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July 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 July 2010 (although actual dates may vary).



AX Volume 1:
A Collection of Alternative Manga

edited by Sean Michael Wilson
Top Shelf Productions
$29.95

The publisher says:
Ax is the premier Japanese magazine for alternative comics. Published bi-monthly for over ten years now, the pages of Ax contain the most creative and cutting-edge works of independent comics from the world’s largest comics industry. Now Top Shelf presents a 400-page collection of stories from ten years of Ax history, translated into English for the first time. This groundbreaking book includes work by 33 artists, including Yoshihiro Tatsumi (A Drifting Life), Imiri Sakabashira (The Box Man), Kazuichi Hanawa (Doing Time), Akino Kondoh, Shin’ichi Abe, and many many more.

Paul Gravett says:
I’ve written an intro for this collection, edited by Japan-based comics scribe Sean Michael Wilson, which will come up soon as an article on this site. Here’s an extract from it: Ax lives up to its name - sharp, cutting-edge, a bit scary and dangerous, slicing through formula and genre. Ax is the hub of the latest indy auteur Japanese comics that I’ve been longing to see brought out in English. So far we’ve only seen the tip, so grab this collection and prepare to be astounded as you dig deeper than ever into the massive iceberg that is manga.



Barney Google
by Billy DeBeck
IDW
$39.99

The publisher says:
Before there was Google the search engine, there was Barney Google with the goo-goo-googly eyes! This loveable comic strip character was brilliantly drawn in absorbing and hilarious stories by master draftsman Bill DeBeck. Barney gambled, hung with high-toned women and hillbillies, and played the horses. This strikingly designed 224-page hardbound book collects the most famous, acclaimed adventures of Barney Google, edited by Craig Yoe.

Paul Gravett says:
In terms of great realist adventure serials, July sees IDW embark on the complete Secret Agent X-9 by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson, as well as Classic Comics Press Inc. compiling the first volume of daily boxing strips starring Big Ben Bolt by Elliot Caplin and John Cullen Murphy (who later took over Prince Valiant from Hal Foster). But for some grand comical opera, place all your bets on Barney Google and his four-footed pal, the Funnies’  most endearing horse, Spark Plug. 



Bakuman Volume 1
by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
Viz
$9.99

The publisher says:
Is becoming a successful manga artist an achievable dream or just one big gamble? Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world? Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akito’s proposal because he knows how difficult reaching the professional level can be. Still, encouragement from persistent Akito and motivation from his crush push Moritaka to test his limits!

Paul Gravett says:
The writer and artist behind the phenomenal Death Note strike back with a very different, partly autobiographical story relating the ups and downs of how they became a best-selling manga team. This was picked out by Tamaki Seto as one of her manga of 2009.



CBGB 1
by Various
Boom! Studios
$3.99

The publisher says:
The most legendary name in alternative music comes to comics! For decades CBG was the club that broke acts, like The Ramones, Blondie, Misfits, and Talking Heads, that changed the world. The four issue CBGB mini-series hitting store shelves this July features the finest veteran and rookie talents in comics, portraying the tales of music, discovery, heartbreak, confusion, rebellion and greatness. The first issue’s cover is by superstar Love & Rockets cartoonist Jaime Hernandez. Also confirmed for the anthology are Ana Matronic (songstress for Grammy-nominated band Scissor Sisters), Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, Thor), Kim Krizan (Academy Award-nominated writer of Before Sunset and Before Sunrise) Chuck BB (Eisner wining artist of Black Metal), Kelly Sue DeConnick (30 Days of Night: Eben & Stella), Rob G (Teenagers From Mars, Couriers), Sam Humphries (the architect behind MySpace Comics), Marc Ellerby (Love the Way You Love) and many more! The mini-series will be followed by a mass market hardcover collection in November.

Paul Gravett says:
The only time I ever went to CBGB was in the 1990s for a Gary Panter launch-night from RAW Books for his Jimbo book and I remember raving about his eye-gouging paintings adorning the walls. This music-comics crossover series includes some good names and a couple of UK/local talents, so let’s hope they can recreate some of the music’s energy on the page.



