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Top 25 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

September 2018

For me the stand-out books this coming September are Home After Dark and A New Jerusalem.  I’ve been awaiting the return to the medium of David Small, since he was acclaimed for his autobiographical debut Stitches. In Home After Dark he addresses the hyper-masculinised and homophobic climate of the America in the Fifties and its damaging effects on an anxious adolescent teenage boy. It’s a climate that has never really gone away.

In A New Jerusalem, another disruptive force on families to this day, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is sensitively explored by Benjamin Dixon, especially its impact between a father and son.

Comics can also transport you to other places, times and lives. So I also commend for your consideration these four graphic novels, which invite you to experience everyday life in contemporary Beijing, the creative ferment of modern Jazz, the fight against dictatorship in the Second World War, and the pressing needs and hopes of refugees in present-day Berlin. 

100 Days In Uranium City
by Ariane Dénommé
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
A portrait of a Northern mining town in the 1970s. Shifts in the uranium mine last 100 days, followed by two weeks spent adjusting to civilisation before returning. The pay is good, the work is gruelling and everyone drinks heavily on a Saturday night. A quiet but powerful read, rendered in gorgeous pencil like the dust of the mine, revealing lives on the page. 144pgs B&W paperback.



All The Sad Songs
by Summer Pierre
Retrofit Comics

The publisher says:
In her first full-length graphic memoir, Summer Pierre takes us on a journey through the soundtracks that shaped her. Through mix tapes, boyfriends, late nights in Boston folk clubs, and ill-fated cross-country road trips, Pierre weaves a moving meditation on music, memory, and identity. 104pgs B&W paperback.



A New Jerusalem
by Benjamin Dickson
New Internationalist / Myriad Editions

The publisher says:
This is a beautifully-crafted portrayal of PTSD and the consequences it can have on everyone around the person affected. Eleven-year-old Ralph lives with his mother, plays in bombed-out buildings and dreams of the day his father will come home and tell him of all his heroic battles. But when his father actually does come back, he is far from what Ralph expected: his father is sullen, withdrawn and refuses to discuss the war at all. Susceptible to fits of crying and uncontrollable rages, his behaviour starts to directly impact Ralph and his mother, and the community around them. 154pgs B&W paperback.

An Illustrated History of Film-Making
by Adam Allsuch Boardman

The publisher says:
Explore the history of filmmaking in this detailed work from a new talent. Going back as far as prehistoric times, where cavemen played with light and shadow, through to the first cinemas and the creation of special effects, Boardman guides the reader on an epic filmmaking journey that covers cameras, directors, and stars through the ages. The book also speculates on the future of film, taking into account the popularity of the internet and streaming devices. 88pgs colour hardcover.

by Max de Radiguès
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
After conducting 52 simultaneous robberies in the same city, May and Eugene are now on the run from the law, former accomplices, and their own violent past. What makes these criminals so surprising is that they are a young mother and her preteen son. Bastard traces the escape of May and Eugene as they crisscross the United States, racing to get to their stolen cash. Both bloody and tender and full of plot twists and high tension, Bastard is a hard-boiled page-turner introducing an adolescent anti-hero that you’re sure not to forget. 192pgs B&W paperback.

Blame This On The Boogie
by Rina Ayuyang
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Inspired by the visual richness and cinematic structure of the Hollywood Musical, Blame This On The Boogie chronicles the adventures of a Filipino-American girl born in the decade of disco who escapes life’s hardships and mundanity through through the genre’s feel good song and dance numbers. Ayuyang’s deeply personal, moving stories unveil the magic of the world around us-rendering the ordinary extraordinary through a jazzed-up song and dance routine. Blame This On The Boogie is Ayuyang’s ode to the melody of the world, and how tuning out of life and into the magic of Hollywood can actually help an outsider find their place in it. 200pgs colour paperback.

by Michael Deforge
Koyama Press

The publisher says:
Ms. D. is the JD, but she’s losing her edge. Will her next act of delinquency restore her legacy? A major star of minor crime struggles for delinquency relevancy as she ages out of the delinquent scene she pioneered. Michael DeForge presents the mid-career crisis of a merry prankster in his singular style that blurs the banal with the absurd. 160pgs colour hardcover.



Chlorine Gardens
by Keiler Roberts
Koyama Press

The publisher says:
Keiler Roberts doesn’t do slice of life; she gives you the whole pie. Dealing with pregnancy, child-rearing, art-making, mental illness, and an MS diagnosis, the parts of Chlorine Gardens’ sum sound heavy, but Keiler Roberts’ gift is the deft drollness in which she presents life’s darker moments. She doesn’t whistle past graveyards, but rather finds the punch line in the pitiful. 128pgs B&W paperback.


