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Top 19 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

April 2019

It’s always a pleasure to discover fresh voices in comics, and this month is no exception with the debut of Ebony Flowers and first-time translations of graphic novels by the Italians Alessandro Tota and Davide Reviati. 

There’s also the welcome return of Lewis Trondheim, partnered with Stéphane Oiry on their new contemporary London detective, and of Japan’s Junji Ito and American webcomics wonder Emily Carroll with their latest marrow-chilling terrors… 



Box
by Patrick Wirbeleit
& Uwe Heidschotter
IDW / Top Shelf Productions
$9.99

The publisher says:
Matthew likes to build things. And invent things. So, finding a box sitting in front of his house one day is a real stroke of luck. But he has to pinch himself when it suddenly starts talking. A living toolbox! Even better, Box loves to invent things too, so the two become fast friends. But where did Box come from, and how did he get to be so magical? When his secret comes out and accidentally leaves Matthew’s parents frozen, the two friends will have to race to find the answers and save the day. Winner of Best Comic for Young Readers at the Erlangen International Comic-Salon. 72pgs colour paperback.


Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America
by Box Brown
First Second
$24.99

The publisher says:
From the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, cannabis legislation in America and racism have been inextricably linked. In 1518 Cortés introduces hemp farming during his violent colonial campaign in Mexico. In secret, locals begin cultivating the plant for consumption. It eventually makes its way to the United States through the immigrant labor force. It doesn’t take American lawmakers long to decry cannabis as the vice of “inferior races” and spread lies about the dangers of cannabis. As a result, the plant is given a schedule I classification, alongside heroin. Box Brown delves deep into this complex and troubling history and offers a rich, entertaining, and thoroughly researched graphic essay on the racist legacy of cannabis legislation in America. 256pgs B&W hardcover.


Cannonball
by Kelsey Wroten
Uncivilized Books
$24.95

The publisher says:
Kelsey Wroten’s Cannonball fires the reader straight into the messy life of Caroline Bertram: aspiring writer, queer, art school graduate, near alcoholic, and self-proclaimed tortured genius. Stunningly drawn in a classic style, with big truths and biting wit, Wroten’s debut graphic novel is Art School Confidential for the Tumblr generation. 272pgs B&W hardcover.

 

 

 


Chicken Rising
by D Boyd
Conundrum Press
$18.00

The publisher says:
D. Boyd takes an unflinching look back at a 1970s childhood plagued by insecurity, bullying, and family dysfunction. After starting a small town fried chicken franchise her war-vet father becomes even more emotionally inaccessible at home, and nothing Dawn does is ever good enough for her mother. School isn’t much better being filled with constant social challenges. Dawn’s a true underdog-and this is the story of how she learns to find the good in the bad, and that fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 152pgs B&W paperback.


Colorblind: A Story of Racism
by Johnathan Harris & Garry Leach
Zuiker Press
$12.99

The publisher says:
Johnathan Harris is fifteen, and lives in Long Beach, California, where he loves playing soccer with his friends, and listening to their favourite rapper, Snoop Dogg. His mom, dad, and three brothers are tight, but one of the most influential family members for Johnathan is his Uncle Russell, a convict in prison. Uncle Russell taught Johnathan to see people from the perspective of their cultures, and not just their skin colour. But when Johnathan was just eight years old, something happened that filled him with fear and the very hatred that Uncle Russell had warned him about. What happened to Johnathan made him see that a dream of a colourless world was just that. A dream. Colorblind is Johnathan’s story of confronting his own racism and overcoming it. 96pgs colour hardcover.


First Legion of Utopia
by James Davidge & Bob Prodor
Renegade Arts Entertainment
$14.99

The publisher says:
The turmoil of the 1930s galvanises Canadians to rise up and fight for social welfare and universal healthcare. Despite violent opposition from the government and corporate elite, Holly Burnside and Brian Mah join the fight. Their gender and sexual identities used against them, they face grave risks for the cause they truly believe in. 80pgs colour paperback.

 

 

 



Hot Comb
by Ebony Flowers
Drawn & Quarterly
$21.95

The publisher says:
Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into Black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn. The titular story is about a young girl’s first perm-a doomed ploy to look cool and to stop seeming “too white” in the all-black neighbourhood her family has just moved to. Realisations about race, class and the imperfections of identity swirl through Flowers’ stories, which are by turns sweet, insightful, and heartbreaking. 184pgs colour paperback.


In The Wilderness
by Casanova Frankenstein
Fantagraphics Books
$20.00

The publisher says:
In the Wilderness is an intimate look into the rich inner life of an odd-man-out comics creator. In a series of wryly funny autobiographical vignettes, Casanova Frankenstein endures schoolyard bullies, fumbles through ill-fated romances, and grapples with the anxieties of being a black weirdo. 96pgs colour paperback.

 



Maggy Garrison
by Lewis Trondheim & Stéphane Oiry
SelfMadeHero
$24.99 / £14.99

The publisher says:
After two years of unemployment, Maggy Garrisson lands a secretarial job. Too bad her new boss is the shady, chaotic Anthony Wight: private detective and alcoholic. But a job is a job, and Maggy could use the cash. Five days into her new role, Wight is beaten to a pulp and Maggy is tasked with returning his wallet. With this seemingly innocuous request, Maggy enters a sinister underworld of corrupt cops, crooked businessmen, and career criminals. There’s a lot to investigate, from the disappearance of a family album to the theft of gold teeth from bodies at the crematorium. But for someone with the energy, ingenuity and enterprising spirit of Maggy Garrison, puzzles are there to be solved, especially if there’s money to be made in the process. 152pgs colour paperback.


Memoirs of a Book Thief
by Alessando Tota & Pierre Van Hove
SelfMadeHero
$24.99 / £14.99

The publisher says:
Paris, the 1950s. Daniel Brodin - bibliophile, book thief, self-proclaimed poet - enters the heated atmosphere of the Cafe Serbier, home of the Parisian literati. Daniel impulsively puts himself forward for a poetry recitation. Under pressure, he recites not one of his own surrealist poems but an obscure piece of Italian verse he’s certain no one will know. It’s plagiarism, but it’s a triumph. Daniel’s recital marks his entrance into the Parisian avant-garde: a band of cultured rogues and pseudo-revolutionaries for whom life is a playground for art and planning a robbery has as much value as writing a book. In this milieu, the wine is good and the girls are beautiful. But can success last if it is founded on plagiarism and theft? 176pgs B&W hardcover.


On Vinyl
by Lorenz Peter
Conundrum Press
$15.00

The publisher says:
Lenny has a dream: to open a used record store with a carefully curated selection. He works hard, sneaking bites of cold noodles between customers, and politely tolerates even the most ridiculous requests. Unfortunately, Lenny’s store isn’t much more stable than his home life. Rent is sky-high, and sales are sporadic. The discovery of an old press release launches Lenny into his next quest: to track down the holy grail of record collections. But will it be enough to save Lenny’s Vinyl Boutique? 80[gs B&W paperback.


Operatic
by Kyo Maclear & Byron Eggenschwiler
Groundwood Books
$19.95

The publisher says:
A story of friendship, first crushes, opera and the high drama of middle school told by award-winning Kyo Maclear in her debut graphic novel. It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life? 160pgs colour hardcover.



Penny Nichols
by M. K. Reed, Greg Means & Matt Wiegle
IDW / Top Shelf Productions
$19.99

The publisher says:
“I never wanted to be a teacher or lawyer. I never wanted to be anything, really.” Stuck working mind-numbing temp jobs, Penny Nichols yearns to break free from the rut she’s found herself in. When, by chance, she falls in with a group of misfits making a no-budget horror movie called “Blood Wedding,” everything goes sideways. Soon, her days are overrun with gory props, failed Shakespearean actors, a horny cameraman, and a disappearing director. Somehow, Penny must hold it all together and keep the production from coming apart at the seams. This hilarious original graphic novel is a loving tribute to the chaos and camaraderie of DIY filmmaking and the ways we find our future – and our family – in the unlikeliest of places. 208pgs colour paperback.


Smashed
by Junji Ito
Viz Media
$22.99

The publisher says:
Try not to be noticed when you eat the secret nectar, otherwise you’ll get smashed… What horrific events happened to create the earthbound-people tied to a certain place for the rest of their short lives? Then, a strange haunted house comes to town, but no one expects it to lead to a real hell… Welcome to Junji Ito’s world, a world with no escape from endless nightmares. 416pgs B&W hardcover.

 

 



Snow Day
by Pierre Wazem & Aubin
Humanoids Inc
$14.95

The publisher says:
An outsider sheriff struggles to find his place in an isolated, snow-covered town populated by a hard people who are set in their ways and don’t take too kindly to strangers. It’s a place where folks mind their own business, however odd it may be, and do as they please. That is, until the calm, quiet sheriff decides to do his job. 113pgs colour paperback.

