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Top 12 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

January 2018

As the New Year of 2018 approaches, here are my dozen suggestions to help you start your next year of quality comics reading. My highlights range from the English-language graphic novel debut of Sweden’s Anneli Furmark in Red Winter, the appealing, colourful French-Chinese fantasy The Dream of The Butterfly, and Eddie Campbell’s unbridled gallop through the tumultuous boom in America’s newspaper cartooning and comic strips, notably on the sports pages a century or more ago, in The Goat Getters. Join me month by month through 2018 as our voyage of discovery continues…

Anxiety is Really Strange
by Steve Haines & Sophie Standing
Singing Dragon
£12.99 / £7.99

The publisher says:
What is the difference between fear and excitement and how can you tell them apart? How do the mind and body make emotions? When can anxiety be good? This science-based graphic book addresses these questions and more, revealing just how strange anxiety is, but also how to unravel its mysteries and relieve its effects. Understanding how anxiety is created by our nervous system trying to protect us, and how our fight-or-flight mechanisms can get stuck, can significantly lessen the fear experienced during anxiety attacks. In this guide, anxiety is explained in an easy-to-understand, engaging graphic format with tips and strategies to relieve its symptoms, and change the mind’s habits for a more positive outlook. 40pgs colour hardcover / paperback.

Doctor Radar
by Noël Simsolo & Frédéric Bézian
Titan Comics / Statix Press

The publisher says:
Paris 1920. A gentleman detective plays a deadly game with a criminal mastermind, Doctor Radar, while investigating a series of horrific deaths. An atmospheric masterpiece perfect for fans of pulp noir and deadly criminal masterminds. 64pgs colour hardcover.



Fifty Freakin’ Years of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
by Gilbert Shelton
Knockabout Comics

The publisher says:
It’s been 50 years since the world’s best-loved and best-known underground comic characters first appeared in The Rag in Austin Texas. This souvenir extravaganza contains brand new strips like “Phineas becomes a Suicide Bomber,” “Franklin got his Gun,” “Fat Freddy gets Religion,” and more Freak Brothers short strips. Also including an up-to-date interview with Shelton and a gallery of Freak Brothers parody strips by Robert Crumb, Hunt Emerson and more. 64pgs B&W paperback.


Hungry Ghosts #1 (of 4)
by Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose & Alberto Ponticelli
Dark Horse Comics

The publisher says:
On a dark, haunted night, a Russian oligarch dares a circle of international chefs to play the samurai game of 100 Candles-where each storyteller spins a terrifying tale of ghosts, demons and unspeakable beings-and prays to survive the challenge. Inspired by the Japanese Edo period game of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, Hungry Ghosts reimagines the classic stories of yokai, yorei and obake, all tainted with the common thread of food. First course: With bad consequence, a ramen chef refuses to help a beggar, and a band of pirates get more (and less) than they were bargaining for after their encounter with a drowning woman turns ghastly. Hungry Ghosts is cooked up by the infamous author and chef, Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential, Emmy-Award winning TV star of Parts Unknown) and acclaimed novelist Joel Rose (Kill, Kill, Faster, Faster), back again from their New York Times #1 best seller, Get Jiro!. Joining them this issue are stellar artists Alberto Ponticelli and Vanesa Del Rey, with amazing colour by Jose Villarrubia, and a drop-dead cover by Paul Pope. 32pgs colour comic book.

Mine!: A Celebration of Liberty & Freedom For All Benefitting Planned Parenthood
by Neil Gaiman, Trina Robbins, Kyle Baker, Howard Cruse & other contributors
$24.95 / $49.95

The publisher says:
Planned Parenthood, and the millions of people they help each year, need every bit of help they can get. Mine! is a comics anthology with the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Join Eisner, Harvey, Oscar, and Emmy award winning creators for stories about trailblazing women, civil rights leaders, a person’s first time going to a PP clinic, debunking myths about sex, STI screenings, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, fantastical stories with superheroes, Greek mythology, and a future both with and without Planned Parenthood. Full list of contributors here… 240pgs colour paperback / hardcover.

Red Winter
by Anneli Furmark
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
In an isolated northern town, Siv, a married mother of three, falls in love with a young communist, Ulrik. Though their affair takes place in the shadowy winter, Siv’s children witness her affair without comprehending its reality. Anneli Furmark’s delicate hues of blue and orange heighten the sublime qualities of the cinematic subarctic landscape and provide the nuanced backdrop in which Siv and Ulrik drift through the season, musing on their love, boasting of their ideals, dreaming of a new beginning, all the while oblivious to their actions and the inevitable consequences. 168pgs colour paperback.

Sky Masters of the Space Force: The Complete Sunday Strips in Color 1959-1960
by Dave Wood, Jack Kirby, Wally Wood & Dick Ayers
Amigo Comics

The publisher says:
This oversized deluxe book compiles for first time ever a complete set of Sunday pages of Jack Kirby and Wally Wood’s Sky Masters of the Space Force, presented in meticulously remastered colour along with dozens of never-before-reprinted scrapbook panels. It also contains plenty of extras, like twenty original colour guides by Kirby himself, a huge section with original art, rare pieces and articles by main experts. 128pgs colour hardcover.

