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PG Previews:

December 2011

Here’s what I’ve gleaned for you from what’s lined up to be released in December 2011 (although actual dates may vary), all based on publisher advance listings.

Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes
by Mary M. Talbot & Bryan Talbot
Dark Horse / Jonathan Cape
$14.99 / £14.99

The publisher says:
Part personal history, part biography, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes contrasts two coming-of-age narratives: that of Lucia, the daughter of James Joyce, and that of author Mary Talbot, daughter of the eminent Joycean scholar James S. Atherton. Social expectations and gender politics, thwarted ambitions and personal tragedy are played out against two contrasting historical backgrounds, poignantly evoked by the atmospheric visual storytelling of award winning comic artist and graphic novel pioneer Bryan Talbot. Produced through an intense collaboration seldom seen between writers and artists, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes is intelligent, funny and sad - a fine addition to the evolving genre of graphic memoir.

Paul Gravett says:
Two fathers, two daughters, or ‘dotters’, living contrasting yet connected lives decades apart. Wife-and-husband collaborations in comics are uncommon and this marriage of minds results in a singularly special reflection on paternal lack of expectations and women’s changing opportunities for advancement and self-realisation. The title’s play on words, a Joycean quote, becomes a delightful visual as well as verbal pun as the words are in a typewriter font and the girl’s eyes are replaced by a typewriter-style full stop, as well as a tribute of course to Tintin’s dots for eyes. Echoing Mary’s father’s relentless ‘Tap Tap Tap Tap’ of his typewriter, the captions throughout are in a slightly smudgy old-fashioned typewriter font. Talbot smoothly orientates the reader by shifting graphic approaches: crisp clear line in flat limited colours for the present day; a frameless, softer-focus B-pencil line and wash greys with only small elements (pigtail bows, footballs, a warm kitchen) accented in colours for Mary’s Fifties childhood of “big brothers, unheated bedroom, chilblains, smog, overcooked veg, no television, hand-me-downs…” ; and dip pen with tints of blue for James Joyce’s daughter Lucia’s story, with which Mary finds parallels to her own.

There is a remoteness to Mary’s scholarly, chain-smoking “feary father”, not so rare in the Fifties when mothers were supposed to look after the child-rearing.  Mary’s Dad seems to find more fulfillment and stimulation by relating to Joyce’s written characters, almost his paper family, than with his own flesh-and-blood offspring. Literature replaces living. Mary recalls a few rare special memories - “His moments of full attention were magical…” Still,  her account revolves around how she annoyed or angered him, without malice, and would be rewarded by a Dennis the Menace smacking session.

In contrast, Lucia’s life might seem more liberated, as she eventually studies dance in Paris and by the age of 21 had established herself as a performer and choreographer. One press notice suggested, “When she reaches her full capacity for rhythmic dancing, James Joyce may yet be known as his daughter’s father.” Dancing was Lucia’s life but injuries set her back. Determined to be thoroughly modern, she was not always encouraged by her mother Nora, nor at time by James Joyce himself. He remarked, “Lucia, Lucia. Be content. It’s enough if a woman can write a letter and carry an umbrella gracefully.” Later, as they are about to relocate to London, he advises her, “ needn’t trouble yourself about career. As you mother knows, as long as you know how to walk into a room properly, that is all the matters.” This most modern of authors did not have the most modern of atittudes towards his own daughter. The dashing of hopes for love and an independent existence takes its toll on Lucia who lashes out and is committed to a sanatorium. Bryan represents her slide into mental disorder in a chilling kaleidoscopic montage on a full page of Lucia behind bars and pirouetting a danse macabre in her straitjacket.

The Talbots elegantly elide between these two young women’s adolescences and adulthoods, from their first romances (Bryan appearing as a scruffy teenage schoolboy in 1970), to aspirations and achievements, often despite their parental encouragement. Lucia Joyce’s tragic fate is fortunately not echoed in Mary’s experience, and yet both women’s struggles comment on the present-day position of women in British society and the further advances of third-wave feminism still to be made, as well as the roles of fathers in family dynamics. As well as learning about both women, this book also serves as a posthumous reappraisal of Mary’s difficult, obsessive father, and a daughter’s personal journey towards a reconciliation, and forgiveness, of sorts. Writer and reader both travel together as they come to understand him a little better. To her surprise, at his funeral, Mary meets an American ‘Joycean’ for whom her father, “the man with the flashing eyes! So warm, so encouraging”, was “an inspiration to us all!” People can be more multi-faceted than we sometimes think.

