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PG Previews:

April 2010

Below are the comics, manga and graphic novels I’m most looking forward to based on publisher advance listings due to be released in April 2010 (although actual dates may vary).



A Home For Mr. Easter
by Brooke A. Allen
NBM
$13.99

The publisher says:
Tesana has never really fit into anything before but her daydreams. But when making an attempt to connect to her peers by joining in a pep rally planning committee she suddenly discovers a little white rabbit that lays brightly colored eggs. Realizing that she may have found the real life Easter bunny, Tesana embarks on an epic quest in an effort to get him back to his natural habitat and into safe hands. However as she progresses on her fanciful journey she gains more and more undesired attention until the quest becomes an increasingly madcap race to stay ahead of greedy pursuers and find a safe place for her new friend… wherever that place may be. It’s Tesana against the world.

Paul Gravett says:
Who is Brooke A. Allen? I took a peak at the extended preview and was won over right away. You can’t go far wrong with an Easter egg-laying bunny. This looks like a lot of fun from a sparky new comedy-comics voice. 



Art In Time (HC)
edited by Dan Nadel
Abrams Comic Arts
$40.00

The publisher says:
In this engaging and smart volume, Nadel focuses on the lesser-known comic works by celebrated icons of the industry, like H.G. Peter (the artist behind Wonder Woman), John Stanley (the writer and artist for Little Lulu), Harry Lucey (one of the artists behind Archie), Jesse Marsh (the artist for Tarzan), and Bill Everett (best know for his characters Sub Mariner and Dr. Strange). Art In Time reprints a wonderful selection of complete comic book stories that represent some of the best, but obscure adventure stories from the 1940s through the 1980s. Each comic highlights the fully developed style unique to each artist and celebrate these little known comic gems. Art In Time is designed as a reading book, allowing fans to catch up on some of best, but forgotten, work in comics’ history.

Paul Gravett says:
I just received an advance copy of this today and am still processing Nadel’s latest bulging harvest from his trawl through American comics’ murkier depths. First impressions? Not quite so many surprises here as in his landmark Art Out of Time collection, and a more narrow focus of time and content, spanning 1940-1980, excluding newspaper strips and geared more towards underground comix, four in all, two by women. The contrasts are more striking here between the browning pulpy paper and dot-screen colours of the old comic books and the pristine sharpness of the black-and-white undergrounds, which of course in their day were also mostly printed on the cheapest newsprint.

Each artist gets a whole page intro and profile followed by complete stories. The artists themselves may be “unheralded”, or at least underheralded, and/or the examples of their work here are less known compared to their careers spent mainly on major, non-public domain properties like Archie, Little Lulu, Sub-Mariner, Tarzan or Wonder Woman. Here’s what you get in order of appearance: Harry Lucey (two crime tales from Sam Hill 1, 1950); H.G. Peter (three-part Man O’Metal serial from Heroic Comics 13-15, 1942); Sharon Rudahl (34-page Adventures of Crystal Night, 1980); Mort Meskin (Golden Lad 4 story, 1946); Sam Glanzman (30-page Kona 3, 1962); Michael McMillan (two shorts from Funny Animals 7, 1972 and Arcade 1, 1975); Pete Morisi (two Johnny Dynamite tales from issue 6, 1954); John Stanley (two spooky stories from Tales from the Tomb 1, 1962); Matt Fox (two Atlas horror stories from Adventures into Terror 19 and Uncanny Tales 6, 1953); John Thompson (18-page Cyclops Comics, 1969); Pat Boyette (25-page Children of Doom from Charlton Premiere 2, 1967); Jesse Marsh (32-page story from Johnny Mack Brown 2, 1950); Bill Everett (Tidal Wave Terror from Venus 18, 1952); Willy Mendes (13-page Illuminations, 1971).

