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July 2012

You know, if you can look past the largely moribund and regressive side of the American comic-book market with its stale tie-in prequels and sequels (this month, they are trying to fob us off with retreads of He-Man, Eerie, The Crow, The Saint, and Bloodshot, would you believe), I think you’ll discover that we are living in amazing times for comics. Each month brings another bumper harvest of significant works, whether long-lost classics reissued, translations from all over the world, comic-art studies, biographies and monographs, or brand-new original graphic novels. I’ve picked out these diverse print publications below for your delectation, all due in July, or near enough, and spanning British comics and bandes dessinées to manga and acclaimed pieces from Quebec and The Netherlands, a last major piece by the lamented Harvey Pekar, a little-known antecedent of the graphic novel written by none other than William Burroughs, and perhaps the single most expensive item I’ve ever selected, at one thousand dollars, a limited edition six-volume set of Robert Crumb’s sketchbooks. Hopefully there’s something to tempt almost every taste, if not every pocket! 



Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman
by Marc Tyler Nobleman & Ty Templeton
Charlesbridge Pub. Inc.
$17.95

The publisher says:
Every Batman story is marked with the words ‘Batman created by Bob Kane.’ But that isn’t the whole truth. A struggling writer named Bill Finger was involved from the beginning. Bill helped invent Batman, from concept to costume to character. He dreamed up Batman’s haunting origins and his colorful nemeses. He named Gotham. Despite his brilliance, Bill worked in obscurity, his name never appearing on a Batman comic. It was only after his death that fans went to bat for Bill, calling for DC to acknowledge him as co-creator of Batman. Their fight for justice continues to this day.



Booyah!
by Loran
Sloth Comics
£6.99

The publisher says:
Please meet Booyah, a big green friendly monster, the hero of this book. Unfortunately, this unusual helpful goof likes to aid children and elderly ladies, as a true gentleman, despite his clumsiness and severe anger management issues. What could go wrong? See here for some previews. Note: This book contains blood and gore accopanied with good humour. Translated from the French by Nicolas Rossert.



Harker
by Roger Gibson & Vincent Danks
Titan Books
$19.95 / £14.99

The publisher says:
When a series of gruesome cult killings take place near the British Museum, DCI Harker and his assistant DS Critchley are called to London to solve the case. Middle class satanists, dusty old bookshops, a labyrinth under the museum, a frantic car chase and wry, cutting humour all combine in this graphic novel love letter from British creators Roger Gibson and Vince Danks to classic British detective television series. 144-pge hardcover.



Jewish Images in the Comics
by Frederik Strömberg
Fantagraphics
$26.99

The publisher says:
This scholarly book examines historical depictions of Jewish people in comics. Jewish Images in the Comics showcases more than 150 comic strips, comic books and graphic novels from all over the world, stretching over the last five centuries and featuring Jewish characters and Jewish themes. The book is divided into chapters on Anti-Semitism, the Old Testament, the Holocaust, Israel, the Golem and much more, featuring everything from well-known comics like Art Spiegelman’s Maus and the work of Will Eisner to much more obscure (and in some cases far less savory) but no less culturally and historically interesting examples of how Jewish culture has been depicted in comics. As with Strömberg’s previous two books for Fantagraphics, each strip, comic, or graphic novel is spotlighted via a short but informative 200-word essay and a representative illustration. The book is augmented by a context-setting introduction as well as an extensive source list and bibliography. Jewish Images in the Comics is the third book in a series in which Strömberg examines different phenomena in our society, as mirrored in comics. Black Images in the Comics examines the way Black people have been portrayed in comics and The Comics Go to Hell looks at how the Devil has been used as a comics character.