Bringing her expertise in linguistics to comics, Mary writes with a deft candour and finds in Bryan the perfect close collaborator, even adding neat Joycean meta-textual footnotes to correct Bryan’s interpretative inaccuracies. Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes is a fascinating addition to the emerging tradition of autobiographical graphic novels by the offspring of complex, often difficult, parents, from Art Spiegelman’s Maus to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. Aptly, the book will be published in the UK by Cape on February 2nd 2012, the date of publication of Ulysses and the 130th anniversary of Joyce’s birth. There are quite a few preview pages Mary Talbot’s website.

Flex Mentallo: Man Of Mystery
by Grant Morrsion & Frank Quitely

The publisher says:
Once he was Hero of the Beach… and of the Doom Patrol. Now Flex Mentallo, the Man of Muscle Mystery, returns to investigate the sinister dealings of his former comrade, The Fact, and a mysterious rock star whose connection to Flex may hold the key to saving them both. This fast-paced tale twists super hero tropes, introducing one mind-boggling concept after another in a tour de force of innovative storytelling. This long-asked-for Vertigo title is collected at last, presenting an early collaboration between writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, who would win much acclaim on All Star Superman and WE3.

Paul Gravett says:
I had breakfast this morning with Frank Quitely after the Dundee Comics Day yesterday. It seems after some legal hoohah from the Charles Atlas people, post-Paul Levitz DC Comics are finally putting this gem out in a collection. Picture Desperate Dan‘s Dudley D. Watkins drawing Charles Atlas Shrugged! Sparking off together on We3 and All Star Superman among others, buddies Morrison and Quitely seem uncannily attuned, bringing out the best in each other, and distilling here all the seduction and lunacy of costumed musclebound heroics and that liminal landscape between wish-fulfilment and so-called ‘real’ life. Truly a key work of and about this genre. Next up from the duo is their DC Multiversity one-shot dealing with the old Charlton ‘action heroes’ like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, boyhood favourites of mine drawn by Steve Ditko which I discovered on squeaky spinner racks on a caravan campsite store in St. Osyth’s. Frank said he’s drawn the first chunk and while waiting for the next bit of script he’s working on the cover.

Frontier: The Weird Wild West
Vol 1: Dealing With Demons

by Jason Cobley & Andrew Wildman
Print Media

The publisher says:
Weaving an engaging, adventure-filled tale of derring-do in the American West, this collected edition of Frontier includes additional feature material, including pages from Daisy’s secret diary and reveals just how the story was created. Frontier will appeal to anyone who’s ever enjoyed a cowboy film or comic, but has an added fantasy element that will draw in plenty more readers. With great characters, werewolves, ancient gods and demons and a bad guy that bullets can’t kill, there is plenty to enjoy.

Paul Gravett says:
You know, I rather enjoyed this hybrid of western and fantasy and its first run in the latter issues of the lamented weekly The DFC, so it’s great to see it completed and collected. Solid all-ages enjoyment.

Graphic Classics: African-American Classics
by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jean Toomer, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Charles W. Chesnutt, Claude McKay, Florence Lewis Bentley, Frances E.W. Harper, Kyle Baker, Afua Richardson, Trevor Von Eeden, Jeremy Love, Randy DuBurke, Stan Shaw, Milton Knight, Arie Monroe, Jim Webb & Shepherd Hendrix
Eureka Productions

The publisher says:
African-American Classics presents great stories and poems from America’s earliest Black writers, illustrated by contemporary African-American artists.

Paul Gravett says:
Series designer, editor and publisher Tom Pomplun and co-conceiver of this project Lance Tooks co-edit this impressive 22nd volume in the of adaptations of short stories and poems. It stands as both a celebration of the gifted wordsmiths from America’s heritage, female as well as male, and the current flourishing of black comics creators including welcome women artists Leilani Hickerson, Arie Monroe and cover illustrator Afua Richardson. Assigned to texts that entirely suit their specific visual vocabulary, all the artists respond with some of their finest work here, notably Tooks’ striking stylisations, and Kyle Baker, Randy DuBurke, Trevor Von Eeden, Kevin J. Taylor in a rare non-explicit commission, Jeremy Love of Bayou fame, and the vintage cartoon riffs of Milton Knight. Recovering these writings, mostly unfamiliar to me and I suspect to many, and bringing them to graphic life makes their wit and power vital and accessible to new modern readers. This may well be about the most important, eye-opening, mind-expanding compendium in Pomplun’s whole Graphic Classics series to date.

Hand Of Fire: The Comics Art Of Jack Kirby
by Charles Hatfield
University Press of Mississippi

The publisher says:
Jack Kirby (1917-1994) is one of the most influential and popular artists in comics history. With Stan Lee, he created the Fantastic Four and defined the drawing and narrative style of Marvel Comics from the 1960s to the present day. Kirby is credited with creating or cocreating a number of Marvel’s mainstay properties, among them the X-Men, Hulk, Thor, and the Silver Surfer. His earlier work with Joe Simon led to the creation of Captain America, the popular kid gang and romance comic genres, and one of the most successful comics studios of the 1940s and 1950s. Kirby’s distinctive narrative drawing, use of bold abstraction, and creation of angst-ridden and morally flawed heroes mark him as one of the most influential mainstream creators in comics. In this book, Charles Hatfield examines the artistic legacy of one of America’s true comic book giants. He analyzes the development of Kirby’s cartooning technique, his use of dynamic composition, the recurring themes and moral ambiguities in his work, his eventual split from Lee, and his later work as a solo artist. Against the backdrop of Kirby’s earlier work in various genres, Hand of Fire examines the peak of Kirby’s career, when he introduced a new sense of scope and sublimity to comic book fantasy.

Grant Morrison says:
An engrossing page-turner to be read and re-read… Hand of Fire is radiant with the ‘Kirby Krackle’ of energy and enthusiasm, a fitting tribute to a unique creative genius.

Paul Gravett says:
Charles Hatfield brings a keen perception and revelatory depth to the emerging field of ‘Kirbyology’. Hand of Fire makes the remarkable life and visionary imagination of the ‘King of Comics’ shine more radiantly than ever.

Hergé, Son Of Tintin
by Benoît Peeters
John Hopkins University Press

The publisher says:
Tintinology [tin-tin-ol-uh-jee] noun - The study of the works of comic creator Hergé and the cultural impact of Tintin, his best-known and most influential character. The adventures of Tintin and his dog, Snowy, have captivated people worldwide since they first appeared as an insert in the Belgian Catholic newspaper Le Vintième Siècle in 1929. Available for the first time in English, this insightful biography delves deep into the psyche of Tintin creator Georges Remi and his public persona Hergé. Author of the critically acclaimed Tintin and the World of Hergé and the last person to interview Remi, Benoît Peeters tells the complete story behind Hergé‘s origins and shows how and why the nom de plume grew into a larger-than-Remi personality as Tintin’s popularity exploded. Drawing on interviews and using recently uncovered primary sources for the first time, Peeters reveals Remi as a neurotic man who sought to escape the troubles of his past by allowing Hergé‘s identity to subsume his own. As Tintin adventured, Hergé lived out a romanticized version of life for Remi. Millions have traveled alongside Tintin and Snowy through books, animated television series, theatrical performances, exhibitions, documentaries, and movies, including Steven Spielberg’s fall 2011 The Adventures of Tintin. Now Tintinologists have the opportunity to better understand the complex and sometimes dark personality of Tintin’s creator and his carefully crafted public persona.

Paul Gravett says:
I originally reviewed the French first edition of this biography for The Comics Journal in glowing terms and I encourage you read my comments about it here on this very site. You can imagine how pleased I am that it is finally available in English, thanks of course to the Spielberg movie.

