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Top 20 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

July 2019

For me the stand-out UK highlight for this July has to be Kate Charlesworth’s highly anticipated Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, in which she vividly recreates the often hidden history of lesbians in Britain from 1950 to the present. In sensitive wash illustrations, she evokes formative experiences of growing up in the North and the gradual realisation that she was ‘different’. And from the USA, we are being spoilt this year with not one but two graphic novels by Love & Rockets co-auteur Jaime Hernandez, crafting with real devotion some of the most compelling contemporary characters not just in comics, but in any medium.

The realities of how history affects individuals can be caught to great effect in these factually-inspired graphic novels - from sleeping with the enemy in World War II, through the traumas of Cambodia, to the repercussions of the Arab Spring.

Furthest afield this month is Australia’s Chris Gooch with his upcoming compendium of short, refreshing and subtle comics. 

And of course Herriman’s Krazy Kat is an eternal gem, available in colour once again in a single massive tome, but I’m jubilant that we are finally getting some classic, never reprinted Leo Baxendale back into print, Britain’s bonkers dervish of delirium, for lovers of unhinged whackiness of any age!

After the Spring: A Story of Tunisian Youth
by Hélène Aldeguer

The publisher says:
In 2011, one of the biggest political events in the world, the Arab Spring, swept across North Africa. But what came next? As the world moves on, four young Tunisians must cope with the reality of an uncertain future in this original graphic novel. Winner of the Raymond Leblanc Foundation’s Belgian Prize, and translated into English for the first time, Hélène Aldeguer delivers an authentic look at the disillusioned state of young people in Tunisia after the events of the Arab Spring, illustrated in stark, beautiful black-and-white art. Two years after the “Jasmine Revolution,” Tunisia is unstable and facing economic hardship. Saif, Aziz, Meriem, and Chayma are among those who feel abandoned by the developing turmoil surrounding the government. Saif goes to college but worries about his younger brother; Aziz works in a call center hoping to gain approval from Meriem’s family, while Meriem attends law school; and Chayma, after watching a man set himself on fire, considers emigration to France. As the situation becomes more serious and calls to activism in the streets get louder, each must consider what, or where, their future is. 136pgs colour hardcover.

Bad Gateway
by Simon Hanselmann
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Simon Hanselmann’s previous best-selling books, Megahex, Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam and One More Year have all cemented Hanselmann as one of the most exciting graphic novelists of his generation and Bad Gateway is the magnum opus that those books have been building towards. Megg & Mogg’s fraught relationship careens into psychological depths that Hanselmann has previously only hinted at as his eternally-stoned, slacker characters begin to reflect the psychological toll that their years of insouciance and self-medication have inflicted. 176pgs colour hardcover.

Bad Weekend
by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Jacob Phillips
Image Comics

The publisher says:
Just in time for the convention season, the ultimate comic con crime tale. Comics won’t just break your heart. Comics will kill you. Hal Crane should know, he’s been around since practically the beginning. Stuck at an out-of-town convention, waiting to receive a lifetime achievement award, Hal’s weekend takes us on a dark ride through the secret history of a medium that’s always been haunted by crooks, swindlers and desperate dreamers.  Bad Weekend – the story some are already calling the comic of the year from its serialisation in Criminal #2 and 3 – has been expanded, with several new scenes added and remastered into a hardcover graphic novel, in the same format as Brubaker & Phillips’ bestselling My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies. This gorgeous package is a must-have, an evergreen graphic novel every true comics fan will want to own. 72pgs colour hardcover.

Deep Breaths
by Chris Gooch
IDW / Top Shelf

The publisher says:
A space bounty hunter tracks down a frog princess, a woman finds a condom where it shouldn’t be, and a spoiled art student works his first freelance job. Deep Breaths is a collection of short comics about tension, violence, monsters, and moments… including the award-winning story “Mooreland Mates” and nine other tales rarely or never before seen. Written by Chris Gooch, winner of the Silver Ledger Award for excellence in Australian comics. Chris Gooch is a graphic novelist based out of Melbourne, Australia. He was selected for a 2016 TRANSIT artist residency at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) and, having published many short comics, made his graphic novel debut with Bottled at SPX 2017. Bottled received significant acclaim, including Australia’s Silver Ledger Award and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. He received the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Prize for “Mooreland Mates,” one of the short stories collected in Deep Breaths. Advance solicited for September release. 208pgs B&W paperback.

