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PG Previews:

January 2011

Below are the comics, manga and graphic novels I’m most looking forward to based on publisher advance listings due to be released in January 2011 (although actual dates may vary).

Amazing 3D Comics
edited & designed by Craig Yoe

The publisher says:
In the mid-fifties, comic-book great Joe Kubert hit upon the idea of doing comics in 3-D, which resulted in some of the best-selling comics of all time print runs in the millions. Craig Yoe collects the best of these stories and samples by artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bob Powell, Al Jaffee, Russ Heath, Milt Stein, Alex Toth, and many more. Carefully re-mastered and reproduced in large format so that every dynamic, eye-popping effect can be looked at in astonishment. The comics cover every genre: superhero, jungle adventures, horror comics, science fiction, funny animals, satire, western and romance! The fascinating behind the scenes introduction is by the mastermind behind 3-D comics himself, Mr. Joe Kubert.

Paul Gravett says:
Those red-and-green spectacles seemed to be showing up everywhere back in 1982 when Peter Stanbury and I were dreaming up Escape Magazine and they inspired us to announce that we would run 3D in our second issue, without fully knowing quite how we were going to produce this! Luckily Arthur Girling of the UK Stereoscopic Society came to our rescue and Peter’s labours on the PMT camera crafting each level on acetate painted from behind resulted on a top-class 8-page 3D centre section with strips by Shaky Kane and Rian Hughes, a 7-level pin-up by Paul Bignell and one of Girling’s own geometric gems. In this modern era of Avatar-level HD-3D, the time is right to celebrate America’s first great wave of 3D comics which burst free from the 2D printed page in the early Fifties and which comics archaologist extraordinaire lovingly restores and re-presents here in all their eye-popping spectacle.

Approximate Continuum Comics
by Lewis Trondheim

The publisher says:
One of the very first autobiographical graphic novels to come from France, Lewis Trondheim’s Approximate Continuum Comics set the standard for the honest, often hilarious chronicling of a cartoonist’s life. Trondheim’s typically graceful, confident cartooning shows him wrestling with his own demons (sometimes, in dream sequences, literally) and an often malevolent world, while trying to maintain his rising career as one of Europe’s most beloved cartoonists. Approximate Continuum finally brings American readers the first portion of the ‘Trondheim autobio trilogy’ that also comprises the Eisner nominated ‘At Loose Ends’ meditation serialized in Mome (which will be released as a graphic novel in 2012) and the ongoing ‘Little Nothings’ series of short slice-of-life stories (three to date from NBM Publishing). This volume contains the first three chapters serialized in the Nimrod comic book, the last three (never-before-translated) chapters, and a hilarious ‘rebuttal’ section in which Trondheim’s family and cartoonist friends (including Epileptic creator David B. and Trondheim’s mom) dispute (or ruefully agree with) Trondheim’s depictions.

Paul Gravett says:
Basically, this compiles some of Trondheim’s first and very best longer-form autobio comics, a genre at which he can excel. Great to see this finally fully translated and supplemented by the perspectives of some of his ‘victims’!

Cursed Pirate Girl:
The Collected Edition Volume 1

by Jeremy Bastian
Olympian Publishing

The publisher says:
Cursed Pirate Girl is the comic book tale of a salty little adventurer traveling in search of her lost father, one of the dreaded Pirate Captains of the mythical Omerta Seas. Rendered in a stunning pen and ink style the story begins in Port Elisabeth, Jamaica in the year 1728, and quickly heads across - and beneath - the waves.

Paul Gravett says:
I’m only just catching up with this guy Bastian, having spotted his story for David Peterson’s Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard. Forget the tired tosh of Pirates of the Caribbean, this is insanely detailed and anachronistic draughtsmanship harnessed to some seriously hardcore whimsy and junior swashbuckling. Apparently it’s intended to be a six-issue run in all.

