Best Books 2011: Graphic Novels

ljx111201webBBgraphicNov Best Books 2011: Graphic Novels

Bá, Gabriel & Fábio Moon. Daytripper. Vertigo. ISBN 9781401229696. pap. $19.99. F
Brás de Oliva Domingos pens obituaries for a Brazilian paper but dreams of crafting novels. In beautiful writing and art that meditates on what-ifs, each of his life episodes is told as ending in his own death. (LJ 9/15/11)

Gladstone, Brooke (text) and Josh Neufeld (illus.).The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media. Norton. ISBN 9780393077797. $23.95. COMM
An insightful, wittily written and drawn history and analysis of mass communications media, covering censorship in early America, media biases, the rise (and impossibility) of objectivity, changes wrought by the Internet, and much else of absorbing interest. (LJ 9/15/11)

Mills, Tarpé. Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays, 1944‚ 1949. IDW. ISBN 9781600109058. $49.99. F
The first comics heroine with a secret costumed persona was not Wonder Woman but panther-skinned Miss Fury, no mean butt-kicker either. This vintage strip bursts with gleefully pulpish melodrama, Nazis, mad scientists, a cross-dressing thief, romantic misunderstandings, and gorgeous gowns. (LJ 9/15/11)

Mizuki, Shigeru. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths. Drawn & Quarterly. ISBN 9781770460416. pap. $24.95. F
A devastating, fictionalized but naturalistic account of an actual World War II incident in which Japanese soldiers are ordered on a suicidal attack but survive, only to run up against a code of honor that requires them to be dead. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 6/24/11)

Santiago, Wilfred. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Fantagraphics, dist. by Norton. ISBN 9781560978923. $22.99. BIOG/HIST
The Puerto Rican slugger overcame family poverty, racial prejudice, and the language barrier to become the 1966 National League’s Most Valuable Player. Santiago superbly captures the kinetic excitement of baseball as well as Clemente’s skill and warm humanity on and off the diamond. (LJ 7/11)

Tardi, Jacques. The Arctic Marauder. Fantagraphics, dist. by Norton. ISBN 9781606994351. $18.99. F
An eccentric steampunk parody of turn-of-the-century pulp, beautifully rendered with amazing scratchboard art that mimics the look of engravings. Tardi favors the puckish over the grim, for a surprising sf comedy involving mad scientists, sea monsters, and weird machines. (LJ 7/11)

Thompson, Craig. Habibi. Pantheon. ISBN 9780375424144. $35. F
Spanning an Arabian Nights setting to the all-too-modern world, this exquisitely drawn love story folds in multiple religious traditions while offering hope through simple human kindness. Note other Mideast-set standouts: Zahra’s Paradise and The Kite Runner Graphic Novel. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 7/15/11)

Tran, G.B. Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey. Villard. ISBN 9780345508720. $20. AUTOBIOG
In this Maus for the Vietnam War, another American-born son of immigrants confronts the legacy of family tragedy predating his birth. In kick-in-the-gut jagged color art, Tran pieces together his parents’ precarious passage through combat and chaos to the United States. (LJ 1/11)

Venditti, Robert (text) & Mike Huddleston (illus.). The Homeland Directive. Top Shelf. ISBN 9781603090247. pap. $14.95. F
When the head of the National Center for Infectious Diseases is fingered wrongly for murder, she goes rogue to stop the real killer: a cabinet officer honchoing a bizarre antiterrorism plot. This thriller sports realistic art with striking thematic color wash. (LJ 7/11)

Winshluss. Pinocchio. Last Gasp. ISBN 9780867197518. $29.95. F
French cartoonist Winshluss (Vincent Parronnaud) re-envisions the lad as a metallic weapon of war brought to life in lush, twisted color art without words‚ except for garrulous, black-and-white Jiminy Cockroach, who claims squatter digs inside Pinocchio’s skull. An adults-only, Angoul√™me winner and masterful satire with noir, labyrinthine plotting.

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