Cuba: My Revolution
by Inverna Lockpez & Dean Haspiel
DC Vertigo
$24.99

The publisher says:
From the moment Fidel Castro captures Havana in 1959, 17 year old Sonya believes in the promise of the Cuban Revolution. A medical student with aspirations of becoming a painter, she joins the militia and finds herself caught between idealism and ideology. As a volunteer medic at the Bay of Pigs, she’s imprisoned and tortured by her own comrades. Physically and emotionally scarred upon returning home, Sonya searches for fulfillment in art. But when she realizes that none of her efforts, by gun or brush, fall in line with Castro’s regime, Sonya must make agonizing choices between her family, her lover and her beloved country. Inspired by the true experiences of first-time author and Havana born artist Inverna Lockpez, with stunning art by Eisner Award nominated Dean Haspiel and a gorgeous red and black palette created by colorist Jose Villarrubia, CUBA: My Revolution is sure to get people talking.

Paul Gravett says:
Looks like a fascinating original graphic novel, mixing the personal and political. The Persepolis Effect continues…



Daniel Clowes Interviews
Edited by Ken Parille & Isaac Cates
University of Mississippi Press
$9.99

The publisher says:
Daniel Clowes (b. 1961) emerged from the “alternative comics” boom of the 1980s as one of the most significant cartoonists and most distinctive voices in the development of the graphic novel. His serialized Eightball comics, collected in such books as David Boring, Ice Haven, and Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, helped to set the standards of sophistication and complexity for the medium. The screenplay for Ghost World, which Clowes co-adapted (with Terry Zwigoff) from his graphic novel of the same name, was nominated for an Academy Award. Since his early, edgy Lloyd Llewellyn and Eightball comics, Clowes has developed along with the medium, from a satirical and sometimes vituperative surrealist to an unmatched observer of psychological and social subtleties. In this collection of interviews reaching from 1988 to 2009, the cartoonist discusses his earliest experiences reading superhero comics, his time at the Pratt Institute, his groundbreaking comics career, and his screenplays for Ghost World and Art School Confidential. Several of these pieces are drawn from rare small-press or self-published zines, including Clowes’s first published interview. He talks at length about the creative process, from the earliest traces of a story, to his technical approaches to layout, drawing, inking, lettering, and coloring. The volume concludes with a 2009 interview conducted specifically for this book. An assistant professor of English at East Carolina University, Ken Parille, Greenville, North Carolina, is the author of Boys at Home: Discipline, Masculinity, and ‘The Boy-Problem’ in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. A lecturer in English at the University of Vermont, Isaac Cates, Burlington, Vermont, has published in Indy Magazine, International Journal of Comics Art, ImageText, and many other periodicals. 240 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 18 b&w illustrations, introduction, chronology, index.

Paul Gravett says:
Great to have all these sometimes obscure sources gathered in one place and supplemented with a brand-new conversation, perhaps covering his 2010 original graphic novel, Wilson - read my review here.



Eden
by Pablo Holmberg
Drawn & Quarterly
$16.95

The publisher says:
Argentinean cartoonist Pablo Holmberg creates a bucolic, medieval folktale in Eden, a beautifully drawn, whimsical collection of comic strips. Follow a king as he converses with the moon, a star as it is born, and many more in four-panel strips that combine the playfulness of a Sunday comic with the virtuoso simplicity of a haiku. Surreal yet friendly and approachable, each strip celebrates the thrill of being alive and encourages the reader to do the same.

Paul Gravett says:
With Sylvia Libedinsky, I am brewing up the Comica Argentina season for June and July and believe me I am finding some astonishing originals at work there right now. Among them, be sure to discover this poetic, sparkling weekly online strip, whose creator worked on it from 2006-9 under the pen-name Kioskerman (as in “the man of the kiosks”).



