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PG Previews:

February 2013

As we end 2012, here are my next monthly PG Tips for forthcoming titles, these all due out in February 2013, though publishers’ schedules may vary. Among my choices there are: some great brand-new originals by such talents as Graham Chaffee, the UK’s Famicon group & Joe Sparrow, Miriam Katin, and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill delivering a new one-shot League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel; some translations from French comics, including the long-overdue English version of Franquin’s Idées Noires, another masterpiece now available that’s was picked for my guide 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die; some excellent re-editions, including John Kricfalusi’s total wackiness and Marshal Law‘s savage superhero satire; and some studies about comics, from the biography of the complex creator of L’il Abner to insights into the works of Daniel Clowes. I hope you’ll find one or two items amongst them that appeal to you.

Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary
by Michael Schumacher & Denis Kitchen
Bloomsbury USA

The publisher says:
More than thirty years have passed since the death of Al Capp, and he may no longer be a household name. But at the height of his career, his groundbreaking comic strip, Li’l Abner, reached ninety million readers. The strip ran for forty-three years, spawned two movies and a Broadway musical, and originated such expressions as “hogwash” and “double-whammy.” Capp himself was a familiar personality on TV and radio; as a satirist, he was frequently compared to Mark Twain. Though Li’l Abner brought millions joy, the man behind the strip was a complicated and often unpleasant person. A childhood accident cost him a leg-leading him to art as a means of distinguishing himself. His apprenticeship with Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, started a twenty-year feud that ended in Fisher’s suicide. Capp enjoyed outsized publicity for a cartoonist, but his status abetted sexual misconduct and protected him from the severest repercussions. Late in life, his politics became extremely conservative; he counted Richard Nixon as a friend, and his gift for satire was redirected at targets like John Lennon, Joan Baez, and anti-war protesters on campuses across the country. With unprecedented access to Capp’s archives and a wealth of new material, Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen have written a probing biography. Capp’s story is one of incredible highs and lows, of popularity and villainy, of success and failure-told here with authority and heart.

Ariol Vol. 1: Just A Donkey Like You And Me
by Emmanuel Guibert & Marc Boutavant

The publisher says:
Brand new series translated from France by multiple award-winning author Emmanuel Guibert and renowned illustrator Marc Boutavant. Ariol is your everyday tween donkey with blue glasses. He lives in the suburbs with his mom and dad. His best friend is a pig. He’s in love with a beautiful cow in his class. His teacher is a dog. His gym teacher is a huge rooster. In short, Ariol is just like you and me. Go visit Ariol’s own interactive site (in French but lotsa fun!).

DNA Failure
by Famicon (GHXYK2, Leon Sadler, Stefan Sadler & John Chandler)
$14.00 / £9.99

The publisher says:
Three cartoonists telling interlocking stories from a single universe. This is work defined by keen observation and an attention to the ongoing movements of objects and personalities. In other words, a fully realized cartoon world. What makes it unique is that the sensibilities at work here are fearless in their ideas. Essential, highly advanced comic-making.  Softcover, 96 pages, B&W, Edition of 1000. See sample pages here.

by Karl Stevens
Alternative Comics

The publisher says:
The new book from the acclaimed author of Guilty, Whatever, and The Lodger. Failure collects Karl Stevens’ beautifully rendered humorous comic strips from the Phoenix, Boston’s leading alternative weekly. His slice-of-life vignettes and surreal anthropomorphic experiments are revealing sketches of urban America and beyond. 180 pages in colour, including over fifty pages of unpublished material. Read some sample strips from the paper’s site.

Franquin’s Last Laugh
by André Franquin

The publisher says:
The Franco-Belgian gag cartoonist’s darker work, translated into English for the first time. André Franquin, the creator of arguably the greatest Franco-Belgian gag strip of all time (Gaston Lagaffe) and the custodian, for close to a quarter century, of the second greatest Franco-Belgian comedy-adventure strip (Spirou, behind the untouchable Tintin), was also a moody guy who suffered from crushing bouts of depression. With his late-career Idées Noires series of gags from the late 1970s and early 1980s, created mostly for the independent/underground comics magazine Fluide Glacial, Franquin harnessed his still-virtuoso graphic style to his increasingly morbid worldview, and the result was a series of joyfully morbid “blackout” pages that postulated the world as a bleak, miserable, and hopeless hell — executed in a phenomenally controlled, exquisitely dark black-and-blacker symphony of pen lines. Franquin had intended to work with stylized silhouettes, but his obsessive doodler’s nature overpowered him and resulted in an utterly unique look that he himself once complained looked like his regular style “covered in soot.” Franquin may have been hanging on by his fingernails, but his graphic mastery was undimmed, and the bracing despair, hopelessness and misanthropy he laid down onto the paper evidently helped him survive many a bleak day and night. Most of these strips have never been read in English. Fantagraphics is proud to present the complete Idées Noires collection (under the title Franquin’s Last Laugh), with a new translation and introduction by editor Kim Thompson.

Gabba Gabba Hey: The Ramones Graphic
by Jim McCarthy & Brian Williamson
Omnibus Press
$24.95 / £14.95

The publisher says:
From the creators of Neverland: The Michael Jackson Graphic,, The Sex Pistols Graphic Novel, Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic and Eminem: In My Skin comes an explosive new graphic novel about The Ramones. The Ramones were the archetypal American punk band and this is their story, from their beginnings in Queens in 1974, through the burgeoning punk scene at CBGB’s, the excitement of their first album, their brush with the unhinged genius of Phil Spector and the endless touring that saw them perform 2,263 concerts over a 22 year period. Set against a backdrop of New York facing bankruptcy and terrorised by Son of Sam, The Ramones tale takes in endless inter-band fighting and finally the tragic deaths of three of the founding members: Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. Yet their influence has proved immense, with their early British tours having a profound impact on bands like The Pistols and The Clash, and the band finally receiving due recognition when they were induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and later won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. All of this is perfectly captured by Jim McCarthy’s insightful script and Brian Williamson’s extraordinary artwork (see some examples here).

Goddamn This War!
by Jacques Tardi

The publisher says:
Tardi’s most recent war-themed graphic novel tracks an unnamed soldier’s experiences. Created 15 years after the completion of his Eisner Award-winning World War I masterwork It Was the War of the Trenches, Tardi’s Goddamn This War! is no mere sequel or extension, but a brand new, wholly individual graphic novel that serves as a companion piece to Trenches but can be read entirely on its own. Vastly different sequentially, eschewing Trenches’ splintered narrative, Goddamn is split into six chronological chapters, one for each year of the war. Graphically Tardi deploys his more recent pen-ink-and-watercolor technique, with the bold colors of the early chapters fading into a grimy near-monochrome in the later ones as the war drags on. Narratively all of Goddamn is told, with insight, dark wit and despair, as a first-person reminiscence/narration by an unnamed soldier. Goddamn This War! shares with Trenches its sustained sense of outrage, pitch-black gallows humor, and impeccably scrupulous historical exactitude. In fact, Goddamn This War! includes an extensive year-by-year historical text section written by Tardi’s frequent World War I research helpmate, the historian and collector Jean-Pierre Verney, including dozens of stunning rare photographs and visual documents from his personal collection. 152 pages. Click from this link to see three French pages.

Good Dog
by Graham Chaffee

The publisher says:
Graham Chaffee returns to comics and uses a simple, charming story about a stray dog to examine larger issues. Good Dog marks the welcome return of alternative cartoonist Graham Chaffee, who, after his successful 2003 collection of short stories, The Most Important Thing and other Stories, took a detour to devote himself to the art of tattooing, before charging back with his new, beautifully conceived graphic novel. Ivan, who is plagued by terrible nightmares about chickens and rabbits, is a good dog—if only someone would notice. Readers accompany the stray as he navigates dog society, weathers pack politics, and surveys canine-human interactions. Good Dog’s story and pen-and-ink art are deceptively simple, but Chaffee uses the approachability of the subject matter as a device to explore topics such as independence, security, assimilation, loyalty, and violence. Preteen-and-up dog fanciers, especially, will warm to the well-meaning Ivan and his exploits with a motley assortment of Scotties, Bulldogs, and mutts. Chaffee combines illustrative gravitas with cartooning verve and creates a richly textured, dog’s-eye view of the world. The story is a rousing Jack Londonesque adventure as well as a moral parable. Black & white illustrations throughout. Read an illustrated interview with Chaffee here.

