In 2012 I reviewed Economix, a terrific cartoon history of economics by Michael Goodwin and illustrated by Dan E. Burr. (After reading it, I bought a few copies of the book to give as gifts.)
Today, Michael emailed to let me know that he and Dan have posted an excellent and free 27-page online comic called The Transpacific Partnership and "Free Trade," which describes how the negotiated-in-secret treaty is a "global coup that's disabling our democracies and replacing them with multinationals and Wall Street," and is making the US "police state more extensive, more restrictive, and global."
Isabel Greenberg is a writer and illustrator who lives and works in North London. In her graphic novel The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Greenberg combines art, mythology, and humor to tell a story of star-crossed love. It takes readers back to a time before history began, when another—now forgotten—civilization thrived. The people who roamed Early Earth were much like us: curious, emotional, funny, ambitious, and vulnerable. In this series of illustrated and linked tales, Greenberg chronicles the explorations of a young man as he paddles from his home in the North Pole to the South Pole in search of a missing piece of his soul. There, he meets his true love, but their romance is ill-fated. Early Earth's unusual and finicky polarity means the lovers can never touch.
Buy a copy of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth on Amazon.
Read Cory's review of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth.
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Titan Comics has released an English translation of Snowpiercer, the acclaimed French graphic novel that inspired the new movie from Joon-ho Bong. Volume 1: The Escape was released today (January 29, 2014), with Volume 2: The Explorers following February 25, 2014.
Coursing through an eternal winter, on an icy track wrapped around the frozen planet Earth, there travels Snowpiercer, a train one thousand and one carriages long. From fearsome engine to final car, all surviving human life is here: a complete hierarchy of the society we lost…
The elite, as ever, travel in luxury at the front of the train – but for those in the rear coaches, life is squalid, miserable and short.
Proloff is a refugee from the tail, determined never to go back. In his journey forward through the train, he hopes to reach the mythical engine and, perhaps, find some hope for the future…
The original graphic novels have been adapted into an astounding new film directed by Joon-ho Bong and distributed in the U.S. by The Weinstein Company, and due for release in Q1 2014
Joe Sacco is a spectacular political comics creator, and has earned a well-deserved reputation for his work on war and conflict with books on Sarajevo and Bosnia, Gaza and Palestine and other modern militarized zones.
But now he's created The Great War, a wordless, gate-folded work on World War One. It's gorgeous and haunting, and beautifully presented in a slipcased hardcover. His publisher, WW Norton, prepared a short documentary on the book and we've got it exclusively (for now). I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
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Ed Piskor publishes The Hip Hop Family Tree each week
here at BB, and the hardcopy is now available in prin
t from Fantagraphics. At his tumblr, Ed describes the cover's ingredients, a wealth of references to the comics and music he loves
"2 major strands to my DNA are Hip Hop culture and comic books so this project is the perfect vessel to explore and play in these various sandboxes in tandem, to explore certain similarities between the two worlds, and to merge the cultures under one roof. The format of the Hip Hop Family Tree series is based on the “Marvel Treasury” format, as evidence by the banner across the masthead"
Zack Giallongo's Broxo is compared to Shadow of the Colossus, Bone, and Elfquest. For sure, if you put those into the shaker, and pour the mix over dry ice harvested from a spooky Celtic backwater, you'd get something much like this excellent graphic novel. But Giallongo's debut is no imitation. It's a a tight, gorgeously-illustrated journey of its own, a story of zombie-chopping action, homesickness and deeply-felt loss.
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Back in May, I reviewed The Man Who Laughs, a wonderful graphic novel adapted from a little-regarded Victor Hugo novel best known for inspiring Batman's nemesis The Joker. At the time, the book was only available in the UK, but as of today, you can get it in the US, too. Here's my review again:
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Enjoy this 28-page preview of Jordan Mechner's new massive graphic novel about the Knights Templar, called Templar. Read Cory's review here.
Martin is one of a handful of Templar Knights to escape when the king of France and the pope conspire to destroy the noble order. The king aims to frame the Templars for heresy, execute all of them, and make off with their legendary treasure. That's the plan, anyway, but Martin and several other surviving knights mount a counter-campaign to regain the lost treasure of the Knights Templar.
With gorgeous illustrations by LeUyen Pham and Alexander Puvilland and lush coloring from Hilary Sycamore, this 480-page, full-color, hardcover graphic novel by Jordan Mechner is itself a treasure.
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Cartoon Books is publishing a full-color collection of Jeff Smith's RASL comic book series as a 472 page hardcover graphic novel this fall.
When Rasl, a thief and ex-military engineer, discovers the lost journals of Nikola Tesla, he bridges the gap between modern physics and history's most notorious scientist. But his breakthrough comes at a price. In this twisting tale of violence, intrigue, and betrayal, Rasl finds himself in possession of humankind's greatest and most dangerous secret.
New York Times Bestselling author Jeff Smith's follow up to his epic fantasy BONE, is a gritty, hard-boiled tale of an inter-dimensional art thief caught between dark government forces and the mysterious powers of the universe itself.
RASL 10-page preview
Here's a preview of Good Dog, Graham Chaffee's beautifully told and illustrated story of a stray dog's life.
Graham Chaffee returns to comics and uses a simple, charming story about a stray dog to examine larger issues.
