RSS Feed



Books To Read: Best Graphic Novels:

PG Preview January 2014

True, it’s a bit too early to be wishing you all a Happy New Year, but from my selections of this coming January’s releases, 2014 is going to be a Happy one for readers of great comics. My monthly PG Tips below span from the very beginnings of comics’ origins to the latest online experiments, taking in major creators like Dave McKean, Bastien Vivès and Michael Deforge, the bande dessinée source of new Korean movie Snowpiercer, and an innovative biography of Zelda Fitzgerald along the way. There’s also the long-awaited reissue of Marvelman/Miracleman written by Alan Moore, repackaged ironically by Marvel and with Moore’s credit replaced by ‘The Original Writer’. Now that much is correct, as Alan was most definitely being highly ‘Original’ working on this modern superhero classic. Kimota! My top tip goes to McKean’s Pictures That Tick Volume 2, which includes not only his ‘Black Holes’ docu-comic made for Comica Festival and Ctrl.Alt.Shift’s Unmasks Corruption anthology, but also the print adaptation of his acclaimed Hypercomic gallery installation ‘The Rut’ (sample spread above). This is an essential gatherum by one of the most innovative multi-media storytellers on the planet! 

Ant Colony  #1 & #2
by Michael Deforge
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
The debut graphic novel from a dazzling newcomer with a singular, idiosyncratic style. In the few short years since he began his pamphlet-size comic book series Lose, Michael DeForge has announced himself as an important new voice in alternative comics. His brash, confident, undulating artwork sent a shock wave through the comics world for its unique, fully formed aesthetic. From its opening pages, Ant Colony immerses the reader in a world that is darkly existential, with false prophets, unjust wars, and corrupt police officers, as it follows the denizens of a black ant colony under attack from the nearby red ants. On the surface, it’s the story of this war, the destruction of a civilization, and the ants’ all too familiar desire to rebuild. Underneath, though, Ant Colony plumbs the deepest human concerns—loneliness, faith, love, apathy, and more. All of this is done with humor and sensitivity, exposing a world where spiders can wreak unimaginable amounts of havoc with a single gnash of their jaws. DeForge’s striking visual sensibility—stark lines, dramatic color choices, and brilliant use of page and panel space—stands out in this 112-page hardcover volume. Drawn & Quarterly blogged some sample strips here…

Chester Brown says:
Michael DeForge is that rare sort of cartoonist, a genuine artist with a unique vision and a teeming imagination. He’s not trying to create sentimental pap for a mass audience. I love his work, but I do wonder why any sensible, profit-minded publisher would release this crazy book.

Balkan Comics Connection:
Comics from The Ex-YU Countries

edited by Vlado Nikolovski
Cloud 9

The publisher says:
This graphic novel is the first comics anthology published in English and dedicated to the talented and creative forces coming from the former Yugoslavian region. The book brings around thirty artists and writers with their short stories, ranging from fantasy and horror to comedy and wrestling, some of them created by international recognized comics stars such as R.M.Guera, Danijel Zezelj, Goran Suduzka, Igor Kordey, Darko Perovic, Drazen Kovacevic, Darko Macan, Aleksandar Zograf, and many more. 144pg B&W paperback. See some sample extracts here…

Digger: The Complete Omnibus Edition
by Ursula Vernon
Sofawolf Press

The publisher says:
Digger Is a story about a wombat. More specifically, it is a story by author and artist Ursula Vernon about a particularly no-nonsense wombat who finds herself stuck on the wrong end of a one-way tunnel in a strange land where nonsense seems to be the specialty. Now, with the help of a talking statue of a god, an outcast hyena, a shadow-being of indeterminate origin, and an oracular slug she seeks to find out where she is and how to go about getting back to her Warren. This Omnibus Edition collects all six printed volumes, covering all twelve chapters of the complete story. It contains all the extra materials included in the individual volumes plus: a forward by Phil Foglio, a completely new story about Digger’s travels, a (mostly) complete collection of Ursula’s comments originally posted alongside the webcomic, and a color section of the original cover art and fan art. Digger was a 2013 Mythopoeic Awards WINNER and 2012 Hugo Awards WINNER. 848pg B&W paperback. Try this webcomic online here…

Duppy ‘78
by Casey Seijas & Amancay Nahuelpan

The publisher says:
Kingston, Jamaica - the Summer of 78. Three crime lords fight for control using black market guns, potent narcotics, and young mystics called Obeahman. These children possess the power to control the Duppy - malevolent spirits known throughout Rastafarian culture as a source of mischief and harm. When one of the crime lords is killed, the Jamaican capital is thrown into chaos as the remaining factions vie for control and race to find his now-orphaned Obeahman - rumored to be the most powerful of them all. A re-imagining of Jamaican and Rastafarian ghost stories, told in the context of a 1978 gangland drama. Voodoo, violence and vilification. 112pg paperback. Watch the trailer here…

Gasoline Alley: The Complete Sundays Volume 1 1920-1922
by Frank King
Dark Horse Comics

The publisher says:
Dark Horse is proud to present the first in a series that will collect all the Sunday pages of the classic newspaper strip, in chronological order! While the daily pages focused on a continuing narrative, creator Frank King reserved the Gasoline Alley Sunday strips for wonderful, inventive interludes in which Walt Wallet, and his adopted foundling son Skeezix, reflected upon the lessons of life and the beauty of nature. Reprinted in full color, using the King family’s collection of proofs, this giant-sized volume collects every Gasoline Alley Sunday strip from 1920 through 1922. 128pg hardcover. See Sunday Press Books for some sample Sundays…

Journey By Starlight: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything
by Ian Fliftcroft & Britt Spencer
One Peace Books

The publisher says:
Albert Einstein said his first ideas about relativity came from looking in the mirror as a teenager and wondering what it would be like to travel on a beam of light. This is the story of that journey. Journey By Starlight follows Albert Einstein and his traveling companion through space and time as they travel on a beam of light from a star 3,200 light-years away to Earth. Along the way, Einstein explains the science behind everything from the origins of the universe to the meaning of life, relativity, black holes, quantum mechanics, climate change, evolution vs. intelligent design, and how the brain works, all delivered in fun, easy-to-understand, bite-sized chunks. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Journey by Starlight has been given the graphic novel treatment, pairing the narrative with fantastic, whimsical artwork. 208pg B&W paperback. Here’s a video promo and One Peace Books let you download a pdf sampler…

Miracleman  #1 & #2
written by ‘The Original Writer’ [ie Alan Moore] & Mick Anglo, and drawn by Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Paul Neary, Steve Dillon & Mick Anglo

The publisher says:
Kimota! With one magic word, a long-forgotten legend lives again! Freelance reporter Michael Moran always knew he was meant for something more—now, a strange series of events leads him to reclaim his destiny! Relive the ground-breaking eighties adventures that captured lightning in a bottle—or experience them for the first time—in these digitally restored, fully relettered editions! Issue 1 (64pg) includes material originally presented in Warrior #1 and Miracleman #1, plus the Marvelman Primer; Issue 2 (48pg). Here’s Marvel’s announcement including a Neil Gaiman interview…

Nothing Eve
by Kurt Wolfgang

The publisher says:
Previously serialized, this never-finished (until now!) endearing graphic novel, which is about a young punk named Tom who learns the apocalypse is nigh, so he endearingly gets drunk and gets the girl. This uniquely endearing take on the apocalypse is witnessed through the eyes of a young punk named Tom, who takes a remarkably philosophical approach upon learning the world is ending in 22 hours, deciding simply to do a few things he’s never done before. First up: get drunk. Next, go get the girl. But along the way, shit happens. The end-of-the-world milieu and Tom’s adventures that ensue make for compelling reading on their own, but it’s Wolfgang’s irresistible character designs, pitch-perfect dialogue, and the relationship between Tom and Edie (the girl) that make the reader fall in love with them. Wolfgang’s rubbery, crosshatchy style, reminiscent of early Peter Bagge, perfectly serves this sweet romance set against a hilarious, satirical twist on the End Times. Black & white 112pg paperback.

On Loving Women
by Diane Obomsawin
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
On Loving Women is a new collection of intimate vignettes of women coming out, first love, and sexual identity by the animator Diane Obomsawin. With this work, Obomsawin brings her gaze to bear on subjects closer to home—her friends’ and lovers’ personal accounts of realizing they’re gay or first finding love with another woman. Each story is a master class in reaching the emotional truth of a situation with the simplest means possible. Her stripped-down pages use the bare minimum of linework to expressively reveal heartbreak, joy, irritation, and fear. On Loving Women focuses primarily on adolescence—crushes on high school teachers, awkwardness on first dates—but also addresses much deeper-seated difficulties of being out: fears of rejection and of not being who others want one to be. Within these pages, Obomsawin has forged a poignant, powerful narrative that speaks to the difficulties of coming out and the joys of being loved. Her first English-language work, Kaspar—a retelling of the life of Kaspar Hauser, the mysterious German youth who was raised in isolation and murdered just a few years after emerging from his imprisonment—was critically lauded for its simple but expressive storytelling, and for the way it portrayed traumatic material compassionately but without self-indulgence. 96pg paperback.

Pictures That Tick Vol. 2
by Dave McKean
Dark Horse Comics
$29.99 / $100.00

The publisher says:
Dave McKean’s Pictures That Tick Volume 2 uses mixed media to take readers on a journey unlike any other: “The Coast Road” follows a desperate wife trying to find her missing husband, whose ghostly image appears in unexpected ways. “Black Holes,” written by an anonymous journalist, concerns the politically sensitive true story of Chinese villagers induced by the government to sell their blood, only to be infected with AIDS through poor medical practice. Tales of sadness and humor, insightful travelogues, and diary entries fill the pages of McKean’s latest masterpiece. 272pg colour paperback and limited-edition hardback.