Mickey Spillane’s From The Files of Mike Hammer: The Complete Dailies & Sundays
by Mike Hammer, Joe Gill & Ed Robbins
Hermes Press
$49.99

The publisher says:
America’s most well-known, hardboiled detective, Mike Hammer, returns with Hermes Press’ complete archival reprint of the entire continuity, From the Files of…Mike Hammer. Reprinting all of the dailies and Sunday strips in digitally reconstructed color, this book will be the final word on this pop culture icon. The strip, which was distributed to newspapers by the Phoenix Features Syndicate, ran for only one year (1953-1954) - but what a year it was! The strip is pure Mickey Spillane and was crafted under his watchful eye with art by Ed Robbins. The feature has everything fans of Mike Hammer would expect: Mike, Zelda, good girls, bad girls, gun-play, and lots of action. Accompanying the strips are two in-depth essays by noted mystery writer and Mickey Spillane expert Max Collins (Road to Perdition).



Not The Israel My Parents Promised Me
by Harvey Pekar & JT Waldman
Hill & Wang
$24.95

The publisher says:
Harvey Pekar’s mother was a Zionist by way of politics. His father was a Zionist by way of faith. Whether Harvey was going to daily Hebrew classes or attending Zionist picnics, he grew up a staunch supporter of the Jewish state. But soon he found himself questioning the very beliefs and ideals of his parents. In Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, the final graphic memoir from the man who defined the genre, Pekar explores what it means to be Jewish and what Israel means to the Jews. Over the course of a single day in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Pekar and the illustrator JT Waldman wrestle with the mythologies and realities surrounding the Jewish homeland. Pekar interweaves his increasing disillusionment with the modern state of Israel with a comprehensive history of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present, and the result is a personal and historical odyssey of uncommon power.

Plainspoken and empathetic, Pekar had no patience for injustice and prejudice in any form, and though he comes to understand the roots of his parents’ unquestioning love for Israel, he arrives at the firm belief that all peoples should be held to the same universal standards of decency, fairness, and democracy. With an epilogue written by Joyce Brabner, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me is an essential book for fans of Harvey Pekar and anyone interested in the past and future of the Jewish state. It is bound to create important discussions and debates for years to come.



Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me
by Malcolm McNeill
Fantagraphics
$29.99

The publisher says:
The artist’s memoir on the making of Ah Pook is Here, Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life. McNeill describes his growing friendship with Burroughs and how their personal relationship affected their creative partnership. The book is written with insight and humor, and is liberally sprinkled with the kind of outré anecdotes one would expect working with a writer as original and eccentric as Burroughs. It confirms Burroughs’ and McNeill’s prescience, the place of Ah Pook in relation to the contemporary graphic novel, and its anticipation of the events surrounding 2012.

The book offers new insights into Burroughs’ working methods as well as how the two explored the possibilities of words and images working together to form the ambitious literary hybrid that they didn’t know, at the time, was a harbinger of the 21st century ‘graphic novel.’ McNeill expounds on the lessons of that experience to bring Ah Pook into present time. In light of current events, Ah Pook is unquestionably Here now. Observed While Falling presents a unique view of the creative process that will be of interest to artists, writers and general readers alike. A perspective evoked by a literary experiment that has endured for forty years and still continues to “happen.” Take a look at some extracts from this word/image collaboration here.


Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics
by Margreet de Heer
NBM
$16.99

The publisher says:
A fun introduction in comics to deep thinking and the history of Philosophy. What is Thinking? And how does our thinking set us apart from other animals? Now that we’re thinking, what is Reality? Is there an objective reality or are there numerous subjective realities? And do we move in it with a free will or is everything predestined? Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Erasmus, Descartes, Spinoza, Nietzsche: just a few philosophers who have pondered these questions. Comic artist Margreet de Heer and her husband Yiri travel through the history of Western Philosophy and draw a colorful picture of all these questions. Check out some online previews.



Robert Crumb: The Sketchbooks 1981-2012
by Robert Crumb
Taschen
$1,000.00

The publisher says:
31 years, 1320 pages = Classic Crumb. This six-book boxed set is the first collection of Robert Crumb sketches to be printed from the original art since the hard-bound, slipcased, seven volume series released by the German publisher Zweitausendeins between 1981 and 1997. Unlike the Zweitausendeins edition, which included every doodle ever made by the preeminent underground artist, our best-of edition has been personally edited by the notoriously picky artist to include only what he considers his finest work, including hundreds of late period drawings not published in previous sketchbook collections. Robert Crumb requested that the books representing the second half of his career be released first due to fan demand for new Crumb material (Vol. 1 covers the period 1981-2012, and Vol. 2 covers the period 1964-1980). In the last 20 years Crumb’s artistic output has slowed considerably, making new works more rare and highly prized.

This collection of over 600 unseen drawings created between 1996 and 2012 makes this a must-have collectible for every Crumb fan. The slipcased set is made with loving attention to detail in a size and format selected by the artist. Each book in the boxed set contains 220 pages, for a total of 1,320 pages of prime Crumb. The set includes a hand-written introduction, and marbleized page edges from a design created by the artist. Each set of this 1,000-copy limited edition also includes a signed color lithograph of a Crumb original. With Robert Crumb’s original art setting records at auction, this limited edition of new work with a signed print is not only sure to increase in value and be sought as an investment by collectors, it is a stunning addition to any contemporary art library.



Sakuran Volume 1
by Moyoco Anno
Vertical Inc.
$16.95

The publisher says:
Kiyoha may wear the similar fancy kimono-dresses but she is not your everyday geisha. The hairstyle may be the same and she may have some of the finest clientele comparable to those of the most refined women in all of Kyoto, but she is not in the home of geisha and their maiko assistants. Instead, Kiyoha is in Yoshiwara, the infamous red-light district located in northeast Tokyo. And instead of being a respected geisha artisan, she is an oiran, a courtesan. Kiyoha didn’t choose this life. She was forced into this world at an early age for one reason… she had spunk. A fire burned within her as a child. She would rather fight than cry, and she would always fight if ever put at risk. She caused her caretakers so much grief their best solution was to give her a purpose to be strong and maybe a chance to develop a life on her own. But getting to that point would take years of heartache and misery. Kiyoha’s entire life has been in chaos, and she has blossomed in it.



17x23 Showcase
by various artists
Nobrow
£9.95

The publisher says:
The first anthology of its kind in the UK, the 17x23 Showcase will feature the best up and comers on the UK comics scene, giving them each 10 pages to spin their fledgling yarns. The cover of the first issue was designed by the author of this year’s Comica festival poster, Isaac Lenkiewicz, who uses his contribution to tell the enrapturing tale of Broadbright, the prodigal son of the Moon. We will also have stories by Kyle Platts, skateboarder-cum-cartoonist extraordinaire, Henry McCauseland and Nick Sheehy aka ‘Showchicken’, and Joe Kessler, Nobrow team member.



Sleaze Castle Etcetera Volume 1: The Incomplete Final Cut
by Dave McKinnon, Adam Kermode & Terry Wiley
AAM Markosia
$49.99

The publisher says:
After a decade out of print, at last new readers get a chance to experience the various Tales of Sleaze Castle (which isn’t very sleazy, actually!). Meet Jo Dribble, perpetual student, her hard-drinking sister Petra, and her extra-dimensional friend Panda, ruler of another parallel Earth and of the giant crumbling Sleaze Castle. Petra’s adventures on Earth and Jo’s adventures on Panda’s planet are now collected in one bumper volume of 480 pages in black-and-white. Read a taster online here.



The Creativity of Steve Ditko
by Steve Ditko, edited by Craig Yoe
IDW
$39.99

The publisher says:
Steve Ditko’s most creative comics are lovingly reproduced in a beautiful large format hardback book, The Creativity of Steve Ditko, a companion to Craig Yoe’s previous The Art of Ditko. Featuring a Foreword by Paul Levitz with revealing essays by Mike Gold, Jack Harris, Mikal Banta, and Amber Stanton, The Creativity of Steve Ditko showcases a plethora of unpublished art, sketches, and many never previously printed photos of Ditko.



