Jeff Lemire can do weird-spooky (see, e.g., his Twilight Zonish graphic novel Underwater Welder) and he can do gripping (see his amazing, post-apocalyptic Sweet Tooth), but in his newest graphic novel from Image Comics, Gideon Falls, he shows that he can do spooky-verging-on-terrifying, with a tale of supernatural mystery that combines avant-garde graphic treatments with outstanding writing to create a genuine tale of terror.
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The first time I encountered Matteo Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan and Tyler Boss's comic Calexit, I was skeptical: California separating from the USA is an incredibly stupid idea, predicated on innumerable misconceptions (including the idea that the state that gave us Nixon, Reagan, and Schwarzenegger is uniformly progressive, and also the idea that "the world's sixth largest economy" wouldn't radically contract the instant it lost access to the rest of the country, including the Atlantic Ocean). But when I found the first Calexit collection on the recommended table at the 100% reliable LA comic shop Secret Headquarters, I decided to give it a chance.
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For two years now, Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang have been knocking my socks off with their Paper Girls graphic novel, a mysterious, all-girl, Stranger-Things-esque romp through 1980s pop culture, time travel, conspiracies, clones, paradoxes, and you know, all that amazing coming-of-age/friendship-is-magic jazz. Now, the pair have released the fifth collection, and it's a doozy.
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Angelenos! Bring your teens to the Pasadena Loves YA festival this Saturday; I'm chairing a panel on graphic novels with Mairghread Scott and Tillie Walden; other panels and events go on all day, from 11-4PM, at the Central Branch of Pasadena Public Library, 285 E Walnut St, Pasadena CA 91101. Admission is free!
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On the 170th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, British graphic novelist Martin Rowson has produced an illustrated adaptation. Apart from a few pages of prose, the whole work is presented in the style of a graphic novel.
The preface describes how the middle-aged Rowson became smitten by Marx and Engels' exciting prose when he was only 16. Aside from expressing his great admiration for Marx’s writing, as well as his own critical stance, he furnishes the reader with some historical backdrop to the completion of The Manifesto. Marx had been commissioned to write it by a socialist group in the summer of 1847, but, under pressure, succeeded in producing it at the beginning of 1848. Significantly, that was before the outbreak of revolutionary movements in Europe later on in 1848. Rowson goes on to explain that the initial publication failed to attract the attention of many people. Only after the events of the Paris Commune in 1871 did the pamphlet receive a wide audience and a publication renewal.
The illustrations create an atmospheric accompaniment to the Marx figures whose speaking balloons relay the text of The Manifesto. The graphics pair nicely with the text with dense images that impart the feeling of the clashes of historical forces (classes) or with the dramatic rendering of the first lines of The Manifesto in which a spectre appears, so Hamlet-like in two dark and foreboding images to haunt the reader’s mind. There is plenty of theatricality too: images of Marx interacting from a stage with a hostile audience (Rowson’s added flourishes added to enhance the exposition in a stimulating theatrical way). Read the rest
Woman World started life as a webcomic
created by Canadian cartoonist Aminder Dhaliwal to explore the premise of a world where "men have gone extinct" and women have to "learn to talk again because they're not being interrupted" -- what could have been a one-panel joke turned into one of the most remarkable, funny, compassionate, ascerbic, hilarious
comics of its day, and that day is now, because today is the day you can get Woman World
, a book from Drawn & Quarterly collecting the comic so far.
Top Shelf has reprinted the first volume of Anne Opotowsky and Aya Morton's groundbreaking 2011 book His Dream of Sky Island
, an indescribably gorgeous graphic novel set in British-ruled Hong Kong: it's a tale that ranges over cruelty and dignity, love and venality, unspeakable crimes and unstoppable bravery.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published a free graphic novel titled "The Junior Disease Detectives: Operation Outbreak," some of which is set at a state fair where a teenage 4-H member is infected with swine flu. As CNN reports, the comic's plot is similar to what actually happened this summer at two state fairs. From CNN:
At the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, which took place in San Luis Obispo County from July 18 through 29, two people fell ill after attending the fair. Similarly, two attendees of the Fowlerville Family Fair in Michigan, which took place in Livingston County from July 23 through 28, also became sick in the days after.
Public health disease detectives in both states immediately tested the patients for variant influenza virus, a flu strain that normally circulates in swine but not people. Person-to-person transmission of variant strains is uncommon, and you cannot catch this type of flu from eating pork.
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The Forty Swords arrive at night and, under the cover of darkness, murder an entire village. Only two people survive the slaughter: the infant Elsbeth and her grief-stricken father, Dag, who slips into a ten year coma. He awakens to find that not only has his daughter grown up alone, she's thrived despite him.
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Hope Larson's All Summer Long
is an incredibly charming, subtly complex story about friendship and coming of age, the story of Bina and her lifelong friend Austin, who, as far back as they can remember have spent every summer playing a game where they award themselves "Fun Points" for petting cats, finding change on the sidewalk, going swimming, and otherwise making the most of a long, wonderful summer. Until now.
Paper Girls is the outstanding Stranger-Things-esque
graphic novel series by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, a tale of time-travel, meddling, war and coming of age whose mind-bending twists and turns earned it a Hugo nomination this year
. Now Paper Girls 4
is on shelves, and it's time to party like it's 1999.
Peter & Ernesto
have a good life: the two sloths sit in their Amazon treetop and make up songs about the animal shapes they see in the clouds. But one day, Ernesto gets it into his head to see the whole sky
, from every place on Earth, and sets out through the jungle.
is the longrunning, justly beloved kids' graphic novel series about an all-girl summer camp where the campers fight magic monsters, sometimes are
magic monsters, and swear oaths on feminist icons from history; it keeps going from strength to strength, and Stone Cold, the eighth collection
in the series, is no exception!
Hey, LA! Molly "Strong Female Protagonist" Ostertag, Tillie Walden and I are going to be talking with Jen Wang about her amazing, genderqueer middle-grades fairy-tale/graphic novel The Prince and the Dressmaker, tonight at 7PM at Chevalier's Books. Be there or be square!
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In honor of the Library of American Comics' publication of For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 1
(Volume 2 is out this summer
), we are delighted to publish this essay by Lynn Johnston, contemplating the nature of writing a serial for decades and how she might approach her life's work today.
Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre's middle-grades graphic novels Giants Beware!
and Dragons Beware!
are two of my family's favorite books: Rosado and Aguirre's character design, comedic dialog, plotting, and scenarios are so charming, so funny, so overwhelmingly, compulsively great
that we've re-read these dozens of times; now we've got Monsters Beware
, the third volume in the series, where the mysteries of Mont Petit Pierre and the intertwined lives of the huge cast of characters from the previous volumes come together.
In the first volume of Briggs Land
Brian Wood set up a gripping scenario: a leadership struggle in a far-right separatist cult whose leader has languished in prison for decades. Now, in the second collection
Wood and his collaborators are playing out the story for all it's worth.