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Top 21 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

August 2019

Month after month, hundreds of new comics arrive on the English-language market, and it’s my pleasure and privilege to scour through them to find some intriguing, exciting, surprising suggestions for your consideration. Top of my list for August 2019 is Kevin Huizenga’s involving dual portraits of a married couple’s outer and inner lives in The River at Night. And these two highly praised and promising French bandes dessinées arriving in translation take the time to explore the ramifications of abuse and grief…

Eve Gilbert and the team of Dix & Pollock bring the complex, traumatising effects of past wars in Vietnam and Sri Lanka on the individual and on society to life in their reality-based graphic novels…

While pressing topics affecting us all - growing inequalities in gentrified cities and impending ecological disaster - are tackled head on by Sylvia Nickerson and Mary and Bryan Talbot… 

Finally, among the classics being given a fresh lease of life are the lurid 1980s robot dystopia Ranx and three previously unpublished series for DC Comics by Jack Kirby. I hope you find some titles here to look forward to in the coming months…

Albert Einstein: The Poetry of Real
by Manuel Garcia Iglesias & Marwan Kahil

The publisher says:
When he’s five years old, Albert Einstein’s father offers him a compass that triggers in him an irrepressible need to understand the laws of the universe. At first a simple employee of the Swiss Patent Office in Bern, the young Einstein published in 1905 a series of scientific articles that question everything that was thought to be known in the world of physics. His theory, summed up by the formula E = mc2, opens to humanity the doors of the power of the atom. Legendary genius, but also a great humanist, he lives through the first half of the 20th century, with all its horrors and contradictions, in the service of science, but distraught by what man’s madness is capable of doing with it.  128pgs colour hardcover.

Americana (and the art of getting over it)
by Luke Healy

The publisher says:
The Pacific Crest Trail runs 2660 miles, from California’s border with Mexico to Washington’s border with Canada. To walk it is to undertake a gruelling test of body and spirit. In Americana, Luke Healy accepts the challenge. This intimate, engaging autobiographical work from an Irish visitor to the United States recounts the author’s own attempt to walk the length of the USA’s west coast. Healy’s life-changing journey weaves in and out of reflections on his experiences in America and his development as an artist, navigating both the trail itself and the unique culture of the people who attempt to complete it. 334pgs B&W paperback.

Bill Sienkiewicz: Revolution
by Bill Sienkiewicz, Ben Davis & Frank Miller
Six Foot Press
$49.95 / $350
The publisher says:
Bill Sienkiewicz is a classically trained painter whose artworks incorporate abstract and expressionist influences and combine oil painting, acrylics, watercolour, mixed media, collage and mimeograph. Bill Sienkiewicz: Revolution is the first time the artist’s work and career have been taken out of the limited context of comic books and evaluated as fine art. Ben Davis, award-winning Senior Writer for Artnet News, considers Sienkiewicz’s process and places him within the context of art and popular culture. Sal Abbinanti, Sienkiewicz’s representative, and colleague for 12 years, Frank Miller, the celebrated auteur of Sin City and 300, contributes his perspective on Sienkiewicz’s place in the pantheon of comic books. Lastly, Bill Sienkiewicz, accompanied by Award-winning journalist Susan Karlin, lends his unique voice and presents some of his greatest artistic achievements. Revolution is the first of three volumes in three years, with each volume consisting of a trade and a signed and numbered limited edition of only 500 copies that includes deluxe reproductions of 40 previously unpublished paintings, drawings, sketches and mixed media works from Sienkiewicz’s notebooks and personal collection, as well as other private collections. A 16-page booklet signed by the artist will include a text explaining his influences and techniques and offer his view on the future of comic book art. 224/240pgs colour hardcover.

