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Top 21 Comics, Graphic Novels & Manga:

March 2017

I love the way comics can take anywhere and anywhen, real and imagined. The breadth of subject-matter and approaches in this medium we love continues to astonish and inspire. Who would have thought the familiar crossword puzzle could hide such an intriguing backstory? How did a Dane help establish Tibet’s first football team? What was it really like to grow up in The Philippines under the Marcos regime? Or flee Vietnam to found a whole new life in the New World? From the lives of pop musicians and painters to a photo-journalist’s self-discovery in the Big Apple, and even the never-read Terms and Conditions of iTunes made not only readable but enlightening, this medium is stretching its limits and breaking them. There’s no end to look forward to…

California Dreamin’:
Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas

by Pénélope Bagieu
First Second

The publisher says:
Before she became the legendary Mama Cass―one quarter of the mega-huge folk group The Mamas and the Papas―Cass Eliot was a girl from Baltimore trying to make it in the big city. After losing parts to stars like Barbra Streisand on the Broadway circuit, Cass found her place in the music world with an unlikely group of cohorts. The Mamas and the Papas released five studio albums in their three years of existence. It was at once one of the most productive (and profitable) three years any band has ever had, and also one of the most bizarre and dysfunctional groups of people to ever come together to make music. Through it all, Cass struggled to keep sight of her dreams―and her very identity. 272pgs B&W hardcover.

Dreams In Thin Air
by Michael Nybrandt & Thomas Mikkelsen
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
Twenty years ago, a young Dane was cycling across Tibet. An unexpected storm forced him to seek shelter in a monastery, where he discovered the Tibetan people’s unique passion for soccer. During that trip, he also learned about the heartbreaking treatment the Tibetan people received at the hands of the Chinese Government. He envisioned the creation of a Tibetan national football team as a means to create awareness of the plight of the Tibetan nation and a way to enable the Tibetan people to showcase their unique culture - without reference to geopolitical relations. This is the story of how the Tibetan national soccer team came to be. But most of all, it is a universal story that shows how commitment and determination can make even the most unrealistic dreams come true. With a preface by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. 180pgs colour hardcover.

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me
by Lorina Mapa
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
A graphic memoir about growing up in the Philippines in the 1980s with Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and the EDSA Revolution. After moving to Canada as a teenager Mapa returned to Manilla as an adult for the funeral of her father who died suddenly in a car accident. His death sparks the need to come to terms with her past. She includes themes of religion, culture, politics, social class and personal experiences of the 1986 People Power Revolution which made headlines around the world. The story weaves between her adolescence in Manilla and her present in Montreal. It is a graphic love letter to her parents, family, friends, country of birth, and perhaps even to herself. 140pgs B&W paperback.

by Cathy Malkasian

The publisher says:
In this wry graphic novel, dreams take bodily form on an island; when they stop coming, Eartha travels to the City Across the Sea, where the dreamers are from, to find out why. Carthy Malkasian’s stunning landscapes and depictions of nature, gestural character nuance, and sophisticated storytelling are on display in her latest graphic novel. For a thousand years, the unfinished dreams―sex fantasies, murder plots, wishful thinking―from the City Across the Sea came to Echo Fjord to find sanctuary. Emerging from the soil, they took bodily form and wandered the land, gently guided by the fjord folk. But recently they’ve stopped coming, and Eartha wants solve the mystery. Without thought or hesitation―the city isn’t on any map, or in anyone’s memory―she ventures into the limitless waters, hoping to find the City.  256pgs two-colour hardcover.

Fun: Spies, Puzzle Solvers, and A Century of Crosswords
by Paolo Bacilieri

The publisher says:
In December 1913, the New York World newspaper published the first crossword in history. It appeared in their Sunday supplement, Fun. A century later, this absorbing puzzle continues to attract (and infuriate) millions of devotees every day. But the world’s most popular—and seemingly mundane—pastime has a surprising history, filled with intrigue and adventure. Paolo Bacilieri’s Fun transports us from turn-of-the-century New York to present-day Milan, taking in stories of ingenious puzzle makers, ardent solvers, and intellectual luminaries. Part detective story, part docudrama, and interlaced with a fiction of Bacilieri’s own imagining, Fun questions the crossword’s “harmless” status. Sure, it’s fun—but could it also be a form of resistance, of cryptic communication, of espionage? 296pgs B&W hardcover.