Keep Our Secrets
by Jordan Crane

The publisher says:
Two young children tour their noisy house with fresh eyes, discovering along the way that all is not as it seems. Featuring heat-sensitive, color-changing ink on every page, this book contains dozens of delightful surprises. Among them: a giant dog slumbering in a piano, a wishing puddle full of dimes, a raccoon that is actually a robot, and a camera that is secretly made of cheese.

Paul Gravett says:
After experiments like Warren Ellis and D’Israeli’s ultra-violet illuminated thought balloons in SVK, Crane continues the evolution of multi-sensory comics here. See my Article written for SVK about the surprising uses of ink technologies by American Sunday newspaper strips from a century ago.

Kramers Ergot Vol 8
by Gary Panter, Gabrielle Bell, C.F., Kevin Huizenga, Ben Jones, Jason T. Miles, Sammy Harkham, Leon Sadler, Johnny Ryan, Frank Santoro & Dash Shaw, Anya Davidson, Ron Rege Jr., Ron Embleton & Frederic Mullally, edited by Sammy Harkham

The publisher says:
Kramers Ergot is the premier comics anthology of the 21st century. Since its inception in 2000, it has revolutionized the medium, introducing new talents, solidifying aesthetics, and standing as a state-of-the-medium book. It has always been a reflection of editor Sammy Harkham’s current interests in comics past and future. So it is in that spirit, with this new volume, the he severs Kramers Ergot from many of the formal and stylistic elements with which it made its name. Whereas past issues were oversized, colorful, and filled with a variety of artists all designed to overwhelm the reader with raw power, Kramers Ergot #8 is a complete shift both aesthetically and physically. The size of the book is smaller, to encourage a more intimate reading of the material, and the content reflects a focus on substantial works from a small group of no more than a dozen artists. Artists that, instead of being aesthetically varied, reflect a more specific and unified aesthetic space of discipline, sophistication, and quiet power.

Paul Gravett says:
Sammy Harkham explains it all in this cool retro-Skype video. Where do you take an expansive anthology next? There is a sort of natural life-cycle and evolution of comics anthologies, often growing bigger to the point of bursting and then having to reformulate and refocus. With Harkham at the helm, Kramers Ergot is in good hands. There are no less than two British entries in this issue, one by Famicom collaborator Leon Sadler, the other a surprising reprint of a sexy satirical Oh Wicked Wanda story from Penthouse magazine, which I helped out a bit by putting publisher Dan Nadel in touch with author Frederic Mullally.

Mush! Sled Dogs With Issues
by Glenn Eichler & Joe Infurnari
First Second

The publisher says:
Venus wants Buddy to quit asking her to ‘make puppies’. Buddy wants Winston’s help wooing Venus. Winston wants Guy’s respect. Guy wants Dolly’s job. Dolly wants to know the meaning of it all. Nobody knows what Fiddler really wants, not even Fiddler. But mostly… these sled dogs just want to run. Sounds simple? It should be, but even dogs have their office politics. Office politics with sharp, sharp teeth. From Colbert Report writer Glenn Eichler and dogchanneling artist Joe ‘Fur’ Infurnari comes a postmodern tale of heroism on the tundra, epic romance, and yellow snow. (Hint: don’t eat it.) Mush! is Arrested Development meets Call of the Wild - two great tastes that taste pretty funny together.

Paul Gravett says:
Putting Media tie-in Lassie aside, and excluding super-powered mutts like Superboy’s pet Krypto or the Inhumans’ teleporting bulldog Lockjaw, American adventure comics about realistic dogs are not that plentiful. Imagine if they’d become the dominant genre instead of superheroes! As it is, DC’s Fifties series Rex the Wonder Dog, with lovely Gil Kane art, is unlikely to get an Archive edition soon, I suspect.

Meantime, fortunately,  Mush! plunges us into the great outdoors of Alaska with the jubilant dogs out on a run. Eichler & Infurnari exult in all the ‘SSSFWOOOOOSSH!’ sound effetcts and ‘ABSTILACK GOMMA DEY!’ driver’s calls of that pack-like human and animal fusion in the ‘bliss’ of dog-sledding. Coloured mostly in muted snow-blues and wood-browns, this 120-page graphic novel open wordlessly before introducing us first to its canine cast. Once you adjust to talking animals, you find their different personalities soon emerge, united mostly by boredom between runs, anticipation of the next one and rivalries for who gets the front harness. We then cut to the human couple, known to the dogs as ‘The Boss’ and ‘The Boss’s Mate’. So this prepare us that is not solely an anthropomorphic tale. The dogs speak in slightly thicker, rougher, almost furry outlined balloons, while humans speak in tidier balloons.