Good Dog marks the welcome return of alternative cartoonist Graham Chaffee, who, after his successful 2003 collection of short stories, The Most Important Thing and other Stories, took a detour to devote himself to the art of tattooing, before charging back with his new, beautifully conceived graphic novel. Ivan, who is plagued by terrible nightmares about chickens and rabbits, is a good dog — if only someone would notice. Readers accompany the stray as he navigates dog society, weathers pack politics, and surveys canine-human interactions. Good Dog’s story and pen-and-ink art are deceptively simple, but Chaffee uses the approachability of the subject matter as a device to explore topics such as independence, security, assimilation, loyalty, and violence. Preteen-and-up dog fanciers, especially, will warm to the well-meaning Ivan and his exploits with a motley assortment of Scotties, Bulldogs, and mutts. Chaffee combines illustrative gravitas with cartooning verve and creates a richly textured, dog’s-eye view of the world. The story is a rousing Jack Londonesque adventure as well as a moral parable.
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In the latest episode of Bullseye with Jesse Thorn I talked about the graphic novel Good Dog and the iPhone version of the Russian card game Durak, called Super Durak. (Durak means idiot in Russian. There's no winner in the card game, just a loser - the durak.)
The Man Who Laughs is a graphic novel adaptation of a 1869 Victor Hugo novel that is chiefly remembered for inspiring a 1928 film whose poster-art, in turn, inspired the character of the Joker.
As legions of disappointed Batman fans have discovered, the Victor Hugo novel is just not very good. It's one of Hugo's later works, written from exile in the Channel Islands, and it's a meandering political treatise grafted onto a novel. But there is a novel in there, buried amongst the self-indulgence and sloppiness, and it's this that author David Hine and illustrator Mark Stafford have teased out to make an absolutely stunning and grotesque new work.
The titular Man of Laughs is Gwynplaine, a horribly deformed boy who rescues a blind baby from her frozen mother's breast and then rescued by a traveling doctor who takes them both in and turns them into performers. They tour the countryside, and Gwynplaine and his blind adopted sister Dea fall in love, even as their mountebank father, Ursus, teaches them about the injustices of the English monarchy and shows them the relationship between the dire poverty around them and the fatted lords and ladies in London.
Gwynplaine's destiny becomes further entangled with the English aristocracy when he is discovered to be a long-lost nobleman himself, and is inducted into the House of Lords, where he makes impassioned, revolutionary speeches that fall on deaf ears -- and is forced to confront that all the riches he's gained have cost him his family and his love.
This adaptation is remarkably streamlined and razor-sharp, flensed of Hugo's excess by Hine's pen; the accompanying grotesque illustrations by Stafford hit the perfect mix of horror and sorrow. The Man Who Laughs is out in the UK now, from the great press Self Made Hero, and will be out in the USA on Oct 1.
The Man Who Laughs
Cartoonist Jess Fink, creator of the erotic Victorian-era robot graphic novel Chester 5000-XYV has a new memoir out called We Can Fix It: A Time Travel Memoir.
It's got a premise that reminds me of something Nicholson Baker would come up with: Fink invents a time machine and travels into the past to visit younger versions of herself to warn herself not to do things that she ended up regretting as an adult. She visits her college-age self and tries to stop her from taking a drug that gives her a bad trip. She tells her high-school-age self not to make out with an unsavory boy. She tries to save her elementary-school-age self from a scary encounter with her mentally ill, violent father when he goes on a rampage with a crowbar. She intervenes dozens of times, but does it do any good? I'll let you read it and decide for yourself.
Unlike Chester 5000-XYV, there's no nudity involved in We Can Fix it!, but it does contain a fair number of scenes in which Fink has sex with versions of herself, and many of the incidents are about Fink's sexual encounters as a teen and young adult. Despite some of the heavy subject matter, Fink tells the story with charm and a light heart and renders it with appealing art.
We Can Fix It: A Time Travel Memoir
I loved Jonny Quest when I was a kid, and I think my 10-year-old (and I) will love Rocket Robinson, a graphic novel by Sean O'Neill, which reminds me of the 1960s cartoon. Get a taste of it by reading the webcomic, and then chip in to Kickstarter if you dig it.
Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh’s Fortune (or RRPF for short) is a classic adventure story set in Egypt in the 1930s, and follows the exploits of 12-year-old adventurer Rocket Robinson as he tries to unravel the mystery of a hidden, ancient treasure, located somewhere in the city of Cairo. For the last three years, the story has been available online as a webcomic, but unlike many other webcomics, this story was always envisioned as a book. It is a single, stand-alone story, and—although many comic fans around the world have been enjoying reading one page a week—it’s meant to be read cover-to-cover as a book.
The Rocket Robinson Graphic Novel
Love & Rockets co-creator Gilbert Hernandez is on tour to promote his sublime Marble Season graphic novel (it's an all-ages story). Peggy Burns of Drawn & Quarterly (the book's publisher), had this to say:
As soon as Gilbert sent us his list of images for his MARBLE SEASON tour slide show, it took EVERYTHING in us to not immediately blog or tweet to tease all the great comics. And since Gilbert is half way done with his tour, and I got to see him do the slide show last night, I'll tease you this Little Archie page. Why? Because Gilbert made the astute point that "old ladies were running it in those days, and where are the old ladies now [in pop culture]?" And he remarked, can you imagine a kids comics with two old ladies on the same page? As someone who will admit to worrying about how comics will treat her when she is an old lady, I loved it.
Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season tour schedule