It’s good to see Marvel giving permission for three stories to be reprinted here and I’d love to see Everett’s whole Venus run archived please as well as the Komplete Kona saga. My only quibbles so far are that I’d have liked to see all of the whole covers, where applicable, and it’s a shame to place both full-page shock-ending panels of Stanley’s pair of stories on right-hand pages, wiping out their punch if you had to turn the page. I also had to smile seeing on the back cover how H.G. Peter’s topless strongman Man O’Metal (now could he be Irish?) is tinted more green than his blue sheen inside, perhaps so that he might be mistaken by Joe Public as the Hulk? Less revelatory or bizarre, but a fascinating, essential companion volume, nonetheless.



Artichoke Tales
by Megan Kelso
Fantagraphics Books
$22.99

The publisher says:
Artichoke Tales is a 176-page coming-of-age story about a young girl named Brigitte whose family is caught between the two warring sides of a civil war, a graphic novel that takes place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people have artichoke leaves instead of hair. Influenced in equal parts by Little House on the Prairie, The Thorn Birds, Dharma Bums, and Cold Mountain, Kelso weaves a moving story about family amidst war. Kelso’s visual storytelling, uniquely combining delicate linework with rhythmic, musical page compositions, creates a dramatic tension between intimate, ruminative character studies and the unflinching depiction of the consequences of war and carnage, lending cohesion and resonance to a generational epic. This is Kelso’s first new work in four years; the widespread critical reception of her previous work makes Artichoke Tales one of the most eagerly anticipated graphic novels of 2010.

Paul Gravett says:
We’ve been getting these tantalising snippets of this epic from Kelso for what seems like ages. Now it’s nearly here and it’s going to something very, very special.



Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites (HC)
by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
Dark Horse
$19.99

The publisher says:
Welcome to Burden Hill - a picturesque little town adorned with white picket fences and green, green grass, home to a unique team of paranormal investigators. Beneath this shiny exterior, Burden Hill harbors dark and sinister secrets, and it’s up to a heroic gang of dogs—and one cat—to protect the town from the evil forces at work. These are the Beasts of Burden Hill - Pugs, Ace, Jack, Whitey, Red and the Orphan—whose early experiences with the paranormal (including a haunted doghouse, a witches’ coven, and a pack of canine zombies) have led them to become members of the Wise Dog Society, official animal agents sworn to protect their town from evil. This turns out to be no easy task, as they soon encounter demonic cannibal frogs, tortured spirits, a secret rat society, and a bizarre and deadly resurrection in the Burden Hill cemetery - events which lead to fear and heartbreak as our four-legged heroes discover that the evil within Burden Hill is growing and on the move. Can our heroes overcome these supernatural menaces? Can evil be bested by a paranormal team that doesn’t have hands? And even more importantly, will Pugs ever shut the hell up? Adventure, mystery, horror, and humor thrive on every page of Beasts of Burden. Read a preview here and an interview with Jill Thompson here.

Paul Gravett says:
Bow-wow-WOW! We need more great pooch comics like this, in the grand tradition from Rex the Wonder Dog to Korgi, and here you also get a cute cat in the gang and some spooky chills, wrapped in Jill Thompson’s wondrous watercolours.



Berlin & That (HC)
by Oliver East
Blank Slate Books
£13.99

The publisher says:
This third book completes Oli East’s loose trilogy of travel and observational comics using the Train lines of North West Britain, and now Berlin, as his guides. Oli has a unique art style, as he came to comics from fine art and without knowing the conventions of comics has created his own language. At times difficult but always memorable these are comics stretching the enevelope of the artform. In this volume Oli traverses Berlin and makes for the Polish border, armed with no German and a dodgy cut-up map. Adventures ensue. The book has contributions by 58 other artists and friends - some well known - Guy Garvey of Elbow - and some guys Oli knows from down the pub.

Paul Gravett says:
I’ve enthused about Oliver East’s Trains Are… Mint books before. He’s a sharp observer of English landscape and society, so I’m intrigued to see how well he will adjust to recording the more unfamiliar German capital, not being “ein Berliner” or a German speaker. He’s not alone here, though, making this unusual collective reportage effort definitely worth checking out.



