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Top 12 Best Graphic Novels:

January 2016

Scrupulously and ruthlessly selected for your reading pleasure, here are my dozen top recommendations coming into stores starting in the New Year. American master and pioneer of the form, R.O. Blechman, returns with a major new work, joined by Starr and Drake’s French forays and the recent Kirby exhibition’s catalogue. Plenty more living, human comics to explore here, and my pick of the month is Tom Hart’s Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir. This extraordinary expression of fatherly love whose roots run deep and whose branches will never stop growing will make your spirit run free. 



Amadeo & Maladeo
by R.O. Blechman
Fantagraphics
$24.99

The publisher says:
In this fable-like graphic novel by an acclaimed cartoonist and animator, two musician brothers cycle through rags and riches. Drawn in Blechman’s expressive, patented “wavy line” pen-and-ink style, Amadeo & Maladeo is the tale of two Mozart-esque half brothers. The aristocratic Amadeo begins his musical career playing violin for the King and Queen of Austria, while penurious, illegitimate Maladeo plays violin for pocket change on a street corner. Both face the trials and tribulations of fame as their stories intertwine and come full circle. Amadeo and Maladeo serves as an elegant and unvarnished metaphor for the hardships contemporary artists face, which appears to be a universal condition of civilization. 256pgs colour hardcover.



Beverly
by Nick Drnaso
Drawn & Quarterly
$21.95

The publisher says:
Nick Drnaso’s comics mercilessly reveal the sterile sameness of the suburbs. Connected by a series of gossipy teens, the modern lost souls of Beverly struggle with sexual anxieties that are just barely repressed and social insecurities that undermine every word they speak. A group of teenagers pick up trash on the side of the highway—flirting, preening, and ignoring a potentially violent loner in their midst. A college student brings her sort-of boyfriend to a disastrous house party with her high-school acquaintances. A young woman experiences a traumatic incident at the pizza shop where she works and the fallout reveals the racial tensions simmering below the surface. Again and again, the civilized façade of Drnaso’s pitch-perfect surburban sprawl and pasty Midwestern protagonists cracks in the face of violence and quiet brutality. Drnaso’s bleak social satire in Beverly reveals a brilliant command of the social milieu of twenty-first-century existence, echoing the black comic work of Todd Solondz, Sam Lipsyte, and Daniel Clowes. Precisely and hauntingly recounted, each chapter of Beverly reveals something new–and yet familiar–about the world in which we live. 136pgs colour paperback. Read a sample here…


Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby
edited and with an introduction by Charles Hatfield & Ben Saunders
IDW
$39.99

The publisher says:
A catalog companion to the exhibition Comic Book Apocalypse at California State University, Northridge, Fall 2015. Featuring scholarly essays on the brilliance and diversity Jack Kirby brought to his work, as well as a rare opportunity to view an amazing selection of the Kirby art that was displayed at the exhibition. Essayists include Glen Alan Gold, Diana Schutz, Howard Chaykin, Carla Speed McNeil and others. 168pgs part-colour paperback.



Cruising Through The Louvre
by David Prudhomme
NBM
$22.99

The publisher says:
An artist’s unique take on the museum experience: peoplewatching. Author and artist David Prudhomme meanders through the Louvre, feeling as if in the panels of a giant comic while he himself is creating his own is this graphic novel. In this institution, all manner of people from all over the world rub elbows quietly. So Prudhomme decides to cruise through the museum, not to look at the world famous art, but to observe the people and their interaction with it. As he wanders, he discovers a group of students somehow stuck together just as in the shipwreck on the Raft of the Medusa; a man standing behind the Seated Scribe, as if attempting to read over his shoulder; and in the hall of antiquities, a woman placing her head in a lion’s mouth. This work presents readers a strange, silent, and casual choreography, danced in the midst of one of the most prestigious museums in the world. 80pgs colour hardcover.


A Girl On The Shore
by Inio Asano
Vertical Comics
$18.95

The publisher says:
Koume Sato and Kosuke Isobe are two teenagers living in a sleepy Japanese seaside town. After getting used and dumped by her crush, the emotionally damaged Koume decides to start a relationship with Kosuke, without any emotions involved. However, they both soon discover that sex with no strings attached often leads to unexpected complications, not just for themselves, but also the people around them. 408pgs B&W paperback.


Kelly Green: The Complete Collection
by Leonard Starr & Stan Drake
Classic Comics Press
$59.95

The publisher says:
Classic Comics press is pleased to present Kelly Green: The Complete Collection with story by Leonard Starr and artwork by Stan Drake. This special edition reprints all five Kelly Green graphic novels in one volume! The Go-Between; One, Two Three, Die…; The Million Dollar Hit, The Blood Tapes, and for the first time in English - The Comic Con Heist! Originally published in the early to mid 1980s, each graphic novel is being beautifully restored to its original black and white, with many of the pages shot from the originals. 336pgs part-colour hardcover.



