Coming in April: more graphic novels with Middle Eastern flavors. In both April and May, look for a slew of impressive-sounding compendia: adaptations of classics, commentaries on bests, and ethnicity studies. Beyond topic areas, future-watchers might take note of Kickstarter as an increasingly important locus of innovative comics projects. This past November, indie film entrepreneur Matt Pizzolo Kickstarted the right-now-topical anthology Occupy Comics: Art + Stories Inspired by Occupy Wall Street. He realized double on his funding goal within a month and pulled in, among creators, the original V for Vendetta team: David Lloyd and Alan Moore, the guys behind those stylized Guy Fawkes masks worn by Occupiers. According to Pizzolo, the finished collection should appear in mid to late 2012. Thanks to Steve Raiteri for several title suggestions below.
Abouet, Marguerite (text) & Clément Oubrerie (illus.). Aya: Life in Yop City. Book 1. Drawn & Quarterly. May 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781770460829. pap. $24.95. F
An Aya omnibus! Loosely based upon Abouet’s late-1970s youth in Africa’s C√¥te d’Ivoire, the series has pulled in numerous commendations and been tagged as great for teens by YALSA. This first volume includes the three installments already published in English. Book two will include three more not yet translated from the French.
Araki, Hirohiko. Rohan at the Louvre. NBM. Apr. 2012. 128p. ISBN 9781561636150. $19.99. F
Trust a manga artist to come up with a stunning and creepy story about a manga artist (natch) and a painting with a curse on it. Check out the gonzo color art here and click on the slide show. Originally published in French, it’s the latest volume in a series produced by the great museum, following Glacial Period, The Museum Vaults, On the Odd Hours, and The Sky Over the Louvre. Rohan is a character in Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, published here by Viz.
Austen, Jane & Nancy Butler (text & adapt.) & Janet Lee (illus.). Northanger Abbey. Marvel. May 2012. 120p. ISBN 9780785164401. $19.99. LIT
Austen goes parody-gothic in this fourth of her Butler-adapted classics from Marvel. Besotted with lurid novels about mysterious goings-on, Catherine Morland expects the Tilneys’ residence, Northanger Abbey, to be a romantic fortress of spooky secrets. She runs into mysteries, all right, but it’s all about jockeying for love and money among the Tilney and Thorpe families. Lee’s charming art can be seen in Marvel’s previous Austen volume, Emma. Note that Trina Robbins and Anne Timmons did a shorter, black-and-white Northanger Abbey for Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics, vol. 14.
The Avengers: Legion of the Unliving. Various writers & artists. Marvel. Apr. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780785159681. pap. $29.99. F
Avenger history here meets the current zombie craze. In these sagas from the past (apparently 1975‚ 98), the superhero team must face hordes of undead heroes and villains, both former comrades and former enemies. With the Avengers film coming out in May, interest may be up.
Bechdel, Alison. Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama. Houghton Mifflin. May 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780618982509. $22. MEMOIR
This story of Bechdel’s gifted mother will not be exactly comic, just as Fun Home, about her closeted gay father, isn’t best described by the word fun. Yet it will share, we’re sure, the engaging blend of drama, poignancy, humor, and intellectual bricolage that brought the first, bestselling work a slew of awards. We’re promised a story that folds Dr. Seuss, 20th-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Virginia Woolf, childhood journals, and Bechdel’s love life into an account of the mother-daughter bond, from Bechdel’s childhood to recent years.
Bellstorf, Arne. Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles in Hamburg. First Second. May 2012. 208p. ISBN 9781596437715. $24.99. BIOG
This drama of doomed romance between fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe and electric photographer/artist Astrid Kirchherr draws from real life, with the Fab Four as bit players. Bellstorf’s black-and-white art manages to look period-appropriate, smoky-sad, and a touch cute all at once. See sample with original German dialog.
Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them. Mad Norwegian Press. Ed. by Lynne M. Thomas & Sigrid Ellis. Apr. 2012. paging UNK. ISBN 9781935234050. pap. $14.95. GRAPHIC ARTS
Notables among the femigencia of comics creators sound off about the characters and series they love and how they got into the industry. The volume will include essays by Gail Simone (Birds of Prey), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother), and many others. At least some of the contributions will be in comics form. Sounds gossipy and inspirational.
Crane, Roy. Buz Sawyer, Vol. 2: Sultry’s Tiger. Fantagraphics. May 2012. 316p. ISBN 9781606994993. $35. F
World War II has ended, and flying ace Buz Sawyer has snagged a civilian job at last: troubleshooter for International Airways, which has him traveling to hotspots all over the world. Of course, he always flies into adventure, here visiting a dangerous woman he first met during the war, taking on the Mad Baron, discovering Mayan treasure, and being kidnapped by mysterious thugs. But whatever the adventure, somehow Buz always gets mixed up with a pretty girl. This volume includes both daily and full-color Sunday strips, originally published between 1945 and 1947, drawn in Crane’s clean, realistic style that in retrospect looks remarkably European.
Crime Does Not Pay Archives. Vol. 1. Dark Horse. Apr. 2012. 280p. ISBN 9781595822895. $49.99. F
Behold some of the comics that ticked off Dr. Fredric Wertham and other censors of the 1950s: frankly lurid and wildly entertaining pulps of crime and criminals, supposedly based on real cases. Lavishing overspiced detail on a smorgasbord of violence and vileness, issues sold in the hundreds of thousands. (According to David Hajdu’s The Ten-Cent Plague, many of the scripts were ghostwritten by a bright, pleasant woman named Virginia Hubbell.) Ironically, it was J. Edgar Hoover who had kicked true crime comics into legitimacy with a 1930s War on Crime newspaper strip, supposedly based on FBI files. Yet CDNP’s gruesomeness is not explicit by modern standards, in terms of either sex or gore, and this volume is publisher-rated for ages 14 up. Indispensible for historical and pop culture collections.
Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes & Superheroes. 2 vols. Ed. by Bart Beaty & Stephen Weiner. Salem. Apr. 2012. 1000p. indexes. ISBN 9781587658655. $295. GRAPHIC ARTS
Designed for fans as well as academic institutions and libraries, some 130 essays each cover one title or series and include information on editions, read-alikes, publication history, characters, artistic style, impact, and related works in other media. The essays focus on the most popular and studied graphic novels, not just superhero series but manga, imports, nonfiction, and indie titles. Forthcoming Salem sets will address manga and Independent and Underground Classics, and a thematic overview volume of additional essays is planned. According to the publisher, this Critical Survey series aims to establish the graphic novel medium as an important academic discipline and research topic in libraries. More details and sample entries here.
Delisle, Guy. Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. Drawn & Quarterly. Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781770460713. $24.95. MEMOIR/POL SCI
Québécois artist-journalist Delisle (Pyongyang) spent 2008‚ 09 with his family in East Jerusalem as part of his wife’s work with Doctors Without Borders and was there during the short but brutal Gaza War. He interweaves accounts of suffering and interactions with the emergency medical teams with droll anecdotes of quotidian family life. This graphic memoir/travelogue will doubtless take a prominent place among the many other new titles covering events in the Middle East with sensitivity and from varied perspectives. See preview in French here (click on Extraits).
Devarajan, Sharad & Ron Marz (text) & Mukesh Singh & Liquid Comics (illus.). Silver Scorpion. Vol. 1. Liquid Comics/Open Hands Initiative. Apr. 2012. 160p. ISBN TBA. pap. $14.99. F
In an unnamed Middle Eastern country, orphaned teen Bashir, who lives with his uncle, creates scrap-metal sculptures to distract himself from life in their village, which is dominated by a violent gang. But scavenging for parts one day, he triggers a buried landmine that blows off his legs and kills his best friend. Despairing of his future, he visits the mysterious Tarek to have his wheelchair repaired and learns that Tarek can control metal psychokinetically. When the gang kills Tarek for refusing to work for them, Tarek bestows his ability on Bashir, who dubs himself the Silver Scorpion and sets about putting the gang out of business. The first issue was given out at Free Comic Book Day last May. A rare and appealing disabled superhero of Arabic ethnicity.