Hand-Drying in America
by Ben Katchor
Pantheon Books

The publisher says:
From one of the most original and imaginative American cartoonists at work today comes a collection of graphic narratives on the subjects of urban planning, product design, and architecture—a surrealist handbook for the rebuilding of society in the twenty-first century. Ben Katchor, a master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, now takes on the many ways our property influences and reflects cultural values. Here are window-ledge pillows designed expressly for people-watching and a forest of artificial trees for sufferers of hay fever. The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption deals with the matter of products that outlive their owners; a school of dance is based upon the choreographic motion of paying with cash; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed. With cutting wit Katchor reveals a world similar to our own—lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality—but also slightly, fabulously askew. Frequently and brilliantly bizarre, and always mesmerizing, Hand-Drying in America ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.

John K Presents Spumco Comic Book
by John Kricfalusi & various

The publisher says:
Legendary animator, John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy, George Liquor and the gorgeous girl heart-throb Sody Pop, loves comics (the good ones!) and has produced some crazy, fun, wild (and sexy) ones in the past. These raucous extravaganzas are now ultra-rare and expensive and eagerly sought after by his thousands of devoted fans. Yoe Books is pleased as punch to finally publish these comics in a large-format hardback collector’s edition book. Get this—it includes an astounding never before published 25-page epic comic, Jimmy the Drooling Numbskull in Nutty the Friendly Dump!, worth the price of admission alone! John is joined by his cartoonist crew including Jim Smith, Vincent Waller, Mike Fontanelli, Shane Glines, Rich Pursel and more Spumco greats! Simply titled John K. Presents Spumco Comic Book, this is going to be a major buzz book that you will want to be the first in your neighborhood to have!

Letting It Go
by Miriam Katin
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A Holocaust survivor struggles to let the past go. Miriam Katin’s debut graphic novel, the 2006 memoir We Are On Our Own, was a unique portrait of how one family survived World War II. A companion to We Are On Our Own, Letting It Go shows Katin, now an adult, dealing with her son Ilan’s recent move to Berlin. As she struggles to accept his decision, she realizes that her hesitations have more to do with long-held grudges than any sort of legitimate concern. Whereas We Are On Our Own probed Katin’s loss of faith and talked about her experiences during the war, Letting It Go examines the lasting trauma of surviving World War II from a very different vantage point, focusing on her life as a middle-aged New Yorker. The flowing, expressive style employed in We Are On Our Own has been refined in this full-colour masterpiece. A panel-less style lets the story find a natural rhythm, with wise and funny anecdotes along the way. Katin has the light hand of a master storyteller in this, an insightful and serious but also wry account of the myriad ways trauma infects daily existence, both for survivors and for their families. Read a five-page pdf preview here.

Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition
by Pat Mills & Kevin O’Neill
DC Comics

The publisher says:
Marshal Law is back in a new, deluxe edition hardcover! This futuristic law official is charged with policing super-heroes gone rogue by any means necessary, all while fighting his own self-hatred for being the thing he hates most: a super-hero.Featuring art by Kevin O’Neill, illustrator of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the centerpiece of this massive volume is the six-part tale in which Marshal Law hunts down the Sleepman, a serial killer who is somehow connected to the popular hero known as The Public Spirit. Collects Marshal Law #1-6, Marshal Law: Fear And Loathing, Marshal Law Takes Manhattan, Marshal Law: Kingdom Of The Blind and Marshal Law: The Hateful Dead, Marshal Law: Super Babylon and Marshal Law: Secret Tribunal #1-2. 480-page hardcover.