The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel
by Malcolm McNeill
Fantagraphics
$35.00

The publisher says:
In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill began a small collaborative project on a comic entitled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart, which appeared in the first four issues of Cyclops, England’s first comics magazine for an adult readership. Soon after, Burroughs and McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, and control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. Ah Pook is Here was to include their character Mr. Hart, but stray from the conventional comics form to explore different juxtapositions of images and words. Ah Pook was never finished in its intended form. In a 1979 prose collection that included only the words from the collaboration, Ah Pook is Here and Other Texts (Calder, 1979), Burroughs explains in the preface that they envisioned the work to be “one that falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book nor that of a comix publication.” Rather, the work was to include “about a hundred pages of artwork with text (thirty in full-color) and about fifty pages of text alone.” The book was conceived as a single painting in which text and images were combined in whatever form seemed appropriate to the narrative. It was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would ‘fold out.’ Such a book was, at the time, unprecedented, and no publisher was willing to take a chance and publish a “graphic novel.”

Malcolm McNeill, however, created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook. (Burroughs’ text will not be included.) McNeill himself is an exemplary craftsman and visionary painter whose images have languished for over 30 years, unseen. Even in a context divorced from the words, they represent a stunning precursor to the graphic novel form to come. Sara J. Van Ness contributes an historical essay chronicling the long history of Burroughs’ and McNeill’s work together, including its incomplete publishing history with Rolling Stone‘s Straight Arrow Press, the excerpt that ran in Rush magazine, and the text that was published without pictures. Visit this dedicated website to discover more.



The Making Of
by Brecht Evens
Drawn & Quarterly/Cape
$29.95/£16.99

The publisher says:
An Angoulême award-winner returns with a parable about life in the art world. The Making Of is the follow-up to international sensation of Brecht Evens’s Eisner-nominated debut, The Wrong Place. With lush watercolors and his characteristic wit, Evens details the fumbling, amateurish foibles of the participants of a small art festival in the Flemish countryside. Pieterjan is invited to the festival as an honored guest. From the moment he arrives, things start going wrong, and since no one seems ready to step in, Pieterjan takes over the show. He decides to build a giant garden gnome as a symbol of Flemish identity, but the construction process brings buried tensions to the surface as the other artists become jealous of Pieterjan’s authority. In The Making Of, Evens delves deep into the petty tensions, small misunderstandings, and deadpan humor that pervade modern relationships. With a keen eye for the subtleties of body language, Evens’s The Making Of builds on the iconic visual style showcased in The Wrong Place. Sweeping watercolors jump off the page, surrealist scenery intermingles with crowds of people, and small suburban plot homes have never looked so lovely.



The Pictorial Guide to British 1950s Sci-Fi & Horror Comic Books
by Mike Morley
Ugly Duckling Press/Blasé Books
£14.95

The publisher says:
Spaceships! Monsters! Superheroes! You could find them all in abundance within the action packed pages of comic books filling the bottom shelves of British newsagents’ shops back in the 1950s. Some were home grown productions and some were reprints of American material but all of them helped to brighten up a rather drab decade suffering from various forms of post war austerity. Mike Morley takes a nostalgic look at this neglected area of publishing and presents a full colour collector’s guide to this fascinating sub-section of our social history. With 288 pages of full colour reproductions of over 1,000 British comics covers, this is an essential book for all fans and students of British comic history.This is a Limited Edition book of only 300 copies, so please do not miss out on this tremendous archive of material before it sells out. 288 colour pages. Read online reviews by Barry Forshaw at Crime Time and by Lew Stringer with sample spreads. The book can be obtained from Blasé Books for £14.95 with free postage in the UK. Overseas postal charges can be obtained by emailing blasebooks[at]aol.com and payment can be made through Paypal or with a sterling cheque made payable to ‘Blasé Books’. Blasé Books, ‘Hazelwood’, Birchfield Road, Webheath, Redditch, Worcs. B97 6PU, UK.



