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Top 27 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

May 2018

There’s much to look forward to this coming May in terms of high-quality comics. Among the stand-out works is the magical 400-page fantasy-allegory Garlandia, reuniting Lorenzo Mattotti with Jerry Kramsky.


Also translated from Europe come a graphic biography of French artist Nikki de Saint Phalle and the saga of an Ashkenazi Jewish family escaping from the pogroms of Russia for a new life on the pampas of Argentina.


Quite possibly the British debut graphic novel of the year will be John Harris Dunning’s twisted psycho-chiller Tumult, intensely visualised by the ridiculously intelligent, innovative and young British artist Michael Kennedy. Also highly recommended are new astutely observant graphic novels by Nick Drnaso from the USA and by Canada’s Hartley Lin (previously working under the anagrammatical pseudonym Ethan Rilly).


Thank you for browsing through my suggestions below. Join me every month for my next PG Tips…

All Summer Long
by Hope Larson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
$21.99 / $12.99

The publisher says:
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling Hope Larson. Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story. 176pages hardcover / paperback.

All the Answers
by Michael Kupperman
Gallery 13

The publisher says:
Joel Kupperman became one of the most famous children in America during World War II as one of the young geniuses on the series Quiz Kids. With the uncanny ability to perform complex math problems in his head, Joel endeared himself to audiences across the country and became a national obsession. Following a childhood spent in the public eye, only to then fall victim to the same public’s derision, Joel deliberately spent the remainder of his life removed from the world at large. With wit and heart, Michael Kupperman presents a fascinating account of mid-century radio and early television history, the pro-Jewish propaganda entertainment used to counteract anti-Semitism, and the early age of modern celebrity culture. 224pgs B&W hardcover.

by Antoine Revoy
First Second

The publisher says:
Two children confront the sinister forces residing in a haunted playground in this horror-manga-inflected graphic novel from artist Antoine Revoy. The residents of a quiet Japanese neighbourhood have slowly come to realize that inauspicious, paranormal forces are at play in the most unlikely of places: the local playground. Two friends, a young boy and girl, resolve to exorcise the evil that inhabit it, including a snaggle-toothed monster. In Animus, a beautiful but spooky young adult graphic novel of everyday hauntings, Antoine Revoy delivers an eerie tale inspired by the Japanese and French comics of his childhood. 224pgs B&W paperback.

Bloke’s Progress
by Kevin_Jackson_(writer)Kevin Jackson & Hunt Emerson
Knockabout Comics
£12.99 / $13.50

The publisher says:
John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) was an art critic – possibly the greatest in any language. Yet his concerns were by no means confined to art. He was a sharp-eyed observer of nature, he had a fascination with architecture and he developed strong ideas about work, wealth and money. He was what we would now call a “holistic” thinker. Thinking holistically obliged Ruskin to examine the society in which he lived. The conclusions he reached made him many admirers (and some enemies). He had impressive fans, including Leo Tolstoy and Marcel Proust. He inspired all sorts of reformers and idealistic politicians, including Gandhi, who said that reading Ruskin on a train one night changed his life. Ruskin was more than just a best-selling writer: lots of people regarded him as a kind of guru or latter-day prophet.
Darren Bloke is an ordinary, hard-working stiff until a lottery win changes – and ruins – his life. He squanders his windfall and loses everything but his beloved dog, Skittle. Then he is visited by the spirit of Ruskin, who shows him the true meaning of Wealth – not how to acquire it, but what is the right way for an honest human to deal with it. Further visits from Ruskin’s spirit take him on a journey into Perception – how to look at the world through a more creative filter, and finally, he learns from Ruskin the true value of Work, and how it can enrich his life above and beyond a paypacket. Darren discovers the meaning of Ruskin’s favourite saying: “There is no wealth but Life.” This strange comic book is part satire, part economic and philosophical treatise, part love story, part political argument, part psychedelic craziness, and always funny. Kevin Jackson interprets Ruskin’s complex ideas into an absorbing narrative, and Hunt Emerson’s fast, easy style makes the whole thing move like a Popeye cartoon. And, in Skittle, Bloke’s Progress has one of the most loveable dogs in comics! 120pgs part-colour paperback.

Brooklyn Blood
by Paul Levitz & Tim Hamilton
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Fresh from the was in Afghanistan, detective Billy O’Connor tries to return to his normal routines despite his PTSD and severe hallucinations. Once he begins to work a gruesome homicide case, however, O’Connor has difficulty sorting out what’s real-and after he uncovers some strange clues, he’ll have to face the unthinkable to bring the killer to justice. From New York Times-bestselling authors Paul Levitz and Tim Hamilton, this volume collects all sixteen chapters originally serialised in Dark Horse Presents. 136pgs colour paperback.

by Ryoko Ikeda
Seven Seas Entertainment

The publisher says:
The classic LGBT+ story by the creative master of The Rose of Versailles. Born as “Claudine” in a female-assigned body that doesn’t reflect the man inside, this heart-wrenching story follows Claudine through life, pain, and the love of several women. Master shoujo mangaka Riyoko Ikeda, considered part of the influential Year 24 Group, explores gender and sexuality in early twentieth century France in this powerful tale about identity. Riyoko Ikeda’s career of over forty years is most defined by her epic The Rose of Versailles, and she was awarded the French Legion of Honour in 2009. 104pgs paperback.

Come Again
by Nate Powell
IDW / Top Shelf Productions

The publisher says:
As the sun sets on the 1970s, the spirit of the Love Generation still lingers among the ageing hippies of one “intentional community” high in the Ozarks. But what’s missing? Under impossibly close scrutiny, two families wrestle with long-repressed secrets… while deep within those Arkansas hills, something monstrous stirs, ready to feast on village whispers. National Book Award-winner Nate Powell returns with a haunting tale of intimacy, guilt, and collective amnesia. 280pgs B&W hardcover.



by Lorenzo Matteotti & Jerry Kramsky, translated by Jamie Richards

The publisher says:
This long-awaited latest collaboration between Italian artists Lorenzo Mattotti and Jerry Kramsky is masterfully drawn in psychedelic black and white. Ten years in the making, its characters evoke Tove Jansson’s Moomins and its settings the dreamscapes of Moebius and Hayao Miyazaki. Garlandia is a major work by a master cartoonist, an enchanting graphic poem of mythic scope and surprising political relevance. 400pgs B&W hardcover.


Graphic Reproduction: An Anthology
by various artists, edited by Jenell Johnson
Penn State University Press

The publisher says:
This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce Farmer, Graphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and confluences around diverse individual experiences of the entire reproductive process, from trying to conceive to child loss and childbirth. Jenell Johnson’s introduction situates comics about reproduction within the growing field of graphic medicine and reveals how they provide a discursive forum in which concepts can be explored and presented as uncertainties rather than as part of a prescribed or expected narrative. Through comics such as Lyn Chevley’s groundbreaking Abortion Eve, Bethany Doane’s Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story, Leah Hayes’s “Not Funny Ha-Ha,” and “Losing Thomas & Ella: A Father’s Story,” by Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, the collection explores a myriad of reproductive experiences and perspectives. The result is a provocative, multifaceted portrait of one of the most basic and complicated of all human experiences, one that can be hilarious and heartbreaking. Featuring work by well-known comics artists as well as exciting new voices, this incisive collection is an important and timely resource for understanding how reproduction intersects with sociocultural issues. The afterword and a section of discussion exercises and questions make it a perfect teaching tool. With an Afterword by Susan Merrill Squier.  232pgs colour paperback.


James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner
by Alfonso Zapico
Arcade Publishing

The publisher says:
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. 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 Finnegans Wake. With evocative anecdotes and hundreds of ink-wash drawings, Alfonso Zapico invites the reader to share in Joyce’s journey. 240pgs B&W paperback.

Love That Bunch
by Aline Kominsky-Crumb
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Aline Kominsky-Crumb immediately made her mark in the Bay Area’s underground comix scene with unabashedly raw, dirty, unfiltered comics chronicling the thoughts and desires of a woman coming of age in the 60’s. Kominsky-Crumb traces her steps from a Beatles loving fangirl, East Village groupie, an adult grappling with her childhood, an 80s housewife and mother, to a new 30-page story ‘Dream House’ that looks back on her childhood, 40 years later. Collecting comics from the 1970s through today, Love That Bunch is shockingly prescient while still being an authentic story of its era. 208pgs B&W hardcover.

Manfried the Man
by Caitlin Major & Kelly Bastow
Quirk Books

The publisher says:
In this hilarious graphic novel, the roles of cats and humans are reversed, putting humanoid felines in charge of tiny, dimwitted little man-pets. Manfried is a stray taken in by Steve Catson, a slacker with a dead-end job and nonexistent love life. Soon Manfried becomes the Garfield to Steve’s Jon Arbuckle: lazy, selfish, and sometimes maddening in his weird human behaviour. Yet the pair depends on each other to get through life’s troubles. When Manfried runs away, Steve musters his meagre resources to find his best man-friend and bring him home safe. Ultimately, both Steve and Manfried realise they’re capable of so much more than they thought. 224pgs B&W paperback.

Niki de Saint Phalle: The Garden of Secrets
by Dominique Osuch & Sandrine Martin

The publisher says:
Niki de Saint Phalle knew art could save the world because art saved her. From madness, from violence. Even from herself. A comics biography of the famous and controversial contemporary pop-style artist. 186pgs colour hardcover.




Old Masters
by Thomas Bernhard & Nicolas Mahler, translated by James Reidel
Seagull Books: The German List

The publisher says:
Thomas Bernhard’s Old Masters has been called his “most enjoyable novel” by the New York Review of Books. It’s a wild satire that takes place almost entirely in front of Tintoretto’s White-Bearded Man, on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, as two typically Viennese pedants (serving as alter egos for Bernhard himself) irreverently, even contemptuously take down high culture, society, state-supported artists, Heidegger and much more. It’s a book built on thought and conversation rather than action or visuals. Yet somehow celebrated Austrian cartoonist Nicholas Mahler has brought it to life in graphic form—and it’s brilliant. This volume presents Mahler’s typically minimalist cartoons alongside new translations of selected passages from the novel. The result is a version of Old Masters that is strikingly new, yet still true to Bernhard’s bleak vision, and to the novel’s outrageous proposition that the perfect work of art is truly unbearable to even think about—let alone behold. 160pgs B&W paperback.

Party Time with Kant
by Nicolas Mahler, translated by James Reidel
Seagull Books: The German List

The publisher says:
Thousands upon thousands of books have been written about Immanuel Kant since his death. None, let’s be clear, have been quite like what we have here. In Party Fun with Kant, Nicolas Mahler tells the story of Kant—and his fellow serious-minded figures from the history of philosophy—with a comic edge. With his witty visual style and clever wordplay, he delves into their lives and emerges with hitherto unknown scenes that show them in a new (and far less serious) light. We go to parties with Kant, visit an art exhibition with Hegel, shop at the supermarket with Nietzsche, and go to the cinema with Deleuze, and celebrate the dream wedding with de Beauvoir. In each case, we come away knowing more about the life, thoughts and feelings of the philosopher—getting to know them as people rather than as stony-faced figures long since robbed of any existence beyond their ideas. The result is pure fun, but with plenty of insight, too. 192pgs B&W paperback.

Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life
by Ellen Forney

The publisher says:
The eagerly awaited sequel companion book to Forney’s 2012 best-selling graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. Whereas Marbles was a memoir, Rock Steady offers a survival guide of tips, tricks, and tools by someone who has been through it all and come through stronger for it. Personal stories and solid advice on how to overcome the hassle of meds, recognise red flags, and other tools from her own experience all in comics form. Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life invites readers into Ellen’s home, head and Peanuts pill box. 200gs B&W paperback.

Rome West
by Brian Wood, Justin Giampoli & Andrea Mutti
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
In AD 323, a fleet of Roman ships is lost in a storm, and they find themselves on the shores of the New World-one thousand years before Columbus. Unable to return home, they establish a new colony, Roma Occidens, radically altering the timeline of America and subsequent world events as seen through the eyes of one family. An exploration in alternative history from Brian Wood, Justin Giampaoli, and Andrea Mutti. 96pgs colour paperback.



by Nick Drnaso
Drawn & Quarterly / Granta Books
$27.95 / £16.99

The publisher says:
When Sabrina disappears, an airman in the U.S. Air Force is drawn into a web of suppositions, wild theories, and outright lies. The follow-up to Nick Drnaso’s LA Times Book Prize-winning Beverly, Sabrina depicts a modern world devoid of personal interaction and responsibility, where relationships are stripped of intimacy through glowing computer screens. An indictment of our modern state, Drnaso contemplates the dangers of a fake news climate. 204pgs part-colour hardcover.

by Fiona Smyth
Koyama Press

The publisher says:
Collecting a career in comics from 1983-2017 by a joyous, feminist contemporary of Julie Doucet, Seth and Chester Brown. A comics collection by Canadian cartoonist, painter and illustrator Fiona Smyth. Over thirty years of comics that feature Fiona’s world of sexy ladies, precocious girls, and vindictive goddesses is revealed in all its feminist glory. This is recommended reading for sleepwalkers on a female planet. 368pgs colour paperback.



The Communist Manifesto
by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, adapted by Martin Rowson
$19.99 /

The publisher says:
Published in 1848, at a time of political upheaval in Europe, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party was at once a powerful critique of capitalism and a radical call to arms. It remains the most incisive introduction to the ideas of Communism and the most lucid explanation of its aims. Much of what it proposed continues to be at the heart of political debate into the 21st century. It is no surprise, perhaps, that The Communist Manifesto (as it was later renamed) is the second bestselling book of all time, surpassed only by the Bible. The Guardian‘s editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson employs his trademark draftsmanship and wit to this lively graphic novel adaptation. Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, The Communist Manifesto is both a timely reminder of the politics of hope and a thought-provoking guide to the most influential work of political theory ever published. 80pgs B&W hardcover.



The Drunken Sailor:
The Life of The Poet Arthur Rimbaud in His Own Words

by Nick Hayes
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
A biography of the most mythic of literary figures and a paean to wanderlust, from the critically acclaimed author of The Rime of the Modern Mariner, Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads and Cormorance. The Drunken Sailor traces the life of Arthur Rimbaud: poet, surrealist, libertine and gun runner. In dazzling artwork, Nick Hayes follows Rimbaud from his youth in Ardennes to the poetry salons of Paris, from the absinthe-glazed passion of his relationship with Verlaine to his flight into the jungles of Indonesia and the deserts of Yemen and Egypt. Told entirely in Rimbaud’s own words, from a new translation of Le bateau ivre, The Drunken Sailor confirms Nick Hayes’ place as one of the most talented graphic novelists at work today. 208pgs colour hardcover.

The Hookah Girl
by Marguerite Dabaie
Rosarium Publishing

The publisher says:
This graphic novel is told in short stories. The narrative ranges from growing up in a refugee family, to how to roll ‘waraq’ (stuffed grape leaves). This book is an account of living in two seemingly different cultures that actually aren’t very different at all. 100pgs B&W paperback.





The Pen is Mightier than the Sword: Seven Silent Comix
by Martin Rowson
Knockabout Comics

The publisher says:
Martin Rowson’s latest book tackles the state of the world through seven ‘silent (wordless) comics. In his iconic style he delves into modern woes such as the sorry state of politics and the mounting concerns of pollution and environmental decline, as well as the timeless anguishes of gluttony, despair and decay. In the course of his forty years in the business, Rowson’s satiric cartoons have been featured in every major British newspaper, giving his work household recognition. 72pgs B&W paperback.

The Silence of Malka
by Jorge Zentner & Ruben Pellejero

The publisher says:
For the family of the little red-headed Malka, trading the Russian shtetl for the Argentine pampas isn’t so easy. Even in a country eager to populate its vast territories, the immigrants discover that their new home isn’t the promised land. They encounter hostility from both man and nature as they struggle through droughts and locusts in an attempt to cultivate the arid soil. When misery pushes them to the extreme, Malka’s uncle is visited by the prophet Elias, who advises that he create a Golem-the mythical creature fashioned from earth and endowed with life by engraving on his body the word emet (‘truth’) to pose as a man and aid the immigrants. Years later, when the adult Malka is visited by Elias, the events of her youth force her to decide whether or not she can maintain her silence-with fate and divine justice hanging in the balance. A sweeping and poignant story of Ashkenazi Jews fleeing the Russian pogroms at the end of the 19th Century, as well as a parable of the making of a modern society and the extent to which religion and mysticism meet. Inspired by a story told to the author by his grandmother. Winner of the Best Foreign Graphic Album award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. 112pgs colour hardcover.

The Trouble Makers
by Baron Yoshimoto
Retrofit Comics

The publisher says:
A collection of some of the best stories by Baron Yoshimoto, one of the seminal Japanese manga artists who helped develop the graphic novel form in the 1960s and 1970s by targeting an older audience with scintillating and exquisitely drawn stories. The stories included are ‘Eriko’s Happiness’, ‘High School Brawler Ditty’, ‘Dirt Bag’, ‘One Stripper’s Gambling Life’, ‘Homesick’ and ‘The Girl and the Black G.I.’ 200pgs B&W paperback.



The Winner
by Karl Stevens
Retrofit Comics

The publisher says:
Karl Stevens uses the graphic novel to dissect the line between the worlds of high and low art. While working as a museum guard he contemplates the plight of his aesthetic choices, and how they have affected his life thus far. Where is his place as an artist? How has his world changed since he met his wife and muse Alex? Has he become boring since he quit drinking? Painted visions of autobiographical reality swing into experiments with fantasy and science fiction. 104pgs colour paperback.



by John Harris Dunning& Michael Kennedy

The publisher says:
Adam Whistler has it all, so why does he feel so empty? When he breaks his ankle on a Mediterranean holiday he impulsively ends his relationship, toppling himself into emotional free fall. At a house party he meets - and beds - the lovely Morgan. But when he encounters her a few days later she has no memory of him and introduces herself as Leila. Leila has dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personalities. People are being murdered and Leila fears that Morgan, the personality Adam first met, is the killer. Tumult is a stylish, contemporary psychological thriller in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith. 176pgs colour hardcover.

Vietnamese Memories Book 1: Leaving Saigon
by Clément Baloup

The publisher says:
Colonialism and war disrupted the lives of millions of Vietnamese people during the 20th century. These are their stories. In his award-winning work Vietnamese Memories, Clément Baloup chronicles, through vivid painted art and poetic storytelling, the fate of a handful of people who, like many of their peers, were condemned to leave a country successively occupied by the Japanese, the French and the Americans. Leaving Saigon recounts the experiences of Vietnamese citizens who, through different circumstances and different periods, ended up in various parts of France. These stories are testimonials of courage and endurance in the face of turmoil and displacement. 164pgs colour paperback.

by Max de Radigues & Wauter Mannaert, translared by Aleshia Jensen
Conundrum Press

The publisher says:
The New York photographer Weegee was known for staging crime scenes before the police showed up, altering a body position if it resulted in a better picture. His street photographs made him world famous. This graphic biography succeeds beautifully in capturing the contrasts in Weegee’s life in pictures. The style in which Mannaert has drawn Weegee’s hectic life is a perfect fit. His distinctive drawings have been compared to Will Eisner and create the impression that you’re walking with Weegee through New York’s iconic Lower East Side of eighty years ago. 140pgs B&W paperback.

A Western World
by Michael Deforge
Koyama Press

The publisher says:
A collection of short comics by the prolific and vital author behind Dressing and the Lose series. Short, succinct and, more often than not, strange stories have always been a central part of Michael DeForge’s oeuvre. In a career whose volume outweighs its years, DeForge’s most powerful work has often been his most pithy. 152pgs colour paperback.



Young Frances
by Hartley Lin
AdHouse Books

The publisher says:
The long-awaited first collection from Pope Hats. After insomniac law clerk Frances Scarland is recruited by her firm’s most notorious senior partner, she seems poised for serious advancement, whether she wants it or not. But when her impulsive best friend Vickie decides to move to the opposite coast for an acting role, Frances’ confusing existence starts to implode. Hartley Lin has created comics under the pen name Ethan Rilly, an anagram of his real name, for a decade, winning several awards along the way. With his first major collection, Young Frances, he officially retires the alias. 144pgs B&W hardcover.

Posted: February 28, 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