Black Blizzard
by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Drawn & Quarterly
$19.95

The publisher says:
Created in the late 1950s, Black Blizzard is Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s remarkable first full-length graphic novel and one of the first published examples of Gekiga. Tatsumi documented how his love for Mickey Spillane and hard-boiled crime novels led him to create this landmark genre of manga in his epic, critically acclaimed 2009 autobiography, A Drifting Life. With Black Blizzard, Tatsumi explores the dark underbelly of his working-class heroes that five decades later has made him one of the best-known Japanese cartoonists in North America. Susumu Yamaji, a twenty-four-year-old pianist, is arrested for murder and ends up handcuffed to a career criminal on the train that will take them to prison. An avalanche derails the train and the criminal takes the opportunity to escape, dragging a reluctant Susumu with him into the blizzard raging outside. They flee into the mountains to an abandoned ranger station, where they take shelter from the storm. As they sit around the fire they built, Susumu relates how love drove him to become a murderer. A cinematic adventure story, Black Blizzard uncovers an unlikely love story and an even unlikelier friendship.

Paul Gravett says:
AX editor and artists’ agent Mitsuhiro Asakawa was a huge help to me when I was researching my 2004 book Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics and alerted me to this key early work in Tatsumi’s gekiga career. The film poster-style original front cover became a whole-page opening image for the gekiga chapter (page 39) and two untranslated pages appear on page 45. So you can imagine how pleased I am to see this in English at last.



Bodyworld (HC)
by Dash Shaw
Pantheon
$27.95

The publisher says:
It’s 2060, and a devastating civil war has left the country in shambles. Professor Paulie Panther - botanist, writer, and hopeless romantic - arrives in the experimental forest town of Boney Borough to research a strange plant growing behind the high school. As he conducts his research, he befriends some of the local residents: Miss Jem, the alluring science teacher; Billy Borg, Boney Borough’s star athlete; and Pearl Peach, the rebellious schoolgirl. Paulie soon discovers that the plant, when smoked, imparts telepathic powers. But when he shares this remarkable drug with his new friends, he finds that they’re not interested in mind-expansion. In fact, it appears that Paulie’s brash individualism might not be at all welcome in a town that prefers conformity to eccentricity.

Paul Gravett says:
I had quite a few misgivings over his Bottomless Bellybutton brick of a debut graphic novel, but hard-working Shaw has been proving himself with this project which he serialised online. I’ve just got an advance of this and will be reviewing it in more depth shortly. We met again in Angoulême and he’s also a guest at SPX10 in Stockholm.



Booth
by C.C. Colbert & Tanitoc
First Second
$19.99

The publisher says:
In a time when brother was pitted against brother, no family was more divided than the Booths. The United States has become violently polarized. Political fanaticism divides an embittered populace. A recently elected President - an energizing symbol of change for some, and a harbinger of the downfall of America for others - stands at the center of the turmoil. It is 1865, and John Wilkes Booth is about to assassinate the President of the United States. From the pen of American historian C.C. Colbert and the brush of French comics master Tanitoc comes a thought-provoking perspective on one of the greatest villains of U.S. History: a killer who was also an actor, a lover, a doubter, and, in his own mind, a patriot. Read an excerpt here.

Paul Gravett says:
Tanitoc generously handed me an advance copy of his first English-language book at Angoulême and now I’ve read it. History was not one of my stronger subjects at school, mostly due to dull teachers who emphasised dates, battles and Acts of Parliament and gave no flavour of the human beings who make up history who are just like us. As I knew little more than the fact that Booth assasinated Lincoln, C.C. Colbert and Tanitoc’s docudrama graphic novel has impressed me a great deal as a compelling way to get inside the head and heart of this notorious player in American history, and those around him swept up in the divisive Civil War. For her 25th book, committed historian Catherine Clinton (any relation?) Colbert steps for the first time into historical fiction: “I could not abandon authenticity with Booth - but struggled to imagine what ‘might have been’ alongside what very likely was.”

