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Top 18 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

January 2019

Let me be perhaps the first person to wish you a Happy New Year, as I survey the new comics publications due to come into stores next January. The graphic novels New Life, The Scar and Off Season grapple with contemporary realities with rare perception…

While two late, great virtuosos of comics art - America’s Alex Toth and Italy’s Sergio Toppi - reveal their geniuses in new collections. These are just of few of my strong suggestions for titles to look forward to in this imminent year of 2019… 

A Fistful of Drawings
by Joe Ciardiello
Fantagraphics Books

In this gorgeous graphic memoir, Joe Ciardiello weaves together his Italian family history and the mythology of the American West while paying homage to the classic Westerns of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Ciardiello’s sinuous ink line and vivid watercolours illuminate the oversized characters that dominated the cinematic American West-featuring John Ford, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren, and many more. A paean to Hollywood, a love letter to the Western, and a tribute to its Italian influences. 72pgs colour paperback.

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 25: The Valley of the Immortals
by Yves Sente, Peter Van Dongen & Teun Berserik

World War Three is over. Basam Damdu has been defeated. England can breathe and begin the rebuilding process… or so it thinks. In China, unfortunately, Mao’s Communists keep bowling over Chiang Kai-shek’s troops, and are threatening Hong Kong. And General Xi-Lee, a ruthless warlord, has dreams of becoming the new Qin Shi Huang, first Emperor of China. When a relic of that very emperor is discovered by an acquaintance of Mortimer, things take a turn for the worst… 64pgs colour paperback.

Funny Girls: Guffaws, Guts, and Gender in Classic American Comics
by Michelle Ann Abate
University Press of Mississippi

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the medium was enjoyed equally by both sexes, and girls were the protagonists of some of the earliest, most successful, and most influential comics. In Funny Girls: Guffaws, Guts, and Gender in Classic American Comics, Michelle Ann Abate examines the important but long-overlooked cadre of young female protagonists in US comics during the first half of the twentieth century. She treats characters ranging from Little Orphan Annie and Nancy to Little Lulu, Little Audrey of the Harvey Girls, and Li’l Tomboy, a group that collectively forms a tradition of funny girls in American comics. 208pgs B&W paperback.

Hey Kids! Comics! Vol. 1
by Howard Chaykin
Image Comics

Hey Kids! Comics! takes its cue from nearly a century of turbulence and triumph, despair and drama in the comics racket. Artists and writers, con men and clowns, ganefs and gangsters create the foundations of today’s biggest entertainment business-or at least the tail that wags the dog. Some of it really happened, and the names have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty…although in the end, everyone was guilty of something. Collects Hey Kids! Comics! #1-5. 152pgs colour paperback.



Hobo Mom
by Charles Forsman & Max de Radiguès

Hobo Mom was collaborated on and drawn simultaneously by two cartoonists across the Atlantic: Charles Forsman, author of The End of the Fxxxing World (now a hit Netflix series), and Max de Radiguès, winner of a prestigious prize at the Angoulême International Festival of Comics for his 2018 graphic novel Bastard. Both of their clean line styles fit together perfectly to tell a sober and intimate story about an emotionally damaged family and the price of freedom. Tom lives a simple life as a single father of pre-teen daughter Sissy, but their estranged wife and mother has chosen a much different path. Natasha hops trains and has become a vagrant since leaving her family a few years earlier. After a dangerous encounter riding the rails, Natasha chooses to show up on the doorstep of the family she abandoned and finds an upset husband, although still deeply in love, and a little girl yearning for a mother. Can someone who covets independence settle down? Forsman and de Radiguès’s Hobo Mom explores the ideas of being trapped in domesticity and whether one deserves happiness, even at the cost of others. 64pgs two-colour hardcover.

Jumbo Mumbo
by David Tosh
Tinto Press

Mumbo has delighted comics fans for many years. Containing interviews, sketchbook pages, classic comics and comic strips from the likes of famous artists like R. Crumb, Denis Kitchen, Jay Lynch and Walt Kelly among others, Jumbo Mumbo collects David Tosh’s personal comics journal for the first time. In addition, covering history, personal stories and commentary on comics of the past, this volume presents work you won’t see anywhere else. As a Heritage Auctions employee, David has had access to rare collections and unique and interesting work previously unavailable. Jumbo Mumbo is a must-have for anyone with a love for the history of comics and a desire to learn more. Paperback.

Mermaid Project Episode 1
by LEO, Corine Jamar & Fred Simon

In a not-so-distant future where society has changed considerably but the problems often remain the same, a young policewoman from Paris is dragged into a difficult, dangerous investigation that could impact the very future of mankind. Paris, end of the 21st Century. Inspector Romane Pennac is the only white woman in her station. The world has suffered devastating wars and ecological disasters, and the old powers of Europe and America are now the third world. Yet it is toward the young woman, now a member of a discriminated-against minority, that a couple of devastated parents turn. A mysterious letter has just announced to them that the body of their daughter, recently deceased in New York, isn’t in her coffin. 48pgs colour paperback.

Monica Adventures Vol. 1: Who Can Afford the Price of Friendship Today?!
by Maurício de Sousa
Charmz from NBM/Papercutz

One of the world’s bestselling series finally in America. Like Archie but for today’s tweens. Monica and her friends Maggy, Smudge, and J-Five had a great beach vacation… until Tony crashed their party and made things awkward between Monica and J-Five- whose childhood rivalry has matured to crush status. Now, back at school again, the four friends want to catch a new movie together but money is tight for the teens. They will need to do some odd jobs first. Monica will try dog walking, Maggy will be a cat sitter, and J-Five and Smudge will try to sell their old comics. Will Monica and J-Five have their romantic moment at the cinema? 128pgs colour paperback.

New Life
by Xavier Bétaucourt & Yannick Marchat
Humanoids Inc.

An emotional journey through one man’s desire for freedom and the discovery of a new life he could never have expected. With his son grown and his marriage dissolving, Xavier, a 48-year old writer, finds himself deep in the heart of a mid-life crisis. Setting out on his own, he finds emotional freedom and true independence. When he meets Leah, a young and vibrant artist, together they set out to lead a life of spontaneity and youthful adventure.  A romantic tale of unexpected love, second chances and the questions we all must answer when a new life is put in our hands. 128pgs colour paperback.

Off Season
by James Sturm
Drawn & Quarterly

James Sturm’s riveting graphic novel charts one couple’s divisive separation through the fall of 2016, during Bernie’s loss to Hillary, Hillary’s loss to Trump, and the disorienting months that followed. We see a father navigating life as a single parent and coping with the disintegration of a life-defining relationship. Amid the upheaval are tender moments with his kids-a sleeping child being carried in from the car, Christmas morning anticipation, a late-night cookie after a temper tantrum-and fallible humans drenched in palpable feelings of grief, rage, loss, and overwhelming love. Off Season is unaffected and raw, steeped in the specificity of its time while speaking to a larger cultural moment. 216pgs B&W hardcover.

Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography
by Laurent Queyssi & Mauro Marchesi

One of the greatest writers in SF history, Philip K. Dick is mostly remembered for movies based on his works such as Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall. His dark fascinating work centred on alternate universes and shifting realities in worlds often governed by monopolistic corporations and authoritarian governments. His own life story seems a tussle with reality, going through five wives and becoming increasingly disjointed with fits of paranoia and hallucinations fuelled by abuse of drugs meant to stabilise him. His dramatic story is presented unvarnished in this comics biography. 144pgs colour hardcover.

Showtime at the Apollo
by Ted Fox & James Otis Smith
Abrams ComicArts

Since its inception as an African-American theatre in 1934, the Apollo, and the thousands of entertainers who performed there, have led the way in the presentation of swing, bebop, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk and hip-hop-along with the latest in dance and comedy. The Apollo has nurtured and featured thousands of artists, many of whom have become legends. The beauty they have given the world in their art transcends the hatred, ignorance, and intolerance that often made their lives difficult. Today, the Apollo enjoys an almost mythical status. This graphic novel adaptation of Ted Fox’s Showtime at the Apollo brings to life the theatre’s legendary significance in music history, African American history, and to the culture of New York City. 240pgs two-colour hardcover.

The Collected Toppi Vol 1: The Enchanted World
by Sergio Toppi
Lion Forge

Presenting the first in a seven volume library of works by master Italian illustrator Sergio Toppi. This first volume collects eleven short fantasy tales previously collected as Black & Tans, Krull and A Minor God. 176pgs B&W hardcover.




The Comics of Julie Doucet and Gabrielle Bell: A Place Inside Yourself
edited by Tanner Oksman & Seamus O’Malley
University Press of Mississippi
$90.00 / $30.00

In a self-reflexive way, Julie Doucet’s and Gabrielle Bell’s comics defy easy categorisation. In this volume, editors Tahneer Oksman and Seamus O’Malley regard Doucet’s and Bell’s art as actively feminist, not only because they offer women’s perspectives, but because they do so by provocatively bringing up the complicated, multivalent frameworks of such engagements. While each artist has a unique perspective, style and worldview, the essays in this book investigate their shared investments in formal innovation and experimentation, and in playing with questions of the autobiographical, the fantastic and the spaces in between. 240pgs B&W hardcover / paperback.

The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave’s Journey from Bondage to Freedom
by David F. Walker, Damon Smyth & Marissa Louise
Ten Speed Press

A graphic novel biography of the escaped slave, abolitionist, public speaker and most photographed man of the nineteenth century, based on his autobiographical writings and speeches, spotlighting the key events and people that shaped the life of this great American. Taking you from Douglass’s life as a young slave through his forbidden education to his escape and growing prominence as a speaker, abolitionist and influential cultural figure during the Civil War and beyond, The Life of Frederick Douglass presents a complete illustrated portrait of the man who stood up and spoke out for freedom and equality. Told from Douglass’s point of view and based on his own writings, this provides an up-close-and-personal look at a history-making American who was larger than life. 192pgs colour paperback.

The Scar
by Renato Chiocca & Andrea Ferraris, translated by Jamie Richards
Fantagraphics Books / FU Press

In the summer of 2017, cartoonist Andrea Ferraris and director Renato Chiocca traveled to southern Arizona to witness the tense situation along the US-Mexico border firsthand. Drawing from frank interviews with volunteers at local humanitarian organisations and treks through the Sonoran Desert to save migrants in distress, Ferraris and Chiocca present a compassionate account of how the border wall has changed the lives of those on both sides. 40pgs B&W paperback.


To Drink and To Eat
by Guillaume Long
Lion Forge

Hungry for help in the kitchen? Go from basic cook to master chef with Guillaume Long’s clever and charming lessons in French food. Cooking blogs and comics come together in To Drink and To Eat, the newest and most unique cookbook to add to your kitchen shelf. 144pgs colour hardcover.  



Treasures Retold: The Lost Art of Alex Toth
by Alex Toth
IDW Publishing / Library of American Comics

A blockbuster collection of rare and little seen stories and artwork by the legendary Alex Toth. Included are complete stories from the 1950s and beyond, recently discovered colour animation storyboards and presentation drawings, sketches and doodles, industrial comics, and individual pages from obscure comics and magazines. It’s a treasure trove that makes a fitting companion to the three-time Eisner Award-winning Alex Toth: Genius trilogy. Toth’s significance to comics and animation art cannot be overstated. During his career, he was the comics field’s foremost proponent of modern design and composition. His work influenced almost every one of his contemporaries and has continued to work its magic on the generations that followed. 216pgs colour hardcover.

Posted: November 11, 2018


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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