Gauguin: The Other World:
Art Masters Volume 5

by Fabrizio Dori

The publisher says:
In 1891, Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) arrives on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti. In this lush paradise, he is liberated from the concerns of the city-dwelling European. He is free: to love, to sing, and to create. In Copenhagen, Gauguin’s wife enjoys no such freedom. She would rather forget her odious husband and his degenerate artwork. Instead, in a city resistant to the avant-garde, she is tasked with selling a collection of his extravagantly priced Tahitian paintings. When they finally go on sale—in Paris, shortly after Gauguin’s return—sales are catastrophic. For Monet, Renoir, and the rest of the old guard, nothing indicates that these bizarre, visionary works are of any lasting significance. 144pgs colour paperback.

Grass Kings #1
by Matt Kindt & Tyler Jenkins
Boom! Studios

The publisher says:
From The New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and Peter Panzerfaust artist Tyler Jenkins comes a rural mystery series chronicling the tragic lives of the Grass Kings, three brothers and rulers of a trailer park kingdom, a fiefdom of the hopeless and lost, of the desperate poor seeking a promised land. Eldest brother Robert leads a grief-stricken life, having lost his daughter to a tragic accident, followed by his wife disappearing one morning never to return. When an enigmatic young woman named Maria flees to their community in search of safe haven, Robert takes her in. Will his decision lead to ruin and retribution dooming the Kingdom? 32pgs colour oversized prestige comic book.

Her Bark and Her Bite
by James Albion

The publisher says:
Soon after young artist Rebecca arrives in the big city, she stumbles headlong into the arms of the charismatic Victor. When they fall madly in love, she’s thrown into his socialite world of glamorous parties, devoted fans, and layabout debutantes. The people, the art, and the acclaim are exhilarating, until Victor’s affections start to wander to his new pug, Princess. With her new boyfriend slipping away before her eyes, Rebecca’s jealousy and fear threaten to upend everything. Can she hold onto the man she loves? Does she even really want to? 80pgs colour paperback.

Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant
by Kazuto Tatsuta
Kodansha Comics

The publisher says:
On March 11, 2011, Japan suffered the largest earthquake in its modern history. The 9.0-magnitude quake threw up a devastating tsunami that wiped away entire towns, and caused, in the months afterward, three nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. Altogether, it was the costliest natural disaster in human history.
This is not the story of that disaster. This is the story of a man who took a job. Kazuto Tatsuta was an amateur artist who signed onto the dangerous task of cleaning up the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, which the workers came to call “Ichi-F.” This is the story of that challenging work, of the trials faced by the local citizens, and of the unique camaraderie that built up between the mostly blue-collar workers who had to face the devious and invisible threat of radiation on a daily basis. After six months, Tatsuta’s body had absorbed the maximum annual dose of radiation allowed by regulations, and he was forced to take a break from the work crew, giving him the time to create this unprecedented, unauthorizsed, award-winning view of daily life at Fukushima Daiichi.576pgs B&W hardcover.

In Between Days: A Memoir About Living With Cancer
by Teva Harrison
House of Anansi Press

The publisher says:
Teva Harrison was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the age of 37. In this brilliant and inspiring graphic memoir, she documents through comic illustration and short personal essays what it means to live with the disease. She confronts with heartbreaking honesty the crises of identity that cancer brings: a lifelong vegetarian, Teva agrees to use experimental drugs that have been tested on animals. She struggles to reconcile her long-term goals with an uncertain future, balancing the innate sadness of cancer with everyday acts of hope and wonder. She also examines those quiet moments of helplessness and loving with her husband, her family, and her friends, while they all adjust to the new normal. Ultimately, In-Between Days is redemptive and uplifting, reminding each one of us of how beautiful life is, and what a gift. 126pgs B&W paperback.