The Canadian Alternative: Cartoonists, Comics, And Graphic Novels
edited by Dominick Grace & Eric Hoffman
University Press of Mississippi

The publisher says:
This overview of the history of Canadian comics explores acclaimed as well as unfamiliar artists. Contributors look at the myriad ways that English-language, Francophone, Indigenous, and queer Canadian comics and cartoonists pose alternatives to American comics, to dominant perceptions, even to gender and racial categories. In contrast to the United States” melting pot, Canada has been understood to comprise a social, cultural, and ethnic mosaic, with distinct cultural variation as part of its identity. This volume reveals differences that often reflect in highly regional and localised comics such as Paul MacKinnon’s Cape Breton-specific Old Trout Funnies, Michel Rabagliati’s Montreal-based Paul comics, and Kurt Martell and Christopher Merkley’s Thunder Bay-specific zombie apocalypse. The collection also considers some of the conventionally “alternative” cartoonists, namely Seth, Dave Sim, and Chester Brown. It offers alternate views of the diverse and engaging work of two very different Canadian cartoonists who bring their own alternatives into play: Jeff Lemire in his bridging of Canadian/US and mainstream/alternative sensibilities and Nina Bunjevac in her own blending of realism and fantasy as well as of insider/outsider status. Despite an upsurge in research on Canadian comics, there is still remarkably little written about most major and all minor Canadian cartoonists. This volume provides insight into some of the lesser-known Canadian alternatives still awaiting full exploration. Contributions by Jordan Bolay, Ian Brodie, Jocelyn Sakal Froese, Dominick Grace, Eric Hoffman, Paddy Johnston, Ivan Kocmarek, Jessica Langston, Judith Leggatt, Daniel Marrone, Mark J. McLaughlin, Joan Ormrod, Laura A. Pearson, Annick Pellegrin, Mihaela Precup, Jason Sacks, and Ruth-Ellen St. Onge. Cover by Bernie Mireault. 304pgs B&W hardcover.

The Dream of the Butterfly Vol. 1: Rabbits on the Moon
by Richard Marzano & Luo Yin
Lionforge Comics / Cubhouse

The publisher says:
Tutu is lost in a village where winter is eternal and the rabbits of the secret police find her guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable - being a little girl. The Emperor of this strange town holds the key to her redemption, but it will come at a price. 112pgs colour paperback.


The Epic of Gilgamesh
by Kent H. Dixon & Kevin H. Dixon
Seven Stories Press

The publisher says:
The most complete Gilgamesh in translation, including the new discoveries from tablet V. The Epic of Gilgamesh is the Uhr epic - the hero’s journey, quest, and education - inscribed onto damp clay tablets several millennia before Odysseus or the priest of Ecclesiastes found their voices. Sumerian versions of the epic date back almost 5000 years. It is a Bildungsroman of a bad king learning to become a proper human being and therefore a wise king, and to do so, besides defeating lions and monsters and surviving great physical and emotional suffering, he must face, and answer, the first (and last) great question: mortality. Translated into English and presented here in its entirety as a graphic novel, this version of The Epic of Gilgamesh is a father/son project by scholar and translator Kent H. Dixon and his son, the comix artist Kevin Dixon, who bring a fresh take on this great work. 204pgs B&W paperback.

The Goat Getters: Jack Johnson, The Fight of the Century, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics
by Eddie Campbell
Ohio State University Press & IDW Publishing: The Library of American Comics

The publisher says:
With more than 500 period cartoons, The Goat Getters illustrates how comics were developed by such luminaries as Rube Goldberg, Tad Dorgan, and George Herriman in the sports and lurid crime pages of the daily newspaper. This wild bunch of West Coast-based cartoonists established the dynamic anatomy and bold, tough style that continue to influence comics today, as well as their own goofy slang that enriched the popular lexicon. The Goats Getters also captures early twentieth century-history through the lens of the newspaper comics: the landmark 1910 boxing match in Reno, Nevada between Jim Jeffries, the “Great White Hope,” and Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion; the nationwide race riots that followed; the San Francisco graft trials that culminated in the shooting of the Federal Prosecutor; and the trial of Harry Thaw for the murder of architect Stanford White, a crime of passion that centred on Thaw’s wife, show-girl Evelyn Nesbitt Thaw-all were venerated or vilified by Nell Brinkley, Jimmy Swinnerton, and their fellow directors of the ink and newsprint stage. 320pgs part-colour hardcover.

Three-Fifths of a Man: A Graphic History of The African American Experience
by Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colón
Hill & Wang
$17.00 / $35.00

The publisher says:
Three-Fifths a Man highlights the key events in African American history, taking us from the sixteenth-century Atlantic slave trade to the election of Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement. Jacobson and Colón convey a history of hardship and hope, a painful and necessary process, full of victories and setbacks, from the Amistad mutiny and the Three-Fifths Compromise to Brown v. Board of Education and the Scottsboro Boys. We see the first African slaves arriving in Jamestown in 1619, watch as the “peculiar institution” undermines our founding ideals, witness the triumph of the Union in the Civil War followed by the collapse of Reconstruction in the South, and observe the hard-won progress of the civil rights movement from the early twentieth century to its contemporary iterations. 192pgs colour paperback / hardcover.

Will Eisner’s A Contract With God: Curator’s Edition
by Will Eisner, Dave Gibbons, Denis Kitchen & John Lind
Dark Horse Comics
$195.00 / $295.00

The publisher says:
Will Eisner’s A Contract with God – one of the most influential graphic novels of all time – is reproduced at 1:1 size from the original art. This deluxe slipcase, two-volume hardcover set contains full-size, full-colour reproductions of Eisner’s unpublished pencil layouts in one volume and his finished inked pages in the companion volume. 2 x 200pgs B&W hardcovers / Limited Edition hardcovers in Slipcase.

Posted: November 8, 2017


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My Books

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

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

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