-spoken canine technician, Dogstar. They meet many strange and storied characters on their journey, but none so strange or sinister as their dear benefactor himself. With a heavy dose of humor and wall-to-wall action, this is one of the most action-packed and funny books of the year. 220pgs B&W paperback. Check out Milburn’s advance downloadable extract here…

What We Need To Know
by Willy Linthout
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
In 2007, after the suicide of his son, Linthout wrote and drew the graphic novel Years of the Elephant, which was nominated for a number of international awards and won the Bronzen Adhemar, the most important Flemish comics award. What We Need to Know is the sequel to Years of the Elephant but uses a wide-angle lens to encompass the entire family, specifically three brothers who each need to cope with their own ghosts. The style of both these autobiographical books is done in pencils without inks, in other words a rough and unfinished look, which perfectly matches the psychological state of the characters. Fortunately, they can consult “The Book” in emergencies. In that magic reference work, the famous artist Linthout’s mother has collected innumerable facts, recipes, and advice, in essence, what we need to know about life. Linthout is a featured guest at this May’s Toronot Comic Art Festival. 184pgs B&W hardcover.

Posted: April 1, 2014


If you found this website helpful, please support it by making a donation:

My Books

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

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

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing