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Top 20 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

December 2017

The year 2017 ends on some high notes, notably the first part of Inside Moebius in English at last, a late, great, playful outpouring of free-form invention by the magisterial Moebius (above) and a long-overdue compendium of Ken Reid’s unique grotesqueries in the British comedy Faceache (below). 

Two modern masters return with some of their very best material, first in Cyril Pedrosa’s Portugal, shimmering with saudade, and then a bumper tome of deviously deformed horror manga by Junji Ito in Shiver (original Japanese cover below). Rummage through my PG Tips here and see what tickles your fancy this month…


Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre? A Selection of 450 Gouaches
by Charlotte Salomon & written and edited by Judith C. E. Belinfante
$35.00 / £30.00

The publisher says:
When German artist Charlotte Salomon (1917 1943) handed her gouache series Life? or Theater? over to a friend, she beseeched him to “Take good care of it, it is my entire life”. A few months later, the five-months pregnant Charlotte was picked up by a Gestapo truck, deported to Drancy, and then on to Auschwitz, where she died upon arrival at the age 26. Trauma haunts many of the pages, but there is defiance, too. Born of a family plagued by depression, the work Salomon left behind is, in a very real sense, her pièce de résistance in her own words, something wildly eccentric. A cycle of nearly 1,300 autobiographical gouaches, it combines creative force with pioneering personal narrative into one shattering document of self-expression. Divided into three sections, the gouaches unveil a vivid self-portrait spanning across all facets of Charlotte’s existence: from a complicated family life, marked by the suicides of nearly all female relatives; growing up in Berlin; her close relation to singing teacher Alfred Wolfsohn; the rise of the Nazis; to her exile to France in 1939. Throughout, the artist challenges these destructive forces by deploying playful pseudonyms and fantastical elements alongside emotional candor, remarkable observation, and a meticulous visual memory. Her film strip-like sequences are interspersed not only with words but also musical suggestions, making Life? or Theater? the storybook for a whole musical, years before the heyday of that genre. Without comparison, the gouaches are a triumph of personal truth and individual expression. Published here with a selection of the 450 most important pieces, Life? Or Theatre? is an unrivaled opus magnum from a great and ambitious artist, dark with her early death, but luminous with her precision, her lyricism, and her courage. 600pgs colour hardcover.

Crazy Quilt: Scraps & Panels On The Way to Gasoline Alley
by Frank King

Dog Days
Anja Dahle Øverbye

The publisher says:
Anja Dahle Øverbye´s graphic novel Dog Days won the Norwegian Comic of the Year award in 2016. It is an impressive debut book that has drawn inspiration from North-Western Norway where she grew up. Dog days are a phenomenon taking place in late summer. According to folklore, the dog days are extremely hot, muck floats up to the surface of water, food goes bad and dogs may more easily go mad. It is at this time of year we meet Anne, who is mid-way between childhood and adolescence. The intensely stifling, sultry weather that summer affects her relationships with both her friends and family. Her best friend Marielle wants to hang out with slightly older Carrie. When the two of them strike up a friendship, Anne is left out. She is too young to go to the youth club, and too restless to find anything else to do. Can she and Marielle become close friends again? And what is she willing to do to make that happen? The images are sensitively portrayed in detailed pencil drawings and display keen insight into human nature. The scenery of Western Norway plays a central role in the story. 72pgs B&W paperback.

Dostoyevsky: The Life and Work
by Vitali Konstantinos
One Peace Books

The publisher says:
Dostoyevsky’s novels provide profound insight into human psychology and the human soul. To write them, he drew inspiration from his own troubled life: an arrest for subversion; a death sentence spared when he was already in front of the firing squad; four years of hard labor in a Siberian prison camp, a spiritual conversion, a constant addiction to gambling, and the loss of two children that left him a deeply broken man. 64pgs B&W paperback.

East of Aleppo: Bread, Bombs & Video Clips
by Brick
Five Leaves Publications

The publisher says:
This true story is based on an incident that wasn’t reported by our corporate media. When Daesh roll into a Syrian village east of Aleppo with truckloads of flour from US-AID and take over their bakery without a shot being fired, the locals are naturally concerned about what might follow. Men from the village currently with rebel forces fighting in the city are called home by their cousins, recent deserters from Assad’s army, to liberate the facility. But they need arms. They have a sponsor in Saudi Arabia, but do they buy from Eastern European gunrunners or climb into bed with U.K. and American forces? Meanwhile, the eyes in the sky operating from Nevada, Lincolnshire and somewhere in the Middle East are confused about just who is on the ground and where. When the attack finally comes, it is swift, devastating and symptomatic of the dense fog of that particular war. 36pgs B&W paperback.

Faceache: The First Hundred Scrunges
by Ken Reid

The publisher says:
Hilarious face-changing adventures by one of the greats of British comics. Ken Reid is consistently name-checked by the greats of comics – from Alan Moore to Kevin O’Neill, John Wagner to Pat Mills – for his unique art that is matched only by his enduring sense of humour. In a hardcover edition befitting his status as one of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, we present his timeless Faceache – the humorous adventures of Ricky Rubberneck, the boy with a “bendable bonce” whose skin stretches like rubber. At will, he could ‘scrunge’ his face into anything, whether it’s mimicking others or turning into grotesque creatures – but always coming a cropper! Includes introductions by Anthony Reid and comics legend Alan Moore. This is the first collection of this long lost classic from the hugely popular and long running Buster comic. This is a key strip in the history of British comics, being one of the very few home-grown superheroes to become popular in the weekly comics world of war and humour comics. From the new Treasury of British Comics list from Rebellion, highlighting classic British comics. 112pgs B&W hardcover.

First Year Out: A Transition Story
by Sabrina Symington
Singing Dragon
$24.95 / £15.99

The publisher says:
From laser hair removal and coming out to her parents, through to dating, voice training and gender reassignment surgery, this intimate and witty graphic novel follows the character of Lily as she transitions to living as her true, female self. Providing support and guidance on a range of issues such as hormones, medical procedures and relationships, the story traces the everyday thoughts, emotions and struggles many trans and non-binary people face and seeks to empower those who are starting to question their gender as well as promoting wider discussion about the complexities of gender and identity. Based on the author’s own experiences as a trans woman, this honest and powerful work is a testament to being who you are and a celebration of gender diversity. 128pgs colour hardcover.

Forlorn Funnies #1
by Paul Hornschemeier
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Paul Hornschemeier returns with a mosaic of genres. Comics, scripts, prose, all are on display here, including the first chapter of Hornschemeier’s new graphic novel Jerkwater Elite, a Downton Abbey style screenplay (Ups and Downs) and chapter one of Hornschemeier’s first prose novel. Captain All offers a surrealist nod to Steve Ditko and Fletcher Hanks and Benny Schellfisch offers a welcome dose of misanthropic navel-gazing. 48pgs colour comic book.

Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery
by Mat Johnson & Warren Pleece
Dark Horse Comics

The publisher says:
A tenth anniversary edition of the acclaimed graphic novel. In the early 20th Century, Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New Holland Herald, is sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi. With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane, whose skin colour is light enough that he can pass for white, must stay “incognegro” long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder to save his brother - and himself.  Suspenseful, unsettling and relevant, Incognegro is a tense graphic novel of shifting identities, forbidden passions, and secrets that run far deeper than skin colour. Features a new afterword by Mat Johnson, enhanced toned art and other additional material. 144pgs B&W hardcover.

Walter Mosley says:
A talented writer of both fiction and creative non-fiction, Johnson’s publications have established him as an important new voice in the African-American tradition.

Inside Moebius: Part 1 (of 6)
by Moebius
Dark Horse Comics

The publisher says:
Moebius draws himself encountering his favourite characters –creations like Blueberry, Arzak, and Major Grubert – and also meets a younger version of himself. Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse presents Inside Moebius, a six-part study, with Inside Moebius Part 1 collecting the first two chapters in this fantastic exploration of a creator meeting his own creations. Dark Horse will release all parts to this exceptional, intimate series in 2018. This is the third volume in the Moebius Library hardcover series and the beginning of Moebius’s most intensely personal project. 216pgs colour hardcover.

It Don’t Come Easy
by Philippe Dupuy & Charles Barbarian
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
The award-winning Monsieur Jean series tackles the complexities of everyday life. Since the character of Monsieur Jean first walked onto the page in 1998, he has endeared himself to readers, maturing with each frantic, surreal, heart-warming episode. Beginning as a young Parisian bachelor, defeatist writer, and urban bon vivant, Jean has reluctantly transitioned into a family man of forty, learning how to live with, and ultimately love those around him unconditionally. Constantly surrounded by a group of childhood classmates, an unbearably idealistic live-in friend Felix and his adopted son, Eugene, as well as his sweet daughter Julie, Jean questions life and those of others in an honest and endearing way; his unmistakable joie de vivre always undermined by a palpable sense of cynicism. The joy of these award-winning cartoons stems from that fact that Jean’s weaknesses are our own; his doubts about life, universal; his relentless quest for happiness understood. With their unique collaboration, both writing and drawing each Monsieur Jean story, celebrated French cartoonists Dupuy & Berberian prove time and time again just how powerful and seductive a simple, yet elegantly told story can be. 224pgs colour paperback.

It’s Cold in the River at Night
by Alex Potts
Avery Hill Publishing

The publisher says:
Somewhere, in an isolated corner of Western Europe, Carl and Rita rent a house on stilts. Due to the pressures of spending so much time only in each other’s company, cracks in their relationship start to appear. To relieve the pressure and secretly hoping to meet someone he can look up to who will take him on as an apprentice, Carl embarks on a search for the last remaining practitioner of an ancient local tradition. His quest brings him to a craftsman who is very different to the type of man he was hoping to find. Animator and illustrator Alex Pott’s first long-form graphic novel is a psychological drama and a coming-of-age tale, where the protagonist is too old to come of age, doesn’t experience any personal growth and is instead pushed to the bring of his sanity… 84pgs colour paperback.

Joe Sinnott: Embellishing Life
by Joe Sinnott
Hermes Press
$60.00 / $95.00

The publisher says:
Master illustrator Joe Sinnott’s career in comic books spans over 40 years. While he is best known for being the premier inker at Marvel Comics, his star began to rise in the early 1950s at Timely as he penciled and inked a wide variety of artistic genres ranging from Western to horror, science fiction, supernatural-fantasy - and yes - superheroes. He moved over to Charlton Comics, Treasure Chest, and Dell for a time, but he eventually worked for Stan Lee at Marvel. His star would only rise from there, when his inks graced the pencils of legendary artists Jack Kirby, John Buscema and John Romita. He helped to bring about the Marvel Age when he inked Kirby on the Fantastic Four titles. Over the next quarter century, he inked all of Marvel’s major characters and worked with most of the artists in their stable. Even after retiring from comics in 1992, Joe continues to this very day to ink Spider-Man, Marvel’s most famous character. This extensive spotlight on Sinnott’s career and artwork encompasses all aspects of his work, and is illustrated with over two hundred examples of Sinnott’s original art, from his work in the Golden Age of comics, through his work on The Beatles, to his inking of some of the great moments in the Marvel Universe. Come discover this master illustrator, who at times has been overshadowed by others - but never outdone. 240pgs / 245pgs colour hardcover.

Look Straight Ahead
by Eliane M. Will
Renegade Arts Entertainment

The publisher says:
Jeremy Knowles is a 17-year-old outcast who dreams of being a great artist. But when he suffers a severe mental breakdown brought on by bullying and other pressures at school, his future is called into question — as is his very existence! Can he survive the experience through the healing power of art? And just what does it mean to be “crazy,” anyway? 256pgs part-colour paperback.


Love Machines
by Josh Trujillo & various artists
Northwest Press

The publisher says:
Covering past, present, and future, Love Machines tells love stories about technology. These are sometimes funny, sometimes tragic romance comics that deal with the objects that inhabit our lives. Featuring an international team of artists, each tale spotlight our personal connection to objects and how technology impacts our connection to one another. Love Machines speaks to unstoppable constants in our lives: progress, romance, and the loss that comes with the passage of time. These tales include “The Velocipede” about how a Colorado family is rocked by the appearance of a bicycle, to “Hero and Leander” about two supercomputers going on a “date.” While most are grounded in historical reality, only one, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”, is about real people. The story, set in 1937, spotlights forgotten fashion icon Lester Gaba and his invention of the modern mannequin. His inanimate creation “Cynthia” became an overnight celebrity and took the fashion world by storm. Trujillo and artist Wyeth Yates went to great detail to piece together Gaba’s incredible life as faithfully as possible. By looking to the past Trujillo and his collaborators hope to inform the present conversation about what role technology and innovation have in our society. 172pgs colour paperback.

by Cyril Pedrosa

The publisher says:
From the author of the acclaimed Equinoxes comes a return to roots that serves as spiritual renewal. Comics artist Simon Muchat is stuck. Suffering writer’s block, uninspired, vegetating as a school art teacher, he is losing direction and his taste for life, until one day he is invited to appear at a comics convention in Portugal, the country his family came from and which he hadn’t seen since his childhood. Even though he is a foreigner there, so many elements of the country are familiar to him. Meeting its lively citizens and recounting early memories brought by back his distant yet welcoming family all prove reinvigorating—the breath of fresh air he so badly needed. Based on his own experience, Pedrosa narrates this return to his roots in a deeply compelling and warmly human way. This bestselling graphic novel has sold more than 100,000 copies in France and a has won many prizes, including Best Graphic Novel at the Angoulême Festival and FNAC Best GN. 264pgs colour hardcover.

Screwball! The Cartoonists Who Made The Funnies Funny
by Paul C. Tummy, George Herriman, E.C. Segar, Rube Goldberg, Milt Gross and more

The publisher says:
The story of screwball comics, with new research and rare art from some of the most hilarious cartoonists of all time. Before “screwball” became a movie genre, it was a staple of other forms of American culture, including newspaper comic strips. Emerging from the pressures of a rapidly accelerating technological and information-drenched society, screwball comics offered a healthy dose of laughter and perspective. The disruptive, manic, and surreal verbal-visual comedy of these “funnies” fostered an absurdist sensibility embraced by The Marx Brothers (who took their names from a popular comic strip), W. C. Fields, Tex Avery, Spike Jones, Ernie Kovacs, and Mad magazine. Comics scholar Paul C. Tumey traces the development of screwball as a genre in magazine cartoons and newspaper comics, presenting the lives and work of around two dozen cartoonists, with an art-stuffed chapter on each. The book offers a wealth of previously unreprinted comics, unleashing fresh views of some of America’s greatest and most-loved cartoonists, including George Herriman (Krazy Kat), E.C. Segar (creator of Popeye), Winsor McCay (Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend), Rube Goldberg (The Inventions of Professor Lucifer G. Butts, A.K.) and Bill Holman (Smokey Stover). In addition, readers will be delighted to discover previously “lost” screwball masters including Gene Ahern (The Squirrel Cage), Gus Mager (Sherlocko the Monk), Milt Gross (Count Screwloose), George Swanson ($alesman $am) and many others. 272pgs colour hardcover.

Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories
by Junji Ito
Viz Media

The publisher says:
A best-of story selection by the master of horror manga. This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delectation of horror fans. 400pgs B&W hardcover.

The Battle of Churubusco: American Rebels in the Mexican Civil War
by Andrea Ferraris
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
A soldier under fire faces a crisis of conscience in this remarkable work of historical graphic fiction. Today, Churubusco is a residential suburb of Mexico City. In 1847, it was the stronghold of the San Patricios, a motley battalion of soldiers ― even some runaway American slaves ― who deserted the United States Army for a just, if suicidal, cause. In this graphic novel, Ferraris uses a bold charcoal technique to tell their story through the eyes of Gaetano Rizzo (based on a real U.S. soldier). A 22-year-old Sicilian immigrant, he joins the U.S. Army, who has promised him citizenship and a parcel of land if he will fight to take California away from Mexico. Soon, he sees that the cruelty he is being ordered to inflict is no different from what he had escaped from in his home country. 200pgs colour paperback.

The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors
by Elizabeth Beier
Northwest Press

The publisher says:
Elizabeth Beier chronicles true-life romantic tales as she breaks up with a long-term boyfriend and navigates a brave new world: dating women. Beier tackles the complexities of sexuality and self-image with a conversational and immediate art style and stories which anyone who’s ever struggled with dating can relate to. 220pgs B&W paperback.


To Your Eternity Vol.1
by Yoshitoki Oima
Kodansha Comics

The publisher says:
A new manga from the creator of the acclaimed A Silent Voice, featuring intimate, emotional drama and an epic story spanning time and space. A lonely boy wandering the Arctic regions of North America meets a wolf, and the two become fast friends, depending on each other to survive the harsh environment. But the boy has a history, and the wolf is more than meets the eye as well… To Your Eternity is a totally unique and moving manga about death, life, reincarnation and the nature of love.
192pgs B&W paperback.

We Spoke Out: Comics Books and The Holocaust
by Rafael Madoff, Craig Yoe, Neal Adams, Stan Lee, Joe Kubert & other creators

The publisher says:
Crucial comic book stories about the Holocaust and interviews with their artists and writers, with a cover drawn especially for this book by Neal Adams. An amazing but forgotten chapter in comics history. Long before the Holocaust was taught in schools or presented in films such as Schindler’s List, the youth of America was learning about the Nazi genocide from Batman, the X-Men, Captain America and Sgt. Rock. Comics legend Neal Adams, Holocaust scholar Rafael Medoff, and comics historian Craig Yoe bring together a remarkable collection of comic book stories that introduced an entire generation to an engaging and important subject. We Spoke Out is an extraordinary journey into a compelling and essential topic. 280pgs colour hardcover.

Posted: October 18, 2017


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

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

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing