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PG Previews:

June 2011

Below are the comics, manga and graphic novels I’m most looking forward to based on publisher advance listings due to be released in June 2011 (although actual dates may vary).

A Zoo In Winter
by Jiro Taniguchi
Fanfare/Ponent Mon

The publisher says:
The young Hamaguchi is working for a textile manufacturer whilst dreaming of becoming an artist, when an incident at the zoo forces his hand. He moves to Tokyo at the invitation of an old school friend who also arranges an interview at the studios of the famous mangaka, Shiro Kond. Here he discovers both the long hours of meeting studio deadlines along with the nightlife and artistic haunts of the capital. For the first time ever, Taniguchi recalls his beginnings in manga and his youth spent in Tokyo in the 60s. It is a magnificent account of his apprenticeship where all the finesse and elegance of the creator are united to illustrate those first emotions of adulthood.

Paul Gravett says:
Just as Yoshihiro Tatsumi revealed his adolescent zeal to make manga in the Fifties in the epic A Drifting Life, so now Jiro Taniguchi uses thinly disguised autofiction to disclose his fascinating formative years. A time-capsule and lesson about Japanese comics history and what it truly takes to learn and improve to become a professional.

by Ezequiel Adamovsky & United Illustrators
Seven Stories Press

The publisher says:
Backed up by arresting, lucid images from the radical artist group United Illustrators, Adamovsky details the struggle against rising corporate power, as that struggle unfolds in the halls of academia, in the pages of radical newspapers, and in the jungles and the streets. From Marx through the Battle of Seattle and beyond, Adamovsky traces the beliefs and politics of the major figures in the anticapitalist tradition and explores modern experiments in building different ways of living, in the process providing an indispensible primer for anyone interested in finding alternatives to capitalism - and anyone interested in joining the fight.

Paul Gravett says:
In the tradition of accessible non-fiction comics like the Beginners and Introducing series, here this American’s collective’s provocative politicised graphics bring Adamovsky’s thinking to visual life.

by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell

The publisher says:
He’s been called ‘The Rembrandt of the Comic Strip’ and the ‘Greatest Generation’s Cartoonist-in-Chief’. No comics artist has so heavily influenced his medium and no cartoonist has seen more imitators than Milton Arthur Caniff, the creator of Terry and the Pirates, Male Call, and Steve Canyon. While these three classic newspaper strips have been reprinted, until now, the immense talent behind them has never been afforded a large-scale art monograph dedicated to his entire career. Produced with full access to Caniff’s extensive personal archives at The Ohio State University, and with the cooperation of the Caniff estate, this oversized book reproduces from the original artwork hundreds of comics, illustrations, pencil sketches, and drawings - including many not previously reprinted. In addition to the three famous comic strips, represented are his childhood drawings, the beginnings of his career as a newspaper cartoonist, his significant contributions to the 1940s war effort, as well as his continuing relationship with the Air Force, Boy Scouts, and other organizations.

Paul Gravett says:
As part of IDW’s Library of American Comics, Mullaney and Canwell score again after their definitive reprinting of the complete Terry and the Pirates with this ravishing artbook surveying the entire career of the great Milton Caniff. Learn from a true master of sequential art and illustration.

Chibisan Date
by Hidekaz Himaruya

The publisher says:
On the crescent-shaped island of Nantucket lives Seiji, a young Japanese artist pursuing his dreams. This charming, slice-of-life story filled with warmth and pathos follows the interesting characters on the island.

Paul Gravett says:
I’ve dipped into this manga via online fan scanlations and it has an unusual gentleness to it, evoking an idyllic American yesteryear. Let’s hope this gets released and completed, what with TokyoPop USA closing its doors.

Color Engineering
by Yuichi Yokoyama

The publisher says:
The first book of colour paintings and comics from the New York Times-acclaimed and Eisner-nominated manga artist Yuichi Yokoyama is designed and edited by the artist himself. It seamlessly integrates his lush painted canvases (often presented as fold-out pages) with a sequence of comic strips in a variety of techniques: photography, loose marker drawings, hyper real portraiture and much more. Throughout, he continues his investigations into the world of machines, architecture and post-human fashion.