The Song of Roland
by Michel Rabagliati
Conundrum Press
$20.00

The publisher says:
The Song of Roland focuses on the life and death of the father-in-law of Michel Rabagliati’s alter-ego Paul, who has been called ‘The Tintin of Quebec’ by Le Devoir. The French edition, Paul à Québec, was critically hailed, winning the FNAC Audience Award at France’s Angoulême festival, a Shuster Award for Outstanding Cartoonist, and was nominated for the City of Montreal’s Grand Prize, and the Audience Award at Montreal’s Salon du Livre. The book is currently in production by Caramel Films. In his classic European cartooning style, Rabagliati effortlessly tackles big subjects. As the family stands vigil over Roland in his hospital bed, Rabagliati weaves a story of one man’s journey through life and the legacy he leaves behind. The Song of Roland is a mid-career masterpiece from one of Quebec’s finest draftsmen. Read about Rabagliati and more Canadian comics creators here.



The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone
by Ravi Thornton & Andy Hixon
Jonathan Cape
£15.99

The publisher says:
An extraordinarily powerful and disturbing experience - one of the most daring graphic novels of recent years. Brin and Bent are poolkeepers at The House for the Grossly Infirm. Their days are spent abusing the House residents with bleach and chlorine, spying on them through holes they have drilled in the walls. They do not know that someone else comes to the pool at night: Minno Marylebone, a child like no other. Pure and beautiful, every night the child enters the water and becomes celestial, laughing and riding the currents as the pool turns into a sea. Then one night Brin and Bent find the wax that has spilled from Minno’s candle and decide to lie in wait… With this dark yet achingly beautiful tale, Ravi Thornton takes British graphic novels to a new level. The combination of her deft and masterful writing with the stunning artwork of Andy Hixon creates and an extraordinarily powerful and disturbing experience. See some breathtaking art samples by Hixon here.



The Young Albert Deluxed Limited Hardcover
by Yves Chaland
Humanoids Inc
$69.95

The publisher says:
From legendary French ‘ligne claire’ cartoonist Yves Chaland comes one of his most seminal works, The Young Albert, recounting in comic strip form the daily misadventures of mischievous Belgian youngster, Albert. Published in the English language for the very first time and presented in the same deluxe, limited & numbered, super-oversized format (this time in a landscape presentation) as the now sold-out The Eyes of the Cat, this is a must-have book for collectors of the best that Europe’s bande dessinée has to offer. Includes a bonus art section. Limited and numbered deluxe edition of 750 copies only. Galerie Champaka in Brussels, Belgium will be exhibiting 24 of Chaland’s Young Albert original black-and-white pages alongside 8 large colour enlargements of classic panels, from June 15th to July 28th 2012.



Wizzywig
by Ed Piskor
Top Shelf Productions
$19.95

The publisher says:
They say “What You See Is What You Get” ... but Kevin ‘Boingthump’ Phenicle could always see more than most people. In the world of phone phreaks, hackers, and scammers, he’s a legend. His exploits are hotly debated: could he really get free long-distance calls by whistling into a pay phone? Did his video-game piracy scheme accidentally trigger the first computer virus? And did he really dodge the FBI by using their own wiretapping software against them? Is he even a real person? And if he’s ever caught, what would happen to a geek like him in federal prison? Inspired by the incredible stories of real-life hackers, Wizzygig is the thrilling tale of a master manipulator - his journey from precocious child scammer to federally-wanted fugitive, and beyond. In a world transformed by social networks and data leaks, Ed Piskor’s debut graphic novel reminds us how much power can rest in the hands of an audacious kid with a keyboard. Find examples of Piskor’s comics here, and watch and listen to the Wizzywig trailer here.

 

 

Posted: May 20, 2012

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