Dissident X
by Arnold Pander & Jacob Pander
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
A journalist with a photographic memory must escape to Amsterdam after New York City falls to martial law-only to find a new tyrannical conspiracy awaits him abroad. Hans seeks freedom and anonymity, but a group of insurrectionists and a surprising family secret pull him back into a life battling big business and state-controlled media. This collection presents the Pander Brothers’ mid-1990s graphic novel, Triple X – now in full colour and with a new introductory chapter, completely remastered and redrawn story pages and a new sketchbook section. The revolution has been remastered and updated in this sci-fi thriller. 416pgs colour paperback.

Enemy of the People
by Rob Rogers

The publisher says:
After 25 years as a political cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rob Rogers was fired for drawing cartoons critical of President Trump. In Enemy of the People, Rogers writes, “Trump’s open embrace of the darkest, ugliest corners of human nature has emboldened racists, neo-Nazis, criminals, thugs, despots, misogynists, and liars to come out from under their rocks and display their shameful behaviour publicly. That includes publishers and editors who years ago may have been too ashamed to express their hateful views on the editorial page.” From a cartoon killing spree to a social media buzz, all the way to an appearance on CNN to his final days at the paper, Rogers chronicles his unenviable journey with honesty, wit and humour. 180pgs B&W paperback,

George Herriman Complete Krazy Kat in Color 1935-1944
by George Herriman

The publisher says:
A colour facsimile of the complete Sunday colour pages of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat from 1935-44. One of the first comics to be considered a work of art, Krazy Kat delights with its detailed characterisation and visual/verbal creativity alongside the slapstick shenanigans between Krazy and Ignatz the mouse. This volume features a 100-page illustrated introduction by Alexander Braun. 632pgs colour hardcover.


Gramercy Park
by Timothée de Fombelle & Christian Cailleaux

The publisher says:
What could possibly connect two solitary beings – a former Opéra de Paris dancer and an elusive man whom everyone fears? New York, 1954. On the roof of an apartment building, a young woman patiently tends to her beehives and seems to be longing for someone or something. In the building across the street lives a kingpin of crime, isolated from the world, except for one mysterious weekly outing. They don’t know each other, but they can see one another. Between them, the void, a police car, and a private fenced-in park under lock and key. Gramercy Park is one of those rare graphic novels that defies the obvious and clichéd, allowing the reader the freedom to wander in this mysterious adventure and get lost in the poetic script of Timothée de Fombelle and embrace the delicate drawings and muted colours of Christian Cailleaux. 96pgs colour hardcover.

by Jim Ottaviani & Leland Myrick
First Second

The publisher says:
From his early days at Oxford, Stephen Hawking’s brilliance and good humour were obvious to everyone he met. At twenty-one he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that limited his ability to move and speak, though it did nothing to limit his mind. He went on to do groundbreaking work in cosmology and theoretical physics for decades after being told he had only a few years to live. Through his 1988 bestseller, A Brief History of Time and his appearances on shows like Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory, Hawking became a household name and a pop-culture icon. In Hawking, Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick have crafted an intricate portrait of the great thinker, the public figure and the man behind both identities. 304pgs colour hardcover.

Horizontal Collaboration
by Navie & Carole Maurel
Korero Press

The publisher says:
‘Horizontal Collaboration’ is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centred graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of ‘sleeping with the enemy’ is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations. Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics. Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialised in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel. 144pgs colour hardcover.

In Christ There is No East or West
by Mike Taylor
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
“Ok, here I go. Remember to steer into it - Don’t take your mind off it, get comfortable in your discomfort - Your body isn’t trying to kill you - Panic attacks aren’t actually dangerous - your heart will beat totally normally soon…” Thus begins Mike Taylor’s raw and beautiful soul cry for America, as a modern-day Virgil in a hoody traverses the gasping and confusing psychological landscape of right now. In this inclusive and experiential journey, Taylor’s ecstatic mark making comes together to form a transcendental bridge that guides the reader to a more elemental place - not unlike paradise. 80pgs B&W paperback.

Irena Vol. 1: Wartime Ghetto
by Jean-David Morvan, Severine Trefouel & David Evrard
Lion Forge

The publisher says:
Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto is a 136-page full colour biography that chronicles the life of Irena Sendlerowa. Carefully researched by the creators, this book is truly a work of love. Irena was a member of the Citizen Center for Social Aid during World War II, joined the resistance, and saved over 2,500 children from the hell of Nazi-Occupied Warsaw Ghetto. The artwork by David Evrard invokes an innocence and charm that serves as a stark juxtaposition to the tense and perilous moments the story provides. This book is a must have for admirers of Irena Sendlerowa’s extraordinary life and those looking to learn more about the Jewish experience during World War II. Irena Sendlerowa was born in 1910 in Otwock, a small town in central Poland. Irena was 29 years old when the Germans invaded Poland. The Germans soon gathered all the Jews in Warsaw into a small portion of the city that became known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The ghetto’s prison-like conditions led to thousands of deaths every month from starvation and disease. As a non-Jewish social worker, Irena was one of few outsiders allowed to enter thanks to a permit authorising her to check the grounds for typhus and to help contain the disease from spreading outside the ghetto. Slowly and carefully, she and a group of friends began sneaking children out of the ghetto, giving them new identities and temporary families. She wrote down each child’s original name, new name and new address on a small slip of paper and buried the papers in glass jars in hopes of reuniting the children with their parents once the German occupation had ended. Her story was embraced worldwide in 1999 with a celebrated play and television movie bringing global awareness to her bravery. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2007 and 2008, and has earned countless other commendations and praise. She passed away on May 12th, 2008 at the age of 98. 136pgs colour hardcover.

King of King Court
by Travis Dandro
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
From a child’s-eye view, Travis Dandro recounts growing up with a drug-addicted birth father, alcoholic step-dad and overwhelmed mother. As a kid, Dandro would temper the tension of his every day with flights of fancy, finding refuge in toys and animals and insects rather than the unpredictable adults around him. King of King Court is a revelatory autobiography that examines trauma, addiction and familial relations in a unique and sensitive way. 464pgs B&W paperback.

Paper Peril
by Jean-Baptiste Bourgois
Fantagraphics Books
Price tbc

The publisher says:
In Paper Peril, our protagonist braves a whimsical world of sinuous shapes and scribbly ink lines in his quest to become an artist. Drawing inspiration from classic illustrators like R.O. Blechman, Saul Steinberg, Sir Quentin Blake, Tove Jansson and Tomi Ungerer, cartoonist Jean-Baptiste Bourgois explores the exhilaration and chaos of the creative process. A lovingly crafted ode to the pitfalls of artistic expression.

Rough Age
by Max De Radigues
AdHouse Books

The publisher says:
Through a series of snapshots, Max describes the small events that made us who we are: the first broken heart, the first cigarette, all the forgotten homework… Rough Age is a sweet romp through our school years, which reminds us that being a teenager isn’t only awkwardness and pain but also apathy and pleasure. 128pgs B&W paperback.


Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide
by Kate Charlesworth
Myriad Editions

The publisher says:
Sensible Footwear is a glorious political and personal history that gives Pride a run for its money; but, like Pride, it wears its heart at the centre, making the invisible visible, and celebrating lesbian lives from the domestic to the diva. Before today’s LGBTQI universe expanded from the Big Bang of Stonewall, postwar Britain was like so much of the world today, hostile towards and virtually in denial (and worse) to anything we might now call queer. In 1950 male homosexuality carried a custodial sentence; blackmail, violence and the fear of exposure were ever-present. Female homosexuality had never been an offence in the UK, effectively rendering lesbians even more invisible than they already were - often to themselves. Most who knew they were ‘different’, or came to that realisation later on, often felt they were the only ones to feel that way. Growing up in the North was a rich and colourful experience for Kate Charlesworth, but at the time there were very few signposts to difference. Like countless other girls and women, Kate took what role models were on offer, and failing that, made them up, in the spirit of that classic old dyke joke: ‘What do lesbians use?’ ‘Their imagination…’ 272pgs B&W paperback.

Shanghai Dream
by Philippe Thirault & Jorge Miguel

The publisher says:
In 1938 Berlin, aspiring filmmaker Bernard Hersch works at the UFA studios and dreams of one day directing the screenplay he and his wife Illo are writing. But as a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, Bernard faces increasing danger and discrimination, and is soon forced to accept deportation to Japan as his only hope. Illo, disconcerted at having to abandon her elderly father, leaves Bernard behind at the last minute and returns to Berlin, where she and her father are shot by the Nazis. Rerouted to China, a heartbroken Bernard struggles through grief and vows to bring his and Illo’s screenplay to life as a tribute to her legacy. Along the way, he finds love in a city under siege. A distinctive and humanistic take on World War Two from the largely undocumented Chinese perspective. 112pgs colour paperback.

by Molly Mendoza

The publisher says:
In this epic tale of friendship, compassion and growth, Molly Mendoza’s stunning art and gripping storytelling immerses you in an alternate world filled with mystical creatures and dazzling landscapes. When Bloom is thrown from their world, and Gloopy is exiled from their own, the two youngsters find in each other a much-needed kindred spirit. But as they skip through dimensions and encounter weeping giants, alligator islands and topsy-turvy 2D worlds, they find that their greatest challenge will be facing their own fears back home. 168pgs colour hardcover.