Jerry And The Joker
by Jerry Robinson
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
In this art-infused memoir by the late Jerry Robinson, learn how a seventeen-year-old became the artist on Detective Comics and Batman, and created one of the most famous villains of all time: the Joker. This volume includes never-before-published full-page artwork from Detective Comics and Batman, covers featuring Batman, Robin, and the Joker, and much more. Never-before-published artwork featuring Batman, Robin, the Joker, and more. 192 pgs colour hardcover.

John Stanley: Living Life To Little Lulu
by Bill Shelly

The publisher says:
This is a biography of one of the most influential “girl power” comic book writer/artists (Little Lulu, Nancy) of the mid-20th century. This is a deluxe, full-colour, coffee-table book biography; the first of one of America’s greatest storytellers. It’s filled with beautifully reproduced artwork from the comic books Little Lulu, and his creations Melvin Monster and Thirteen (Going on Eighteen); rare drawings and cartoons; and never-before-seen photographs. Bill Schelly tells Stanley’s life story through interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues: his childhood in Harlem and the Bronx, life with his strict Irish Catholic mother, his education at Parsons, his first job as an animator at Max Fleischer Studios, and his years working as a commercial artist, before finding his true métier in comic books during World War II (while battling clinical depression and alcoholism). 160pgs B&W hardcover.

Lennon: The New York Years
by David Foenkinhos, Corbeyran & Horne

The publisher says:
In 1975 John Lennon moved to New York City, stopped being a Beatle, and started being a father. Now, experience life with Lennon inside The Dakota as the world’s most famous frontman awakens to the beauty and wonder of his new family while confronting the pains of his past in this graphic novel. Author Cobeyran and illustrator Horne create a story in which we experience Lennon’s therapy sessions as they unfold, full of the allure and mystery befitting the unknown life of a creative giant. 156pgs B&W hardcover.

Simply Samuel
by Tommi Musturi

The publisher says:
In this wordless, meditative graphic novel, Samuel is a pale ghost-like character who wanders through a colourful world. This graphic novel unfolds in front of the reader as a puzzle of short stories and moment-capturing images. Samuel is a pale, ghost-like character, drawn in clear line, against the controlled psychedelia of colour and form. He exists almost invisible to his surroundings, a hero of the ordinary. Musturi’s precise storytelling is about individuality and loneliness among others, and of freedom, pondering our daily actions and the choices and values behind them, all evidenced by Samuel’s peculiar actions. 160pgs colour hardcover.

Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero
by Michael Deforge
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Samuel Johnson has his Boswell and every Sticks Angelica has her Michael DeForge. Sticks Angelica is, in her own words, “49 years old. Former: Olympian, poet, scholar, sculptor, minister, activist, Governor General, entrepreneur, line cook, headmistress, Mountie, columnist, libertarian, cellist.” After a high-profile family scandal, Sticks escapes to the woods to live in what would be relative isolation were it not for the many animals that surround and inevitably annoy her. Sticks is an arrogant self-obsessed force who wills herself on the flora and fauna. There is a rabbit named Oatmeal who harbours an unrequited love for her, a pair of kissing geese, a cross-dressing moose absurdly named Lisa Hanawalt. When a reporter named, ahem, Michael DeForge shows up to interview Sticks for his biography on her, she quickly slugs him and buries him up to his neck, immobilising him. Instead, Sticks narrates her way through the forest, recalling formative incidents from her storied past in what becomes a strange sort of autobiography. Deforge’s witty dialogue and deadpan narration create a bizarre, yet eerily familiar world. Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero plays with autobiography, biography, and hagiography to look at how we build our own sense. 96pgs colour hardcover.