Cobert & Tanitoc employ some interesting techniques. They open each chapter with the 19th century conceit of an ornate, sepia-on-brown text preamble, or “Wherein”, giving three plot points to come. Rather than spoiling the reading experience, this helps to guide and to stoke anticipation. Each of them is accompanied by a drawing of a symbolic object from the chapter. Tanitoc delivers his bravura gestural inkwork, thick and thin swathes of black, part Pratt, part Blutch, a mix of calligraphy and choreography, to evoke the past, its people, places and politics as vivid and involving. I noticed an interesting panel layout, designed to stand out from his usual three-rowed grid: on several pages, he draws a central square panel, like the eye of a hurricance, surrounded on all four sides by four rectangular panels, as if swirling around it. The panels on these pages are not strictly or solely to be read in standard order but can be taken in as a cumulative, sometimes simultaneous set of events, suggesting the churning storm of the unfolding drama.

I needed to pay some close attention in places to distinguish characters - Lucy Hale’s beauty spot is an understated signifier, for example. As John Wilkes Booth and his brother were both celebrated actors, Colbert cleverly weaves in apt lines from the Bard’s plays. I also admired the way they flashback, at the very climactic moment of the assassination, to the opening boyhood scene where Booth is carving his name into a tree, and into posterity, just as he does in the very next panel in that theatre box. There also a marvelous nightmare sequence where Booth, with the confederate flag, is riding a skeletal horse. My only very minor disappointment is the cover, a big head and shoulders of Lincoln in his stovepipe hat and rather bluntly coloured, especially that yellow. Whatever is fact, whatever is fiction, this is history retold with all the flesh-and-blood tensions and passions to the fore. I wish this had been my Civil War text book in school. I’d love to get Tanitoc over to London together with Ireland-based Colbert for a Comica event. A definite highlight in publisher First Second’s concerted six-book Spring assault, which also include two promising World War II dramas, City of Spies and Resistance.



The DFC Library:
Mezolith Book 1

by Ben Haggarty & Adam Brockbank
David Fickling Books
£9.99

The publisher says:
10,000 years ago, the Kansa tribe live on the western shores of the North Sea Basin, where danger is never far away. Each season brings new adventure, each hunt has its risks, and each grim encounter with the neighbouring tribe is fraught with threats. Poika, a boy on the verge of manhood, must play his part and trust the strength and wisdom of his elders. This is a tale of beasts and beauty, man, magic and… horror.


The DFC Library:
The Spider Moon Book 1

by Kate Brown
David Fickling Books
£9.99

The publisher says:
They tell a prophecy of our homelands being crushed by a falling sky. That fate has been a shadow over our people ever since. The end has begun… in my lifetime. Bekka and her people are facing the end of times. They must do all in their power to save themselves from the fate they believe is theirs. But destiny is like a tightly coiled snake. Which Bekka must unfurl without getting bitten…


The DFC Library:
Good Dog Bad Dog Book 1

by Dave Shelton
David Fickling Books
£9.99

The publisher says:
Imagine a Bogart and Bacall movie recast with Laurel and Hardy. Dressed in dog suits. That’s not really quite what Good Dog, Bad Dog is like but still, imagine. Good Dog, Bad Dog, meanwhile, is a knockabout comic noir adventure comedy full of slapstick humour, terrible puns and exciting action. It stars canine detectives Kirk Bergman and Duncan McBoo fighting crime in their home city of Muttropolis as they tackle villains such as evil Wah Wah Johnson and thuggish Pug Ugly, trade lines with femme fatale Fifi La Confiture and occasionally disguise themselves in unconvincing beards. It’s daft exciting fun and it’s got milkshakes in it: what more could you want?