Nod Away
by Joshua W. Cotter
Fantagraphics
$24.99

The publisher says:
In this sci-fi graphic novel, a woman seeks to develop a way to move the “innernet” (internal internet”) hub from a human child to an electronic nexus. Nod Away is set on a near-future version of earth. A deep space transport has been developed to take a small crew to an earth-like, habitable planet in a nearby system in an attempt to begin colonization/repopulation. The internet is now telepathic and referred to as the “innernet.” When the hub is revealed to be a human child, Melody McCabe is hired to develop the new nexus on the second International Space Station. Working within the structure of sci-fi, Nod Away moves back and forth between physical and psychological worlds, utilizing traditional and abstract storytelling styles to explore what consciousness could be, where it could possibly be located, and what function or point it might serve. 240pgs B&W paperback. Read chapters online here…



Renée
by Ludovic Debeurme
Top Shelf Productions
$29.95

The publisher says:
French graphic novelist Ludovic Debeurme returns with a devastating sequel to his prize-winning graphic novel Lucille. While Lucille moves back in with her overbearing mother and Arthur serves time in prison for murder, new character Renée becomes obsessed with a married jazz musician twice her age. Debeurme’s haunting border-less panels follow these three lovers between dreams and reality, twining their stories together into a poignant and universal search for love. 464pgs B&W paperback.


Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir
by Tom Hart
St. Martins Press
$19.99

The publisher says:
Rosalie Lightning is Eisner-nominated cartoonist Tom Hart’s beautiful and touching graphic memoir about the untimely death of his young daughter, Rosalie. His heart-breaking and emotional illustrations strike readers to the core, and take them along his family’s journey through loss. Hart uses the graphic form to articulate his and his wife’s on-going search for meaning in the aftermath of Rosalie’s death, exploring themes of grief, hopelessness, rebirth, and eventually finding hope again. Hart creatively portrays the solace he discovers in nature, philosophy, great works of literature, and art across all mediums in this expressively honest and loving tribute to his baby girl. Rosalie Lighting is a graphic masterpiece chronicling a father’s undying love. 272pgs B&W hardcover



The Complete Crepax: Dracula, Frankenstein, And Other Horror Stories
by Guido Crepax
Fantagraphics
$75.00

The publisher says:
This book collects short comics in which the famed erotic Eurocartoonist takes on the classic Universal monsters, and much more. Italy’s Guido Crepax is one of the most acclaimed cartoonists in the world. In the 1960s and ‘70s, he created and chronicled the adventures of Valentina, arguably the strongest and most independent female character in European comics up until that time, and legitimised the erotic genre. The Complete Crepax: Dracula, Frankenstein, and Other Horror Stories features, in addition to the artist’s unique take on the eponymous literary works by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, a half dozen Valentina stories, several never before published, and influenced by the French New Wave. 440pgs B&W hardcover.



The Envelope Manufacturer
by Chris Oliveros
Drawn & Quarterly
$16.95

The publisher says:
An account of obsolete machinery and outmoded business planning. Chris Oliveros’s The Envelope Manufacturer documents the hardships and gradual disintegration of the career of the owner of an independent small business. The book begins as the head of the manufacturing company is already deep in financial straits: he struggles to deal with a series of late payments and dwindling orders and finds ways to keep his company running by perilously deferring certain invoices. Ultimately, the pressures of his role begin to have an effect on him psychologically; he starts to talk to himself and occasionally cannot distinguish the difference between reality and his imaginings. Even his personal life suffers, as his wife becomes disillusioned with the detached, dispassionate man he has become. Set in the mid-twentieth century, just before the end of the period when most goods were still produced domestically, The Envelope Manufacturer chronicles the gradual demise of a small company as it struggles to adapt to a changing economic landscape. 104pgs B&W paperback.



The Tipping Point
by various artists
Humanoids
$29.95

The publisher says:
An all-new collection featuring the work of some of the greatest sequential art creators in the world. Each of these visionaries, from the worlds of manga, bande dessiné, and comics, has written and drawn an original story for this unique anthology, which explores the key moment when a clear-cut split occurs, a mutation, a personal revolt or a large-scale revolution that tips us from one world into another, from one life to an entirely new one: The Tipping Point. From slice-of-life tales to science-fiction and fantastical fables, witness these major changes and evolution through the eyes of artists such as Boulet, Eddie Campbell, John Cassaday, Bob Fingerman, Emmanuel Lepage, Taiyo Matsumoto, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Katsuya Terada, Naoki Urasawa & Bastien Vivès, with a cover by Enki Bilal. 128pgs colour hardcover.


The Visual Narrative Reader
edited by Neil Cohn
Bloomsbury Academic
$39.95

The publisher says:
Sequential images are as natural at conveying narratives as verbal language, and have appeared throughout human history, from cave paintings and tapestries right through to modern comics. Contemporary research on this visual language of sequential images has been scattered across several fields: linguistics, psychology, anthropology, art education, comics studies, and others. Only recently has this disparate research begun to be incorporated into a coherent understanding. In The Visual Narrative Reader, Neil Cohn collects chapters that cross these disciplinary divides from many of the foremost international researchers who explore fundamental questions about visual narratives: How does the style of images impact their understanding? How are metaphors and complex meanings conveyed by images? How is meaning understood across sequential images? How do children produce and comprehend sequential images? Are visual narratives beneficial for education and literacy? Do visual narrative systems differ across cultures and historical time periods? This book provides a foundation of research for readers to engage in these fundamental questions and explore the most vital thinking about visual narrative. It collects important papers and introduces review chapters summarising the literature on specific approaches to understanding visual narratives. The result is a comprehensive “reader” that can be used as a coursebook, a researcher resource and a broad overview of fascinating topics suitable for anyone interested in the growing field of the visual language of comics and visual narratives. 376pgs B&W paperback.

Posted: November 7, 2015

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