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Top 28 Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga:

August 2017

An especially rewarding range of titles debut this month including plenty of standouts. Among my PG Tips is Mercy On Me, in which Reinhart Kleist, German graphic biographer of Cash, Castro and others, turns his attention to the formative life stories of Nick Cave. RAW alumnus Jerry Moriarty makes his highly anticipated comeback to comics with his revealing memoir Whatsa Paintoonist?. And ‘neo manga’ master Yuchi Yokoyama immerses us into yet stranger territory in his latest translated oeuvre Iceland.

Others I’d also recommend you look into are: a ravishing late work by the much-missed manga author Jiro Taniguchi exploring Venice; Kevin P. Sacco’s touching wordless tribute to the nameless nannies of his childhood in Josephine; and Costa Prize-nominated Joff WInterhart’s distinctly British social observation in his second graphic novel, Driving Short Distances. Explore and enjoy….

by Chris Gooch
Top Shelf Productions / IDW

The publisher says:
Young Australian cartoonist Chris Gooch debuts with a haunting portrait of millennial alienation, tinged with body horror and Greek tragedy, glamour and terror. Jane is sick of her dead-end life in the suburbs, and desperate for a change. Her old friend Natalie made it out, living in Japan as a fashion model. Now, as Natalie comes back to town on business, Jane sees a way for her friend to do her a favour… whether she likes it or not. 288pgs part-colour paperback.

Comics Art In China
by John A. Lent & Xu Ying
University Press of Mississippi

The publisher says:
In the most comprehensive and authoritative source on this subject, Comics Art in China covers almost all comics art forms in mainland China, providing the history from the nineteenth century to the present as well as perspectives on both the industry and the art form. This volume encompasses political, social, and gag cartoons, lianhuanhua (picture books), comic books, humorous drawings, cartoon and humor periodicals, and donghua (animation), while exploring topics ranging from the earliest Western-influenced cartoons and the popular, often salacious, 1930s humour magazines to cartoons as wartime propaganda and comics art in the reform. Coupling a comprehensive review of secondary materials (histories, anthologies, biographies, memoirs, and more) in English and Chinese with the artists’ actual works, the result spans more than two centuries of Chinese animation. Structured chronologically, the study begins with precursors in early China and proceeds through the Republican, wartime, Communist, and market economy periods. Based primarily on interviews which senior scholar John A. Lent and Xu Ying conducted with over one hundred cartoonists, animators, and other comics art figures, Comics Art in China sheds light on tumult and triumphs. Meticulously, Lent and Xu describe the evolution of Chinese comics within a global context, probing the often-tense relationship between expression and government, as well as proving that art can be a powerful force for revolution. Indeed, the authors explore Chinese comics art as it continues to grow and adapt in the twenty-first century. Enhanced with over one hundred black-and-white and color illustrations, this book stands out as not only the first such survey in English, but perhaps the most complete one in any language. 288pgs part-colour hardcover.

by Dash Shaw
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
From the writer / director of the acclaimed 2017 feature film My Entire High School is Sinking into the Sea, this expanded edition of the titular graphic novel now includes over 30 pages of new material, including the original story that inspired the movie. The film, which stars Reggie Watts, Lena Dunham, Maya Rudolph, Susan Sarandon, and Jason Schwartzman, delighted audiences at the 2016 Toronto and New York Film Festivals. This newly designed paperback includes the original short story that inspired the film, and the single issue comic book, A Cosplayers Christmas, which did not appear in the previous edition. Cosplayers is cartoonist Dash Shaw’s ode to that defining element of fandom, the “costume play” of so many anime and comic conventions. In it, Annie and Verti combine their love of cosplaying with their love of social media and film in order to deepen their relationship with the popular culture they celebrate. Cosplayers depicts their stories in an affectionately funny way, celebrating how much more inclusive and humanistic fandom can be than most of the stories and characters it is built upon. It features plenty of easter eggs for fans of the broader culture as well as being the perfect entry point for those completely befuddled by it. 144pgs colour softcover.

Driving Short Distances
by Joff Winterhart
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
Sam is 27 and needs to get a job. Keith, who claims to be a second cousin of his (absent) father, offers him one. On Keith’s card it says he does ‘distribution and delivery’, which seems to consist of ‘a lot of driving around, getting out of the car for a few minutes and then getting back in’, Sam tells his mother. And so the days go by, Keith driving to a trading estate, ducking into a portakabin, all the while telling Sam stories about his first boss, Geoff Crozier, his mentor in distribution and delivery. As the weeks pass, Sam gets to know Keith’s friends, flirty Hazel-Claire from whom they buy two pasties every day at lunchtime, a variety of receptionists, and a few tantalising secrets from Keith’s past… 128pgs B&W hardcover.

by John Mankiewicz
Fantagraphics Books / FU Underground

The publisher says:
A father and son go on a road trip to discover train station relics, a professor explains his intricate grading methods, and a pen-pal correspondence gets more suggestive and dangerous. These are all interconnected in John Mankiewicz’s Education through reveries, memories, and nostalgic abstraction to tell a story that only the medium of comics could do justice. In this experimental and rewarding graphic novel, chronology and permanence are in flux while surreal illusions weave in and out of lucid states, remarkably held together by Hankiewicz’s confident, clean line and crosshatchings. Much like Here by Richard McGuire, Education is a time-fractured stream of consciousness told by a veteran cartoonist in his poetic prime. 132pgs B&W paperback.

Gomer Goof Vol. 1: Mind The Goof!
by André Franquin
£6.99 / $11.95

The publisher says:
Gomer Goof is a master loafer. He’s also a genius, if absent-minded, inventor. His laziness, his gadgets and his sheer bad luck create havoc at Spirou magazine and drive his colleagues crazy - but he’s such a likeable guy. Welcome to the offices of Spirou magazine. Everyone here is hard at work to keep the magazine ticking, from reporters to secretaries, including editor Fantasio and even, occasionally, Spirou himself. Everyone? Well, not quite… There’s that office boy, Gomer. No one’s entirely sure what his job description is, or how he got hired. One thing is certain, though: he’s a walking disaster zone] From work-shirking scheme to disastrous invention, enter the hilarious world of the most famous layabout of all. 48pgs colour paperback.

by Lars Fiske
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
This is a series of short nearly wordless comics, arranged chronologically, that form a biography of the caricaturist best known for his visualization of the Weimar Republic. George Grosz (1893–1959) was a German fine artist, cartoonist, and teacher who drew from pop culture, was active in the Dada and New Objectivist movements, and was an influence for artists like Ben Shahn. His antiwar painting, Eclipse from the Sun, would inspire Vietnam protesters. In this graphic biography, written and drawn by Fiske, angular art lays Kandinsky-like lines over scenes set in anything-goes, post–World War I Berlin: connecting, emphasising, tracing movement. Curves evoke the fleshy sex of Grosz’s work. Fiske channels the exuberance and fascination with line that typified Grosz’s work, and more generally early to mid-century art movements. Symbolically, Fiske uses two colours―red for Berlin, a slash of Grosz’s lipstick, a flash of tie―and green for the jazz and trains of New York, where Grosz would flee from Nazi Germany. Fiske’s thoughtful Grosz is a far cry from the plodding pedantry of the graphic hagiographies that earnestly clutter library shelves; it’s a work of art in its own right. 80pgs colour hardcover.

Henry & Glenn Forever And Ever
by Tom Neely, Jim Rugg & various artists
Microcosm Publishing

Two men. Two myths. One legend. The greatest love story ever told has finally been released in graphic novel form, featuring 20 short stories about the domestic life of “Henry” and “Glenn” and sometimes their neighbours “Daryl” and “John.” Glenn deals with issues with his mother while Henry, “a loud guy with a good work ethic,” shows his darker side and indifference to a fan, as he drinks black coffee and bonds with Glenn over their distaste for their own bands. These are two men who truly suffer best together. This definitive collection of the popular cult-classic series collects four serialised comics, adds even more never-before-published pages than the previous collective edition, and will have a spiffy hardcover. 320pgs part-colour hardcover.

by Yuchi Yokohama
Big Planet / Retrofit Comics

The publisher says:
A new surrealist tale by the creator of neo manga, the critically-acclaimed Yuichi Yokoyama. His frenetic visual style contrasts with the taciturn pace of the story and dialogue as a group of friends wander the high-latitude areas of the strange icy Far North looking for someone. Readers of Yokoyama’s other stories may even recognize some characters. Yuichi Yokoyama is an Eisner Award-nominated artist who was born in 1967 in Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Musashino Art University. Originally, he was making fine art paintings, but after 2000, started to release manga, feeling that through it he could “express time.” These unique works would go on to be called neo manga and receive high acclaim in many fields. Presently, he is also active as a contemporary artist. His other graphic novels include Color Engineering, Travel, Garden and World Map Room. Iceland is translated from the original Japanese by Ryan Holmberg, an art and comics historian whose many translations include Yuichi Yokohama’s World Map Room, Osamu Tezuka’s Mysterious Underground Men and Tsuge Tadao’s Trash Market. 88pgs B&W paperback.

I Hear The Sunspot
by Yuki Fuming
One Peace Books

The publisher says:
Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever. 200pgs B&W paperback.

Johnny Appleseed
by Paul Buhle & Noah Van Sciver
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
This is a graphic biography of the green dreamer of the American Frontier, the legendary John Chapman, from Brown University scholar Paul Buhle (Red Rosa) and award-winning cartoonist Noah Van Sciver (The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln). John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, made himself the stuff of legend by spreading the seeds of apple trees from Wisconsin to Indiana. Along with that, he offered the seeds of nonviolence and vegetarianism, good relationships with Native Americans, and peace among the settlers. He was one of the New World’s earliest followers of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. The story of John Chapman operates as a counter-narrative to the glorification of violence, conquest, and prevailing notions of how the West was Won. It differentiates between the history and the half-myths of Johnny Appleseed’s life and work: His apples, for instance, were prized for many reasons, but none more so than for the making of hard cider. He was also a real estate speculator of sorts, purchasing potentially fertile but unproven acres and then planting saplings before flipping the land. Yet, he had less interest in financial gain - and yes, this is an accurate part of the mythology - than in spreading visions of peace and love. Johnny Appleseed brings this quintessentially American story to life in comics form. 112pgs B&W hardcover.

by Kevin Sacco
Amaze Ink / Slave Labor Graphics

The publisher says:
In his first work since The Plane Story, Kevin Sacco brings us a wordless civil-rights era tale of a young boy with a complicated family life who accompanies his family’s domestic Josephine from his Upper West Side comforts to her neighborhood haunts in Harlem. This journey subtly imbues the boy with a world view as full of blacks, whites and grays as the story’s art. At the heart of this narrative is the bond the boy shares with Josephine until a sinister plot twist casts a dark shadow on their relationship. 132pgs B&W paperback.

Last Girl Standing
by Trina Robbins
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
This is the heavily illustrated memoir of the underground, feminist cartoonist, who fought the establishment and misogyny while running a fashion boutique and mingling with rock stars. From dressing Mama Cass to being pelted with jelly babies as she helped photograph the Rolling Stones’s first US tour, from drunken New York nights spent with Jim Morrison to producing the very first all-woman comic book, the Lady of the Canyon takes no prisoners. 160pgs part-colour paperback.

Marco Polo: Dangers And Visions
by Marko Kloos & Marco Tabilio
Lerner Publishing Group

The publisher says:
The son of a traveling merchant, Marco Polo spent his early years among the ports of Venice, Italy. As a young man, he headed eastward with his father and his uncle toward the lands of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. Their journey from Europe into Asia, marked by risks, setbacks, and discoveries, transformed every person involved. It also led to one of the world’s most studied and most debated travelogues. Marco Tabilio, an emerging talent of Italian cartooning, creates a graphic novel in the form of a puzzle and finds the coming-of-age tale within the legend of Marco Polo. 208pgs colour paperback.

Mr. Higgins Comes Home
by Mike Mignola & Warwick Johnson Cadwell
Dark Horse Comics

The publisher says:
Preparations begin at Castle Golga for the annual festival of the undead, as a pair of fearless vampire killers question a man hidden away in a monastery on the Baltic Sea. The mysterious Mr. Higgins wants nothing more than to avoid the scene of his wife’s death, and the truth about what happened to him in that castle. However, these heroic men sworn to rid the world of the vampire scourge, inspire Higgins to venture out and to end the only suffering he really cares about—his own. This send-up of classic vampire stories sees Mignola teaming with British artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Solid State Tank Girl, No. 1 Car Spotter) for an original graphic novel as outlandish as The Amazing Screw-On Head. 56pgs colour hardcover.

Mysteries Of The Quantum Universe
by Thibault Damour
Particular Books

The publisher says:
The bestselling French graphic novel about the mind-bending world of quantum physics. Famous explorer Bob and his dog Rick have been around the world and even to the Moon, but their travels through the quantum universe show them the greatest wonders they’ve ever seen. As they follow their tour guide, the giddy letter h (also known as the Planck constant), Bob and Rick have crepes with Max Planck, talk to Einstein about atoms, visit Louis de Broglie in his castle, and hang out with Heisenberg on Heligoland. On the way, we find out that a dog - much like a cat - can be both dead and alive, the gaze of a mouse can change the universe, and a comic book can actually make quantum physics fun, easy to understand and downright enchanting. 160pgs B&W hardcover.

Nick Cave: Mercy On Me
by Reinhard Kleist
£14.99 / $22.99

The publisher says:
Musician, novelist, poet, actor: Nick Cave is a Renaissance man. His wide-ranging artistic output, always uncompromising, hypnotic and intense, is defined by an extraordinary gift for storytelling. In Nick Cave: Mercy on Me, Reinhard Kleist employs a cast of characters drawn from Cave’s music and writing to tell the story of a formidable artist and influencer. Kleist paints an expressive and enthralling portrait of Cave’s childhood in Australia; his early years fronting The Birthday Party; the sublime highs of his success with The Bad Seeds; and the crippling lows of his battle with heroin. Capturing everything from Cave’s frenzied performances in Berlin to the tender moments he spent with love and muse Anita Lane, Reinhard Kleist’s graphic biography, like Cave’s songs, is by turns electrifying, sentimental, morbid and comic but always engrossing. 280pgs B&W paperback.

Queen Street
by Emmanuelle Chateauneuf
Chapterhouse Comics

The publisher says:
Meet Aimee, an overworked junior partner at a prestigious law firm in Manila. One storybook romance, four back-to-back flights, and nine years later, in the small-of-mind but big-in-spirit town, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, she now lives; still overworked. But as a lower class serial-full-timer and mother to her only child, Melodie, an intelligent and eccentric seven-year-old, whose big personality is only rivalled by her even bigger imagination. Join them and a cast of unlikely characters just as confused and lost, as they stumble blindly for twelve consecutive hours through the beautifully disastrous comedy of Life. Don’t miss this breakout semi-autobiographical slice of life tale from Emmanuelle Chateauneuf. 96pgs B&W paperback.

by Tara O’Connor
Top Shelf Productions / IDW

The publisher says:
On a journey to the old world, she discovered a whole new world. After a messy year of heartbreak and setbacks, Tara sets off to Ireland in search of clues to her family’s ancestry, but what she finds isn’t at all what she expected. Some of it has to do with the lack of records, but a lot has to do with John, the charming cartoonist she met on Twitter. An original graphic novel wrapped in real family history and set amongst the natural beauty of the Irish countryside, Roots is a classic romantic-comedy adventure and a page-turning account of a young woman finding herself. 176pgs B&W paperback.

by Mathilde Ramadier & Anaïs Depommier

The publisher says:
For some he was the philosopher of existentialism, for others the constant provocateur, the politically engaged author, the uncertain militant, the repenting bourgeois, the life companion of Simone de Beauvoir… From his first readings in the Luxembourg Garden to his refusal of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Jean Paul Sartre was all of this at the same time. In his biographic piece, the life and thoughts that made Sartre a known name are brought to print in rich color. 160pgs colour hardcover.

Story Of Jezebel
by Elijah Brubaker
Uncivilized Books

The publisher says:
From up-and-coming comic artist Elijah Brubaker comes The Story of Jezebel, a thoroughly modern, and hilarious, take on the Old Testament tale of paganism, murder, and sex. King Ahab is arranged to marry the beautiful Jezebel, a hip chick with a short fuse, whose interest in the pagan god Baal doesn’t sit well with the people. With a mix of satirist wit and visual verve, Brubaker puts his unique twist on angels, famine, war and even bear maulings, without losing touch with the biblical source material. If your grandma’s Sunday school was a Comedy Central special, it would be Elijah Brubaker’s Story of Jezebel. Elijah Brubaker is a cartoonist currently living in Eugene, Oregon. His work has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His critically acclaimed series Reich, about the controversial psychologist Wilhelm Reich, was included in Best American Comics. 272pgs B&W paperback.

The Customer Is Always Wrong
by Mimi Pond
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A young woman’s art career begins to lift off as those around her succumb to addiction and alcoholism. The Customer is Always Wrong is the saga of a young naïve artist named Madge working in a restaurant of charming drunks, junkies, thieves, and creeps. Oakland in the late seventies is a cheap and quirky haven for eccentrics and Mimi Pond folds the tales of the fascinating sleaze-ball characters that surround young Madge into her workaday waitressing life. Outrageous and loving tributes and takedowns of her co-workers and satellites of the Imperial Cafe create a snapshot of a time in Madge’s life where she encounters who she is, and who she is not. Told in the same brash yet earnest style as her previous memoir Over Easy, Pond’s storytelling gifts have never been stronger than in this epic, comedic, standalone graphic novel. Madge is right back at the Imperial with its great coffee and depraved cast, where things only get worse for her adopted greasy spoon family while her career as a cartoonist starts to take off. 448pgs two-colour hardcover.

Things You Shouldn’t Remember
by Luis Roldán & Mariano Eliceche
Darby Pop Publishing, Inc.

The publisher says:
Dozens of people from all across the United States suddenly find themselves recalling random things: song lyrics, places, and events that seem to have been erased from both collective memory and recorded history. Fearing the spread of a virus-like plague, a mysterious group known as ‘The Handlers’ is tasked with hunting and destroying those who recollect. But, does the end justify the means? And what if you were the one whose mind was unwittingly filled with things you shouldn’t remember? Things You Shouldn’t Remember serves up a cocktail of adventure, horror, and humour in a story that will keep you guessing… and make you wonder if your own memories should be trusted. 128pgs colour paperback.

Unreal City
by D.J. Bryant
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
This collection of short comics by an up-and-coming cartoonist examines relationships spatially and existentially. Unreal City contains five highly charged stories about relationships: “Echoes into Eternity,” “Evelyn Dalton-Hoyt,” “Emordana,” “The Yellowknife Retrospective,” and “Objet d’Art.” The stories address gender, narcissism, marriage, subjectivity, objectification, and the thin line that divides love from hate. Bryant’s characters sometimes feel like they are navigating their way through the darkness in an attempt to make sense of love, sex, art, and life. Existential and elliptical, the stories play beautifully against Bryant’s precise and fully-realized artwork, which echoes such masters as Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes. In Unreal City, characters cannot walk into a room without their world turning inside out. Readers will be similarly upended by the discovery of this major new talent. 104pgs B&W paperback.

by Jiro Taniguchi
Fanfare / Ponent Mon

The publisher says:
With very few but well-chosen words and his artist’s eye for detail, Taniguchi portrays the Venice of today in a most deserving light. After his mother dies aged 78, the author discovers a beautifully lacquered box which contains what appear to be old hand-drawn postcards and photos of Venice. One photo of Piazza San Marco particularly catches his eye. It is of a Japanese couple feeding a multitude of pigeons in the square dressed in what looked like 1930’s style. Who were they? What relevance did they have for his mother? Armed with the contents of the lacquered box, he travels to Venice to track down the places and events in the images and to discover the identity of the young couple in the old photograph. 128pgs colour paperback.

Water Memory
by Mathieu Reynès & Valérie Vernay
Lion Forge / Roar

The publisher says:
A new life begins for Marion when her mother inherits an old family house and decides to make it their new home. With its own private beach and a view of the sea, the house has all the makings of a happy new life. But when Marion discovers strange rock carvings nearby, and learns that a sinister-looking lighthouse watchman may be part of a local legend come to life, it becomes clear that things are not as idyllic as they seemed. 108pgs colour paperback.

Whatsa Paintoonist?
by Jerry Moriarty
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
At the age of 76, the painter/cartoonist Jerry Moriarty moved from his studio loft in Manhattan, where he lived and worked for 49 years, to his childhood home in Binghamton, New York, where he lived from the age of six until he went to Pratt Institute at 18. The artist uses this as an opportunity to interrogate his past via the act of painting as a mnemonic. A masterpiece of concision, remembrance, imagination and artistry, imbued with the love of life. 88pgs part-colour hardcover.

Posted: June 4, 2017


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Comics Unmasked by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning from The British Library

1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing