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Top 25 Comics, Graphic Novels & Manga:

May 2016

By creators from the four corners of the globe, from Inuits in the Arctic to European innovators, another motherlode of sequential delights arrives for your delectation. Among this month’s crop, there’s are biographies of Agatha Christie, James Joyce, Louise Michel and Edvard Munch, exciting projects from British superstars Brendan McCarthy, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, and Mary and Bryan Talbot, and no less than William ‘Cyberpunk’ Gibson writing his first American comic-book series. I’ve singled out Cigarette Girl from Top Shelf, a 1970s manga which I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while.

Utterly endearing, unsentimental and wise, Masahiko Matsumoto’s slices-of-life reveal a little-known facet of ‘gekiga’, a more gentle contrast to this typically darker, bleaker form of dramatic comics, which he helped to co-found in the Fifties. The tales in Cigarette Girl evoke in particular a Tokyo of their times, bustling with noisy traffic, construction work, small businesses, love hotels, neighborhood back streets, laundry dripping dry and door-to-door condom saleswomen. Matsumoto pinpoints the day-to-day troubles and modest triumphs of city-dwellers striving for some independence, security, success, sex and maybe love. In his attentive character studies of this electrified floating world, it’s somehow poignant that one popular cigarette brand is called simply ‘Hope’.



20 x 20: Twenty Years of Conundrum Press
by Andy Brown & various creators
Conundrum Press
$20.00

The publisher says:
Conundrum Press was created in 1996 in post-referendum Montreal by Andy Brown, to give voice to the under-represented working in the underground anglo cultural milieu. Writers and cartoonists came to him wanting to make chapbooks. Soon he started making genre-defying books with spines, not staples. After fifteen years he moved to Nova “Scotia and focused exclusively on graphic novels. Now, twenty years later, this anthology represents all that history, all that talent, all that goodness. To celebrate twenty years in operation he asked one author or artist for each year of the press who had a book out that year to contribute something new, something that represented Conundrum. For some it would have been the first book he or she had ever made. So in the end twenty Conundrumites represent twenty years, hence 20x20. There will be digging deep into the archives, there will be memoirs, there will be comics, drawings, and photographs. There will be laughter and tears of joy. 240pgs colour paperback.


Adam Sarlech: A Trilogy
by Frédéric Bézian
Humanoids
$34.95

The publisher says:
No one remains unscathed in this trilogy of mid-19th century-set interwoven tales exploring love, revenge and death. An engrossing universe awaits the reader who dares go past the first page of this off-kilter gothic saga, populated with a rich assortment of bizarre characters and haunting plots. Hints of Lovecraft and Poe abound as hidden secrets, the occult, succubi, spiritual séances, and repressed urges are interwoven in Frédéric Bézian’s award-winning literary and spectacularly dark fantasy. 160pgs colour hardcover.


Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie
by Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau & Alexandre Franc
SelfMadeHero
$19.95 / £12.99

The publisher says:
The life of Agatha Christie was as mysterious and eventful as her fiction. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel traces the life of the Queen of Whodunnit from her childhood in Torquay, England, through a career filled with success, mischief, and adventure, to her later years as Dame Agatha. Revealing a side to Christie that will surprise and delight many readers, Agatha introduces us to a free-spirited and thoroughly modern woman who, among other things, enjoyed flying, travel, and surfing. Centring around an episode in 1926 when Christie staged her own disappearance, Agatha is an intriguing, entertaining and funny exploration of the 20th century’s best-loved crime novelist. 128pgs colour paperback.


Archangel #1 (of 5)
by William Gibson & Butch Guice
IDW
$4.99

The publisher says:
Science Fiction Superstar William Gibson comes to comics. The U.S. political leaders of 2016 abandon the radioactive planet they’ve destroyed and harness the power of humanity’s last hope: The Splitter, a colossal machine designed to manufacture a bright new reality for them to infiltrate and corrupt. William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and one of the most influential science fiction writers of the last 30 years, makes his comic book debut with this all-new, original story. Joining Mr. Gibson for this comic book event are fan-favourite artists Butch Guice (interiors) and Tula Lotay (covers). 40pgs colour comic-book.