Sweeny Toddler
by Leo Baxendale

The publisher says:
This collects all of Baxendale’s Sweeny Toddler strips from Shiver and Shake and Whoopee! and includes an introduction from long-time Baxendale fan, Lew Stringer. One of the most highly-regarded cartoonists in British comics, Leo Baxendale has been responsible for creating many classic strips, including Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids. Includes six colour pages completely re-mastered from the original work and re-instated in this luxury format. 112pgs part-colour hardcover.

The Immersion Program
by Leo Quievreux & Francois Vigneault
Floating World Comics

The publisher says:
The subconscious is the battlefield of the near future. “The Agency” seeks to recover a prototype of the EP-1 module, a frightening new weapon that harvests memories and reveals the unexplored subconscious. Freelance operative Anna Kiszczak is caught in a triangle of espionage where both conspirators and perception are suspect. Paranoia spreads as reality unravels and memory is no longer refuge. 160pgs colour paperback.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume IV: The Tempest
by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Knockabout / IDW/Top Shelf

The publisher says:
After an epic twenty-year journey through the entirety of human culture-the biggest cross-continuity “universe” that is conceivable-Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill conclude both their legendary League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and their equally legendary comic-book careers with the series’ spectacular fourth and final volume, The Tempest. Tying up the slenderest of plot threads and allusions from the three preceding volumes, The Black Dossier and the Nemo trilogy into a dazzling and ingenious bow, the world’s most accomplished and bad-tempered artist-writer team use their most stylistically adventurous outing yet to display the glories of the medium they are leaving; to demonstrate the excitement that attracted them to the field in the first place; and to analyse, critically and entertainingly, the reasons for their departure. Opening simultaneously in the panic-stricken headquarters of British Military Intelligence, the fabled Ayesha’s lost African city of Kor and the domed citadel of “We” on the devastated Earth of the year 2996, the dense and yet furiously paced narrative hurtles like an express locomotive across the fictional globe from Lincoln Island to modern America to the Blazing World; from the Jacobean antiquity of Prospero’s Men to the superhero-inundated pastures of the present to the unimaginable reaches of a shimmering science-fiction future. With a cast list that includes many of the most iconic figures from literature and pop culture, and a tempo that conveys the terrible momentum of inevitable events, this is literally and literarily the story to end all stories. Originally published as a six-issue run of unfashionable, outmoded and flimsy children’s comics that would make you appear emotionally backward if you read them on the bus, this climactic magnum opus also reprints classic English super-team publication The Seven Stars from the murky black-and-white reachers of 1964. A magnificent celebration of everything comics were, are, and could be, any appreciator or student of the medium would be unwise to miss The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume IV: The Tempest. Welcome to the story to end all stories. Two decades of literary League lunacy have all been building to this, the most ambitious meta-comic imaginable. Advance solicited for October release. 224pgs colour hardcover.

by Jaime Hernandez

The publisher says:
Hot on the heels of Jaime Hernandez’s masterpiece, Is This How You See Me?, comes a stand-alone graphic novel that focuses on one of Hernandez’s most memorable characters, Tonta, while she confronts her family history. Her half-sister Vivian gets involved with a small-town gangster while Tonta befriends a young woman who keeps tabs on the neighbourhood from the surrounding woods. Meanwhile, back at school, Tonta discovers that Coach Angel harbours a secret while local punk band Ooot provides the soundtrack. 104pgs B&W hardcover.

Year of the Rabbit
by Tian Veasna
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Year of the Rabbit tells the true story of one family’s desperate struggle to survive the murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Using firsthand accounts from family members, Tian Veasna shows the reality of life in the work camps, where his family bartered for goods, where children were instructed to spy on their parents and where reading was proof positive of being a class traitor. Constantly on the edge of annihilation, they realised there was only one choice: escape Cambodia and become refugees. Tian Veasna was born in Cambodia in 1975, three days after the Khmer Rouge came to power. He moved to France with his parents in 1980, where he graduated from Strasbourg’s École des Arts Décoratifs in 2001. After that he returned to Cambodia for the first time, offering drawing classes as part of a United Nations humanitarian project. Since then Veasna has worked in publishing, taught visual art and cofounded the workshop and gallery space Le Bocal, which specialises in illustration and graphic art. Veasna’s desire to recount what his family lived through in 1975 led him to return to Cambodia frequently and record the memories of his family members. Those stories became Year of the Rabbit, his first book. Veasna lives in France. 384pgs colour paperback.

Posted: May 5, 2019


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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