Fractured Fables
by Various
Image
$29.99

The publisher says:
Some our most beloved fairy tales get a fresh perspective with the release of Fractured Fables, an all-new, kid-friendly, 160-page full color hardcover anthology featuring an all-star cast of creators. “Fractured Fables is pure labor of love,” says Shadowline Publisher Jim Valentino. “This book was meant to happen from the start. The creators who worked on it were so enthusiastic, and we’ve really got something special in Fractured Fables. This book will introduce a whole new generation of fans to comic books.” Some of the comic book industry’s best and brightest use their talents to produce the kid-friendly anthology Fractured Fables. Featuring a cover by Mike and Laura Allred and humorous takes on familiar fairy tales, creators include Jill Thompson, Bryan Talbot, Peter David, Ben Templesmith, Terry Moore, Scott Morse, Doug TenNapel, Ted McKeever, Bill Morrison, Larry Marder, Jim Valentino, Phil Hester, Shannon Wheeler and many more! Fractured Fables, a 160-page full color hardcover anthology featuring an all-star cast of creators.

Paul Gravett says:
In the “Once Upon A Time” and Brothers Grimm traditions of Shrek and before that Jay Ward’s wonderful Fractured Fairy Tales, this fun all-ages compendium features a strong line-up of talent giving their humorous takes on well-known, if not overfamiliar, fairytales. Prepare to be “happy ever after”!



Freeway
by Mark Kalesniko
Fantagraphics
$28.99

The publisher says:
A down-on-his luck animator looks back in anger. In his first new graphic novel since 2001’s acclaimed Mail Order Bride, Mark Kalesniko delivers a 416-page tour de force chronicling a single day - a few hours, even - in the life of his recurring dog-headed alter ego, Alex Kalienka. Stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on his way to his increasingly miserable job as an animator at “Mickey Walt” Studios, a burnt-out and depressed Alex alternately rages, reminisces, fantasizes and hallucinates. Thus flashbacks to his earliest days as a starry-eyed young animator snagging his dream job, through the increasingly depressing political battles and creative compromises, with a love affair gone badly wrong along the way, alternate with scenes of an increasingly agitated present-day Alex, who imagines a series of increasingly violent deaths for himself. Then again, are they in fact fantasies, or prescient flashes? Is a threatening car tailing Alex just a paranoid fantasy or a genuine threat? Readers will have to wait until the very end of this hugely ambitious graphic novel to find out. Moreover, woven into this narrative fabric is a series of imagined moments from two generations ago, a Golden Age of animation, when an earlier Alex made his entry into a much different Mickey Walt Studio—as imagined by the increasingly despondent present-day Alex. Loaded with fascinating insider information on two different generations of animators, skipping seamlessly among present and several different pasts, reality and fantasy, Freeway is another step forward for a major cartooning talent.

Paul Gravett says:
I wrote about Canadian Kalesniko here a while ago, where he told me about his semi-autobiographical work-in-progress, Freeway. Now it’s done and due very soon and it promises to be his magnum opus and one of the key graphic novels of 2010. 



From Shadow To Light:
The Life & Art Of Mort Meskin

by Steven Brower
Fantagraphics
$39.99

The publisher says:
From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin is a coffee table art book and critical biography of one of the twentieth century’s most influential and overlooked comic book artists. Meskin’s career spanned both the Golden and Silver ages of comics, from the 1940s to the 1960s. His drawing, chiaroscuro technique, and storytelling are considered by connoisseurs of the form to be among the most sophisticated of his time. Following World War II he formed a studio with the legendary Jerry Robinson, co-creator of The Joker and Robin. He later worked for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s company S&K Studio and with Stan Lee at Atlas (Marvel). From Shadow to Light compiles for the first time the best of Meskin’s art from his comic book career, his post-comics career bin advertising, and his fine art. Many of the comics pages are scanned form the original art, thanks to the co-operation of the Meskin estate. Mort Meskin’s story is one of perseverance and overcoming personal demons. It is the tale of the indomitable spirit of a true artist and innovator. From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin will finally set the record straight and add his name to the pantheon of comic book artists who helped create this distinctly American art form.

Paul Gravett says:
Meskin’s name and work, especially at the Simon & Kirby studio, have been in my head lately co-curating the Jack Kirby exhibition in Lucerne with Dan Nadel, another Meskin admirer. His early solo stints on Vigilante, Johnny Quick and Golden Lad, for example, ooze exuberance and panache. It’s high time for his turn in the spotlight.



Little Lulu’s Pal Tubby Volume 1
by John Stanley
Dark Horse
$15.99

The publisher says:
From the pages of Little Lulu comes Tubby. The comedic genius of John Stanley couldn’t be contained by one series alone, so in 1952 Lulu’s pal Tubby made his solo debut in his own hysterical comic. Filled with all the charm and hilarity of Little Lulu, Tubby is a familiar but different delight from comics legend John Stanley. Dark Horse is proud to present these never-before-reprinted gems from comics’ Golden Age in a new series of paperback collections. Like Dark Horse’s new Little Lulu series, Tubby is printed in full color, just as the comics appeared over fifty years ago, reprinting Marge’s Tubby 1 to 6 for the first time ever. Published quarterly at first, Tubby included John Stanley’s only published cartooning work of the 1950s. In fact, Stanley was inspired to draw issues 2 to 9 in their entirety.

Paul Gravett says:
We’re living in a Golden Age of classic comic books by John Stanley being recovered and reprinted, from Drawn & Quarterly’s range designed by Seth to Dark Horse’s Little Lulu line, now with added Tubby-ness. Proof positive of Stanley’s huge talent for generating story after story full of invention and surprise.



Our Hero: Superman On Earth
by Tom De Haven
Yale University Press
$24.00

The publisher says:
Since his first appearance in Action Comics No. 1, published in late spring of 1938, Superman has represented the essence of American heroism. ‘Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound’, the Man of Steel has thrilled audiences across the globe, yet as life-long ‘Superman Guy’ Tom De Haven argues in this highly entertaining book, his story is uniquely American. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the midst of the Great Depression, Superman is both a transcendent figure and, when posing as his alter-ego, reporter Clark Kent, a humble working-class citizen. An orphan and an immigrant, he shares a personal history with the many Americans who came to this country in search of a better life, and his amazing feats represent the wildest realization of the American dream. As De Haven reveals through behind-the-scenes vignettes, personal anecdotes, and lively interpretations of more than 70 years of comic books, radio programmes, TV shows, and Hollywood films, Superman’s legacy seems, like the Man of Steel himself, to be utterly invincible.

Paul Gravett says:
De Haven has written several novels which bask in the nostalgic glow of part-imagined comics history, from strips to comic books. I especially enjoyed his 2005 novel It’s Superman! which warmly evoked the original Thirties New Deal incarnation by Siegel & Shuster, keeping true to the historical period, from slightly awkward Smallville teenager to moving to the big city and turning 21. De Haven knows his stuff and will be a wise guide as he charts Superman’s journey through the media and into the next century.



Pood #1
by various
Big If Comics
$4.00

The publisher says:
POOD is old skool. It flies in the face of iPad and iPhone and Kindle and everything that makes sense for media distribution in today’s contemporary thingy. It does not travel electronically. Pood sits on a desk or a table or a chair and is opened and folded and flipped through with hands. It is packed in boxes and weighs 900 pounds. It can be used for reading and entertainment and then it can be used to wrap packages and start fires and puppy potty training! Its 16 big, 17” x 23” pages feature: Sara Edward Corbett, Joe Infurnari, Jim Rugg with Brian Maruca, Hans Rickheit, Connor Willumsen, Andres Vera Martinez, Chris Capuozzo, Lance Hansen, Bishakh Som, Henrik Rehr, Mark Sunshine, Tobias Tak, Fintan Taite, Adam McGovern, Paolo Leandri, Geoff Grogan and Kevin Mutch.

Paul Gravett says:
Whether it’s Kramer’s Ergot’s latest mammoth tome or DC’s weekly Wednesday Comics series, creators seem to be enjoying the challenge of crafting giant-scale broadsheet comics like the Sunday funnies of a century ago. This independent selection box headlines some distinctive indie voices, well worth checking out.