Djinn Vol.1
by Jean Dufaux & Ana Miralles
Insight Comics

The publisher says:
Kim Nelson has heard the legend of Jade, a powerful djinn, a spirit with the ability to seduce any human heart-but Kim isn’t interested in legends. She’s just looking for her grandmother. Fifty years ago, Jade served the Black Sultan as part of the Imperial Harem, but Jade was no ordinary harem girl-she was the sultan’s favourite. Rumoured to be a djinn from the Ottoman Empire, she had the power to manipulate men’s hearts, subtly alter their convictions, and even affect the course of an entire war. The legends also say that Jade, and Jade alone, knew where the Black Sultan hid his treasure, a treasure that no one has ever managed to unearth. Now, fifty years later, Kim Nelson is reliving the life of her ancestor Jade in modern Istanbul, hoping to find answers that have been lost to history. It will be a long journey, a journey that will change her life forever. 104pgs colour paperback.

Drawn To Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories From The New Europe
by Ali Fitzgerald
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Ali Fitzgerald began teaching comics-making to refugees at a Berlin emergency shelter. In her eight years in Germany, Fitzgerald experienced her student’s and her own creative highs, along with the deep depression of the disillusioned. In the refugee centre, worlds collide and Fitzgerald’s story entwines the complex themes of political and personal displacement. Her drawings are compassionate and unflinchingly intimate making for a stunning graphic memoir about what you find when you attempt to help lost people. 196pgs B&W hardcover.

by L. Nichols
Secret Acres

The publisher says:
L Nichols, now a celebrated multi-disciplinary artist, engineer and father of two, was born in small town, rural Louisiana, assigned female and raised by conservative Christians. Flocks is his memoir of that childhood, and of the expectations of his family, friends and community, the flocks of Flocks, that shaped and re-shaped him as a child. Unexpectedly, L never takes the easy way out, never accuses, never rejects, never blames and never flinches in the telling of this personal history. L’s irresistibly charming drawings demonstrate what makes Flocks so special: L’s boundless empathy. Flocks tells more than a story of self-acceptance; it tells a story of acceptance itself.  332pgs colour paperback.

Follow Me In
by Katriona Chapman
Avery Hill Publishing

The publisher says:
Kat had no responsibilities and nothing to tie her down. But she had graduated university with no plans. She was an artist who hadn’t drawn in five years. She was lost. What’s more, she’d been avoiding admitting to herself something that all those around her knew; that her boyfriend, Richard, has a serious problem with alcohol. Looking for a fresh start, the two of them quit Mexico for what they expected to be an adventure of a lifetime. It led to experiences that changed both their lives and to Kat rediscovering a love of art, a lifelong attachment to Mexico and the strength to move on. A beautifully illustrated recounting of a trip Chapman made to the country in 2003, graphic novel debut Follow Me In is part memoir, part coming of age story, part love letter to Mexico from one of the best illustrators and comic makers in the UK. 248pgs B7W hardcover.

Form Of A Question
by Andrew Rostan & Kate Kasenow
Boom! Studios

The publisher says:
Andrew Rostan is excellent at remembering facts and recalling the memories he associates with those facts. Memories of deaths in the family and extraordinary people. At the age of twenty-two and suddenly a contestant on the very game show he associates with the happiest moments in his life, Rostan‘s about to realise that existence is like Jeopardy! and that all the answers are staring you in the face if only you ask the right questions. Form of a Question is a moving memoir from writer Andrew Rostan (An Elegy for Amelia Johnson), along with artists Kate Kasenow (All Saint‘s Day) and Jenna Ayoub (Adventure Time Comics), that revisits one of the most formative moments in his life and reveals how a chance opportunity to appear on a game show taught him much more about living than he knew he needed. 128pgs B&W hardcover.

by Juan Diaz Canales & Jose-Luis Munuera
Magnetic Collection

The publisher says:
Fraternity is a haunting horror story written by Juan Diaz Canales, the co-creator of the popular Blacksad series, and illustrated by the talented Jose-Luis Munuera. During the Civil War, the inhabitants of a small frontier town discover a mysterious beast is prowling the forest around them, a beast that may have a connection to a feral child found several years earlier. Fraternity is perfect for fans of the monster genre and people who have a love for the classics universal monster movies as this tale feels like it would have been right at home amount them. 128pgs colour hardcover.

Home After Dark
by David Small

The publisher says:
David Small’s long-awaited graphic novel is a savage portrayal of male adolescence gone awry like no other work of recent fiction or film. Thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt, abandoned by his mother, follows his father to sun-splashed California in search of a dream. Suddenly forced to fend for himself, Russell struggles to survive in Marshfield, a dilapidated town haunted by a sadistic animal killer and a ring of malicious boys who bully Russell for being “queer.” Rescued from his booze-swilling father by Wen and Jian Mah, a Chinese immigrant couple who long for a child, Russell betrays their generosity by running away with their restaurant’s proceeds. Home After Dark becomes a new form of literature in this shocking graphic interpretation of cinema verité. 416pgs B&W hardcover.

Ian Vol 1: An Electric Monkey
by Fabien Vehlmann & Ralph Meyer

The publisher says:
Intelligent Artificial Neuromechanoid - Ian. It’s the name of the newest recruit in Team 21 of the SRS, the “Special Rescue Section.” Ian is an android, impossible to tell from a human being with the naked eye, and his creators claim that he’s controlled by a true artificial intelligence, one capable of learning, adapting, and even of experiencing emotions. Not every member of the team is happy about their new partner, but their higher-ups aren’t giving them a choice - and the mission comes first. 56pgs colour paperback.

I Feel Machine
by Krent Able, Julian Hanshaw, Box Brown, Shaun Tan & Tillie Walden
£14.99 / $22.99

The publisher says:
Since the turn of the century, technology has transformed the way we communicate and consume, how we work and fall in love and navigate the world. We are increasingly reliant on it - but few of us know anything about the science that is driving this technological change. Kurt Vonnegut famously said that to leave technology out of fiction is to misrepresent life. Here, six acclaimed graphic novelists present reports from the digital frontier. Exploring everything from artificial intelligence to virtual reality, I Feel Machine is by turns cautionary and celebratory, touching and terrifying. It challenges and confronts the digital world using the most technologically efficient machine ever invented: the book. 128pgs colour hardcover.

by Peter Kuper
WW Norton

The publisher says:
Long fascinated with the work of Franz Kafka, Peter Kuper began illustrating his stories in 1988. Initially drawn to the master’s dark humour, Kuper adapted the stories over the years to plumb their deeper truths. Kuper’s style deliberately evokes Lynd Ward and Frans Masereel, contemporaries of Kafka whose wordless novels captured much of the same claustrophobia and mania as Kafka’s tales. Longtime lovers of Kafka will appreciate Kuper’s innovative interpretations, including ‘A Hunger Artist’, ‘In The Penal Colony’ and ‘The Burrow’. Kafkaesque stands somewhere between adaptation and wholly original creation, going beyond a simple illustration of Kafka’s words to become a stunning work of art. 160pgs B&W hardcover.

Monk: Thelonious, Pannonica And The Friendship Behind A Musical Revolution
by Youssef Daoudi
First Second

The publisher says:
She is Pannonica de Koenigswarter, British baroness of the Rothschild family. He is Thelonious Sphere Monk, a musical genius fighting against the whims of his troubled mind. Their enduring friendship begins in 1951 and ends only with Monk’s death 1982. Set against the backdrop of New York in the 1950s, this graphic biography explores the rare alchemy between two brilliant beings separated by an ocean of social status, race, and culture, but united by an infinite love for music. Thoroughly researched by author Youssef Daoudi and rendered in his spontaneous, evocative pen and ink, Monk! seems to make visible jazz itself. 352pgs hardcover

My Beijing: Four Stories Of Everyday Wonder
by Nie Jun
Lerner Books

The publisher says:
Yu’er and her grandpa live in a small neighbourhood in Beijing - and it’s full of big personalities. There’s a story around every corner, and each day has a hint of magic. In one tale, Yu’er wants to swim in the Special Olympics, a sports competition for people with disabilities. But she and her grandpa don’t have a pool! Their trick to help Yu’er practice wows the whole neighbourhood. In another story, a friend takes Yu’er to a wild place full of musical insects. Later, Yu’er hears a special story about her grandparents. And in the final story, Yu’er and her grandpa show a cranky painter the sweet side of life. Nie Jun began drawing at an early age by copying lianhuanhua (Chinese sequential art). He later discovered the cartooning legends of Europe, Japan and elsewhere. He lives in Beijing and teaches drawing to university students. 128pgs colour paperback.

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies
by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Image Comics

The publisher says:
Teenage Ellie has always had romantic ideas about drug addicts. The tragic, artistic souls drawn to needles and pills have been an obsession since the death of her junkie mother ten years ago. But when Ellie lands in an upscale rehab clinic where nothing is what it appears to be, she’ll find another, more dangerous romance… and find out how easily drugs and murder go hand-in-hand. My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is a seductive coming-of-age story, a pop and drug culture-fuelled tale of a young girl seeking darkness-and what she finds there. This gorgeous, must-have hardback is the first original graphic novel from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the bestselling creators of Criminal, Kill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out, Fatale and Incognito. 72pgs colour hardcover.

One Two Three Four Ramones
by Bruno Cadene, Xavier Bétaucourt & Eric Cartier

The publisher says:
In the mid-1970s The Ramones reinvigorated a lifeless rock ‘n’ roll scene. Drugs, prostitution, teenage rebellion: the punk quartet wrote about what they knew-and the result was an explosive, radical new sound. Told through the eyes of Dee Dee Ramone, this graphic novel traces the life of the band’s creative soul, spanning his troubled years at a military school in Germany, his early experiences with opiates, his family’s relocation to New York, and his first encounters with fellow misfits Joey, Johnny, and Tommy. This fascinating graphic portrait of the band’s development takes readers from The Ramone’s dismal first show to Dee Dee’s death in 2002, shortly after the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 96pgs colour paperback.

Other People
by Joff Winterhart
Gallery 13

The publisher says:
Evocatively wrought and gorgeously illustrated, Other People collects Days of the Bagnold Summer and Driving Short Distances, first published in the UK to wide acclaim. In Bagnold Summer, a teenager spends a long summer with his mother, much to his disappointment. Capturing the dynamics of family and growing up, Winterhart captures the ennui, pathos, and affection of the mother-son relationship. In Driving Short Distances, Sam needs a job and purpose, so begins a apprenticeship of sorts in the passenger side of Keith’s car. As Sam learns something about the self-styled big-man Keith, and the humility of everyday living, Winterhart’s pen turns ordinary life into a tableau poignant and comedic. 208pgs B&W hardcover.

Passing For Human: A Graphic Memoir
by Liana Finck
Random House

The publisher says:
A visually arresting graphic memoir about a young artist struggling against what’s expected of her as a woman, and learning to accept her true self, from an acclaimed New Yorker cartoonist. In this achingly beautiful graphic memoir, Liana Finck goes in search of that thing she has lost - her shadow, she calls it, but we can also think of it as the “otherness” or “strangeness” that has defined her since birth, that part of her that has always felt as though she is living in exile from the world. In Passing for Human, Finck is on a quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance—and along the way, she seeks to answer some eternal questions: What makes us whole? What parts of ourselves do we hide or ignore or chase away - because they’re embarrassing, or inconvenient, or just plain weird - and at what cost? 240pgs B&W hardcover.

Retrograde Orbit
by Kristyna Baczynski
Avery Hill Publishing

The publisher says:
At the outer edge of the solar system, on the mining planet Tisa, Flint and her mother live in the colony of Swift Springs. Displaced by a nuclear event, Flint’s family settled in Swift Springs two generations ago to become miners. Soon Flint will be old enough to begin her apprenticeship at the refinery. But is the home that her family has built for her enough, or will a mysterious, irradiated planet pull her away from them? By following in their footsteps and leaving to forge a new path, is she betraying her family, or honouring their legacy? Exploring the notions of home and a desire to leave it, Kristyna Baczynski’s first graphic novel is a story of relationships, of time and of the motion of the universe. 120pgs colour paperback.

RX A Graphic Memoir
by Rachel Lindsay
Grand Central Publishing

The publisher says:
In her early twenties in New York City, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Rachel Lindsay takes a job in advertising in order to secure healthcare coverage for her treatment. But work takes a strange turn when she is promoted onto the Pfizer account and suddenly finds herself on the other side of the curtain, developing ads for an antidepressant drug. Overwhelmed by the stress of her professional life and the self-scrutiny it inspires, she begins to destabilise and while in the midst of a crushing job search, her mania takes hold. Her altered mindset yields a simple solution: to quit her job and pursue life as an artist, an identity she had abandoned in exchange for medical treatment. When her parents intervene, she finds herself hospitalised against her will, and stripped of the control she felt she had finally reclaimed. Over the course of her two weeks in the ward, she struggles in the midst of doctors, nurses, patients and endless rules to find a path out of the hospital and this cycle of treatment. One where she can live the life she wants, finding freedom and autonomy, without sacrificing her dreams in order to stay well. 256pgs B&W hardcover.

Space Battleship Yamato Classic Collection
by Leiji Matsumoto
Seven Seas Entertainment lLC

The publisher says:
The classic manga behind the anime Star Blazers, from space adventure master Leiji Matsumoto, in English at last! The human race has one year left to live. Aliens known as the Gamilas have attacked Earth, poisoning it with radioactivity and driving humans underground. As humankind grows sicker by the day, their final hope is the space battleship Yamato, constructed from secret plans and equipped with advanced technology. Its mission: to reach a distant planet and bring back a cure to save humanity. Will the ship and its crew rescue the Earth in time? 644pgs B&W hardcover.

Tales From La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology
by various creators, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama
Mad Creek Books

The publisher says:
In the Latinx comics community, there is much to celebrate today, with more Latinx comic book artists than ever before. The resplendent visual-verbal storyworlds of these artists reach into and radically transform so many visual and storytelling genres. Tales from la Vida celebrates this space by bringing together more than eighty contributions by extraordinary Latinx creators. Their short visual-verbal narratives spring from autobiographical experience as situated within the language, culture, and history that inform Latinx identity and life. Tales from la Vida showcases the huge variety of styles and worldviews of today’s Latinx comic book and visual creators. Whether it’s detailing the complexities of growing up—mono- or multilingual, bicultural, straight, queer, or feminist Latinx—or focusing on aspects of pop culture, these graphic vignettes demonstrate the expansive complexity of Latinx identities. Taken individually and together, these creators—including such legendary artists as Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Roberta Gregory, and Kat Fajardo, to name a few—and their works show the world that when it comes to Latinx comics, there are no limits to matters of content and form. As we travel from one story to the next and experience the unique ways that each creator chooses to craft his or her story, our hearts and minds wake to the complex ways that Latinxs live within and actively transform the world. 184pgs B&W paperback.

The Second Coming of Krent Able
by Krent Able
Knockabout Comics
£14.99 / $19.99

The publisher says:
Krent Able is a comic artist and illustrator. He first started making comics in 2009 for The Stool Pigeon music magazine, and his Big Book of Mischief was published in 2012 by Knockabout Comics. In 2013 he exhibited in The Vice Illustration Show, in 2014 his work was included in the Comics Unmasked exhibition at The British Library, and in 2015 he illustrated the book Jolly Lad by John Doran. 80pgs colour paperback.


The ‘Stan
by Kevin Knodell, David Axe & Blue Delliquanti
Dead Reckoning

The publisher says:
The ‘Stan is a collection of short comics about America’s longest war. The tales in this book-based on reporting by David Axe and Kevin Knodell and drawn by artist Blue Delliquanti are all true and took place in roughly the first decade of the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan. While the stories are from the recent past, The ‘Stan is still very much about Afghanistan’s, and America’s, present. And likely, future. 128pgs colour paperback.


The Unwanted
by Don Brown
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The publisher says:
The Unwanted is an exploration of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, exposing the harsh realities of living in, and trying to escape, a war zone. Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria in Exodus-like proportions. The surprising flood of victims overwhelms neighbouring countries, and chaos follows. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. The refugees are the unwanted. Don Brown depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees. 112pgs colour hardcover.

Twists of Fate
by Paco Roca
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
Eisner-award winner Paco Roca (Wrinkles) reconstructs World War II through the memories of Miguel Ruiz, a member of ‘La Nueve’, a company of men that went from fighting against the Franco regime in the Spanish Civil War to battles across Europe and Africa, spurred on by their patriotism and hate for brutal dictatorships. Ruiz’s stories are filled with horror and humour but Twists of Fate is much more than a forgotten hero’s personal story. It’s a timely look into what we remember and why we forget, a reminder that everyone has a tale to tell, and an ode to a generation that stood up to, and beat back, violent fascism. 328pgs colour hardcover.

Upgrade Soul
by Ezra Clayton Daniels
Lion Forge

The publisher says:
For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to undergo an experimental procedure that will give them their youth back, but their hopes are dashed when the couple is faced with the results: severely disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior duplicates of themselves. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist in the same world as their clones? In Upgrade Soul, McDuffie Award-winning creator Ezra Claytan Daniels asks probing questions about what shapes our identity” is it the capability of our minds or the physicality of our bodies? Is a newer, better version of yourself still you? This page-turning graphic novel follows the lives of Hank and Molly as they thrust into a very David Cronenberg-esque life change. 272pgs paperback.

We Are All Me
by Jordan Crane
Toon Books

The publisher says:
A simple idea. A poetic and lyrical picture book, bursting with colours, about our interdependent world, from cell to self and seed to sky. 36pgs colour hardcover.

Posted: July 6, 2018


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My Books

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