Paul Gravett says:
I’m so lucky, I’ve just received advances of these first three French-style large hardback albums, more proof that British creators can produce outstanding all-ages graphic novels. Of course I loved reading this trio week-by-week in the much-missed DFC comic, but their Dazzling Full Colour looks even lovelier printed on better and bigger paper. The 96-page Mezolith is the longest and in some ways strongest entry, a dazzling evocation of ancient life and lore through the wide eyes of a young boy, Poika. Still, Spider Moon‘s luscious eco-fable and Good Dog Bad Dog‘s blend of tough-guy detectives and doggy-style comedy are Definitely First-Class. Roll on Book 2s for all of them. Lined up for the autumn are three more DFC Library albums: Sarah McIntyre showed me a dummy of her fab, fun Vern and Lettice adventure at Angoulême, and she’s joined by Neill Cameron’s SF school thriller Mobot High and Los Bros Etherington’s loopy Monkey Nuts. You can read a preview of all three titles here.



I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow Vol 1
by Shunju Aono
Viz Signature
$12.99

The publisher says:
This is the story of a forty-year-old salary man who quits his job to pursue his dream of becoming a manga artist - and the family that has to put up with him. While not terribly unhappy, Shizuo Oguro can’t fight the feeling that something in his life just isn’t right, so he walks away from his stable (yet boring) day job to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately for his family, this journey also involves playing video games all day while his teenage daughter and elderly father support him. Will Shizuo succeed in creating a true manga masterpiece or will he be just another drop-out living a life of slack? Read a preview here.

Paul Gravett says:
Here’s a sample of a whole other rich seam of manga we don’t see enough of yet here, social satire sitcoms, mixed here with the postponed dreams of becoming a successful mangaka or comics author.



Instructions
by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess
Harper Collins
$14.99

The publisher says:
Trust Dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. A renowned storyteller whose words have transported readers to magical realms and an acclaimed illustrator of lushly imagined fairy-tale landscapes guide a traveler safely through lands unknown and yet strangely familiar… and home again.

Paul Gravett says:
The Stardust team reunite for this fanciful rulebook-cum-rumination on the power of fairytales. Okay, so it’s not “proper” comics, but Gaiman and Vess together on anything are always worth your attention.



Neil Young’s Greendale (HC)
by Joshua Dysart & Cliff Chiang
DC/Vertigo
$19.99

The publisher says:
Greendale is based on Neil Young’s critically acclaimed 2003 album and 2004 film of the same name. Many have referred to the album as a “rock novel” which explores the effects of crime, media, consumerism and environmental issues on the Green family in the sheltered small Northern California town of Greendale. Even for politically active teenage girls, Sun Green has always been different. There’s been talk that the Green family women had great powers in concert with nature, but Sun herself never really wondered too much about it. Then, in the fall of 2003, as the nation gallops blindly into war, a Stranger appears in her hometown of Greendale, and everything starts going to hell. In an effort to overcome the pain the Stranger brings, Sun unearths the mystery of the Green family women, and in doing so, finds her own inherent power, not just to confront the Stranger, but to confront the mounting injustice of the world outside of Greendale as well.

Paul Gravett says:
Surely one of the more surprising music-to-comics crossovers yet, this could really work, taking the concepts in this concept album and letting them expand and expound their activist ideas.



Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant #1 (of 5)
by David Mack & Pascal Alixe
Marvel
$3.99

David Mack says:
The story has quintessential themes of humanity, and we chose this story to begin with because it has what we considered the classic quintessential Dickian themes. The story asks the enduring existential questions: Who am I? Who created me? What was I created for? What is the meaning of my life? Do I have free will? Am I limited by my programming? Can I evolve into something beyond my original programming? What is reality? Is the way I perceive reality different than a fixed reality? Can I alter my perceptions to transcend my ego and programming limitations and see a pure reality? Does my internal reality affect the external reality? Which is more real? Read the full interiew here.

