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Top 18 Best Graphic Novels:

July 2016

Like the cover above, let me light the way and help you navigate through the teetering towers of comics being published these days. Take a look through my suggestions for upcoming new comics releases out this July and I hope you’ll find some gems to add to your Summer Must-Read List. Maybe like me you’ve been waiting for ages for someone to release all of those searingly powerful Alack Sinner stories into English and this IDW finally does with the first big volume of these New York noir masterpieces. Also out in translation are the almost-1000-page biography of Osamu Tezuka and some top-class bandes desinées.

Making their graphic novel debuts this month are Margaret Atwood no less, as well as Myriad winner Jade Sarson. Forced to pick one, let me recommend from Nobrow Press Geis: A Matter Of Life And Death, first in a trilogy by Alexis Deacon, former winner of The Observer / Cape / Comica Graphic Short Story Prize. Below is a sample page of his luscious artwork, without balloons - a few more sneak peeks are on his blog here… Never stop believing in wonder…

Alack Sinner: The Age Of Innocence
by Carlos Sampayo & José Muñoz

The publisher says:
Alack Sinner: The Age of Innocence is the first of two volumes that present for the first time in English the complete Alack Sinner comics by the Argentine-born team of artist José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo. Sinner is a hard-boiled private detective whose adventures are played out to a jazz soundtrack in a noir New York from 1975 through the 2000s. The stories are imbued with a deep political conscience and present a scathing critique of corruption in society, juxtaposed with meditations on the nature of violence and exile. The authors have rearranged the stories in chronological order of the characters and events, rather than dates of first publication, providing a novel reading experience for both new fans and old. The Age of Innocence collects eleven stories, including “Talkin’ with Joe,” “The Webster Case,” “The Fillmore Case,” “Viet Blues,” “Life Ain’t a Comic Strip, Baby,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and “Dark City.” Alack Sinner is an international bestseller and between them Muñoz and Sampayo are winners of Europe’s top comics awards. 392pgs B&W paperback.

Angel Catbird: Vol. 1
by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvillain
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Lauded novelist Margaret Atwood and acclaimed artist Johnnie Christmas collaborate on one of the most highly anticipated comic book and literary events of the year. On a dark night, young genetic engineer Strig Feleedus is accidentally mutated by his own experiment and merges with the DNA of a cat and an owl. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired superhero adventure—with a lot of cat puns. Published in over thirty-five countries, Margaret Atwood is one of the most important living writers of our day and is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her work has won the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, Premio Mondello, and more. Angel Catbird is her first graphic novel series. Atwood’s The Blind Assassin was named one of Time magazine’s 100 best English-language novels published since 1923 and her recent MaddAddam Trilogy is currently being adapted into an HBO television show by Darren Aronofsky. 96pgs colour hardcover.

Dirty Duck
by Bobby London

The publisher says:
Bobby London’s legendary career as an underground cartoonist has spanned decades. London created his most enduring character, the outrageous and irrepressible Dirty Duck in 1971. He was a founding member of the infamous Air Pirates, and produced strips for National Lampoon during the heyday of that massively influential magazine. After departing the Lampoon, the cigar-chomping Dirty Duck and his creator found a home at Playboy magazine. He wrote and drew the syndicated Popeye newspaper strip for six years until a major controversy ended his tenure on Segar’s sailor. This oversized volume will collect nearly all of London’s influential Dirty Duck strips, from Air Pirates Funnies, National Lampoon, Playboy and other publications. Many of the strips have been scanned from the original art in the artist’s vast personal archives, including rare and unpublished preliminary drawings. A contemporary of Gilbert Shelton, R. Crumb and the ZAP crew, London’s legacy is a major piece of history in the great American art form. In 1978 London was awarded the prestigious Yellow Kid Award for best writer/artist at the Lucca Comics Festival for his work on Dirty Duck. Introduction by Drew Friedman. 304pgs part-colour hardcover.

by Corinne Maier & Anne Simon
Nobrow Press
$19.95 / £13.99

The publisher says:
The third in Corinne Maier and Anne Simon’s collection of graphic novels exploring the lives of some of the most influential figures in modern history lands its spotlight upon Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist who developed the theory of relativity. He is considered the most influential physicist of the twentieth century. You’ve probably heard of him, but you’ve never seen him like this!
Anne Simon was born in 1980 in France. She studied in the Beaux-Arts in Angoulême, and then in the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, one of the most prestigious art schools in France. In 2004, she received the “New Talent” prize at the Angoulême festival, and she released her first comic book Persephone in the Underworld in 2006. Corinne Maier was born in 1963 in Geneva. As a writer, economist, historian, and psychoanalyst, she has produced around fifteen non-fiction books on subjects like psychoanalysis, society, history, and humor. Her books are bestsellers in her native France and some (such as Hello Laziness) have been translated into several languages. 72pgs colour hardcover.

For The Love Of God, Marie!
by Jade Sarson
Myriad Editions

The publisher says:
Marie is a girl with the gift of understanding, who is often misunderstood. At home and in her Catholic sixth form, she confounds family, friends and teachers with her innocent attempts to make everybody feel loved. As we follow Marie from the 1960s to the 1990s, we find out what it means to be a spirited young woman from a religious household who believes that maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t care what you do with your body as long as it makes you happy. Because really, what harm can come from loving people? With exuberant art and trademark lightness of touch, Sarson shows us how attitudes to love, sexuality and religion have changed over the last fifty years. A beautiful Japanese-influenced graphic novel, this is the debut by the winner of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2014. 240pgs colour paperback.

Garden Of Flesh
by Gilbert Hernandez
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Award-winning cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez gives his own unique spin to Bible tales in this graphic novel. As only the unfettered Id of Gilbert Hernandez could conceive, Garden of Flesh is a sexually explicit retelling of the story of Adam and Eve up to Noah’s Ark. Hernandez presents a straightforward adaptation of the Bible parable, but one that also blurs the lines between erotica and pornography, as only Hernandez can. 96pgs colour hardcover.

Geis: A Matter Of Life And Death
by Alexis Deacon
Nobrow Press

The publisher says:
As the great chief matriarch lay dying, she gave one final decree: Upon her death there would be a contest. Having no heir of her own blood she called on the Gods. Let fate decide the one truly worthy to rule in her place. The rich, the strong, the wise, the powerful; many put forward their names in hope of being chosen. But when the night came, only fifty souls alone were summoned. Geis (pronounced ‘gesh’ like ‘mesh’) is the first book in a gripping action, supernatural, and historical fantasy graphic novel trilogy where souls battle in a contest to become the ruler of an island.
Alexis Deacon graduated in 2001 with a first class honours degree in illustration from the University of Brighton. Before graduating he was awarded the Burt Brill and Cardens award for the second best degree show at his university. The urge to draw has been with Alexis as long as he can remember. “I’ve probably drawn compulsively since the age of three or four.” Whenever he got bored playing with a particular toy as a child, rather than put it down and pick up something else as most kids would do, he’d put the toy down and pick up a sketchbook to carry the game on through pictures on paper. He is best known for his children’s picture books. 96pgs colour hardcover.

Kong The King
by Osvaldo Medina
Kingpin Books

The publisher says:
Filming on a remote virgin island leads to the discovery of a mysterious native with a heart as large as his body. Taken willingly to the Big City, he’ll soon find out there’s a thin line between the fame and glory he’s been promised and the show business circus he’s been thrown into. In spite of the obvious nod, Kong the King couldn’t be further from a simple revisitation of the cult-classic film. It’s a whole new animal, a twisted roller coaster of emotional depth. This fast-paced tour-de-force with no single word, like a silent movie from the glamorous 1920s. 144pgs two-colour hardcover.

Love Addict: Confessions Of A Serial Dater
by Koren Shadmi
Top Shelf Productions / IDW

The publisher says:
Lonely? There’s an app for that. Reeling after a breakup, young animator “K” is pushed by a friend to join the popular dating site Lovebug. His journey begins as a search for true love, but soon awakens a relentless craving for novelty and sexual conquest. With the touch of a button, K embarks on a dating spree, browsing a digital marketplace of the flesh. Who can stop when Lovebug offers an endless stream of prospective mates, sorted by algorithms and stored on a distant server, ready on demand like TV episodes or Chinese takeout? And in the face of this addiction, can K hold on to his friends, his job, or even his humanity? The acclaimed author of In the Flesh and The Abaddon presents an evocative tale of modern love… in a world where even full bars can lead to a bad connection. 232pgs colour paperback.

Marie Antoinette: Phantom Queen
by Annie Goetzinger

The publisher says:
During the 1930s, Maud, an artist, discovers she has a psychic gift. The first signs manifest themselves in the royal gardens of the Trianon where gradually she understands that a woman from the beyond is attempting to communicate with her. The revelation is beyond belief: it is the ghost of Marie Antoinette appearing to her to share a terrible secret that has tormented her for centuries. After being guillotined, the Queen is said to have been thrown into a common grave but then exhumed and buried with her husband, Louis XVI, in the Saint-Denis basilica. Yet the ghost tells Maud that her remains are still in the pit on which a chapel stands today. The queen asks Maud to move her body to the right place so she can finally find peace and no longer haunt people. Part fantastic ghost story, part biography, this is a delicious beautifully illustrated look into French revolutionary history by the artist of the bestselling Girl in Dior. 68pgs colour hardcover.

Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge
by Neil Gaiman” & Colleen Doran
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
The inimitable Colleen Doran adapts Neil Gaiman’s tragic coming-of-age fantasy masterpiece. When Jack was a young boy, his world was full of ghosts and ghouls, but one such monster—a ravenous and hideous troll—would haunt him long into manhood. As the beast sups upon a lifetime of Jack’s fear and regret, Jack must find the courage within himself to face the fiend once and for all. 64pgs colour hardcover.