El Shafee, Magdy. Metro: A Graphic Novel. Metropolitan: Holt. May 2012. 108p. ISBN 9780805094886. pap. $20. F
This novel was originally to be published in Egypt in 2008, but the police broke in and seized it, and both author and publisher were arrested. The adult-level story is set in Mubarak’s Cairo, a hotbed of corruption, and the Egyptian police do not come off as angels. Homosexuality is also mentioned, which did not sit well with El Shafee’s critics. According to The National, Metro offers a young antihero for Egypt’s youth: a software engineer in debt to loan sharks who decides to rob a bank to pay them back. See a preview here.
Gaiman, Neil (text) & Dave McKean (illus.). Black Orchid Deluxe Edition. Vertigo. Apr. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9781401233358. $24.99. F
Gaiman takes a walk in the garden of the DC plant people. After botanist Susan Linden-Thorne is murdered by her abusive husband, her nice-guy botanist boyfriend revives her as a plant-human hybrid with superpowers: Black Orchid. Now she seeks the truth about her origins while attempting to cope with a corrupt world of humans. According to one reviewer, Gaiman successfully connects all the DC super-horticulturals to a common point of origin, giving cameo roles to Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing. The limited series came out originally in 1988 and has been collected before, but this deluxe edition presumably will include extras. With its ecological message, the story could become more popular now than earlier. Scroll down here to preview McKean’s striking, orchidy art.
Gallagher, Fred & Rodney Caston. Megatokyo Omnibus. Dark Horse. Apr. 2012. 670p. ISBN 9781595828231. pap. $19.99. F
Probably one of the best-known and most popular examples of Amerimanga, this series began in 2002 and currently has six volumes in print in addition to the webcomics version. The saga follows the cultural and romantic (mis)adventures of young Americans Piro and Largo, who find themselves stranded in Tokyo without money to fly home, and pulls heavily from their otaku-style appreciation of anime, manga, and gaming. The webcomic has won several Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards, and this collection reprints the first three volumes. A good bet for libraries that didn’t buy the originals or whose copies have worn out.
The Graphic Canon, Volume 1: From Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons. Seven Stories. Apr. 2012. 448p. ed. by Russ Kick. ISBN 9781609803766. pap. $29.95. LIT
Editor Kick (Everything You Know Is Wrong) gives me the scoop: My vision from the start was to essentially create The Norton Anthology of Literature in graphic form‚ and he’s getting three volumes to play with. Lyric poems and short stories are contained [in these volumes] in their entirety, he continues. But novels, plays, and epic poems are usually excerpted. Not always, though. Lysistrata, Medea, the Book of Revelation, and a handful of others contain the complete narrative, though they are condensed/abridged. About 80 percent is new material; the rest reprints. Looks like a must-buy for all academic libraries, many public libraries, and many high schools, and an exciting new benchmark for comics! Expect volume 2 in July and volume 3 in October.
Heske, Robert (text) & Diago Yapura (illus.). The Night Projectionist. Studio 407. Apr. 2012. 140p. ISBN 9781935385080. pap. $12.99. F
The fright-flick geeks of Crosstown Falls have packed the all-night Draculathon film fest, the closing show for the old town theater, now condemned. But the horror erupts beyond the screen when a horde of vampires lays siege to the theater and the night projectionist up in the balcony turns out to be a sinister vampire with a three-centuries-old Yugoslavian tragedy on his resume. Preview the eerily colored, realist art here.
Johns, Geoff (text) & Jim Lee (illus.). Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin. DC. May 2012. 176p. ISBN 9781401234614. $24.99. F
The Green Lantern pops over to Gotham in pursuit of an alien Parademon, but whoops! Gotham is Batman territory, and the two squabble over turf issues before deciding to question another alien: Superman. But Superman isn’t impressed by Lantern’s youthful overconfidence, either. Eventually the trio set aside their ego problems to work together on dealing with the now-more-numerous Parademons, and the fledgling team is joined in the fight by the Flash and then by Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg. This is the re-envisioned origin of the Justice League of America superhero team (JLA), as appearing in DC’s The New 52 relaunch.
Kio, Shimoku. Genshiken Omnibus 1: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Kodansha. May 2011. c.600p. ISBN 9781935429364. pap. $19.99. F
This nine-volume slice-of-life manga about a college club for otaku (obsessive fans of manga/anime/videogames) is known for being made by an otaku for otaku and is beloved for memorable character development even more than for the realistic yet funny plots and plentiful references to Japanese pop culture. Originally released 2005‚ 07 by Del Rey, Genshiken has begun in a second series in Japan: Genshiken Nidaime. It seems possible that Kodansha will officially translate this new series, currently scanlated into English on several websites, and is issuing the omnibus to pave the way. Good for libraries that don’t have the original series as well as for replacement of worn volumes.
Kirby, Jack. Spirit World. DC. Apr. 2012. 108p. ISBN 9781401234188. $39.99. F
Kirby, one of the late grandmasters of Marvel Comics, known for co-creating its major superheroes, put in some time-out years with DC Comics, where, among other projects, he created striking stories of the supernatural for a magazine titled Spirit World. Only one issue was ever published, but several additional finished stories turned up in the Weird Mystery Tales anthologies. The idea of a magazine aimed at an end run around the Comics Code, which did not apply to magazine-format publications. According to Robot 6, the stories cover heavy political and social commentary as well as a dose of horror.
Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now. Fantagraphics. Apr. 2012. 250p. ed. by Matthias Wivel. ISBN 9781606995204. pap. $29.99. F
This lavish sampler of work from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden offers a wide variety of artistic styles and short plots, some with a more adult focus. See samples here; click Expand for the wonderful cover plus 20 pages. Wivel is a veteran of the Danish comics scene who currently lives in New York.
Lee, Stan (text) & Moebius (illus.). Silver Surfer: Parable. Marvel. May 2012. 168p. ISBN 9780785162094. $24.99. F
The terrible alien Galactus has landed on Earth, and humans are worshipping him as a savior at the urging of a fake disciple. It’s up to Galactus’s former servant, the Silver Surfer, to unmask this false messiah. The two-issue miniseries first appeared in the late 1980s, winning an Eisner Award, but was last reprinted over ten years ago. Also included is a second story, published in 1990 as a stand-alone, in which the Surfer saves Earth as well as his own home world of Zenn-La from the Enslavers, another powerful alien race. Moebius (real name: Jean Giraud) is a French comics artist much better known in Europe than in the United States. See samples of his beautiful art together with commentary here.
Magica Quartet (text) & Hanokage (illus.). Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Vol. 1. Yen Pr. May 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780316213875. pap. $11.99. F
Madoka can have her dearest wish granted, but she must become a magical girl in return. Not such an easy bargain: being a magical girl means dealing with death and with loss of her own humanity as well as fighting witches and suchlike. Unsure, she delays her decision. But some of her friends take up the challenge, and as events unroll she feels compelled to become a magical girl in order to stop witches throughout the world. The three-volume series is based on a popular anime and has sold well in Japan.
Manning, Stuart (text) & Aaron Campbell (illus.). Dark Shadows. Vol. 1. Dynamite. Apr. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9781606902752. pap. $16.99. F
Originally a daily soap opera in the 1960s and ’70s, Dark Shadows quickly picked up a cult following. More recently, swoonmeister Johnny Depp admitted to fandom and was signed up to play hero vampire Barnabas Collins in a forthcoming Tim Burton film. No stranger to comics after appearances in an early Dark Shadows newspaper strip and a couple of comic book series, Barnabas now returns to comics for a third time. The 200-year-old vampire hopes his doctor can find a serum to break the curse placed on him by his ex-lover. The rest of his family is in no shape to help him, and everyone harbors deep, dark secrets. See a preview here.
Mantella, Mauro (text) & Leandro Rizzo (illus.). Fictionauts. Studio 407. Apr. 2012. 88p. ISBN 9781935385042. pap. $12.99. F
Want to get lost in a good book? These adventurers really do that, using special technologies to dive into the worlds of fictional works to protect our world from the dangerous psychic anomalies that can occur when stories overlap. Plenty else can go wrong, too, like bleed-through between fiction and reality. Sounds like a real treat for fans of Fables and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as well as lovers of Jasper Fforde’s prose novels. Preview the cool retro-realist art here.
McCulloch, Derek (text) & Colleen Doran (illus.). Gone to Amerikay. Vertigo. Apr. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9781401223519. $24.99. F
This sweeping saga by McCulloch (Stagger Lee) intertwines stories of three immigrants from Ireland: a single mother raising her child in an 1870s Manhattan slum, a struggling actor drawn to Greenwich Village’s folk scene of the 1960s, and a present-day Irishman visiting New York City. Here’s McCulloch’s engaging description: It’s a great big historical epic with a crime story and a ghost story and a couple of love stories and all kinds of things in it. Plus it has Doran’s splendid art.
Misiroglu, Gina. The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Icons and Hollywood Heroes. 2d ed. Visible Ink Pr. Apr. 2012. 480p. ISBN 9781578593750. pap. $24.95. GRAPHIC ARTS
Originally published in 2004, this encyclopedia attracted praise from librarians, but fans wanted more entries, analysis, and illustrations. Whether the second edition delivers a little more or a lot more, it’s an inexpensive way to fill in some eight years of new and updated superheroes. The publisher is promising 200 entries covering over 1,000 supers across all media, with full color illustrations.
Oliver, José (text) & Bartolo Torres (illus.). Young Lovecraft. Vol. 2. KettleDrummer Bks. Apr. 2012. 104p. ISBN 9788415153337. pap. $19.95 F
With the appeal of a demented Peanuts, this volume continues the reimagined life of little Howie Lovecraft and his, um, odd friends as they confront homework, the opposite sex, and other perils of growing up. See LJ‘s review of volume 1 here.
Pratt, Hugo. Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea. Rizzoli: Universe. Mar. 2012. 254p. ISBN 9780789324986. pap. $25. F
Described by one commentator as a Tintin for grownups, sailor-adventurer Corto Maltese takes on smugglers and pirates in the World War I-era Pacific. First appearing in Italian in 1967 and soon afterwards in French, the popular swashbuckler series has been translated into numerous languages and won an Angoul√™me award. Several English volumes came out from NBM in the 1980s. The numerous stories about the rogue with a heart of gold have been described as both elegant and complex, and this reappearance offers a new translation. See a selection of the cover art here.
Rice, Anne & Anne Elizabeth (text & adapt.) & Siya Oum (illus.). Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana: The Graphic Novel. Sea Lion Bks. Apr. 2012. 198p. ISBN 9780983613145. $24.99. RELIGION
Rice’s finely-crafted novels based on the life of Christ have been widely praised, and this adaption could enlarge the footprint of serious biblical comics. Certainly Oum’s concept drawing of Jesus shows a simple, attractive humanity as well as strength of character. Verily, you’ll want to buy this. Rice’s Servant of the Bones will also see graphic novel embodiment in the same month, from IDW.
Riordan, Rick (text) & Orpheus Collar (illus.). The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid. Hyperion. May 2012. 192p. ISBN 9781423150695. pap. $12.99. F
Following right after the graphic adaptation of the first book in Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians comes the graphic version of the first volume of his Egyptian saga of Carter and Sadie Kane, biracial teens who learn they are descended from pharaohs and have hidden powers. Unfortunately, the god Set has entombed their father and wants to get them too. The 2010 original novel was chosen as a School Library Journal Best Book. The second volume in the Kane series, The Throne of Fire, is scheduled for comics in August and the second Percy Jackson book in September.
Strömberg, Fredrik. Black Images in the Comics. Fantagraphics. May 2012. 296p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781606995624. pap. $19.99. GRAPHIC ARTS
First published by Fantagraphics in 2003 and nominated for an Eisner Award, this history of racial depictions in comics has been updated in both its content and its source list. Over 100 entries, each featuring a representative illustration and an instructive short essay, cover an international range of comics, from Moon Mullins through Tintin, Will Eisner, R. Crumb, Peanuts, Boondocks, and beyond. Strömberg is a Swedish comics journalist, editor, and educator who has published numerous books in several languages.
Strömberg, Fredrik. Jewish Images in the Comics. Fantagraphics. May 2012. 304p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781606995280. $26.99. GRAPHIC ARTS
Another of Strömberg’s books, in a similar format: over 150 entries from internationally-originating comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels stretching back over the last five centuries that feature Jewish characters and Jewish themes. The works of Art Spiegelman and Will Eisner are well known to comics aficionados in the United States, but many of the other examples, some far less savory, may not be.
Tatsumi, Yoshihiro. Fallen Words. Drawn & Quarterly. May 2012. 264p. ISBN 9781770460744. pap. $19.95. F
A founder of the gekiga movement promoting realistic, serious manga, Tatsumi is known for Abandon the Old in Tokyo (2006), a collection of stories originally published in Japan in the 1970s, and the autobiographical A Drifting Life (2009). This volume includes eight new stories, modern yet whimsical, that draw on rakugo (fallen words), a Japanese storytelling form that originated in the Edo era. See a striking panel here.
Thomas, Roy (text) & Sal Buscema, Neal Adams, & John Buscema (illus.). Avengers: Kree/Skrull War. Marvel. May 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780785164791. $29.99. F
An early crossover-type story featuring a large cast of superheroes, the Kree-Skrull War saga from 1971‚ 72 is considered of major importance in the Marvel Universe. Thomas modestly stated in his afterword to the 2000 reprint collection that he didn’t have much of a master plan for the story, just that rapacious, galaxy-spanning races…would be at war in the far reaches of space, and that their conflict would be threatening to spill over onto the Earth. The collection was republished in 2008, and some libraries may have that edition.
Trautmann, Eric & Brandon Jerwa (text) & Steve Lieber (illus.). Shooters. Vertigo. Apr. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9781401222154. $22.99. F
A tragic injury sustained under friendly fire sends a solder home from battle in the Persian Gulf. But he re-ups as a private military contractor, reporting to the corporation rather than the U.S. Army. Little information is available about the story, but it looks as if this new gig will challenge the soldier in ways he was unprepared for, calling him to question his marriage and his faith as well as his choice of career. Lieber (Whiteout; many other titles) has an excellent command of black-and-white and is certainly a good pick for the art.
Vance, Jack (text) & Humayoun Ibrahim (illus.). The Moon Moth. First Second. May 2012. 128p. ISBN 9781596433670. pap. $17.99. F
The planet Sirene boasts a fascinating culture very different from Earth’s: the natives communicate social status through artful masks, use music in social intercourse, and risk dangerous consequences if etiquette is breached. Alas, the new consul from Earth has trouble adjusting and must wear the lowest status mask: that of the lowly Moon Moth. Then the consul is assigned to arrest a notorious assassin newly arrived from off-world, who is thoroughly savvy with Sirenean custom and has vanished into the local populace with a stolen mask. Now the consul must hunt his quarry out from behind the masks and survive harrowing cultural challenges along the way. Vance has won numerous Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards for his speculative fiction, and this 1961 story is a sci-fi classic.
Vidaurri, Shane-Michael. Iron: Or, the Propagandist: The Story of the War After. Archaia. Jul. 2012. 136p. ISBN 9781936393282. $19.95 F
In Mouse Guard, Archaia’s done very well with stalwart, four-footed warriors fending off predators. Now it’s the Resistance vs. the Regime, with animal-headed characters and a rabbit-faced spy setting the plot in motion. Archaia is billing this as Animal Farm meets The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Page through the chillingly lovely azure art here.