Paul Gravett says:
Here’s a surprise Marvel mini-series. David Mack adapts and Pascal Alixe illustrates and it should read and look pretty good, judging by a few sneak peaks, and from Alixe’s past work such as the pages on his site



Red Tide (HC)
by Jim Steranko
Dark Horse
$19.99

James Romberger says:
Jim Steranko hit comics like a smart bomb at the height of the 1960s psychedelic era. Young readers were barely prepared for the sophisticated sequencing and eye-popping op art effects of his furiously inventive Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD for Marvel Comics. Steranko’s work was informed by his comprehensive grasp of comics history and his inventive incorporation of a wide range of techniques imported from his graphic design experience and his study of film narrative. For this writer, what really set Steranko apart from his contemporaries was that he controlled every aspect of his work; he wrote, drew, and colored his own pages. That an artist was writing for himself was unusual enough, but the consideration of color is inexplicably still rarer amongst cartoonists. Even among the past and present masters of the form who both write and draw, very few have had either the ability or inclination to color their narratives. Steranko’s color has always been intrinsic to the form and content of his work. In SHIELD and his subsequent work he used color to add psychological depth, or to layer imagery, or the image was the color; Steranko could achieve a painterly finish in four colors with no black drawing at all. As a consequence, he raised the production bar in comics with each successive comic he did. Read the full article here.

Paul Gravett says:
No, you’re not dreaming, a remastering yonks in the making, it looks like this long-promised re-coloured edition of the pioneering 1976 “visual novel” is finally, finally coming back into print. Now how about someone collecting Steranko’s masterly wide-screen graphic adaptation of Outland, that ran in Heavy Metal? There was a French collection from the Humanoid Associates in 1982, so come on Jaunty Jim and Dark Horse.



Saturn Apartments Vol 1
by Hisae Iwaoka
Viz Signature
$12.99

The publisher says:
Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the Earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the Earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the Ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father’s occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu’s job treats him to an outsider’s view into the various living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments. Read a preview here.

Paul Gravett says:
Their cunning scheme is working. Viz’s Sigikki.com site gives you free chapters of a variety of manga from the Shogakukan monthly IKKI and several have really got me hooked. This is another of them, it’s science fiction but not Akira or Ghost In The Shell but something unpredictable and intriguing, an atypical break from the genre.



Spider-Man: Fever #1 (of 3)
by Brendan McCarthy
Marvel
$3.99

Brendan McCarthy says:
Steve Wacker asked me if I was interested in doing something for Marvel, after he had seen the DC Comics’ Solo material. I always thought I could do a decent take on Dr. Strange. He’s my favorite Marvel character. One of my best-loved comic stories is the 1965 Silver Age Spider-Man and Dr. Strange annual story by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Fever was inspired by that strip… Steve Ditko is a singular genius and I wanted to ‘pay homage’ but not be slavish… I’m obviously not in his artistic league, he really is a master, but I was happy to invent a story that utilized the amazing dimensional realities that he created all those years ago. Read the full interview here.

Paul Gravett says:
Sure to be the most mind-blowing Marvel comic of the year, if not the new decade, as McCarthy mainlines pure, undiluted Ditko inspiration and transmogrifies his two great co-creations, Spidey and Doc Strange. Give me Fever!



Stuck Rubber Baby
by Howard Cruse
DC/Vertigo
$24.95

The publisher says:
Art and story combine powerfully in this lyrical tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the systematic homophobia of small-town America. Told in flashback, this is the story of Toland Polk, the son of an uneducated white carpenter who has grown up in the Southern town of Clayfield. It is the 1960s, a time of passionate beliefs and violent emotions, and Clayfield’s citizens are divided in the fight over segregation. As Toland fights on the side of the civil rights activists, he slowly begins to realize and try to deny that he is gay. With a subtle yet intricate plot, and distinctively evocative illustrations, Stuck Rubber Baby is an unflinchingly honest look at one man’s world of fears, dreams and prejudice.

Paul Gravett says:
Take Two. If I had my “druthers”, I’d rather it was reissued in the oversized format of the original Carlsen German edition to let Cruse’s hyperdetailed art really breathe. But that aside, this is bluntly one of America’s most powerful, meaningful graphic novels ever and now it gets another chance to impact and cross over as it always deserved to do. Read it.