Paul Gravett says:
Publisher Dan Nadel continues to champion one of contemporary manga’s most arresting innovators. This overview draws in part on Yokoyama’s brilliant gallery exhibit at the 2009 Fumetto Comics Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. I was lucky enough to spotlight him in Art Review magazine at the time with two new marker-pen comics experiments.

Dale’s Comic Fanzine Price Guide 2011
by Robin Dale
Amdale Media LLC

The publisher says:
For decades, there have been guides for comic books, toys, premiums, and other related collectibles, and recently a great updated price guide for Underground Comix. There are guides for nearly every facet of comic book collecting. But until now, there has never been a true, complete guide decicated to fan-based and information-based comic-related publications, collectively called Fanzines. Dale’s Comic Fanzine Price Guide is the first and only comprehensive price and information guide for comics fanzines and comic related publications.

Paul Gravett says:
My very first comics fanzine was British, Alan Austin’s Comics Unlimited, bought on my very first visit to a comic shop, the legendary Dark They Were And Golden Eyed, in sleazy Soho on a London trip as a birthday treat. Of course, America has produced plenty of intriguing fanzines too, from enthusiastic stripzines by amateurs (in the best sense of the word) to high-class ‘pro-zines’ with big-name contributors. Their collectible value doesn’t interest me; I’m keener to learn more about the wealth of amazing information, opinion and artistry to be found in US fandom. But will Dale’s Guide cover British titles like Fantasy Advertiser, Orpheus, Comic Media, BEM or Worlds Collide?

Defiance: Resistance Vol 2
by Carla Jablonski & Leland Purvis
First Second

The publisher says:
When Nazis invade, what can kids do to fight them? World War II has taken its toll on the French countryside. German soldiers patrol the towns, searching for any challenge to their rule. The Tessier siblings, Paul, Marie, and Sophie, keep their noses clean and their faces blank as the French military police tighten their grip on their small country town. But all three are secretly doing their part for the Resistance: the men and women working hard to undermine the Germans and win back France’s freedom… even if it ends up costing them their lives. Defiance is the second volume in a trilogy about children fighting on a secret front of World War II.

Paul Gravett says:
I’ve had the chance to read an advanced pdf of this. Jablonski and Purvis continue their wartime family saga of three French kids playing their roles to defeat the occupying Nazis. Appropriately for a graphic novel, Paul Tessier is fighting back using his skill at drawing. His anti-German, anti-collaborator cartoons are key to winning the propaganda war, printed in secret despite paper shortages and posted onto walls with such messages as ‘Don’t let the Germans turn the French against the French!’. In a more tender moment, Paul gives his younger sister Marie a drawing of her with her absebt father, a POW who will miss her birthday -  ‘So no matter what, he’ll be here for you birthday.’ Paul is also called upon to make detailed reconnaisance sketches so the struggling local Resistance group can make plans for an airdrop of weapons and supplies. Paul’s drawings also become panels in this comics. A drawing torn from his sketchbook becomes an image of his mental impression of a stick pointed by a member of the weaponless Maquis rebels into his back, which Paul imagines as a real gun he has drawn. His poster criticising citizens buying black market flour from a German comes to mind and prompts him to refuse to eat a birthday cake which his mother has baked for Marie’s birthday. All three youngsters are forced to grow up fast as they take on risks and responsibilities and stand up for their beliefs. Little Marie starts tending to the family’s vineyards, despite the fact that their father never showed her how; as she says to Paul, ‘There’s no one bigger than us anymore’. The older daughter Sophie leads a young German officer on to extract vital life-saving information out of him. Capturing the tension and distrust of these ‘turn-around times’, this second episode will grip young and old alike and stokes anticipation for the next instalment.

Everything We Miss
by Luke Pearson

The publisher says:
Luke Pearson’s latest comic book is, as the title suggests, a compendium of the things that we happen to miss when something else seemingly more important comes along. Luke Pearson, a recent graduate of Loughborough University has contributed to a number of comic anthologies in the UK as well as self-publishing a number of small-run homemade comics.