Bloody Stumps Samurai
by Hirata Hiroshi
Retrofit Comics

The publisher says:
THIS. IS. GEKIGA. Idolized by creators across the arts, from Akira’s Otomo Katsuhiro to novelist Mishima Yukio, Hirata Hiroshi (b. 1937) is widely considered one of the most talented and influential artists of the comics medium in Japan. Known to English readers through such titles as Satsuma Gishiden (Dark Horse Comics), Hirata has been killing the samurai genre since the late 1950s with manga of jaw-dropping draftsmanship and heart-stopping cruelty. His work is essential, unforgettable, unparalleled, and in the case of Bloody Stumps Samurai (1962) also too radical for its own good. With this book, published here for the first time in any Western language, Hirata set out to draw a passionate critique of discrimination against the Japanese outcaste community known as the burakumin, around the character of Gennosuke, a burakumin youth whose mission to avenge and uplift his peoples through the sword goes horribly and gorily wrong. Though clearly intended as an anti-racist broadside, Bloody Stumps Samurai rubbed the Buraku Liberation League the wrong way, leading to copies being confiscated and burned and Hirata temporarily blacklisted. With essays explaining the history and politics of the work by critic Kure Tomofusa and translator Ryan Holmberg, this edition will blow your mind and turn your stomach. It is essential reading for all fans of Japanese history or pop culture. 168pgs B&W paperback.

Consequential Art: Comics Culture in Contemporary Spain
edited by Samuel Amago & Matthew J. Marr
University of Toronto Press

Spanish comics have attracted considerable critical attention internationally: dissertations have been written, monographs published, and an array of cultural institutions in Spain (the media, publishing houses, bookstores, museums, and archives) have increasingly promoted the pleasures, pertinence, and power of graphic narrative to an ever-expanding readership – all in an area of cultural production that was held, until recently, to be the stuff of child’s play, the unenlightened, or the unsophisticated. This volume takes up the overarching charge of examining how contemporary comics in Spain have confronted questions of cultural legitimacy through serious and timely engagement with diverse themes, forms, and approaches – a collective undertaking which, while keenly in step with transnational theoretical trends, foregrounds local, regional, and national dimensions particular to the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century Spanish milieu. From memory and history to the economic and the political, and from the body and personal space to mental geography, the essays collected in Consequential Art account for several key ways in which a range of comics practitioners in Spain have deployed the image-text connection and alternative ways of seeing to interrogate some of the most significant cultural issues that Spain has faced since 1990. Samuel Amago is professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Virginia. Matthew J. Marr is associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at The Pennsylvania State University. 272pgs B&W hardcover.

by Sylvia Nickerson
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
New life and opportunities arise from the wreckage of a North American city―urban renewal at what cost? A new mother takes us on a tour of Hamilton, a Rust Belt city born of the Industrial Revolution and dying a slow death due to globalisation. This mother represents the city’s next wave of inhabitants―the artists and young parents who swarm a run-down area for its affordability, inevitably reshaping the neighbourhoods they take over. Creation looks at gentrification from the inside out―an artist mother making a home and neighbourhood for her family, struggling to find her place amid the existing and emerging communities. While pushing her child’s stroller around Hamilton, Sylvia Nickerson shows us the warehouse filled with open barrels of toxic sludge, the parking lot where the city’s homeless population sleeps and the refurbished Victorian house (complete with elegant chandeliers) that is now a state-of-the-art yoga studio. Creation presents the city as a living thing―a place where many small lives intersect and where death, motherhood, pollution, poverty, and violence are all interconnected. Drawn in evocative watercolour, Creation is unafraid to leave questions open-ended as Nickerson wanders the city and ponders just where the personal and political intersect, and where they ought to intersect. 192pgs colour paperback.

Jack Kirby’s Dingbat Love
by Jack Kirby
Twomorrows Publishing

The publisher says:
In cooperation with DC Comics, TwoMorrows compiles a tempestuous trio of never-seen 1970s Kirby projects. These are the final complete, unpublished Jack Kirby stories in existence, presented here for the first time. Included are: Two unused Dingbats of Danger Street tales, Kirby’s final “Kid Gang” group, inked by Mike Royer and D. Bruce Berry, and newly coloured for this book. True-Life Divorce, the abandoned newsstand magazine that was too hot for its time (reproduced from Jack’s pencil art - and as a bonus, we’ve commissioned Mike Royer to ink one of the stories. And Soul Love, the unseen ‘70s romance book so funky, even a jive turkey will dig the unretouched inks by Vince Colletta and Tony DeZuniga. Plus: there’s Kirby historian John Morrow’s in-depth examination of why these projects got left back, concept art and uninked pencils from Dingbats and a Foreword by ‘70s Kirby assistant Mark Evanier. 16ppgs part-colour hardcover.

by Cathy G Johnson
AdHouse Books

The publisher says:
Jeremiah is the foreboding story of a teenager whose struggle with self-discovery may bring on the end of his world. A watercolour and ink graphic novel spanning 160 pages, Jeremiah explores the conflict between the physical and the inexplicable, asking questions about faith, adolescence and sexuality. 160pgs B&W paperback.