The Golden Collection of Klassic, Krazy, Kool Kids Komics (HC)
edited by Craig Yoe
IDW
$34.99

The publisher says:
The first collection of its kind, this huge, luxurious volume lovingly collects the brilliant kids’ comics that such luminaries as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta, Walt Kelly, Dr. Seuss, Syd Hoff, Jules Feiffer, George Carlson, John Stanley, Dan deCarlo, Sheldon Mayer, Carl Barks, and myriad other brilliant geniuses created during the heyday of kids comics in the 1940s, ‘50s, and beyond. Astute comic book fans and their eager kids alike will love the funny and beautiful full-color stories of slap-stick superheroes, fantastic fairy tales, and awesome anthropomorphic animals.

Paul Gravett says:
What a line-up of American greats in a sort of nuttier, zanier, more out-there companion volume to Spiegelman & Mouly’s classy Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics. Yoe digs deep and can be trusted to unearth rare treasures out of the medium’s mouldering four-colour newsprint mulch. 



The Oddly Compelling Art Of Denis Kitchen
by Denis Kitchen
Dark Horse
$34.99

The publisher says:
A well-known personality in the comics world, Denis Kitchen has worn many hats: publisher, founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and literary and art agent. But his career as a pioneering underground comix artist has been overdue for rediscovery-until now. The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen, the long-awaited collection of Kitchen’s comics, covers, and illustrations, brings Kitchen the artist to the forefront. A comprehensive career overview, this compendium includes approximately two hundred illustrations, most unseen since their original publication in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and many from regional publications not seen even by serious comix fans.

Paul Gravett says:
It’s high time (pun intended) that Kitchen’s idiosyncratic underground comix and art were compiled and re-appreciated.



The Stuff Of Legend
by Mike Riacht, Brian Smith & Charles Paul Wilson III
Del Rey
$13.00

The publisher says:
The year is 1944. As Allied forces fight the enemy on Europe’s war-torn beaches, another battle begins in a child’s bedroom in Brooklyn. When the nightmarish Boogeyman snatches a boy and takes him to the realm of the Dark, the child’s playthings, led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel, band together to stage a daring rescue. On their perilous mission they will confront the boy’s bitter and forgotten toys, as well as betrayal in their own ranks. Can they save the boy from the forces of evil, or will they all perish in the process? The Stuff of Legend is a haunting and ultimately redemptive tale of loyalty, camaraderie and perseverance.

Paul Gravett says:
A real buzz is building up around this title, a bit like the way Mouse Guard snowballed. A clever, classy fantasy, picked up by giant Del Rey, and set to live up to its title and become… legendary.



The Troll King
by Kolbeinn Karlsson
Top Shelf
$14.95

The publisher says:
A dwarf falls into a river and is taken to a place beyond space and time. A carrot takes a bath and finds itself transforming. Two reclusive mountain men rejoice when their wish for children is granted, but their sons make a terrible discovery. And throughout all these tales, the spirit of the forest walks on… Welcome to the surreal world of The Troll King, by Swedish visionary Kolbeinn Karlsson. It’s a fantastic journey into the wilderness lurking right outside your town, brought to you by comics’ cuddliest Viking.

Paul Gravett says:
So what is all this fuss about Swedish comics? And can comics in a cold climate prosper? Yes, they definitely can still root, send up fresh shoots and eventually sprout and blossom, providing they get the right nurturing care and soil conditions. Thanks to support from cities and the state, from feisty publishers like Galago, the excellent school in Malmö, Stockholm’s buzzing SPX festival and comics library, and above all with the drive to experiment and find their own voices, Swedish talents seem uniquely placed to flower and flourish. Step inside - their secret garden is a secret no more. Top Shelf started their Swedish invasion last year with Second Thoughts. I wrote this about it: Niklas Asker’s debut hits just the right notes of longing, passion and tender reflection about those other lives and other loves that might have been. Like that special, meaningful album track or rock video, Second Thoughts will win your heart. Of their five new Swedish titles this month - three Swedish graphic novels, a second short-story anthology and Fredrik Strömberg’s history book - I want to single out Big Bear Karlsson’s utterly mythic, mystical mystery, which taps into that connectedness to nature deep in many Swedes’ souls. I can’t wait to go back to SPX this April to check out more of the Swedish scene.