Arctic Comics
by Nicholas Burns, George Freeman & various
Renegade Arts Entertainment
$15.99

The publisher says:
Arctic Comics is a full-colour anthology containing tales of myth, adventure and humour, told at the top of the world. Written and drawn by Inuit, Northerners, and other Canadians, it includes: Kiviuq Versus Big Bee, Jose Kusugak and Germaine Arnaktauyok’s magical recount of an Inuit legend: On Waiting, a story by award-winning children’s author Michael Kusugak and illustrated by watercolourist Susan Shirley; Nicholas Burns and George Freeman’s Blizzard House, an arctic science fiction adventure; The Great Slo-Pitch Massacre, a humorous tale of young love gone wrong; and Film Nord, a farcical detective story starring an Inuk RCMP officer, both written and drawn by Nicholas Burns. 88pgs colour hardcover.


Blackbird
by Pierre Maurel
Conundrum Press
$17.00

The publisher says:
Blackbird follows a band of skateboarding anarchists who are making a zine all about their lives. The problem is, in Maurel’s dystopian near future self-publishing zines has become a crime. Through media stunts, thrilling chase scenes, and some real political activism, Blackbird and its cast of characters reflects the social dynamics of a counterculture. It also gives readers a taste of the new French underground in comics. Translated by Helge Dascher. 128pgs B&W paperback.


Cigarette Girl
by Masahiko Matsumoto
Top Shelf Productions
$24.99

The publisher says:
Welcome to the quiet, evocative urban dramas of Masahiko Matsumoto, one of the leading lights of the Japanese alternative-comics movement known as “gekiga.” Originally published in 1974, these eleven stories now form the first English-language collection of Matsumoto’s mature work. His shy, uncertain heroes face broken hearts, changing families, money troubles, sexual anxiety, and the pressures of tradition, but with a whimsy and lightness of touch that is Matsumoto’s trademark. With a new introduction by Matsumoto’s well-known colleague, the late Yoshihiro Tatsumi. 264pgs B&W paperback.


Cinema Purgatorio #1
by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill & various
$5.99
Avatar Press

The publisher says:
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill invite you, and some of the finest creators in comics, in to join them in a different kind of dark: Cinema Purgatorio. This ongoing monthly series will feature Alan and Kevin in every issue and is their first major new project together since League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Anthology has become a dirty word, so far be it from us to clean it up. Instead we’ll shine our light onto the cutting edge of sequential art, with black-and-white artwork to allow illustrators’ pure visions, and the greatest assembly of writing talent ever gathered on one series. Every issue is perfect-bound, with no ads, and all of the works are very long-form, there are no collections planned before 2018. Jump in now and embrace the new future of comics. The one of which Alan Moore has always dreamed. It’s here, now. Hiding in the dark corner. Welcome to Cinema Purgatorio. 48pgs B&W comic-book.


Dream Gang
by Brendan McCarthy
Dark Horse
$14.99

The publisher says:
To stop a psychic bomb that threatens to render all of humanity catatonic, the last Dream Voyager awakens. When the evil Zeirio goes on a rampage throughout the Dreamworlds, it’s up to a new generation of the Dream Gang to put him down. From the fertile mind of Brendan McCarthy-the cowriter/designer of Mad Max: Fury Road and a contributor to Dark Horse Presents and 2000 AD. Collects Dream Gang chapters from DHP #1-#4, #7-#10, and #14-#17. 112pgs colour paperback.


Jacob Bladders and The State of the Art
by Roman Muradov
Uncivilized Books
$19.95

The publisher says:
Jacob Bladders: illustrator, braggart, and victim of assault by thugs sent by the mysterious Charlie. Part satire of commercial art, part noirish detective story, part puzzle to be solved or left in pieces. Roman Muradov’s latest is an ink-smeared Blakean vision of 1940s New York where Twitter exists as a network of pneumatic tubes, but artwork is still delivered by hand. Roman Muradov was born in Moscow, Russia. He now resides in San Francisco, California. As an illustrator he has worked for Vogue, Random House, the New Yorker, the New York Times and Penguin. In 2013, Muradov received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators. His first book, (In a Sense) Lost and Found, was published last year by Nobrow Press. 240pgs B&W hardcover. 64pgs B&W hardcover.