Queen Emeraldas Vol 1
by Leiji Matsumoto
Kodansha Comics

The publisher says:
The sci-fi classic from the creator of Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers), Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock in English for the first time. Emeraldas, known throughout the galaxy as the Pirate Queen, travels through space on her heavily-armed ship, searching for a secret. Hiroshi Umino is a young boy who escaped the bounds of Earth only by building his own spaceship. He crashes on Mars, where he encounters Emeraldas, who sees a little of herself in the reckless young man. The first new English translation of a work by sci-fi legend Leiji Matsumoto since 2003. 400pgs B&W hardcover.

Ready For Pop
by Hurk
Knockabout Comics

The publisher says:
London, The mid-sixties. In what appears to have been a murder attempt, Britain’s greatest pop sensation ‘Vic Vox’ has been left a foot tall - the effects of the ‘shrink drug’ administered by assailants unknown. Detective Chief inspector Ladyshoe and his team at Scotland Yard are out to find who did it, and why, but they are up against the clock. They need to crack the case within the week and return Vox to full-size in time for him to perform as the main act on television’s biggest one-off, live pop show: Ready For Pop. 120pgs B&W paperback.

Solomon: Royal Edition
by Carlos Pedro
Kingpin Books

The publisher says:
From rising star artist Carlos Pedro comes a tale of soul-searching and redemption, linking a young dock worker grieving a recent loss and a stray black cat who may be something more than meets the eye. Sometimes, in the end, you’ll need a monster to defeat another. Introduction by Richard Starkings. 48pgs colour hardcover.

The Boys Of Sheriff Street
by Jerome Charyn & Jacques de Loustal
Dover Publications

The publisher says:
Amid the tenements and riverfronts of the Lower East Side, twin brothers Max and Morris rule the seedy streets as chieftains of a crew of thieves and hoodlums. Tensions rise when a rival gang encroaches upon their Sheriff Street territory, leading to a wave of violence that threatens to develop into an all-out war. The setting becomes even more explosive when a femme fatale enters the scene and tests the brothers’ loyalty to each other. With its moody, atmospheric images of New York City’s underworld during the 1930s, this graphic novel conjures up the timeless allure of film noir. The haunting illustrations are the work of French artist Jacques de Loustal, who is also a noted painter and graphic artist. This edition includes a fascinating series of his preliminary sketches. Author Jerome Charyn, hailed by New York Newsday as “a contemporary American Balzac,” provides a new introduction and translation for the tale, which was originally published in French. 96pgs colour paperback.

The Mighty Women Of Science
by Clare Forrest with Fiona Gordon
BHP Comics

The publisher says:
Clare Forrest’s Mighty Women of Science is a playful and enlightening look at some well known - and some not so well known - women who have changed and continue to change the world of science. From A for Astronaut (Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space) to Z for Zoologist (the award winning Biruté Gladikas), Mighty Women of Science is an all ages book in full colour. 48pgs colour paperback.

The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life In Manga And Anime
by Toshio Ban, Tezuka Productions & Fredrik Schodt
Stone Bridge Press

The publisher says:
This graphic-format biography of Osamu Tezuka—Japan’s “God of Manga”—looks at one of the twentieth century’s great creative artists (Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Black Jack). It is also an anecdotal study of the evolution of Japan’s early manga and anime business and its heroes. A never-before-seen popular culture history of postwar Japan, it is sure to fascinate fans and anyone interested in manga, anime, and the potential of the graphic storytelling medium.
Toshio Ban joined Tezuka Productions in 1974 as one of Tezuka’s assistants. After working for a period as a free-lancer, he later re-joined Tezuka Productions in 1978 as the sub-chief of manga production for magazines, supporting Tezuka’s creative work until the end. Tezuka Productions Co., Ltd., is the now-legendary company founded by Osamu Tezuka in 1968 to produce his own manga and anime. In the wake of Tezuka’s death in 1989, it has continued as a family enterprise, responsible for the development, production, merchandising, licensing, and distribution of his many manga and anime creations, including books, films, and characters. Frederik L. Schodt is a translator, conference interpreter, and award-winning author of books on Japanese history and pop culture. He often served as Osamu Tezuka’s English interpreter and was a consultant on one of his animated features and a TV series. 928pgs B&W paperback.

Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking
by Anne Elizabeth Moore & various artists
Microcosm Publishing

The publisher says:
Threadbare draws the connections between the international sex and garment trades and human trafficking in a beautifully illustrated comics series. Anne Elizabeth Moore, in reports illustrated by top-notch comics creators, pulls at the threads of gender, labour, and cultural production to paint a concerning picture of a human rights in a globalised world. Moore’s reporting, illustrated by members of the Ladydrawers Comics Collective, takes the reader from the sweatshops of Cambodia to the traditional ateliers of Vienna, from the life of a globetrotting supermodel to the warehouses of large clothing retailers, from the secondhand clothing industry to the politics of the sex trade. With thoughtful illustrations of women’s stories across the sex and garment supply chain, this book offers a practical guide to a growing problem few truly understand. Featuring the work of Leela Corman, Julia Gfrörer, Simon Häussle, Delia Jean, Ellen Lindner, and Melissa Mendes. 160pgs part-colour paperback.

Posted: May 1, 2016


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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