The indeterminate time period also becomes clear, as we realise the tale is not set in the past thanks to the woman’s initial reference to her former Seattle apartment, a very different world they have left behind to get back to nature. But how will the two of them fare living two days’ away from their nearest neighbours? Can their relationship survive? The chapters weave between the contrasting and comparative emotional strains, feuds and rows between two humans and between six animals and their common search of ‘the meaning of life’. We get the unique dogs’ eye view of the world, including appropriate metaphors such ‘as subtle as an avalanche’. Lovely design devices for the chapter titles and the skilled layouts that go full bleed and manga-esque in high-drama scenes show a creative team that knows how comics can really work. This is an utterly beguiling and touching dog story and not in the least bit ‘shaggy’! It will whoosh you away and make you want shout out loud, ‘YAPABRA! BLEE DRAY CALLA SCOW!’ There’s an eleven-page extract to read online.

Nancy Is Happy: Dailies 1943-1945
by Ernie Bushmiller
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
For many years, Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, with its odd-looking, squat heroine, nearly abstract art, and often super-corny gags, was perceived as the stodgiest, squarest comic strip in the world. Popular with newspaper readers, true - but definitely not a strip embraced by comic-strip connoisseurs, like Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy or Terry and the Pirates. But then those connoisseurs took a closer look, and began to realize that Bushmiller’s art approached its own kind of cartoon perfection, and those corny gags often achieved a striking zen quality. In its own way, it turned out Nancy was in fact the most iconic comic strip of all. (The American Heritage Dictionary actually uses a Nancy strip to illustrate its entry on ‘comic strip.’) Charter members of the Nancy revival include Art Spiegelman, who published Mark Newgarden’s famous Love’s Savage Fury (featuring Nancy and Bazooka Joe) in an early issue of RAW; Fletcher Hanks anthologist Paul Karasik; Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith; underground publisher Denis Kitchen, who released several volumes of Nancy collections in the 1980s; Understanding Comics’ Scott McCloud, who created the Five-Card Nancy card game; Joe Brainard, who produced an entire Nancy book of paintings in 2008; and Andy Warhol, who produced a painting based on Nancy. Beginning in the Winter of 2011, fans will be dancing with joy as Fantagraphics unveils an ongoing Nancy reprint project. Each volume contain a whopping full four years of daily Nancy strips (a Sunday Nancy project looms in the future), collected in a fat, square (what else, for the ‘squarest’ strip in the world?) package designed by Jacob (Popeye, Beasts!, Willie and Joe) Covey.

Paul Gravett says:
Famously, a severely shrunk Nancy daily strip was used to illustrate a dictionary definition of comics. It’s been described as the sort of comic that you find yourself having read before you’ve decided not to, it is so clear and communicative. For more serious Nancy fanciers, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden are preparing a playful but learned study, How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, also out from Fantagraphics. There is more here than meets the eye.

Smokey Stover & Spooky The Cat:
The Collected Sundays

by Bill Holman
Hermes Press

The publisher says:
Cartoonist Bill Holman’s master creation Smokey Stover returns in the ultimate and final word on this important humour strip which collects the title from its beginning to the end of the feature’s run. It presents a comprehensive overview of one of the most influential humour strips of the 20th Century. If you love Smokey and Spooky and have been waiting for the strip’s most complete collection ever, this is it!

Paul Gravett says:
Crivvens! Hermes Press do it again! Compiling another dream volume of an under-reprinted treasure of American newspaper strips. Brimming with visual and verbal tomfooleries, Holman’s antics are masterpieces of uninhibited mirth and mayhem. And Spooky really is one of the all-time kraziest of komik kats!