edited by Bastien Vivès
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
As a very young girl, Polina Oulinov is taken on as a special pupil by the famous ballet teacher Professor Bojinsky. He is very demanding and refuses to adapt his standards to the talents of his pupils, and Polina has to work hard and make great sacrifices in order to reach the level Bojinsky senses she has the talent for. When she graduates and is admitted to the official theatre school, she discovers that Bojinsky’s view of ballet is only one of many and that she can’t adapt to new rules, new visions. She flees Russia for Berlin, where she meets a group of drama students. Together they create a new form of theatre - and conquer the world. Brilliantly drawn, Polina is a moving and intimate story of self-discovery. It confirms Bastien Vivès as one of the most exciting talents at work in the graphic novel field today. 208pg B&W hardback. Illustrated French interview with Vivès on Polina here…

edited by Robert Kirby
Northwest Press

The publisher says:
Welcome to the future! Last year, Justin Hall edited a book called No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, that took readers on a journey from the beginnings of LGBT comics history to the present day. QU33R is an all-new project featuring queer comics legends as well as new talents that picks up where No Straight Lines left off. Where No Straight Lines set down our history, QU33R shines a light on our future! Edited by Ignatz-Award-nominated Robert Kirby, QU33R presents a cross-generational line-up of LGBTQ cartoonists. Featuring Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Diane DiMassa, Edie Fake, David Kelly, Nicole Georges, Ed Luce, Jon Macy, and more. 264pg full-colour paperback. Read this interview with Kirby here…

Red Light Properties
by Dan Gioldman

The publisher says:
Welcome to Red Light Properties, a Miami Beach real estate agency run by schlubby shaman Jude Tobin and his success-starved wife Cecilia that specialises in selling previously haunted houses… once they’ve removed the lingering spirits of their former occupants. From Eisner-nominated writer/artist Dan Goldman! 200pg paperback. See and learn more about it here…

Snowpiercer Vol.1: The Escape
by Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette
Titan Comics

The publisher says:
Snowpiercer is the enthralling and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic graphic novel that inspired the critically acclaimed movie starring Chris Evans (Captain America, Fantastic Four). Originally published in French, this marks the first time that Snowpiercer will be available in English. In a harsh, uncompromisingly cold future where Earth has succumbed to treacherously low temperatures, the last remaining members of humanity travel on a train while the outside world remains encased in ice. The surviving community are not without a social hierarchy; those that travel at the front of the train live in relative luxury whilst those unfortunate enough to be at the rear remain clustered like cattle in claustrophobic darkness. Yet, things are about to change aboard the train as passengers become disgruntled… 112pg B&W hardcover.

The Graphic Life of Zelda Fitzgerald

by Tiziana Lo Porto & Daniele Marotta
One Peace Books

The publisher says:
“And in a hundred years I think I shall like having young people speculate whether my eyes were brown or blue-of course, they are neither.” -Zelda Fitzgerald in a letter to Scott Fitzgerald, 1919. Zelda Fitzgerald would be downright thrilled that almost 100 years later she is still the talk of the town, with the release of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which opened the Cannes Film Festival; the upcoming publication of Z, a fictional account of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life; and, of course, the release of Superzelda, the first graphic novel about this Jazz Age icon that is a biography, love story, and travelogue wrapped into one. Through extensive research, the journalist Tiziana Lo Porto has cleverly played with Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald’s own words, extracted from novels, stories, letters, and interviews, as well as statements made by their famous friends, including Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, and Sara and Gerald Murphy, to create the dialogue for this comic book and to vividly reconstruct the volatile life of this singular woman. Referencing period photographs, the illustrator Daniele Marotta has not only successfully represented the characters but has also evoked the clothing, landscape, and energy of an era, especially that of the 1920s, in his detailed and playful two-color illustrations. 172pg part-colour paperback. Download a pdf preview here…

The Origins of Comics:
From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay

by Thierry Smolderen, co-translated by Bart Beaty & Nick Nguyen
University Press of Mississippi

The publisher says:
In The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted “sequential art” definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historical dimensions that inform that definition. His goal is to understand the processes that led to the twentieth-century comic strip, the highly recognizable species of picture stories that he sees crystallizing around 1900 in the United States. Featuring close readings of the picture stories, caricatures, and humoristic illustrations of William Hogarth, Rodolphe Töpffer, Gustave Doré, and their many contemporaries, Smolderen establishes how these artists were immersed in a very old visual culture in which images—satirical images in particular—were deciphered in a way that was often described as hieroglyphical. Across eight chapters, he acutely points out how the effect of the printing press and the mass advent of audiovisual technologies (photography, audio recording, and cinema) at the end of the nineteenth century led to a new twentieth-century visual culture. In tracing this evolution, Smolderen distinguishes himself from other comics historians by following a methodology that explains the present state of the form of comics on the basis of its history, rather than presenting the history of the form on the basis of its present state. This study remaps the history of this influential art form. 200pg B&W hardcover.

Posted: November 11, 2013


Mailing list sign-up:

Comica Events


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

Article Tags

Best Graphic Novels
Books To Read

View Tag Cloud


free counters