Paul Gravett says:
Pearson’s star is definitely in the ascendant, having won the Ctrl.Alt.Shift competition in 2009 and brought his drawings and design sense to Solipsistic Pop, Paper Science and others. Don’t wait any longer if you’ve not discovered his appealing work.

15 Love #1 of 3
by Andi Watson & Tommy Ohtsuka

The publisher says:
Mill Collins is about to learn that life is anything but a piece of cake when the length of your high school career depends on the strength of your serve. But when Mill’s slipping grades threaten to steal away her scholarship from the exclusive Wayde Tennis Academy, she’ll have to look for help from the most unlikely coach to climb her way back up the bracket and into the record books.

Paul Gravett says:
I don’t tend to find a great deal to recommend from the former ‘House of Ideas’ these days, mired as they mostly are in big events, movie-imitation pomposity, and a lack of many new ideas or creator-owned properties. Hence my surprise at finding Marvel issuing this manga-inspired, tennis-themed, teengirl-targeted, non-superheroic drama, 15 Love. I asked British writer Andi Watson for some background: “Well, it’s eight years or more old. They wanted a straightforward sports genre story, and that’s what I ended up giving them. It uses Millie the Model as the main character, facing adversity in her budding tennis career. So, no mutant powers, it’s “real life” stuff, I guess Millie exists in a dusty corner of the Marvel Universe somewhere.” Yes, it’s company-owned stuff but it makes a refreshing change and might reach out to a different, Disney-friendly readership, especially once it’s compiled into a compact trade paperback.

Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915
edited by Peter Maresca
Sunday Press Books

The publisher says:
From 1900 to 1915, American newspapers offered some of the most beautiful and fascinating comics ever printed. Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland is known worldwide, but many of the great fantasy comics have virtually vanished - until now. Complete runs of Kinder Kids, Wee Willie Winkie, Nibsy the Newsboy, The Explorigator plus Dream of the Rarebit Friend and a dozen more. A genuine treasure of classic comics, all in the original size and colors.

Paul Gravett says:
Bauhaus-meister Feininger’s finest have been gathered before but never at their full-size grandeur, while others have rarely if ever been reprinted. More than a century old, these wonders rescued from their crumbling newsprint limbo shine as fresh and surprising today as when they were first published.

Forming Vol 1
by Jesse Moynihan

The publisher says:
Forming as a web comic has been making waves since its inception three years ago, enrapturing its followers with its near daily additions to what has now become a tale of epic proportions. Now it will finally grace the pages of a volume worthy of its contents as Nobrow releases the first part of Jesse Moynihan’s epic trilogy, Forming Vol 1. Forming is a super-mystical epic in which Jesse details the spawning of worlds, and the trajectory of consciousness on Earth. Volume 1 follows the trials and tribulations of primeval gods and demi-gods as they vie for control of primitive Earth’s resources. The battle of these ancient beings gives form to our tangible universe. In the midst of these colossal battles, the progeny of humans and aliens seek to open the gateway to superhuman transfiguration whilst all forces prepare for coming of the Duhasma-Duhasma, the age of extreme sorrow and misery.

Paul Gravett says:
Of the numerous gaming- and superhero comic-book-influenced webtoonists who are inclined to unspooling sprawling pseudo-legends, Moynihan stands out for his unfettered, unpredictable persistence of vision. Sign up for this first testament of the Star-Bible of his out-there belief-system in the making.

One Soul
by Ray Fawkes
Oni Press

The publisher says:
Eighteen individuals throughout history whose entire lives unfold simultaneously. Comprised entirely of double page spreads split into eighteen panels with each panel featuring one character’s life, cartoonist Ray Fawkes has artfully crafted eighteen linear stories into one non-linear masterpiece.

Paul Gravett says:
Now this 176-page hardcover is a multi-story concept that is probably only possible in comics. How else could we follow eighteen parallel narratives in literature, film or theatre? The book opens with two nine-panel pages (the so-called ‘waffle’ grid made famous by Watchmen, which in turn was inspired by Eddie Campbell’s Alec) and all eighteen panels are completely black. On the next spread, strange abstract splots of white appear, each different from the other. And with the next, the first inklings of self-awareness and identity begin to appear in text boxes, all of them saying “This is me. This and only this.” As the forms twist and morph, each of these eighteen lifetimes gradually emerges into the outside world - “And suddenly, here I am” - and we first view each newborn child from over the shoulders of their mothers. It’s from here that the eighteen different eras and locations of these characters becomes clearer, from basic mud hut to present-day apartment. Their stories diverge for several more spreads but reunite at a crucial moment, all but one them with one eye staring out at us, their faces cropped. As one character’s story after another seems to end, the panels go black and blank and we worry if they have lived or died. Their thought-track can return and resume. Along the way, Fawkes portrays the connections and contrasts between these life stories through crisp black-and-white graphics and significant snatches of first-person perceptions. This is not an easy quick read; it challenges and demands. Do we read each spread from top to bottom one whole page at a time, or do we follow each story in the same single panel, jumping from spread to spread to find them? Either or both seem to work and do reward the effort here. Making more than merely a clever, formal, conceptual experiment, Fawkes connects us to diverse, seemingly isolated experiences scattered throughout history and to the ‘One Soul’ than makes them all human, like us. Our own life is also here, in the missing nineteenth panel.

PS Magazine:
The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly

by Will Eisner
Abrams ComicArts

The publisher says:
Will Eisner (The Spirit, A Contract With God) believed in the teaching power of comics and from 1951 to 1971 he produced PS Magazine for the U.S. Army. This Preventive Maintenance Monthly, called PS because it was a postscript to the standard technical manuals, was aimed at teaching American soldiers everything about weapons safety for vehicles, aircraft, firepower, and electronics. Eisner illustrated these vital lessons in drawings, pinups, step-by-step guides, and comic strips. This collection contains the best of Eisner’s 227 issues of PS Magazine, reproduced in a portable digest format. This relatively unknown work by Eisner is finally explored - the missing link between his comic book work and his later, mature graphic novel style.

Paul Gravett says:
In one spread, I spotlighted Eisner’s cheesecake spokewoman Connie Rodd and her suggestive advice on how to maintain your weapon in my 2008 book with Peter Stanbury, The Leather Nun and Other Incredibly Strange Comics. I quoted from ‘How to Strip Your Baby’, namely your M16A1 Rifle, in which Connie cooes, “You want to know her inside out, every contour and curve, every need and whim, what makes her tick. No better time to get all-over acquainted than when you disassemble/assemble her for servicing.” Preventive Maintenance no doubt saved plenty of soldiers’ lives, though it probably also helped them kill plenty more of the enemy.

Return to Perdition
by Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty
Vertigo Crime

The publisher says:
A new chapter in the saga of the O’Sullivan crime family from the acclaimed movie Road To Perdition. The time is America in the early 1970s and our third generation hero, Michael Satariano, Jr. is a Vietnam vet recently returned to the States. He doesn’t know that his father’s real name was Michael O’Sullivan, and is unaware of the conflict between his dad, his grandfather and John Looney - the criminal godfather of Rock Island, Illinois. But when he’s recruited by the Mob as a hit-man, he’s going to learn the hard way that you can never outrun (or outgun) your past.

Paul Gravett says:
Great to have a new episode, a sequel of sorts to Collins’ masterful crime classic, reuniting him with the Ms. Tree artist and co-creator Terry Beatty, as featured in my Best Crime Comics anthology.

The Armed Garden & Other Stories
by David B.

The publisher says:
A triptych of mythical histories from the 8th and 15th centuries, by the creator of Epileptic. David B. gives full rein to his fascination with history, magic and gods, not to mention grand battles, in this literate, witty, and absorbing collection of stories - all based on historical fact, or at least historical legend. The Veiled Prophet: During the 8th century Hakim al-Muqanna, a lowly Persian fabric dyer, is assaulted and enveloped by a piece of white cloth come from the sky. When a bystander recognizes in the folds of the cloth the visage of Abu-Muslim, defender of the oppressed, al-Muqanna becomes a prophet and great leader - and within a year his followers have defeated seven armies sent to stop him. The Armed Garden: Set in the 15th century, tells the story of the bloody quest for a Paradise on Earth. Rohan, a humble Prague blacksmith, is visited by Adam and Even who urge him lead his followers, soon dubbed ‘Adamites’, on this mission. They soon must contend, bloodily, with the rival Paradise-seekers the ‘Taborites’, led by John Zizka. The Drum Who Fell in Love: A sequel of sorts, begins with Zizka’s death: His people have him skinned and his skin stripped onto a drum, and the drum, speaking in Zizka’s voice, leads the Taborites into battle anew. But the touch of a beautiful girl softens Zizka’s spirit, and the unlikely couple begin a journey together.

Paul Gravett says:
As seen in Fantagraphics’ just-concluded anthology Mome, these are richly imagined historical setpieces by a modern French master of graphic novels. David B. will be coming to London later this year to launch his other new translation, Black Paths from SelfMadeHero.

The Man Who Grew His Beard
by Olivier Schrauwen

The publisher says:
The Man Who Grew His Beard is Belgian cartoonist Olivier Schrauwen’s first American book, having staked a reputation over the last decade as one of Europe’s most talented storytellers. It collects seven short stories, each a headspinning display of craft and storytelling that mixes early twentieth-century comics influences like Winsor McCay with a thoroughly contemporary voice that provokes and entertains with subversively surreal humor and subtle criticism of twentieth-century tropes and images. The stories themselves, though each stands alone, are intertwined thematically, offering peeks into the minds of semi-autistic, achingly isolated men and their feverish inner worlds and how they interact and contrast with their real environment. Though Schrauwen taps ‘surrealist’ or ‘absurdist’ impulses in his work, you will not read a more careful and precise collection of stories this year.

Paul Gravett says:
Also partly previewed in Mome, these vignettes build into something altogether memorable and mesmserising. Plans are afoot with the Flemish Literature Fund to hopefully ring this Flemish visionary to London for this year’s Comica Festival.

The New Ghost
by Robert Frank Hunter

The publisher says:
Tom has worked at the observatory for years, working through the night to discover the mysteries of the stars and the cosmos, leaving his days to sleep. One morning before the break of dawn, Tom sees an anomaly through the lens of his telescope; a spectral form drop from the sky in mid-flight only to land in a field nearby. With a mixture of trepidation and curiosity, he approaches the mysterious creature and with every step unwittingly draws closer to the answers he has been seeking.

Paul Gravett says:
The Nobrow renaissance of British comics charges further ahead with this solo debut from Hunter, whose tale ‘Luna’ was one of the highpoints of A Graphic Cosmogony. He shares some of the minimalist, print-making techniques with Jon McNaught but in this debut longer story continues to evolve his authorial voice with great promise.

Welcome To Oddville!
by Jay Stephens
Adhouse Books

The publisher says:
The complete collection of newspaper comic strips by award-winning cartoonist Jay Stephens, best known for his animated TV series’ Tutenstein and The Sectret Saturdays. Join 8 year old superkid Jetcat on her misadventures throughout the weirdest city since Oz. Oddville! is chock full of strange and wonderful denizens, including a ghost pumpkin, rude snail, discarded bandage, and a gang of talking apples.

Paul Gravett says:
I’ve loved Jay’s comics from the first time I came across them. I included him in a survey of Canadian comics for Dazed & Confused magazine some years back. Here’s what I wrote in praise of him, which still holds true today: Jay Stephens has said, “I’ve tried to keep this five-year-old alive inside of me.” Stephens grew up in Toronto on a sugar buzz of frosted cereals, comics and Saturday morning cartoons. Now he has a wife and two kids to do all that with him and since November 2003 his own TV animations to watch with them based on his comics character Tutenstein. His re-animated junior pharaoh with attitude dates back to Stephen’s early childhood, when an exhibit of Tutenkhamun’s treasures hooked him on ancient Egypt. Then in 1994 his leaky, soul-destroying dungeon of an apartment with no natural light was so much like an ancient tomb, it was the perfect setting to resurrect his bandaged Mummy’s boy. Now a two-time Emmy-Award winning series, Tutenstein concluded his third season this year and his strips have run in the Toronto Star along with other characters like Melanie McCay alias junior superheroine Jetcat. By recreating the streamlined graphics and snappy patter of the wackiest Hanna Barbera shows, Stephens is listening to the kid inside and knows just how to maintain that delicate, delightful balance between knowing parody and wide-eyed wonder.

by Jean Van Hamme & Grzegorz Rosinski

The publisher says:
Wyoming, 1868. Ambrosius Van Deer has come to Fort Laramie to meet Jess Chisum, a young man who claims he’s found Van Deer’s nephew Eddie. Ten years before, Edwyn Van Deer disappeared after his family was killed in a Lakota raid. Proof of his identity: a silver watch with a portrait of his parents. But fate has other plans than a happy family reunion, and the events of that day will set in motion a tragedy 15 years in the making.