Day Of The Magicians
by Michelangelo la Neve & Marco Nizzoli
Humanoids Inc

The publisher says:
An epic tale of sorcery and love… Drazen has completed his training as a Magician and is determined to fulfill the mission given to him by his Caste: track down and defeat his own father, the renegade magician known as Lancaster.

Paul Gravett says:
We’re lucky. The French have had to wait from 2003 till 2010 to read these Italian creators’ protracted five-volume series, but now thanks to the Humanoids we can get the whole 300-page shebang in one affordable tome. Nizzoli has a strong, clear style, building on his Moebius influences to make the crisp linework distinctly his. You can see four pages from the fifth French volume here of a thoroughly entertaining, magical coming-of-age saga.

by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Bá
DC Vertigo

The publisher says:
Daytripper follows the life of one man, Bras de Olivias Dominguez. Every chapter features an important period in Bras’ life in exotic Brazil, and each story ends the same way: with his death. And then, the following story starts up at a different point in his life, oblivious to his death in the previous issue - and then also ends with him dying again. In every chapter, Bras dies at different moments in his life, as the story follows him through his entire existence - one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness. Each issue rediscovers the many varieties of daily life, in a story about living life to its fullest - because any of us can die at any moment.

Paul Gravett says:
The Brazilian brothers were in London this summer and painted a wonderful wall-sized comic on the South Bank. This duo can sparkle when they work separately, but as Daytripper proves they are their own best collaborators, co-writing and co-drawing as perhaps only twins can do. I’m looking forward to meeting them properly later this month at the first Rio Comicon.

Good Eggs: A Memoir
by Phoebe Potts
Harper Collins

The publisher says:
For Phoebe Potts, the path to maternal fulfillment has not been easy. All her friends seem to get pregnant with ease, but she can’t conceive for all her trying. As Phoebe and her husband Jeff navigate the emotionally and physically fraught world of fertility experts, she takes stock of what matters in the rest of her life and reflects on her winding journey to finding her true calling as an artist. From her days as an amateur union organizer in Texas to her spiral into paralyzing depression in Mexico; her soul-shrinking, all-for-the-benefits stint as an administrative assistant at a fancy university in Cambridge to her flirtation with rabbinical school, Phoebe illuminates the bumpy road to vocational and personal contentment and the truly good eggs - an unforgettably nutty mother, a devoted husband, a team of therapists, hairdressers and landladies and a sidekick housecat - creating an expanding definition of what really makes a family.

Paul Gravett says:
Another fascinating addition to the burgeoning autobiographical graphic medicine genre, written and drawn with great clarity, tenderness and charm. There’s a short extract and mini-interview here.

Lewis & Clark
by Nick Bertozzi
First Second

The publisher says:
Two of America’s greatest explorers embark on the adventure that made their names - and sealed their fates. In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis, Missouri, for one of the greatest adventures this nation has ever known. Appointed and funded by President Jefferson himself, and led by a cadre of experts (including the famous Sacajawea), the expedition was considered a success almost before it had begun. From the start, the journey was plagued with illness, bad luck, unfriendly Indians, Lewis’s chronic depression, and, to top it all, the shattering surprise of the towering Rocky Mountains and the continental divide. But despite crippling setbacks, overwhelming doubts, and the bare facts of geography itself, Lewis and Clark made it to the Pacific in 1806. Nick Bertozzi brings the harrowing - and, at times, hilarious - journey to vivid life on the pages of this oversized black-and-white graphic novel. With his passion for history and his knack for characterization, Bertozzi has made an intimate tale of a great American epic.

Paul Gravett says:
The fanciful story of Picasso and the birth of Cubism in The Salon was a particular favourite by Bertozzi and over the years he’s worked wonders invigorating historical subjects. Lewis & Clark is another substantial piece, and although from a first look at this 13-page preview, I worried that this might be too cramped on the page, I discovered that this comes in First Second’s new larger 8.5 x 10 inch format, so it should be a comfortable and thoroughly engrossing read.

