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
Gilbert Hernandez is the co-creator of, Love & Rockets, one of the best comic book series of all time. His newest work is Marble Season, a beautifully-told semiautobiography of a boy growing up. Read the 8-page excerpt below.
Marble Season is the semiautobiographical novel by the acclaimed cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, author of the epic masterpiece Palomar and cocreator, with his brothers, Jaime and Mario, of the groundbreaking Love and Rockets comic book series. Marble Season is his first book with Drawn & Quarterly, and one of the most anticipated books of 2013. It tells the untold stories from the early years of these American comics legends, but also portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Pop-culture references—TV shows, comic books, and music—saturate this evocative story of a young family navigating cultural and neighborhood norms set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics.
Middle child Huey stages Captain America plays and treasures his older brother’s comic book collection almost as much as his approval. Marble Season subtly and deftly details how the innocent, joyfully creative play that children engage in (shooting marbles, backyard performances, and organizing treasure hunts) changes as they grow older and encounter name-calling naysayers, abusive bullies, and the value judgments of other kids. An all-ages story, Marble Season masterfully explores the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and role play in childhood, making it a coming-of-age story that is as resonant with the children of today as with the children of the sixties.
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Here's a sneak preview of Primates, Jim Ottaviani's upcoming nonfiction graphic novel about the three most famous primatologists. It looks terrific!
Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology — and to our own understanding of ourselves.
Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal.
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Peter Bagge is one of my favorite cartoonists. I was introduced to his work when it appeared in Robert Crumb's legendary Weirdo magazine. (Crumb later made Bagge the editor. When I was in my 20s I sent some of my samples to Weirdo. On his hand-written rejection postcard Bagge wrote, "You gotta be your own worst critic." Excellent advice!)
Bagge also created two long-running comic book series for Fantagraphics: Neat Stuff, a grab-bag of comic stories featuring a cast of recurring characters, and Hate, a comic that depicted the self-destruction of the Bradleys, a Seattle family (where Bagge lives). I eagerly snapped up each issue as it appeared on the rack.
Bagge also writes funny, curmudgeonly comics for Reason magazine, which are collected in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me: And Other Astute Observations.
Bagge's latest comic book is a four-issue mini science fiction series called Reset, published by Dark Horse and now collected in a single volume. Reset begins in an enforced DUI education classroom. One of the people in the class is a has-been actor named Guy Krause. He's grumpy, bitter, and broke, so when he meets a woman in the class who offers to pay him to be a human guinea pig in a virtual reality experiment that will cause him to re-experience his life from early adulthood up to his current middle age, he accepts the offer without question. Through the experiment Guy is given a second chance to make decisions that could possibly lead him to a better place (or an imaginary better place).
As the story progresses, we begin to see clues that there are Truman Show-like elements at play -- where does reality and virtual reality begin and end? Who is behind the curtains? And does Krause really have a say in what is happening to him?
It's great to see Bagge mining new territory, and at the same time retaining his sharp sense of humor.