Tales From Beyond Science
by Rian Hughes, Mark Millar, Alan McKenzie & John Smith

The publisher says:
An outrageously pulpy collection of science fiction short stories all drawn by Rian Hughes and written by some of Britain’s finest comic writers, together in one colorful oversized hardcover, specially designed by Rian. Tales From Beyond Science will invite readers to follow Hilary Tremayne on eight surreal journeys into the unknown, where they may discover the truth behind the mysteries of spontaneous human combustion, the Bermuda Triangle, the lost 13th month, and the real reason men have nipples.

Paul Gravett says:
After Yesterday’s Tomorrows, here are some more 2000AD nuggets by Rian Hughes revived and restored with some delightful new retro covers conjuring up the nostalgic glow of those old British Alan Class cheapo reprints like Sinister Tales from Creepy Worlds of the Strange Unknown Beyond!

The Art Of Howard Chaykin
by Robert Greenberger & Howard Chaykin
Dynamite Entertainment

The publisher says:
Legendary for what he has done on the page and infamous for what he has said off it, Howard Chaykin ranks among the superstars of modern comics. In The Art of Howard Chaykin, go behind the scenes with the creator whose pioneering works include American Flagg! and Black Kiss, and experience the stories of his life as only he can tell them. Filled with no-holds-barred perspective from his longtime friends and colleagues, and featuring an extensive selection of artwork from throughout his career, including many never-before-published pieces from Chaykin’s own archives, The Art of Howard Chaykin takes readers on an in-depth journey from the 1970s to today with one of the medium’s great storytellers.

Paul Gravett says:
Chaykin has been a restless innovator, stylistically and narratively, for decades and deserves this art-book appraisal of a career still in full bloom. My interview with him for Escape Magazine 14 discussing his second American Flagg! series set in a future Soviet Union has just been reprinted in Howard Chaykin Conversations from University of Mississippi Press.

The Blue Dragon
by Robert Lepage, Marie Michaud & Fred Jourdain
House of Anansi Press

The publisher says:
A graphic novel adaptation of Robert Lepage and Marie Michaud’s play of the same name, East meets West, the personal meets the political, and old meets new. Claire, a Quebecoise art dealer, arrives in China to adopt a little girl. There she visits Pierre, her ex-husband, who after fifteen years in China has been absorbed into a life of bicycles, tea, and calligraphy and has begun to question the new directions his adopted country is going in. Claire and Pierre’s lover, the young Chinese artist Xiao Ling, become fast friends. Through this classic love triangle, The Blue Dragon looks at aging, cultural confusion, fertility, and creativity, and confronts some of modern China’s most intriguing paradoxes. Fred Jourdain’s gorgeous, colourful, and cinematic drawings do full justice to The Blue Dragon‘s genesis as one of the Robert Lepage’s most dazzling theatrical constructions. A feast for the mind as well as for the senses, The Blue Dragon is a graphic novel for grownups.

Paul Gravett says:
The priority of honed dialogue-driven narration might suggest that plays would naturally cross over into comics. In fact, transitions from stage to page as not as common as one might expect, so it will be interesting to see how this transfer works out. Once I get to see a full copy, I’ll report further but meanwhile, for a taster of the artwork, take a look at a few of Jourdain’s striking graphics here.

The Coffee Table Book Of Doom
by Steven Appleby & Art Lester
Square Peg

The publisher says:
Remember the good old days, when doom was straightforward? When all we had to worry about were those 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Bible: Pestilence, War, Famine and Death? Well now we have reason to believe that there are more than 4 horsemen. Many more. In fact, at the last count the authors of The Coffee Table Book of Doom put the estimate at 27 horsemen. And that’s not all. According to the ancient prophesies of the Mayan Calendar, our next date with doom is due on December 31st, 2012… The Coffee Table Book of Doom is a brilliantly funny yet erudite compendium of all the 27 doom-laden horsemen we need to worry about - personal doom, gender erosion, asteroid impact, pandemics, super storms, sexual ruin - and much more besides.

