Graphic Novels Prepub Alert: Food Manga from Bourdain, Pekar on Israel, and new series from Dark Horse and Fantagraphics

Kickstarter has been good to Reading with Pictures, the nonprofit that gets comics into schools and schools into comics. In 2010, RWP raised a crowd funded $15,000 to publish its colorful, all-ages anthology demonstrating the power of comics for entertainment and education. Now RWP wants to publish Reading with Pictures: The Graphic Textbook, mounting a new Kickstarter campaign to raise a challenging $65,000 by May 17th. The idea is to create a fun-to-read book with high-quality art and writing that also meets all the criteria necessary to be accepted as classroom curriculum material for grades 3-6. Thus a dozen short stories from talented creators will address topics across disciplines, from math and science through social studies and language arts, with titles like George Washington: Action President and Doctor Sputnik: Man of Science. An accompanying Teacher’s Guide, courtesy of the Learning Sciences Department of Northwestern University, will include lesson plans. Spread the word about supporting the Kickstarter campaign, and look for this revolutionary, kid-friendly textbook in March 2013.

Bourdain, Anthony & Joel Rose (text) & Langdon Foss (illus.). Get Jiro! Vertigo. July 2012. 160p. ISBN 9781401228279. $24.99 F/FOOD
So who’s the obvious celebrity chef to write a fry-’em-to-a-crisp American comeback to all those food manga? Bourdain, natch. Not Tokyo, now, but L.A. is the town where master chefs rule like mafia and people kill (really!) for seats at the in restaurants. On one side: the fab fusionista chefs, who craft exotic palate pleasers from worldwide ingredients. On the other side: the veggie-macrobiotic mavens. Both sides seek to recruit renegade sushi chef Jiro, and may the best kitchen win! See a sample of Foss’s amusingly hyperkinetic art here. Peep Jiro’s zori-style sneakers. Should be hot for fans of manga and Bourdain, and there are many.

Canales, Juan Díaz (text) & Juanjo Guarnido (illus.). Blacksad: A Silent Hell. Dark Horse. July 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781595829313. $19.99. F
The Italian-created Blacksad series casts exquisitely drafted animal-headed characters in decidedly human, serious stories about a PI and his soul-staining adventures in late 1950s, film noir‚ esque America. This second volume involves drug-addicted New Orleans musicians whose congenital deformities stemmed from carcinogenic pharmaceuticals. The first volume took an Angoul√™me prize and several Eisner nominations: see LJ‘s review here.

Chao, Fred. Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero. Tor. July 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780765329370. pap. $16.99. F
Meet Johnny and Mayumi, a nice young Japanese couple adapting to life in New York City. They’ve gotta pay the rent, keep their jobs, improve their English…and escape from a Godzilla look-alike who’s out for revenge. Turns out Johnny has some kind of karma for attracting weirdness, and there are ronin and lobsters coming up, too. Check out the hilarious preview here. Nominated for several Eisner Awards, some of Johnny’s adventures were published in 2009 by Adhouse Books.

Groening, Matt & various. Radioactive Man: Radioactive Repository. Vol. 1. It Books. July 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780062089922. $25.99. HUMOR
This parody character first appeared as an in-story fictional superhero beloved by Bart during The Simpsons‘ 1991 second season. Showing up in subsequent episodes of the TV show, Radioactive Man also popped up as a real series from Bongo Comics beginning in 1995. The Bongo comic books expanded on the character, his adventures, and his special talents‚ like the power to fire beams of clean, nuclear heat from his eyes. It looks like this is the first in an omnibus set collecting all this superhero’s comic book stories, which appeared occasionally in Bongo titles aside from the namesake series. Some of the zillions of Simpsons fans will go for this.

Hugo, Victor (text) & Tim A. Conrad (illus. & adapt.). The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Dark Horse. July 2012. 48p. ISBN 9781595829528. $12.99. LIT
Based on Conrad’s work on Conan and other fantasy comics, expect a colorful take on this tragic drama of thwarted love and murder. With Sequential Pulp Comics, its new line of adapted fiction, Dark Horse joins at least a dozen other publishers turning classics and other great stories into sequential art. Coming up also: classic popular fiction and pulps by such authors as Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. Rider Haggard, and Harry Whittington. For the new line, Dark Horse will skip periodical comic books and go straight to graphic novels. Says President Mike Richardson, I believe the modern comics audience is hungry for complete stories. Yes yes yes!

Johns, Geoff (text) & Gary Frank (illus.). Batman: Earth One. DC Comics. July 2012. 144p. ISBN 9781401232085. $22.99. F
Part of DC’s Earth One line, which is aimed at introducing classic superheroes to new audiences, this original graphic novel re-visions Batman’s origin story in an updated, modern setting. Superman: Earth One, first of the line, dropped the young Clark Kent into an alien invasion, where he had to don the Superman persona for the first time to save his adopted home planet. All characters in the Earth One line share the same universe, which is different from DC’s mainstream universe.

McCreery, Conor & Anthony Del Col (text) & Andy Belanger (illus.). Kill Shakespeare: The Complete Edition. IDW. July 2012. 353p. ISBN 9781613771303. $39.99. F
Shakespeare’s greatest heroes are pitched against his greatest villains in this epic adventure. Yes, the good guys win, but the cost is high. This edition collects the two previously published volumes into one omnibus hardcover. So if you’ve held off buying it or want a second copy, go to, go to. See LJ‘s review of the first volume here.

Ohkubo, Atsushi. Soul Eater NOT! Vol. 1. Yen Press. July 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780316213622. pap. $11.99. F
In Japan, Soul Eater’s teen adventures at the Death Weapon Meister Academy have racked up 20 volumes, hit the top-seller lists, and are still coming out. Stateside, the original series is up to eight volumes and made the New York Times manga bestseller list for several months last year. This volume is a side story/prequel about three students taking the Normally Overcome Target (NOT) class. They must learn to channel their powers as part of their role as human weapons, wielded by the weapon meister students to collect souls.

Pekar, Harvey (text) & J.T. Waldman (illus.). Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Hill & Wang. July 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780809094820. $24.95. MEMOIR/INT
When Pekar passed away several years ago, he left a handful of works in process. This one has reportedly been brought to completion by his widow and past collaborator, Joyce Brabner (Our Cancer Year). Growing up with Zionist parents who were strong supporters of the Jewish state, Pekar nonetheless began to raise questions that his parents couldn’t answer. Here he weaves the story of how he gradually lost faith in Israel together with a history of the Jews, from the Bible era to the present. Waldman, who lived in Israel for a bit, is known for the sweepingly arty Megillat Esther. But for this Pekar project, he does a grittier documentary grayscale, with wonderful face work.

Roberson, Chris (text) & Jeffrey Moy (illus.). Star Trek / Legion of Super-Heroes. IDW. July 2012. 152p. ISBN 9781613772300. $24.99. F
IDW describes this as a science-based team of superheroes in the future crossing over with a team of space-faring explorers from the future…. Both universes merge together to create an all-new reality. So it’s Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and the rest of the Enterprise crew plus teen clubsters Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and four more youngsters. The groups, both time-traveling, end up together in an unexpected destination and have to join forces to solve their time problems as well as deal with Klingons and other adversaries. See plenty of the classic-style, color art here. Look for an IDW Star Trek/Dr. Who crossover next.

Roman, Kelly (text) & Michael DeWeese (illus.). The Art of War: A Graphic Novel. Harper Perennial. July 2012. 353p. ISBN 9780062103949. pap. $22.99. F
A new type of reboot: Sun Tzu’s nonfiction classic of military strategy morphs into a thriller set 20 years in the future. China is the world’s dominant economy, and Wall Street’s been militarized under mostly Chinese control. A telling touch: at the New York Public Library, the one free library left, broken teeth litter the path to the free computers. A man just released from prison goes to Manhattan to figure out why his brother died, and he arranges to interview at the company where the brother worked. But other people’s horrible deaths and injuries dog his efforts, as Sun Tzu’s precepts appear as a running commentary. Read black, white, and bloody red preview chapters here.

Smith, Mark Andrew (text) & James Stokoe (illus.). Sullivan’s Sluggers. Image. July 2012. 150p. ISBN 9781607062530. pap. $16.99. F
Strike three! A has-been baseball team takes a paid gig to play against a farm team in a small town seemingly stuck in the ’50s. It’s just business as usual for the slacker Dragons and their booze-breathed coach‚ until the sun goes down after the seventh inning stretch and suddenly they have to fight for their lives against flesh-eating monsters. Fortunately, their baseball skills come in handy: fastball pitches, heavy batting, and secret signals. This novel twist on a much-used theme should be popular with guys. Shocks, gore, and screamingly outrageous humor are promised. See preview of the grimy retro art here.

Spears, Rick (text) & Vasilis Lolos (illus.). The Pirates of Coney Island. Image. July 2012. 132p. ISBN 9781582407722. pap. Price not yet announced. F
With one eye sliced out by a girl gangster from the Cherries, young runaway Patch joins another gang, the carjacking Pirates. There’s young love in the mix, too, and we can bet it ain’t sweet in Lolos’s striking, angular punk art style with fab coloring. Spears also wrote the well-received Teenagers from Mars.

Thomas, Ian (text) & Adam Bolton (illus.). Where’s My Shoggoth? Archaia. July 2012. 56p. ISBN 9781936393565. $11.95. F
A huge amoeba-like creature composed of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes was how H.P. Lovecraft described a shoggoth in At the Mountains of Madness. We trust that this little boy’s pet shoggoth, which has gone missing in the story, is a bit smaller. Check out the luminescently spooky art here. Lovecraft for kiddies may not be everyone’s dish, but you can buy stuffed Cthulhu, and some of them match Hello Kitty for kawaii cuteness. The book could easily end up as a fun gift for horror-junkies who would consider getting this tattoo.

Tobina, Touya. Jiu Jiu. Vol. 1. VIZ Media. July 2012. 192p. ISBN 9781421542744. pap. $9.99. F
Her family hunts demons, and Takamichi and her brother are expected to follow in their footsteps. But her brother is killed, and she’s given two shapeshifting wolf/human youngsters to raise. In human form, they attend school with her‚ but they’re a bit more of a handful than bringing in your hamster for show-and-tell. Can she keep them in line? The cover art looks action-oriented while plenty cute and stylish.

Tomasi, Peter J. (text) & Patrick Gleason (illus.). Batman & Robin. Vol. 1: Born To Kill. DC Comics. (New 52.) July 2012. 192p. ISBN 9781401234874. $24.99. F
DC’s New 52 reboot finds original Batman Bruce Wayne back underneath the cowl, with son Damian Wayne at his side as Robin. Earlier mainstream continuity had killed off Bruce, with the cowl taken over by Bruce’s Robin, Dick Grayson, and Damian Wayne becoming Dick’s Robin. And even when Bruce turned up alive and took on a Batman persona, Grayson stayed Batman and kept Damian as Robin. Got that straight? Anyway, welcome back, Bruce and Damian. This father-son partnership thing is going to take a little fine-tuning, though, as together they face a villain from Bruce Wayne’s past.

Tyler, C. You’ll Never Know. Book 3: Soldier’s Heart. Fantagraphics. July 2012. 112p. ISBN 9781606995488. $24.99. BIOG/MEMOIR
A newly single parent trying to understand her middle-aged self, Carol Tyler (Late Bloomer) sets out to find the real human being and the real soldier behind her World War II veteran dad’s familiar and taciturn persona. Her colorful, historically detailed art expressively re-creates the wartime period, and this volume completes the trilogy focused on those who serve but don’t talk about it much. Everything is connected, and the past is never just the past. Book 1 ended up on numerous best-of-year lists, and Fantagraphics bills the final revelations about her father as surprising and devastating.

Wolfman, Marv & Stan Lee (text) & Keith Pollard, Al Milgrom, & Sal Buscema (illus.). Spider-Man: Return of the Burglar. Marvel. July 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780785162650. $29.99. F
A classic run of Spider-Man issues 193‚ 200 from 1979 ‚ 80, apparently not previously collected as a graphic novel. The burglar who killed Peter Parker’s dear uncle Ben now threatens the rest of the family, and the web wonder first meets the Black Cat, sometime villain, sometime heroine, and his love interest off and on.

Wood, Wallace. Came the Dawn and Other Stories. ISBN 9781606995464. $24.99.
Kurtzman, Harvey. Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories. ISBN 9781606995457. $28.99.
ea. vol.: Fantagraphics. July 2012. (EC Comics Library.) 240p. F
These are the two initial volumes from the new EC Comics Library series‚ EC Comics being past purveyors of lurid tales that readers loved and censors loved to hate. Wood’s horror/crime anthology offers two-dozen stories in his finely crafted black-and-white brushwork in which dreadful things happen to people, both innocent and guilty. Kurtzman, better known for his satires in MAD magazine and Playboy, also created realistic, gritty war stories, offering, in the words of the publisher, an unflinching look at the horror and madness of combat throughout history. See preview art from both books here.

Yoda, Hiroko & Matt Alt (text) & Tatsuya Morino (illus.). Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. 208p. illus. ISBN 9784805312193.
Yoda, Hiroko & Matt Alt (text) & Shinkichi (illus.). Yurei Attack! The Japanese Ghost Survival Guide. 192p. ISBN 9784805312148.
Yoda, Hiroko & Matt Alt (text) & Yutaka Kondo (illus.). Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws. 208p. ISBN 9784805312186.
ea. vol.: Tuttle. July 2012. pap. $15.95. JAPAN STUDIES
These engaging profiles of yokai (monsters), yurei (ghosts), and historical ninja, enhanced by plentiful full-color illustrations, aim to provide a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and history. The yokai and ninja books came out first from Kodansha between 2008 and 2010, but these Tuttle editions have been expanded. Wife-and-husband team Yoda and Alt run a Tokyo translation company specializing in English versions of Japanese videogames, manga, and popular prose works. These should do well in libraries where manga and anime circulate heavily.

Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (text) & Wayne Vansant (illus.). The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery in America. Hill & Wang. July 2012. 160p. ISBN 9780809053582. $24.95. HIST
The title refers to a military technique, used by Civil War generals Sherman and Grant, of trapping an enemy between a stationary command (the anvil) and a hard-hitting mobile command (the hammer). Here the hammer and anvil concept relates to the collaborative impact of two iconic men: the brilliant escaped slave and leader Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Through their intertwined stories, Zimmerman recounts the history of slavery, the Civil War, and emancipation. Zimmerman and Vansant collaborated on the award-winning The Vietnam War: A Graphic History (2009). The foreword is by Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian James M. McPherson. Full-color, realistic art.

Martha Cornog About Martha Cornog

Martha Cornog is a longtime reviewer for LJ and, with Timothy Perper, edited Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics: Insights and Issues for Libraries (Libraries Unlimited, 2009).