James Joyce: Portrait Of A Dubliner
by Alfonso Zapico
Arcade Publications
$22.99

A dazzling, prize-winning graphic biography of one of the world’s most revered writers. Winner of Spain’s National Comic Prize and published to acclaim in Ireland, here is an extraordinary graphic biography of James Joyce that offers a fresh take on his tumultuous life. With evocative anecdotes and hundreds of ink-wash drawings, Alfonso Zapico invites the reader to share Joyce’s journey, from his earliest days in Dublin to his life with his great love, Nora Barnacle, and their children, and his struggles and triumphs as an artist. Joyce experienced poverty, rejection, censorship, charges of blasphemy and obscenity, war, and crippling ill-health. A rebel and nonconformist in Dublin and a harsh critic of Irish society, he left Ireland in self-imposed exile with Nora, moving to Paris, Pola, Trieste, Rome, London, and finally Zurich. He overcame monumental challenges in creating and publishing Dubliners, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegan’s Wake. Along the way, he encountered a colourful cast of characters, from the Irish nationalists Charles Parnell and Michael Collins to literary greats Yeats, Proust, Hemingway, and Beckett, and the likes of Carl Jung and Vladimir Lenin. 240pgs B&W hardcover.


Klaw: The First Cycle
by Antoine Ozanam & Joel Jurion
Magnetic Press Inc
$24.99

The publisher says:
A population of secret were-animals hide among us, and young Angel Tomassini is about to learn just how widespread, and dangerous, it is! Beautifully illustrated by Joel Jurion, best known throughout Europe and the worldwide animation industry for his gorgeous and dynamic character design, written by Antoine Ozenam, this exciting young adult series explores a world of ancient conflict hiding just under the surface of modern life as we know it. With identifiable coming-of-age themes overshadowed by thrilling action sequences and a deep, enthralling mythology, this book will introduce readers to a world unlike anything else on shelves today. Collecting the first three chapters of this original ongoing series - Awakening, Tabula Rasa and Unions - this book comprises “The First Cycle” in the epic, hidden universe of Klaw. 144pgs colour hardcover.


Munch: Masters Series Volume 3
by Steffan Kverneland
SelfMadeHero
$27.50 / £15.99

The publisher says:
In Munch, writer and artist Steffen Kverneland brings the story of one of the world’s most influential painters to vivid life. This extraordinary, inventive graphic novel uses text drawn exclusively from the quotes of Edvard Munch and his contemporaries. Filled with authenticity and life, Munch debunks the familiar myth of the half-mad expressionist painter - anguished, starving, and ill-treated - and draws out his neglected sense of humour and optimism. Born out of a lifelong fascination with Munch’s life and work, Kverneland’s seven-year project is a landmark of graphic biography and the funniest, most entertaining portrait yet of a complex man and the pioneering artist behind The Scream. 344pgs colour paperback.


Paul Up North
by Michel Rabagliati
Conundrum Press
$20.00

The publisher says:
Rabagliati continues his award-winning semi-autobiographical Paul series in this coming-of-age story. The action takes place in 1975-76 just before and during the summer Olympics in Montreal. Remember gymnast Nadia Comaneci or Canadian high-jumper Greg Joy? Paul is now 16, a teenager, and he finds new experiences, changes schools, hitchhikes, falls deeply in love, gets dumped, smokes pot and drinks beer. All of this over a Peter Frampton musical soundtrack. Paul travels “up north” to the Laurentian cottage country of Quebec, where he gets to know himself better. Another epic graphic novel from a master of the form at the height of his powers. 184pgs B&W paperback.


Real Deal Comix
by Lawrence ‘Rawdog’ Hubbard & H.P. McElwee
Fantagraphics Books
$29.99

The publisher says:
A vital piece of alternative comic history about black culture by black cartoonists. Inspired by magazines like Mad and traditional superhero comics, Real Deal magazine was a self-published, independent comic book created in the 1990s by Lawrence Hubbard (a.k.a “RawDog”) and H.P. McElwee (a.k.a. “R.D. Bone”). Peopled with a cast out of a blaxploitation movie - convicts, hustlers, drug addicts, crack whores, car thieves and murderers - these cult-classic comics straddle the line between satirising and showing the harsh realities of urban life. 176pgs with 32pgs in colour hardcover.


Rules For Dating My Daughter
by Mike Dawson
Uncivilized Books
$15.95

The publisher says:
In Rules for Dating My Daughter, Mike Dawson uses visual storytelling to offer original, compelling and funny commentary on fatherhood, gun rights, the gender of toys and staying sane in a world where school shootings and Disney princesses get equal billing. Rules is the perfect guide to today’s vexing mediascape. Mike Dawson is the author of three books: Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody, Troop 142 and Angie Bongiolatti. Mike is the host of TCJ Talkies and the Book Club podcast at The Comics Journal. He lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey, with his wife and two children. 160pgs B&W paperback.


Scumbag Loser
by Mikoto Yamaguti
Yen Press
$30.00

The publisher says:
High-schooler Masahiko Murai has exactly one thing going for him: a keen sense of smell. Not exactly the sort of defining trait that helps someone become one of the popular kids, especially given the malodorous scents he finds particularly appealing. But that’s okay. He’s set the bar pretty low in terms of his expectations. He doesn’t have to be cool or popular - or even liked. Just as long as he isn’t the biggest loser, he can get by. As luck would have it, there’s always been one rung lower on his class’s social ladder, but when the “biggest loser” gets a girlfriend, a panicked Masahiko pulls a name out of his past - Haruka Mizusawa - playing the long-distance relationship card in a desperate attempt to keep his worst nightmare from becoming reality. Naturally everyone’s skeptical, but when Haruka shows up at school the next day and backs up Masahiko’s story, their skepticism is quickly laid to rest. You’d think that Masahiko was off the hook… But what he failed to share with his classmates was that Haruka actually died years earlier…so who’s turned up wearing her face, and why is she playing along with him at all…? Masahiko’s about to learn that there are far more horrifying fates than being the biggest loser in school… 576pgs B&W paperback



Sea Change
by Frank Viva
Toon Graphics
$18.95

The publisher says:
One summer can change your whole life. As soon as school lets out, Eliot’s parents send him to the very edge of the world: a fishing village in a remote part of Nova Scotia. And what does the small town of Point Aconi have to offer? Maggots, bullies and grumpy old men. But along the way, Eliot discovers much more—a hidden library, starry nights and a mysterious girl named Mary Beth. See Point Aconi through Eliot’s eyes, as he finds that this place he never wanted to visit is becoming a home he doesn’t want to leave. 120pgs colour hardcover.


Something New: Tales From A Makeshift Bride
by Lucy Knisley
First Second
$19.99

The publisher says:
In 2010, Lucy and her long-term boyfriend John broke up. Three long, lonely years later, John returned to New York, walked into Lucy’s apartment and proposed. This is not that story. It is the story of what came after: The Wedding. DIY maven Lucy Knisley was fascinated by American wedding culture . . . but also sort of horrified by it. So she set out to plan and execute the adorable DIY wedding to end all adorable DIY weddings. And she succeeded. This graphic novel, clocking in at almost 300 pages of humour, despair and eternal love, is the story of how Lucy built a barn, invented a whole new kind of photo booth and managed to turn an outdoor wedding on a rainy day into a joyous (though muddy) triumph. 304pgs colour paperback.



Talk Dirty To Me
by Luke Howard
AdHouse Books
$14.95

The publisher says:
Growing up it felt like she was meant to be ashamed of her sexuality. Girls aren’t supposed to want those things, right? With grand visions of sexual empowerment, Emma decides to try being an operator for a sex hotline. But there’s a gaping wound between those visions and reality. You can download a pdf preview here… 128pgs paperback.