Scott Pilgrim Volume 6
by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Oni Books/4th Estate
$11.99/£7.99

The publisher says:
It’s finally here! Six years and almost 1000 pages have all led to this epic finale. With six of Ramona’s seven evil exes dispatched, it should be time for Scott Pilgrim to face Gideon Graves, the biggest and baddest of her former beaus. But didn’t Ramona take off at the end of Book 5? Shouldn’t that let Scott off the hook? Maybe it should, maybe it shouldn’t, but one thing is for certain all of this has been building to Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. The sixth and final volume to indie comics most influential series in the last decade. Soon to be a major motion picture coming in August 2010 directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera.

Paul Gravett says:
O’Malley is one cool alley-cat, timing the climactic conclusion to his graphic novel series perfectly before the big movie version hits our screens. Why wait for the film though, when you can read the real thing first? Scott Pilgrim proves how brilliantly manga can inspire wholly original, world-class comics entertainment from the West.



The Art Of Pho
by Julian Hanshaw
Jonathan Cape
£14.99

The publisher says:
The noodle soup called pho is the national dish of Vietnam. When Little Blue - having been dropped by a mysterious man with a red car and being told to count to 500 - finds himself in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s baffling, daunting capital,his salvation is his own mobile pho stand. Little Blue’s relationship with the city and its food brings an understanding to what it means to never want to return home and the fact that everyone goes away in the end. Beautifully drawn and coloured, and featuring many delicious recipes for pho, this is a startlingly original and immensely appealing graphic novel by brilliant new talent Julian Hanshaw. An animator, cartoonist and illustrator, he won the Cape Observer Comica Graphic Short Story Prize in 2008 and lives in East Sussex.

Paul Gravett says:
I only recently discovered pho in the same-named restaurant in London with Indian graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee and it is delicious. I’m so pleased to see Cape publishing one of the past Graphic Short Story Prize winners. One of the ideas behind the competition is a talent-search for prospective new authors. This year’s competition will be announced soon on the Comica Festival website - good luck!



The Artist Himself:
A Rand Holmes Retrospective

by Patrick Rosenkranz
Fantagraphics
$39.99

The publisher says:
Rand Holmes’ hippie hero, Harold Hedd, became the internationally famous spokesman for the emerging Canadian counterculture. Holmes preferred a lower profile. His artistic history began in Edmonton, flourished in Vancouver and San Francisco, and concluded on Lasqueti Island. Holmes’ life story is richly illustrated with drawings, comic strips, watercolors, and paintings that span his whole career: from the hot rod cartoons he drew as a teenager, dozens of covers for the Georgia Straight, pornographic cartoons for the sex tabloid Vancouver Star, to complete comic stories from Slow Death Funnies , Dead Comix , and many more. The full-length Harold Hedd comic novels, Wings Over Tijuana and Hitler’s Cocaine are reprinted in their entirety together for the first time. A DVD documentary about a retrospective exhibition of his original work accompanies this book.

Paul Gravett says:
From Harold Hedd to his iconic cover for the first issue of Gay Comix, Rand Holmes brought some of the precision and sheen of the great Wally Wood to the heady pages of Canada’s and America’s underground press. I met some of Holmes’ family at the Toronto Comic Art Festival in 2007 and heard about their 2002 tribute exhibition on the Lasqueti island where this Canadian comix creator, illustrator and painter lived and sadly died in 2002. Here’s a mini-movie by Rosenkranz about that unique show. So I’m thrilled that some of his oeuvre and Rosenkranz’s researches have now been compiled into book form.