Terms And Conditions
by R. Sikoryak
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
The master satirist tackles the contract everyone agrees to but no one reads. For his newest project, R. Sikoryak tackles the monstrously and infamously dense legal document, iTunes Terms and Conditions, the contract everyone agrees to but no one reads. In a word for word 94-page adaptation, Sikoryak hilariously turns the agreement on its head―each page features an avatar of Apple cofounder and legendary visionary Steve Jobs juxtaposed with a different classic strip such as Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey, or a contemporary graphic novel such as Craig Thompson’s Blankets or Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Adapting the legalese of the iTunes Terms and Conditions into another medium seems like an unfathomable undertaking, yet Sikoryak creates a surprisingly readable document, far different from its original, purely textual incarnation and thus proving the accessibility and flexibility of comics. When Sikoryak parodies Kate Beaton’s Hark A Vagrant peasant comics with Steve Jobs discussing objectionable material or Homer Simpson as Steve Jobs warning of the penalties of copyright infringement, Terms and Conditions serves as a surreal record of our modern digital age where technology competes with enduringly ironclad mediums. 108pgs part-colour paperback.

The Best We Could Do
by Thi Bui
Abrams ComicArts

The publisher says:
An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home. In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past. 336pgs two-colour hardcover.

The Far Side Of The Moon: The Story Of Apollo 11’s Third Man
by Alex Irvine & Ben Bishop
Tilbury House Publishers

The publisher says:
This graphic retelling of the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission follows astronaut Michael Collins, commander of the lunar orbiter, to the far side of the moon. When the Earth disappears behind the moon, Collins loses contact with his fellow astronauts on the moon’s surface, with mission control at NASA, and with the entire human race, becoming more alone than any human being has ever been before. In total isolation for 21 hours, Collins awaits word that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have managed to launch their moon lander successfully to return to the orbiter―a feat never accomplished before and rendered more problematic by the fuel burn of their difficult landing. In this singularly lonely and dramatic setting, Collins reviews the politics, science, and engineering that propelled the Apollo 11 mission across 239,000 miles of space to the moon. 64pgs two-colour hardcover

The Sound Of The World By Heart
by Giacomo Bevilacqua
Lion Force Comics

The publisher says:
An experiment in social isolation turns into a journey of self-discovery as a photojournalist commits to chronicle 60 days in New York City without talking to a single person. More than just an exercise in observation and self-control, he’s hoping to forget a troubled past and mend a broken heart. But the city has a sneaky way of throwing the best laid plans and noble efforts to waste revealing secrets that lie right in front of him. All he has to do is open his eyes. A touching, vividly illustrated journey through contemporary modern New York, exploring what it takes to find yourself - and maybe your soulmate - in the middle of a crowded, bustling modern world. 192pgs colour hardcover.

by Jack Lothian & Garry Mac

The publisher says:
When an old lady wakes up one morning to find the rest of the world has disappeared, she struggles to cope with the loneliness and isolation. But then she finds out she might not be quite alone as she thought…Tomorrow is a haunting sci-fi story, in a prestige format one-shot graphic novel, from screenwriter Jack Lothian (Strike Back, Doc Martin, Shameless, Skins) and artist Garry Mac (Gonzo Comic, Freak Out Squares). 48pgs colour paperback.

Yvain: The Knight of The Lion
by M.T. Anderson & Andrea Offermann
Candlewick Press

The publisher says:
In his first graphic novel, National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson turns to Arthurian lore, with captivating art by Andrea Offermann bringing the classic legend to life. Eager for glory and heedless of others, Sir Yvain sets out from King Arthur’s court and defeats a local lord in battle, unknowingly intertwining his future with the lives of two compelling women: Lady Laudine, the beautiful widow of the fallen lord, and her sly maid Lunette. In a stunning visual interpretation of a 12th century epic poem by Chrétien de Troyes, readers are — at first glance — transported into a classic Arthurian romance complete with errant knights, plundering giants, and fire-breathing dragons. A closer look, however, reveals a world rich with unspoken emotion. Striking, evocative art by Andrea Offermann sheds light upon the inner lives of medieval women and the consequences Yvain’s oblivious actions have upon Laudine and Lunette. Renowned author M. T. Anderson embraces a new form with a sophisticated graphic novel that challenges Yvain’s role as hero, delves into the honesty and anguish of love, and asks just how fundamentally the true self can really change. 144pgs colour hardcover.

Posted: January 8, 2017


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Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

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