Turf #1 of 4
by Jonathan Ross & Tommy Lee Edwards
Image
$2.99

The publisher says:
Set in Prohibition-era New York, Turf offers a twist on the hard boiled crime thriller, adds vampires and aliens to the traditional mix of booze, broads and bullets as it chronicles the eruption of a vengeful gang war between booze-smuggling mobsters and the blood thirsty Dragonmir Family. As an ancient prophecy unfolds amidst the maelstrom of violence, the entire city is engulfed by the brutal conflict and the only glimmer of hope is an unlikely alliance between tough guy Eddie Falco and a stranger from another world.

Paul Gravett says:
Our (soon-to-be ex-)BBC star Wossy puts his love of comics into practice with this four-part genre mash-up of gangsters and alien vampires. I knew Jonathan before he was famous and in the Fast Fiction days when he wrote, drew and self-published Oh Wild Mother City of Moscow under the pen-name D’Arcy Sarto (real blackmail material). He’s come along a bit since then and got Edwards on artwork, serving up some gripping visuals.



Weathercraft (HC)
by Jim Woodring
Fantagraphics Books
$19.99

The publisher says:
For over 20 years now, Jim Woodring has delighted, touched, and puzzled readers around the world with his lush, wordless tales of ‘Frank’. Weathercraft is Woodring’s first full-length graphic novel set in this world - indeed, Woodring’s first graphic novel, period! - and it features the same hypnotically gorgeous linework and mystical iconography. As it happens, Frank has only a brief supporting appearance in Weathercraft, which actually stars Manhog, Woodring’s pathetic, brutish everyman (or everyhog), who had previously made several appearances in ‘Frank’ stories (as well as a stunning solo turn in the short story Gentlemanhog). After enduring 32 pages of almost incomprehensible suffering, Manhog embarks upon a transformative journey and attains enlightenment. He wants to go to celestial realms but instead altruistically returns to the unifactor to undo a wrong he has inadvertently brought about: The transformation of the evil politician Whim into a mind-destroying plant-demon who distorts and enslaves Frank and his friends. The new and metaphysically expanded Manhog sets out for a final battle with Whim.

Paul Gravett says:
World premiered last month at Angoulême from L’Association, here’s the US edition of Woodring’s new major opus of philosophical storytelling, at once word-free and thought-full.



Wilson (HC)
by Daniel Clowes
Drawn & Quarterly/Jonathan Cape
$21.95/£12.99

The publisher says:
Meet Wilson, an opinionated middle-aged loner who loves his dog and quite possibly no one else. In an ongoing quest to find human connection, he badgers friend and stranger alike into a series of onesided conversations, punctuating his own lofty discursions with a brutally honest, self-negating sense of humor. After his father dies, Wilson, now irrevocably alone, sets out to find his ex-wife with the hope of rekindling their long-dead relationship, and discovers he has a teenage daughter, born after the marriage ended and given up for adoption. Wilson eventually forces all three to reconnect as a family - a doomed mission that will surely, inevitably backfire. In the first all-new graphic novel from one of the leading cartoonists of our time, Daniel Clowes creates a thoroughly engaging, complex, and fascinating portrait of the modern egoist - outspoken and oblivious to the world around him. Working in a single-page-gag format and drawing in a spectrum of styles, the cartoonist of GhostWorld, Ice Haven and David Boring gives us his funniest and most deeply affecting novel to date.

Paul Gravett says:
People talk about “event” comics. This book really is an event, and I can reveal here that Clowes will be stopping over in the UK on May 24th and 25th for two Comica events, one in London, the other in Brighton, to launch his first all-original graphic novel. Check out the Comica site for first news of precisely when, where, and how to book.

Posted: February 21, 2010

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