 

 


Spit Three Times
by Davide Reviati, translated by Jamie Richards.
Seven Stories Press
$28.95

The publisher says:
Guido and his pals Moreno and Katango are rebels without a cause living in a rural town of the Po Valley, a forsaken corner of the Italian countryside turned peripheral wasteland. Disaffected students of the local vocational high school, they spend their days trying to get high as a way to forget about the bleak hopelessness around them. As children, they enjoyed being the sons of rural folks and the country seemed to them a never-ending reservoir of wonders. Now that they are almost finished with high school, they much prefer to drive to the nearby Rimini and its Riviera, check out its flashy dance clubs and end up wasted on its shores. 568pgs colour paperback.


The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt
by Andrea Wulf & Lillian Melcher
Pantheon / John Murray
$29.95 / £20.00

The publisher says:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invention of Nature, comes a breathtakingly illustrated and brilliantly evocative recounting of Alexander Von Humboldt’s five year expedition in South America. Meet Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859): the great lost scientist, visionary, thinker and daring explorer; the man who first predicted climate change, who has more things named after him than anyone else (including a sea on the moon), and who has inspired generations of writers, thinkers and revolutionaries. In The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, 88-year-old Humboldt takes us on a fantastic voyage, back through his life, tracing his footsteps around the rainforests, mountains and crocodile-infested rivers of South America when he was a young man. Travel with him to Venezuela, to Lake Valencia, the Llanos and the Orinocco, and follow him during his time in Cuba, Cartagena, Bogota and his one-year trek across the Andes, as he climbs the volcano Chimborazo, explores Inca monuments, and visits Washington D.C. to meet Thomas Jefferson and campaign for the abolition of slavery. With encounters with indigenous peoples, missionaries, colonists and jaguars, and incorporating Humboldt’s own sketches, drawings and manuscripts, this is a thrilling adventure story of history’s most daring scientist. 272pgs colour hardcover.


The Art of Pere Joan
by Benjamin Fraser
University of Texas Press
$50.00

The publisher says:
Born in Mallorca, Pere Joan Riera (known professionally as Pere Joan) thrived in the underground comics world, beginning in the mid-1970s with the self-published collections Baladas Urbanas and MuŽrdago, both of which were released almost immediately after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco and Spain’s transition to democracy. The first monograph in English on a comics artist from the Spain, The Art of Pere Joan takes a topographical approach to reading comics, applying theories of cultural and urban geography to Pere Joan’s treament of space and landscape in his singular body of work. Balancing this goal with an exploration of specific works by Pere Joan, Benjamin Fraser demonstrates that looking at the thematic, structural and aesthetic originality of the artist’s landscape-driven work can help us begin to newly understand the representational properties of comics as a spatial medium. This in-depth examination reveals the resonance between the cultural landscapes of Mallorca and Pere Joan’s metaphorical approach to both rural and urban environments in comics that weave emotional, ecological and artistic strands in revolutionary ways. 288pgs B&W hardcover.



The Ballad of Yaya Vol. 1: Fugue
by Jean-Marrie Omont, Charlotte Girard & Golo Zhao
Lion Forge
$9.99

The publisher says:
1937. In the chaos of the invasion of Shanghai by Japanese troops, a well bred little girl is separated from her parents and is left alone but for the help of a boy from the streets. Together, these unlikely and opposite children set off to find her parents and survive adventures across war torn China. 96pgs colour paperback.


Twenty Years Later
by Jean Van Hamme & Dany
Cinebook
$15.95

The publisher says:
Deliberately twisting on itself the very principle behind the first book, Van Hamme and Dany revisit the survivors of Without a Hero, and take us on a thrilling adventure with the youngest of them, 20 years later. Twenty years have passed since the survivors of the Corsair crash emerged from the jungle. But suddenly they begin dropping like flies. Rafalowski, the cowardly pianist, vanishes. Miss Taylor, the nanny, drowns. Draillac, who was 12 at the time of the accident, is kidnapped and believed dead. His abductors are actually members of an intelligence service and staged his death to save his life as someone is trying to eliminate all the survivors. 64pgs colour paperback.


When I Arrived at the Castle
by Emily Carroll
Koyama Press
$15.00

The publisher says:
The creator of the bestselling Through The Woods returns with a truly modern horror feast preying on the psyche of today’s youth. Lushly illustrated, with especially deep, blood reds, and combining prose passages, in a nod to Gothic epistolary novels, When I Arrived at the Castle draws the reader into its dark corridors and singular vision. 72pgs colour paperback.

Posted: February 4, 2019

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