Graphic Novels from Cates & Co. and Wertz | Xpress Reviews

Week ending September 1, 2017

Cates, Donny (text) & Geoff Shaw & others (illus.). God Country. Vol. 1. Image. Aug. 2017. 168p. ISBN 9781534302341. pap. $16.99. Rated: M/Mature. EPIC FANTASY
Cates (The Paybacks) pens a Weird West tale worthy of Joe R. Lansdale in this collected edition of the series’ six-issue run. Roy Quinlan thinks he can care for his angry, Alzheimer’s stricken father, Emmett, even after the old man has a violent encounter with the law. At the risk of pushing his wife and daughter away, Roy refuses to remove his father from their homestead. Before the family can fracture, a supernatural tornado destroys the ranch, depositing an oversized magical talking sword into Emmett’s hands. As long as he wields the sword, he is free from his debilitating disease, but refusing to relinquish the sword to the dark force that created it pushes the Quinlans from drama into horror. Cates’s high-concept tale is grounded by one family’s struggle with aging and loss, while Shaw, Jason Wordie, and John Hill’s dynamic illustrations depict both rural Texas and the fantastic realm from which Valofax, the 12-foot-long god of swords, hails.
Verdict Recommended for readers who enjoy epic fantasy in rural settings.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

Wertz, Julia. Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City. Black Dog & Leventhal. Oct. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780316501217. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316501224. HIST/MEMOIR
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Wertz (Museum of Mistakes) spent ten years in New York City before returning to her West Coast roots. Here, the author/illustrator shows a side of the Big Apple usually reserved for native New Yorkers in vignettes describing everyday life in the five boroughs, then and now, accentuated by beautiful drawings that seem to capture the spirit of each place. The history offers a rare glimpse of how things have changed over time, as Wertz pictures the same locations years apart, making it easy for readers to feel as though they’ve lived there, too. Pages dedicated to the art deco and gothic doors found throughout Manhattan are particularly fascinating. More than reflecting the likeness of Gotham, the combined text and art seem to absorb its very essence. With a list of recommended reading and online sources.
Verdict For anyone who enjoys graphic nonfiction and biography and especially for those interested in New York City’s various buildings and types of architecture. [Previewed in Douglas Rednour’s “Comics Cross Over,” LJ 6/15/17.]—Sonnet Ireland, St. Tammany Parish P.L., Mandeville, LA

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