The Impostor’s Daughter
by Laurie Sandell & Soo-Jung Woo
Back Bay Books
$16.99

The publisher says:
Laurie Sandell grew up in awe (and sometimes in terror) of her larger-than-life father, who told jaw-dropping tales of a privileged childhood in Buenos Aires, academic triumphs, heroism during Vietnam, friendships with Kissinger and the Pope. Growing up with her extraordinary father has given Laurie a knack for relating to the stars. But while researching an article on her dad’s life, she makes an astonishing discovery: he’s not the man he says he is - not even close. Now, she must puzzle together decades of lies and the splintered person that resulted from them - herself.

Paul Gravett says:
Did you miss this one too? This graphic memoir and coming-of-age story came out in hardback from Little Brown last July and slipped past my radar, going on to rave reviews and awards nominations. Here’s a chance to catch up with it in paperback.



The Unsinkable Walker Bean
by Aaron Renier
First Second Books
$13.99

The publisher says:
Walker Bean never wanted to be a high-seas pirate waging a pitched battle against the forces of the deep. It just worked out that way. Mild, meek, and a little geeky, Walker is always happiest in his grandfather’s workshop, messing around with his inventions. But when his beloved grandfather is struck by an ancient curse, it falls on Walker to return an accursed pearl skull to the witches who created it - and his path is strewn with pirates, magical machines, ancient lore, and deadly peril!

Paul Gravett says:
OK, I loved Aaron Renier’s Spiral-Bound from Top Shelf. For me, he is one of those special American cartoonists bursting with delightful characters and accessible yarns, of which this is the first in a projected trilogy. Here’s a preview  and you can read about him here. First Second continue to re-charge the growing genre of great new comics for kids of all ages.



The Wild Kingdom
by Kevin Huizenga
Drawn & Quarterly
$19.95

The publisher says:
Standing out amongst his contemporaries, Kevin Huizenga is the leading cartoonist of his generation whose subtle mastery of the medium has earned him countless accolades and awards. Huizenga’s comics are at once straight-forward and experimental, serious and funny. His character is the suburban everyman Glenn Glanges, a modern day Dagwood Bumstead who tackles and stumbles with such heady topics as mysticism and science. In Wild Kingdom, Glenn Ganges blindly interacts with the nature of his suburban neighborhood: dead house plants; a recipe for grey squirrel brain; and pigeons eating discarded french fries in the parking lot of a fast food joint. Huizenga juxtaposes Glenn’s ignorance of his surroundings with television commercials highlighting society’s needs for cure-all pharmaceuticals and “hot new things” like teeth whiteners. Starting off wordless, Wild Kingdom grows more complex page-by-page, ending with encyclopedic entries, biographical excerpts, anthropologic flow charts and a cataclysmic encounter of nature and technology.

Paul Gravett says:
Now arriving as stand-alone original graphic novels rather than his Or Else comics series, Huizenga’s new work is always essential viewing and reading. He’s one of those bold advance scouts on the outer limits of uncharted territories where comics are heading.



Valerian & Laureline Vol. 1: The City of Shifting Waters
by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mezières
Cinebook
$11.95/£5.99

The publisher says:
Galaxity, capital of the Terran Empire in the 28th century. Valerian and Laureline are agents who protect mankind from rogue time travellers. Now they are sent to New York in 1986 to intercept Galaxity’s worst megalomaniac, Xombul - except that in 1986 the world is in ruins and New York is about to be swallowed by the ocean. The two agents must navigate the shifting waters of the past to make sure that the future will exist. Jean-Claude Mezières and Pierre Christin created Valerian in 1967 after working in the USA together, one as a cowboy, the other a teacher. While Valerian is Mezières’ only comic series, he’s worked as an illustrator in many other areas, including designs and sets for The Fifth Element and he was awarded the Grand Prix of the Angoulême Festival in 1984. Christin also works in collaboration with other artists such as Tardi and Bilal and writes novels and film scenarios.

Paul Gravett says:
Cinebook are relentless in presenting some of greatest Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées in English and follow up recent mega-series XIII with this French science fiction masterpiece. If some of it reminds you a bit of Star Wars, that’s because George Lucas and his designers were unmistakeably “inspired” by the future visions in these BD albums which Christin and Mezières began almost a decade earlier in 1967.

Posted: May 23, 2010

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