Paul Gravett says:
Lester and Appleby playfully satirise our obsession with end-of-the-world, worst-case-scenarios in this handy cartoon guide to the coming apocalypse. Steven Appleby will be talking about this latest book and his other comics and animations with Richard McGuire, author of the revolutionary short comics ‘Here’ in Raw and contributor to the animated ensemble movie Fear(s) of the Dark at a Comica Conversation on Monday November 14th at Gosh! Comics plush new store from 7pm as part of the Comica 2011 Festival. They are also both appearing at this year’s Bradford Animation Festival

The Complete Flash Gordon Library
Vol 1: On The Planet Mongo

by Alex Raymond
Titan Books

The publisher says:
Beginning the complete library of the greatest science fiction hero of all time. Volume One will spotlight the work of Alex Raymond, legendary for some of the finest storytelling of the 20th century. Raymond illustrated the Sunday strips until 1944; with his clear and much-imitated style forming the original aesthetic of the most popular and easily recognised science fiction hero for decades to come. Introducing Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, Dr. Hans Zarkov, and Ming the Merciless, this volume will catapult readers to the deadly planet Mongo.

Paul Gravett says:
It’s been reprinted of course several times before, sometimes poorly printed or recoloured. Remember those versions in the old Observer Sunday magazines? There’s room for a definitive, high-class restoration of this seminal SF strip and this looks like being it.

The Intrepid Escape Goat
by Brian Smith
Th3rd World Studios

The publisher says:
The EscapeGoat comic universe is set in a pseudo-Victorian era Earth; it is a time of discovery and advances in science, but also a time of ancient magics. Thomas Fleet (AKA The Intrepid EscapeGoat) is a world famous escape artist, a star of the stage and screen who performs before packed houses all over the globe. What separates EscapeGoat from other magicians and mediums of the time is that he knows there is REAL magic in the world, and on occasion it falls on him to stop the supernatural threats facing mankind. He travels the world with his act, solving the paranormal riddles that plague the towns and cities he visits along the way.

Paul Gravett says:
No kidding (sorry!), this is the sort of sheer out-there steampunkish anthropomorphic wackiness that can just sweep you up and away, And can you imagine a crossover with Bryan Talbot’s Grandville?

Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary
by Keshni Kashyap & Mari Araki
Houghton Mifflin

The publisher says:
Tina M., sophomore, is a wry and endearing observer of the cliques and mores of Yarborough Academy. And of the foibles of her Southern California intellectual Indian family. She’s on a first-name basis with Jean-Paul Sartre, the result of an English honors class assignment to keep an ‘existential diary’. Keshni Kashyap’s smart and funny graphic novel packs in (existential) high school drama - from Tina’s getting dumped by her smart-girl ally to a kiss on the mouth (Tina’s mouth, but not technically her first kiss) from a cute skateboarder, Neil Strumminger. And it memorably answers the pressing question: Can an English honors assignment be one fifteen-year-old girl’s path to enlightenment?

Paul Gravett says:
Film-maker Keshni Kashyap builds on her Indian background and close-knit community and her growing up in Los Angeles to portray the feelings and perspectives of an outsider to both of these worlds. Read an interview with her and her Japanese illustrator-collaborator Mari Araki here

Young Romance:
The Best of Simon & Kirby’s
1940s-1950s Romance Comics

by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
edited by Michel Gagné
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
In the late 1940s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby set the comics world on fire with romance comics. Exciting, innovative, and beautifully drawn, these stories, aesthetically, remain a high point in both artists’ careers. These two towering titans of the field produced stories for titles such as Young Romance, Young Love, and Western Love for over 12 years until Kirby moved on to a little-known outfit called Marvel Comics, where he would become the unrivaled King of Comics and co-creator (along with Stan Lee) of many of the most iconic characters in American history, such as the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men, Thor, etc. Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s 1940s-‘50s Romance Comics brings this wonderful work back to light by reprinting 21 stories in full-color, from 13 years of Simon and Kirby’s romance comics: 200 pages of never-before reprinted material painstakingly restored over a five-year period by award-winning artist and animator Michel Gagné.

Paul Gravett says:
After over 400 pages of their superheroes, and some 300 plus pages of their crime comics from Titan Books, it’s the turn of Fantagraphics to serve up 200 pages of S&K’s vintage love comics, some of the most striking in the whole genre. I picked out one tale for my new book, 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die entitled The Girl Who Tempted Me. Read my close reading and you’ll get some idea of how un-soppy and impassioned the romance genre can be.


Posted: October 30, 2011


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