Little Big Horn
by Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri
Lo Scarabeo

The publisher says:
Little Big Horn is a new novel of 108 pages by Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri describing the famous Custer’s battle. With his astonishing drawings Serpieri takes us to the battlefield of Little Big Horn, the most famous armed clash between a combined force of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho against the 7th Cavalry of the US army, headed by General Custer. Introduction by Roberto Guarino and Matteo Pollone. Limited to 700 numbered copies. 108pgs B&W hardcover.

Little Mama
by Halim Mahmouidi
Lion Forge

The publisher says:
Life isn’t easy for little Brenda, whose single teenage mom is immature, selfish, and prone to violent mood swings. Brenda takes care of her as best she can, missing out on many childhood joys to be her mother’s Little Mama. Sadly, her already challenging existence gets even worse when her mom’s abusive boyfriend moves in. Brenda loves having a new baby brother, but her home life soon turns into pure living hell. Finally, she reaches her breaking point and must find the courage to save herself and embark on the difficult road towards recovery. A heartbreaking and inspiring tale of abuse and survival. Hopping forward and backward through time through the framing device of therapy, the story unfolds as young Brenda recounts her tale, visibly maturing as the book (and sessions) continue. At first, we think it might be a child psychology session, but slowly we realise that it is in fact the adult Brenda merely feeling like the child she was at whatever age she is at during her storytelling. A powerful story about child abuse, spousal abuse and surviving the trauma toward hopeful blue skies. 192pgs two-colour paperback.

Maria M.
by Gilbert Hernandez
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
This brutal, original crime thriller graphic novel, from the co-creator of Love and Rockets, tells the story of femme fatale Maria M. Hers is a sordid tale of sex, drugs, violence and power. When she comes to America for a better life, she marries a drug kingpin, whose son learns Maria’s darkest secret, leading to the most violent gangland bloodbath in organised crime history. Maria M. collects 2013’s Book One (now out of print) and the never-before-published Book Two, presenting the complete graphic novel for the first time. Longtime readers of Hernandez’s books will recognise a meta-twist worthy of Maria M.’s pulpy pages: Maria M. doubles as a “biopic” of the mother of Hernandez’s most beloved character: Luba from Love and Rockets. 270pgs B&W hardcover.

Press Enter To Continue
by Ana Galvañ
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Like a candy-coloured Black Mirror episode, Spanish cartoonist Ana Galvan’s English language debut utilises swaths of electric and fluorescent colours to create a series of short stories that intertwine and explore the dehumanising effects of contemporary society. Galvan’s characters navigate a world where Government departments brutalise the people, information is mined like gold and suicide is a tool to manage overpopulation. Galvan’s future is a logical extension of the present, where the malice of large corporations manifests itself in everyday ways.  100pgs colour hardcover.

by Mary Talbot & Bryan Talbot
Jonathan Cape / Dark Horse
£16.99 / $24.99

The publisher says:
A stunning new graphic novel and rallying cry to protect the planet, from the Costa-award-winning authors of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (with Kate Charlesworth) and The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. Set against the backdrop of disastrous flooding in the North of England, Rain dramatically chronicles the developing relationship between two young women, one of whom is a committed environmental campaigner. Their wild Brontë moorland is being criminally mismanaged. Birds and animals are being slaughtered. Across the country, crops are being systematically poisoned, even the soil itself. Rain centres on one relatively small example of moorland ownership by an elite group that impacts catastrophically on the unlanded majority living in the valley below. But the campaigners know that ‘a million other valleys need saving’. They need saving not just for the sake of their human inhabitants, but for the insects and plants, birds and mammals and all the other inhabitants large and small that we share this planet with – our non-human fellow earthlings. Rain is the first contemporary graphic novel from Bryan and Mary Talbot, dealing with the here and now of environmental degradation that threatens us all. The story follows the everyday experiences of ordinary people, while engaging with pollution, climate change, moorland mismanagement and the disruption, misery and loss that these things bring. The characters are fictitious; what’s happening around them is shockingly real. 160pgs colour hardcover.

by Stefano Tamburini & Tanino Liberatore
Heavy Metal
$29.99 / $59.99

The publisher says:
Ranx is an Italian science fiction graphic novel series by Stefano Tamburini and Tanino Liberatore, two Italian artists who had worked on such magazines as Cannibale and Frigidaire. Conceived as a bizarre antihero, Ranx is a mechanical cyborg creature made from photocopier parts. The first time Ranx was published in English was in the July 1983 issue of Heavy Metal. Many more issues of Heavy Metal, as well as graphic novels followed, featuring Ranx (such as Ranx in America). Liberatore uses Pantone pens to create his unique style of art.  184pgs / 392pgs colour hardcover. 