Lynd Ward:
Six Novels In Woodcuts Slipcase

by Lynd Ward
Library of America

The publisher says:
From the eve of the Great Depression to the start of World War II, Lynd Ward (1905-1985) observed the troubled American scene through the double lens of a politically committed storyteller and a visionary graphic artist. His medium - the wordless ‘novel in woodcuts’ - was his alone, and he quickly brought it from bold iconographic infancy to subtle and still unrivalled mastery.

Gods’ Man (1929), the audaciously ambitious work that made Ward’s reputation, is a modern morality play, an allegory of the deadly bargain a striving young artist often makes with life. Madman’s Drum (1930), a multigenerational saga worthy of Faulkner, traces the legacy of violence haunting a family whose stock in trade is human souls. Wild Pilgrimage (1932), perhaps the most accomplished of these early books, is a study in the brutalization of an American factory worker whose heart can still respond to beauty but whose mind is twisted in rage against the system and its shackles. Prelude to a Million Years (1933) is a dark meditation on art, inspiration, and the disparity between the ideal and the real. Song Without Words (1936), a protest against the rise of European fascism, asks if ours is a world still fit for the human soul. Vertigo (1937), Ward’s undisputed masterpiece, is an epic novel on the theme of the individual caught in the downward spiral of a sinking American economy. Its characters include a young violinist, her luckless fiancés, and an elderly business magnate who - movingly, and without ever becoming a political caricature - embodies the social forces determining their fate.

The images reproduced in this volume are taken from prints pulled from the original woodblocks or first-generation electrotypes. The Library of America is proud to bring Ward’s masterworks to a new generation of readers, together with nine illuminating essays about his craft, including those he wrote for the long out-of-print Storyteller Without Words, a 1974 retrospective. Art Spiegelman contributes an introductory essay, ‘Reading Pictures’, that defines Ward’s towering achievement in that most demanding of graphic-story forms, the wordless novel in woodcuts.

Paul Gravett says:
After Belgium’s Frans Masereel, America’s Lynd Ward stands as perhaps one of the greatest visual storyteller using the format and rhythm of the single woodcut image per spread. Hailed by Will Eisner as a major inspiration, Ward is also re-appreciated here by Art Spiegelman, whose introduction opens both volumes. Highly prized and highly priced, Ward’s books were included in Lincoln’s fine Silent Witnesses exhibition last summer. This is superb and timely new edition makes them available for all.

Nancy Is Happy:
Complete Dailies 1942-1945

by Ernie Bushmiller

The publisher says:
For many years, Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, with its odd-looking, squat heroine, nearly abstract art, and often super-corny gags, was perceived as the stodgiest, squarest comic strip in the world. Popular with newspaper readers, true - but definitely not a strip embraced by comic-strip connoisseurs, like Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy or Terry and the Pirates. But then those connoisseurs took a closer look, and began to realize that Bushmiller’s art approached its own kind of cartoon perfection, and those corny gags often achieved a striking zen quality. In its own way, it turned out Nancy was in fact the most iconic comic strip of all. Beginning in the Spring of 2010, fans will be dancing with joy as Fantagraphics unveils an ongoing Nancy reprint project. Each volume contain a whopping full four years of daily Nancy strips (a Sunday Nancy project looms in the future), collected in a fat, square package designed by Jacob Covey. This first Nancy volume will feature an introduction by another stellar Bushmiller fan, Daniel Clowes (from whose collection most of the strips in this volume were scanned), a biography of the artist, and much more.

Paul Gravett says:
It’s no accident that a tiny repro of a Nancy four-panel strip was used to illustrate the definition of comics in an American dictionary. They are such clear visual-verbal communications systems that you often find you’ve read them almost before you decide to read them. Four formative years of Bushmiller’s minimalist mastery of the medium.

Scenes From An Impending Marriage
by Adrian Tomine
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
At the behest of his soon-to-be wife, Adrian Tomine set out to create a wedding favor for their guests that would be more funny and personal than the typical chocolate bars and picture frames. What started out as a simple illustrated card soon grew into a full-fledged comic book: a collection of short strips chronicling the often absurd process of getting married. A loose, cartoony departure from Tomine’s previous work, Scenes From An Impending Marriage is a sweet-natured, laugh-out-loud skewering of the modern marriage process, including hiring a DJ, location scouting, trips to the salon, suit fittings, dance lessons, registering for gifts, and managing familial demands. The most personal and autobiographical work of Tomine’s career, Scenes From An Impending Marriage is a charming, delightful token of love.

Paul Gravett says:
Tomine’s delightful concoction of New Yorker-style single-panel gags and short cartoonish strips captures the craziness of looming matrimony. Enjoy the 6-page sneak peek here.

The Comics:
An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art

by Jerry Robinson
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
From Jerry Robinson, legendary creator of the Joker, seventy-year veteran of the comics industry, and prominent figure in monthly books, daily strips, and comics journalism, comes a comprehensive history of the truly American art form. The Comics is a fully reworked and updated edition of the 1974 classic that chronicles the origins and evolution of comic strips, from prior to The Yellow Kid through today, and highlights the game-changing contributions of such creative luminaries as Milton Caniff, Walt Kelly, Hal Foster, and Winsor McCay, among countless others. A fascinating resource of enduring excellence for fans of the art form, historians, and casual readers alike, this edition has been extensively revisited by Robinson and tells the stories behind the newsprint page.

Paul Gravett says:
From the Yellow Kid and Krazy Kat to Peanuts and Doonesbury, Robinson’s 1974 original, insightful overview of America’s newspaper strips was a landmark tome, a real eye-opener for me at the time, which helped kickstart my deeper exploration of these truly classic comics. 37 years later comes his much-needed revised expansion no doubt taking in recent marvels like Calvin & Hobbes, Bloom County, Mutts and more.

The Fracture Of The Universal Boy:
A Symbolist Manifesto

by Michael Zulli
Olympian Publishing

Paul Gravett says:
This really has been ‘years-in-the-making’. Century Guild have posted a few striking images here and have tried to sum it up in words, as follows:

It’s like reading Carlos Castaneda, or like the Anti-Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  (It’s almost The Holy Mountain of graphic novels, if H. P. Lovecraft channelling Oscar Wilde had scripted Jodorowsky’s film.)  It’s venom on a curved blade, and dandyism, and fear, and surrender and transcendence - and it is literally palpable.

I’m not alone in eagerly anticipating how I will react to Zulli’s long gestating, fiercely uncompromising creation. 

A Family’s Journey

by Gia-Bao Tran

The publisher says:
GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past - and to focus on their children’s future. It was only in his late twenties that GB began to learn their extraordinary story. When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, GB visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind. In this family saga played out in the shadow of history, GB uncovers the root of his father’s remoteness and why his mother had remained in an often fractious marriage; why his grandfather had abandoned his own family to fight for the Viet Cong; why his grandmother had had an affair with a French soldier. GB learns that his parents had taken harrowing flight from Saigon during the final hours of the war not because they thought America was better but because they were afraid of what would happen if they stayed. They entered America - a foreign land they couldn’t even imagine - where family connections dissolved and shared history was lost within a span of a single generation. In telling his family’s story, GB finds his own place in this saga of hardship and heroism. Vietnamerica is a visually stunning portrait of survival, escape, and reinvention - and of the gift of the American immigrants’ dream, passed on to their children. Vietnamerica is an unforgettable story of family revelation and reconnection - and a new graphic-memoir classic.

Paul Gravett says:
Tran’s often widescreen, formally complex advance spreads promise something extraordinary. Another mostly unheard voice amidst our current media-babble, the young Vietnamerican finds the perfect outlet through family memoir and autobiographical comics. Potentially one of the key American graphic novels of next year.

Posted: November 7, 2010


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