Ghosts: Raina Telgemeier's upbeat tale of death, assimilation and cystic fibrosis

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YA graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier is a force of nature; her Babysitters Club graphic novels are witty and smart and snappy; her standalone graphic novels are even better, but her latest, Ghosts, is her best to date: an improbably upbeat story about death, assimilation and cystic fibrosis.

Visualizing the latent emotional and bureaucratic labor in our material world

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Work, today's XKCD installment, hypothesizes the latent, invisible human effort that went into the everyday things around us, from the hours of meeting-time to decide upon the length of the stem of a goose-neck lamp to the career-ending engineering argument over where to put its switch. It's a kind of preview of what augmented reality could bring, the embodiment of the spime idea, where the full costs and histories of the things around us cluster around them in complicated, emotional clouds -- an idea that's been around since at least 2006, but that is feeling increasingly likely with the passage of time. Read the rest

On a Sunbeam, a science fictional webcomic

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On a Sunbeam is a science fiction webcomic from competitive figure skater/comics creator Tillie Walden. Next year, Firstsecond will publish a memoir about her 12 years as a skater; if On a Sunbeam is representative of her work, it's a book to watch for. Read the rest

Fragments of Horror – Wonderfully creepy stories that are as weird as they are original

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Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito Viz Media 2015, 224 pages, 5.8 x 8.2 x 0.8 inches (hardcover) $12 Buy a copy on Amazon

Fragments of Horror is a collection of eight wonderfully grotesque and creepy short stories. A seemingly bright and pretty architecture student terrorizes a family while having a bizarre relationship with their house. A boy tries to hold his body together after cheating on his girlfriend. The number one fan of a novelist finds herself in a sick situation trapped in the writer’s basement. A young woman who just eloped can’t understand why her new husband won’t come out from under his futon covers.

Written by horror manga artist Junji Ito, whose influences include H.P. Lovecraft, the stories are as weird as they are original, while the art is crisp and expressive. What I love is the way these stories, set in modern Japan, are about seemingly normal lives that take a twisted turn into the bowels of darkness. They remind me of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, the ones that start off in a stylish, mid-century modern house or office where sharp-looking people go about their ordinary lives… until a crack in normality suddenly appears, the creep factor sets in, and they enter the twilight zone. My only regret is that there aren’t more stories here, but fortunately Ito isn’t new to the genre and has many other titles that I’ll be picking up soon. – Carla Sinclair

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The Doonesbury Trump retrospective proves that Garry Trudeau had Drumpf's number all along

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On September 14, 1987, Garry B Trudeau ran the first Doonesbury strip that mentioned Donald Trump, in which his characters marvel that New York's "loudest and most visible asshole" had floated a political trial balloon, hinting that he would run for president; thus began 30 years of marveling at, mocking, and skewering Der Drumpf, so rattling the Short-Fingered Vulgarian that he felt the need to issue a series of wounded denunciations. Now, just in time for the election, Trudeau has released a collection of his Trump-themed strips, Yuge: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump, just the thing to put the Republican nominee on tilt.

More seafaring, suicidal bird boozing as Drinky Crow Drinks Again

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Drinky Crow Drinks Again by Tony Millionaire Fantagraphics 2016, 128 pages, 10.8 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches (hardcover) $19 Buy a copy on Amazon

Captain Maak (captain of the ship), Uncle Gabby (the Irish monkey), Gunslinger Jesus, Phoebe Bird, and everyone’s favorite violent, binge-drinking, suicidal avian anti-hero, Drinky Crow, are all back and more beautifully bizarre than ever in Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again. From the confident, well informed, but often fevered hand of well-known American weekly comic strip artist Tony Millionaire, comes this new Fantagraphics landscape hardback collecting recent syndicated strips (along with some additional material). The book is as handsome as you’d expect, coming from this artist and this publisher (even if it’s the first Maakies collection not designed by Chip Kidd).

You never know what you’re going to get from Tony Millionaire, but you know it will never be boring and it will always be beautifully rendered. Even more so than most, Millionaire’s comic strips feel like you’re mainlining the author’s own insane membrane, watching him think out loud and exorcising his demons with pen and ink on paper.

The incredibly meticulous old-school draftsmanship, the many allusions to old comic strips and classic art, lots of clever twists and brilliant pay-offs, strips that dead end, and ones that go completely off the rails, often ending in violence or suicide – it’s not always the smoothest ride, but it’s one you’re compelled to take, even if just for the gorgeous scenery. Luckily, Tony Millionaire, Maakies, and Drinky Crow have far more riches to offer than that. Read the rest

Gene Luen Yang wins a Macarthur "genius" prize!

photography by Albert Law : www.porkbellystudio.com

Graphic novelist and sometime Boing Boing contributor Gene Luen Yang has joined the ranks of the small number of brilliant comic books artists and writers (Alison Bechdel, Ben Katchor, Junot Diaz, and Ta-Nehisi Coates) to be given the prestigious Macarthur genius prize, which is awarded to "individuals who show originality and dedication in their creative pursuits." Read the rest

Phoebe and her unicorn are back in Razzle Dazzle Unicorn!

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Since 2015, our family has been in love with Dana Simpson's Phoebe and Her Unicorn books, a kind of modern take on Calvin and Hobbes, only Calvin is an awesome little girl, Hobbes is a unicorn, and the parental figures can see and interact with the unicorn, but are not freaked out because she generates a SHIELD OF BORINGNESS. Now, the insanely prolific Simpson has released the fourth collection in the series: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure.

Australian library releases free, remixable webcomics maker

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Australian libraries and games guy Matt Finch (previously) writes, "This year the Queensland State Library has designed and built a drag and drop comic maker for Fun Palaces and released the code on Github too. Read the rest

Mighty Jack: a new series from Ben "Zita the Spacegirl" Hatke

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Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl trilogy was one of the best kids' comics of the new century (and it's headed to TV!), and he's been very productive in the years since, but his new series, Mighty Jack feels like the true successor to Zita: a meaty volume one that promises and delivers all the buckle you can shake a swash at, with more to come.

Cat Rackham comics are as miserable as they are wonderfully addictive

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Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhard Koyama Press 2016, 124 pages, 7.3 x 10.1 x 0.6 inches (hardcover) $20 Buy a copy on Amazon

Cat Rackham is an anxious, scruffy, navel-gazing kitty who sometimes likes adventures. But mostly he likes to stare. And sleep. And stare some more. An existential Ziggy, if you will. He has a couple of friends, but he is usually by himself. He doesn’t have good luck, and his stories don’t have especially happy endings, but they’re weirdly charming and, dare I say, humorous. Cat Rackham used to have his own web comic series, created by Adventure Time storyboard artist Steve Wolfhard, until it disappeared for no apparent reason. Fortunately, Koyama Press has just released Cat Rackham, a collection of these comics that are as miserable as they are wonderfully addictive. Read the rest

Kickstarting a new edition of Villains & Vigilantes, a superhero RPG

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I discovered Villains and Vigilantes in 1982, with the publication of the game's second edition, and 11-year-old me played it like a fiend; I still remember long hours of designing costumes on the super-cool character sheets that came with the game (we'd sneak into the school office and run off more of these from blanks; ditto for hex-ruled paper for Car Wars and all the best stories from that month's Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine). Read the rest

XKCD's massive, vertical climate change infographic

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Randall Munroe once again shows that he's one of the web's most talented storytellers, inventing ways of conveying information that use the web's affordances to novel and sharp effect (there's a reason he won a Hugo award). Read the rest

Margaret Atwood's new comic book is "bonkers"

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Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, has completed her first graphic novel, Angel Catbird, with Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain, about a superheroic anthropomorphic winged feline. It's bonkers, but...

...to Atwood, it isn’t strange at all. Before she a venerable elder stateswoman of literature and the winner of the Booker Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, she told me, she was a comic book fan who grew up devouring superhero books about heroes like Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel. “I’m a child of the ‘40s and that’s when superhero comics were really, really big,” said Atwood. Nor is she a stranger to making her own sequential art; she wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Up in the Tree in the 1970s, and published an intermittent series of autobiographical strips called “BookTour Comix” on her website. “I’ve been making my own comics since I was little,

A wonderful quote: “I’m so old. Why do anything that isn’t fun?” Read the rest

The origin of that familiar "font" used in comic book lettering

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Decades before the banality of Comic Sans, there was the fantastic hand-lettering of Artie Simek, Sam Rosen, and a handful of other artists with beautiful penmanship.

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Starve #2: Brian Wood lands the tale in a screaming dive and a perfect touchdown

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Brian Wood's Starve, Volume One (collecting issues 1-5) was the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan; now, with Starve, Volume Two (issues 6-10), Wood brings the story in for a conclusion that is triumphant and wicked and eminently satisfying, without being pat.

Heart and Brain have extremely different view points but always remain best buds

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection by Nick Seluk Andrews McMeel Publishing 2015, 144 pages, 6.5 x 8 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $9 Buy a copy on Amazon

Heart and Brain is a wonderful collection of the lovable characters from Nick Seluk’s The Awkward Yeti webcomic. This special print edition features over 75 exclusive comics, as well as dozens of previously published fan favorites. The exclusive comics are the real draw, since they’ll be totally new to you even if you’ve read every single comic online.

If you’re new to Heart and Brain, the title says all you need to know about the characters. Brain is the rational one, always looking out for the logical, safe thing to do, while Heart is all about passion and seeking out the things he loves. Seluk creatively captures the constant push-and-pull between these forces in us all and externalizes them in some of the most endearing characters in comics. It’s hard to not fall in love with Brain’s neurotic over-worrying, and Heart’s blissful aloofness. They’re a perfectly matched odd couple because they come from such extremely differing viewpoints, but they always manage to meet in the middle.

The comics themselves are hilarious. I don’t think a single joke misses the mark in the entire book, which is pretty incredible. Seluk understands his characters on such a fundamental level that everything they do and say feels authentic. They’re just as endearing as other comic duos like Calvin and Hobbes, and their stories have the every day simplicity of Peanuts. Read the rest

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