Richard Corben says of Ranx:
“Ranx is a punk, futuristic Frankenstein monster, and with the under-aged Lubna, they are a bizarre Beauty and the Beast. This artist and writer team have turned a dark mirror to the depths of our Id and we see reflected the base part of ourselves that would take what it wants with no compromise, no apology – and woe to the person who would cross us. But it is all done with a black, wry, satirical sense of humour.”

Rebellion Digest: Best of Steel Commando
by Frank S. Pepper, Alex Henderson & Vince Wernham

The publisher says:
Developed by British scientists in WW2, the Steel Commando was created to become a thorn in the side of the Axis powers. Due to a programming glitch, however, he would only take orders from Ernie Bates, an individual widely regarded as being the laziest soldier in the British army! A lost classic of comics, remastered and reprinted for the first time ever. 160pgs B&W paperback.


Sky in Stereo Vol. 2
by Mardou
Uncivilized Books

The publisher says:
Iris, a young woman turning eighteen in early 1990s Manchester, England, is slowly losing her tenuous grip on her world of burger-flipping, drugs and rock ‘n roll. After quitting her job at a clothes shop, Iris takes a position at a burger bar at the train station, where her crush on fellow burger-flipper Glen takes her down a dark path. A Revival House Press production in association with Alternative Comics. 170pgs B&W paperback.

by Lewis Trondheim & Hubert Chevillard
Lion Forge

The publisher says:
Roland has the perfect vacation planned for Fabienne – everything is organised, booked and paid for in advance, with the entire itinerary recorded in a notebook. It’s going to be a wonderful week where they can discuss their future together. But before they can even get their luggage to their rental, Roland is decapitated in a freak accident. And Fabienne, stunned and alone, has no idea how to process it. So in her daze of denial, she decides to stay and follow the itinerary as planned, as if the tragedy never happened. Ghost-like, she wanders the tourist-filled streets, a passive spectator to the joys of others’ lives. Along the way, she meets Paco, a local vendor with some eccentric views on life and death. Being rather private normally, it isn’t hard for her to lie about the companion that never seems to be there at that very moment, but Paco soon puts the pieces together. His minor fascination with bizarre deaths has him all too familiar with the tale of the recently decapitated tourist. And he realises this woman needs a friend right now more than anything else. So they spend a platonic week off and on, neither of them talking about what happened. And that seems to be precisely what she needs to process everything. A moving and mesmerising look at life, death and the many different ways we cope with each, written by celebrated author Lewis Trondheim and illustrated by Hubert Chevillard. 128pgs colour hardcover.

The Anthology of Mind
by Tommi Musturi
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
This anthology of short stories looks like the work of many cartoonists but is actually that of Finnish cartoonist Tommi Musturi. The Anthology of Mind is a tour de force of stylistic exploration and a window into the brain of one of the most creatively fearless cartoonists working today. “Style is a form of fear - fear of change, fear of loss and fear of being different,” according to the author. In The Anthology of Mind, Musturi confronts this fear head-on with one of the most vital and visually stunning collections of short comics in recent memory. Born in 1975, Tommi Musturi is a Finnish cartoonist, illustrator, graphic designer and artist. In addition to his current ongoing series Walking with Samuel and The Books of Hope, Musturi contributes to the studio Kutikuti based out of Helsinki, which creates, publishes and teaches comics art. Seeing that there was an unmet demand, Musturi co-founded Huuda Huuda in 2006 to translate international comics into Finnish, publish local comic artists, and get the word out about the vibrant Finnish scene by anthologising the work in English. Musturi currently resides in Tampere, Finland. 128pgs colour paperback.