Mylo Xyloto #1(of 6)
by Coldplay, Mark Osborne, Alejandro Fuentes & Vladimir Shelest
Bongo Comics

The publisher says:
Every album begins with the germ of an idea, every song tells a story, and now it is finally revealed that there is a secret other worldly narrative behind Coldplay’s newest hit album and its enigmatic title: Mylo Xyloto. Three years ago, Coldplay teamed up with Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda, More, The Little Prince) to create Mylo’s epic story that has gone on to inspire chart-toppers like Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall, Paradise, Princess of China, and Hurts Like Heaven, and which has its own Mylo Xyloto comic-themed music video providing insight into the backstory of this new universe, and a glimpse of Mylo himself. Prepare to experience the world of Coldplay in a whole new way with this brand-new 6-issue miniseries! Watch the prequel promo video.

Nemo: Heart of Ice
by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Top Shelf Productions / Knockabout Comics
$14.95 / £9.99

The publisher says:
In the grim cold of February 2013 a new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book will surface: Nemo: Heart of Ice, a full-color 56-page adventure by the inestimable Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. It’s 1925, fifteen years after the death of Captain Nemo, when his daughter Janni Dakkar launches a grand Antarctic expedition to lay the old man’s burdensome legacy to rest. Accompanied by Nemo’s shipmate Ishmael, a ration of rum, and her father’s log, Janni embarks on a perilous journey to the bottom of the world pursued by employees of an influential publishing tycoon, who seek the return of plundered loot. Jules Verne meets H.P. Lovecraft in the final showdown beneath the Mountains of Madness - the uncharted gap in the map where time is broken and our hero’s reality is about to crack! Ready the Nautilus! She’s going back to the South Pole!

Of Comics And Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books
by Jean-Paul Gabilliet
University of Mississippi Press

The publisher says:
Originally published in France and long sought in English translation, Jean-Paul Gabilliet’s Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books documents the rise and development of the American comic book industry from the 1930s to the present. The book intertwines aesthetic issues and critical biographies with the concerns of production, distribution, and audience reception, making it one of the few interdisciplinary studies of the art form. A thorough introduction by translators and comics scholars Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen brings the book up to date with explorations of the latest innovations, particularly the graphic novel. The book is organized into three sections: a concise history of the evolution of the comic book form in America; an overview of the distribution and consumption of American comic books, detailing specific controversies such as the creation of the Comics Code in the mid-1950s; and the problematic legitimization of the form that has occurred recently within the academy and in popular discourse. Viewing comic books from a variety of theoretical lenses, Gabilliet shows how seemingly disparate issues—creation, production, and reception—are in fact connected in ways that are not necessarily true of other art forms. Analyzing examples from a variety of genres, this book provides a thorough landmark overview of American comic books that sheds new light on this versatile art form. New softcover edition of the 2009 hardback.

St. George Blood &and Martyrs
by Akin Akinsuku & Joe Sparrow
USharp Comics / Highland Books

The publisher says:
This fresh new graphic novel features a combination of legend, history and ‘dramatic license’, suggesting that St. George links the last great Persecution of Christians to Emperor Constantine’s later conversion. The story of St. George and the Dragon is told in a graffiti-like style, while Roman graffiti are key plot drivers in the historical section. Colour hardcover.

The Dan Clowes Reader: A Critical Edition of Ghost World and Other Stories, With Essays, Interviews, and Annotations
by Ken Parille

The publisher says:
This landmark collection features ten of Daniel Clowes’s most influential graphic narratives, along with interviews in which he talks about his career and creative process, and twelve thought-provoking essays by contemporary scholars and critics. A wide-ranging introduction to the work of one of the most important living cartoonists, The Daniel Clowes Reader features Ghost World, Clowes’s celebrated graphic novel about the complex friendship of two teenage girls. It also includes stories — some reprinted for the first time — about boys coming of age, troubled superheroes, and the place of artists and critics in popular culture. The volume’s dozen critical essays illuminate Clowes’s comics by locating them within biographical, artistic, and socio-historical contexts, including the Indie and DIY movements, Generation X philosophy, and the history of American cartooning. Selections by artists who influenced Clowes and a detailed chronology of his work round out the collection,and extensive annotations shed light on the cartoonist’s sources and cultural references. Perfect for the college literature/graphic narrative classroom.

Posted: December 15, 2012


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