Paul Gravett says:
The partnership behind the phenomenal Thorgal, also released in English by Cinebook, reunite to reignite the Western genre in this extra-length drama. Rosinski introduces nuances of sepia and pale blues and greys to give his matured artwork a gritty period flavour and reflect the landscapes, settings and the torn emotions of the protagonists. The rhythm of his comics pages is interrupted periodically by impressive full-bleed, full-colour paintings. Whether there will be a follow-up is unclear but doesn’t matter - Western stands tall in the saddle, a compelling, one-off, stand-alone tale by a writer and artist in their mature prime.

Who Is Ana Mendieta?
by Christine Redfern, Caro Caron & Lucy Lippard
The Feminist Press at CUNY

The publisher says:
Who Is Ana Mendieta? is a cultural biography of a Cuban American feminist artist working on the cusp of rebellion and regression. Jackson Pollack careens into a tree, killing his lover and himself; Frida Kahlo begins to be received as a significant painter, not only the muse of Diego Rivera; William Burroughs plays William Tell with an apple on his wife’s head; Carolee Schneemann pulls a feminist screed out of her vagina and reads it aloud at a performance; Valerie Solanas shoots Andy Warhol. Ana Mendieta, whose bold work about the female body and violence was changing the course of art history, “went out the window” of the New York City apartment she shared with her husband, sculptor Carl Andre, at the height of her career. Andre was tried and acquitted of her murder, and the legacy of Mendieta has been shrouded ever since.

Lucy Lippard says:
Ana’s death is one of millions that, despite four decades of feminist struggle, remain underestimated - social crimes that have yet to be fully confronted… The very directness of the graphic novella is an ideal vehicle for the outrage women feel about the extent of domestic and general violence against us. May there be many more visual outcries like this one, to avenge the loss of women like Ana Mendieta.

Paul Gravett says:
Once more, the graphic novel form transports us to a life and death I was only dimly aware of before. No longer a footnote or forgotten almost entirely to most people, Ana Mendieta’s life and example can now reach and inspire fresh generations of readers.

Yakuza Moon
by Shoko Tendo, Sean Michael Wilson & Michiru Morikawa
Kodansha International

The publisher says:
Yakuza Moon is a heartrending and eye-opening account of Shoko Tendo’s experiences growing up in Japan’s gangster society. Born into the family of a wealthy yakuza boss, Shoko Tendo lived her early years in luxury. But labeled ‘the yakuza kid’, she was the victim both of bullying and discrimination from teachers and classmates at school, and of her father’s drunken rages at home. Then, the family fell into debt, and Tendo fell in with the wrong crowd. By the age of fifteen she was a gang member; by the age of eighteen, a drug addict; and in her twenties, a willing participant in a series of abusive and violent relationships with men. Tendo sank lower and lower. After the death of her parents and her own suicide attempt, she began a tortuous, soul-searching reevaluation of the road she had taken. An unconventional act of empowerment (getting tattooed from the base of her neck to the tips of her toes) finally helped her take control of her life, leading to redemption and happiness.

Paul Gravett says:
After his first entry in this new Kodansha line of originated manga Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai with London mangaka Chie Kutsuwada, Japan-based Scottish scribe Sean Michael Wilson returns with this re-creation of a more recent past. He is teamed once more with the elegant Japanese illustrator Michiru Morikawa with whom he crafted a colour entry in the anthology I helped to commission and edit, Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption. As with Ana Mendieta above, here they craft the story of another remarkable, strong-willed woman and her exemplary struggle and triumph.

Posted: April 24, 2011


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