The Empress Cixtisis
by Anne Simon
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Set in the same world as Anne Simon’s The Song of Aglaia, The Empress Cixtisis tells the story of another female ruler who kidnaps all of the men from Agalaia’s kingdom and brings them to Tchitchinie to castrate them and make them her slaves. Will Queen Aglaia be able to bring the men back and restore peace to the region? Anne Simon showcases a deft touch in this allegorical fantasy that blends feminism, satire and farce into a story brimming with subversive twists and comical turns. 80pgs colour hardcover.

The River at Night
by Kevin Huizenga
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A man has trouble falling asleep and reflects on his life, marriage, and time itself. In The River at Night, Kevin Huizenga delves deep into consciousness. What begins as a simple, distracted conversation between husband and wife, Glenn and Wendy Ganges ― him reading a library book and her working on her computer ― becomes an exploration of being and the passage of time. As they head to bed, Wendy exhausted by a fussy editor and Glenn energised by his reading and no small amount of caffeine, the story begins to fracture. The River at Night flashes back, first to satirise the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and then to examine the camaraderie of playing first-person shooter video games with work colleagues. Huizenga shifts focus to suggest ways to fall asleep as Glenn ponders what the passage of time feels like to geologists or productivity gurus. The story explores the simple pleasures of a marriage, like lying awake in bed next to a slumbering lover, along with the less cherished moments of disappointment or inadvertent betrayal of trust. Huizenga uses the cartoon medium like a symphony, establishing rhythms and introducing themes that he returns to, adding and subtracting events and thoughts, stretching and compressing time. A walk to the library becomes a meditation on how we understand time, as Huizenga shows the breadth of the comics medium in surprising ways. The River at Night is a modern formalist masterpiece as empathetic, inventive and funny as anything ever written. 216pgs two-colour hardcover

Vanni: Caught Between Lions and Tigers
A Family’s Struggle through the Sri Lankan Conflict

by Benjamin Dix & Lindsay Pollock
New Internationalist / Penn State University Press
£16.99 / $19.95

The publisher says:
In the tradition of Maus, Persepolis, Palestine and The Breadwinner, Vanni is a graphic novel focusing on the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the ‘Tamil Tigers’, told from the perspective of a single family. This moving, exceptional graphic novel portrays the personal experiences of modern warfare, the processes of forced migration and the struggles of seeking asylum in Europe. Inspired by Dix’s experience of working in Sri Lanka for the United Nations during the war, Vanni draws upon over four years of meticulous research, includes first-hand interviews, references from official reports and cross-referencing with experts in the field. Elegantly drawn by Lindsay Pollock, and with a real sense of immediacy, Vanni takes readers through the otherwise unimaginable struggles, horrors and life-changing decisions families and individuals are forced to make when caught in conflict. 240pgs two-colour paperback.

Arundhati Roy says:
The story of the 2009 war in Sri Lanka in which tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were brazenly and brutally killed, is rapidly being buried by powerful countries with strategic and business interests in the region. This book seeks to unbury those terrible, sordid secrets and place them in clear view for the world to see.

Winter Warrior
by Eve Gilbert
Fantagraphics Books

The extraordinary life of Scott Camil, from hardened marine to longhaired anti-war activist. Young Scott Camil grew up in Florida in the 1960s hating Commies and wanting to fight for his country. After graduating from high school, Camil decides to join the marines and is plunged into the thick of combat in Vietnam. What he encounters there is truly ghoulish: the utter incompetence and malfeasance of his superiors, the constant, sudden death of his close friends, the sadistic rape and slaughter of Vietnamese women and children—all of which grinds him down and turns him into a ruthless killing machine. Upon his return to civilian life, Camil has a moment of revelation and adopts a new cause: telling the American people the truth about what’s going on in Vietnam. In Winter Warrior, Eve Gilbert illustrates Camil’s words with empathy, nuance and the occasional leavening splash of humour. Each panel is an exquisitely imagined interpretation of Camil’s story, capturing the brutal reality of the war and the bleak political reality on the domestic front. Winter Warrior recounts both the personal journey of one American and his need for political engagement when his conscience collides with American foreign policy during the height of the Cold War. It’s an illuminating biographical cautionary tale, whose archetypal arc of suffering and transformation is as relevant today as it was then, as the American military continues to wage war throughout the globe. 112pgs two-colour hardcover.

Posted: June 2, 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

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