The Adventures of Dieter Lumpen
by Jorge Zentner & Ruben PellejeroM
IDW
$49.99

The publisher says:
The first English translation of the entire Adventures of Dieter Lumpen series, the most famous work of the Angoulême award-winning team of Jorge Zentner and Rubén Pellejero. Dieter Lumpen is a man of the world, an adventurer who wants no part of adventure. Nonetheless, he is swept along to exotic locations from Turkey to the Caribbean, from China to Venice. He is not quite so hard-boiled as the typical adventure hero. As written by Zentner, Dieter’s irony is gentler, more subtle, more reflective and more tongue-in-cheek than hard or bitter. Pellejero is quite simply one of Europe’s top comics artists, who was chosen for the plum job to illustrate the new adventures of Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese. Dieter Lumpen began in 1981 and continued until 1994. This definitive omnibus collects all eight short stories and the three graphic novels with a foreword by Tim Sale. 264pgs colour paperback.



The Black Dahlia
by James Ellroy, David Fincher, Matz & Miles Hyman
Boom! Studios
$29.99

The publisher says:
LAPD investigators Bucky Bleichart and Lee Blanchard find themselves enthralled with the mysterious and brutal murder of a beautiful young woman, Elizabeth Short. Their obsession takes a dark turn as they delve into the underbelly of Hollywood and the heart of the dead woman’s tortured and twisted past. It is a case that will test their mettle and their sanity. This gripping graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling novel by James Ellroy, The Black Dahlia, delves deeply into one of the most haunting unsolved crimes in American history. Acclaimed storyteller Matz (The Killer) and award-winning filmmaker David Fincher (Gone Girl, Zodiac) worked at length to preserve much of Ellroy’s original dialogue while bringing the stark images of 1940s LA to full, living colour with illustrator Miles Hyman. 176pgs colour hardcover.


The Red Virgin And The Vision Of Utopia
by Mary Talbot & Bryan Talbot
Jonathan Cape / Dark Horse
£16.99 / $19.99

The publisher says:
Set against the background of violence and state repression in a turbulent period of French history, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia chronicles the incredible and outrageous life of Louise Michel, the revolutionary feminist dubbed ‘The Red Virgin of Montmartre’. A utopian dreamer, notorious anarchist, teacher, orator and poet, she was decades ahead of her time. Always a radical, she fought on the barricades defending the short-lived Paris Commune of 1871 against the reactionary regime that massacred thousands of French citizens after the Commune’s defeat. Deported to a penal colony on the other side of the Earth, she took up the cause of the indigenous population against French colonial oppression. Celebrating the utopian urge in nineteenth-century literature and politics and the origins of science fiction, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia is the third collaboration of best-selling academic and graphic novelist Mary M. Talbot with her husband, the graphic novel pioneer Bryan Talbot. Their first book together, Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, won the 2012 Costa Biography Award. 144pgs colour hardcover.


Watching
by Winston Rowntree
Soaring Penguin Press
£13.99

The publisher says:
We thought time travel was impossible, as we had never been visited by anyone from the future, but what we didn’t know is that they’ve always been here - we just can’t see them. From a thousand years in the future they come to invisibly watch us. We are their distant past, and they gaze in wonder at the imperfection that is so alien to them. They are humanity in its final form. They know no illness and death is centuries away. And then one of them starts watching a 20th-century girl dying of an incurable disease. Even the people of her time find this hard to look at. And yet the more he watches, the less he begins to pity her. Why can’t he turn away? 92pgs colour paperback.


Why Would You Do That?
by Andrea Tsurumi
Alternative Comics
$10.00

The publisher says:
Tsurumi’s comics deftly combine stunningly beautiful imagery with wildly funny commentary about life as she observes it. The result is a comic style that somehow manages to be ridiculous and sublime, combined with a sense of humour that is both silly and wry. Tsurumi’s comics cover topics as diverse as poodles, brassieres, sports fans, pie, the Civil War, and how to swim. 64pgs B&W paperback.

Hannah Means-Shannon on Bleeding Cool says:
Let me warn you in advance that if you are going to read Tsurumi’s books, your dream-life will probably never be quite the same again.

Posted: March 13, 2016

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