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PG Previews:

June 2010

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 2010 (although actual dates may vary).

Black Comix: African American Indie Comics, Art & Culture
by Damian Duffy & John Jennings
Mark Batty Books

The publisher says:
The immense popularity of comics and graphic novels cannot be ignored. But in light of the comics boom that has taken place over the past 10 years the artists, writers and publishers that comprise the vibrant African American independent comics community have remained relatively unknown, until now. From Damian Duffy & John Jennings, Black Comix brings together an unprecedented collection of largely unheard of, and undeniably masterful, comics art while also framing the work of these men and women in a broader historical and cultural context. With a foreword by Keith Knight and over 50 contributors, including Phonzie Davis, Jan-Michael Franklin, Frances Liddell, Kenjji Marshall, Lance Tooks, Rob Stull, Ashley A. Woods and more, the cross section of comics genres represented includes manga, superheroes, humor, history, science fiction and fantasy. This book is a must-have for comics readers of a wide variety of tastes and ages. Check out the official Black Comix blog.

Paul Gravett says:
The time is definitely right to analyse and celebrate African Americans’ diverse and remarkable contributions to 21st century comics, strips, graphic novels and webcomics. My only caveat about this 176-page deluxe hardback is its high artbook price. I’m hoping the authors will include the excellent, pioneering Brotherman whose eleven original episodes really impressed me and are now compiled into three trade paperbacks. 

Bouncer #1 of 6
by Jodorowsky & Boucq
Humanoids Inc

The publisher says:
Alejandro Jodorowsky (film director of El Topo, author of The Incal and Metabarons) and master illustrator François Boucq expand their unforgiving portrayal of the Western genre with beautiful vistas, rugged outlaws, and a bit of the ultraviolence as the one-armed Bouncer finds he cannot escape a world of murder and revenge.

Paul Gravett says:
Great news to see Les Humanoides Associés back in their own right and bringing their bandes dessinées into English themselves. This new Bouncer series is in 32-page pamphlet form, but they are also reoffering the first graphic novel collection Caine’s Eye. Maybe somebody can explain Jodorosky’s obsession with amputees?

Comics As A Nexus Of Cultures
Edited by Mark Berninger, Jochen Ecke & Gideon Haberkorn

The publisher says:
The essays from various critical disciplines in Comics As A Nexus Of Cultures examine how comic books and graphic narratives move between various media, while merging youth and adult cultures and popular and high art. The articles feature international perspectives on comics and graphic novels published in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, India, and Japan. Topics range from film adaptation, to journalism in comics, to the current manga boom. Mark Berninger is a lecturer on British Studies in the department of English and Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat in Mainz, Germany. He has published widely on contemporary drama. Research associate Jochen Ecke is an accomplished film critic and comic expert. Gideon Haberkorn is in the department of English and Linguistics British Studies at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat in Mainz, Germany. Donald E. Palumbo is a professor of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He lives in Greenville. C.W. Sullivan III is in the English department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Paul Gravett says:
Good to see some much-needed, broader international perspectives in this essay anthology. Pricey, I know, but try getting your library or college to order it maybe.

Comic Art Propaganda
by Fredrik Strömberg

The publisher says:
As one of the most simple, effective and powerful forms of communication, it comes as no surprise that comic art has been misappropriated by governments, self-interest groups, do-gooders and sinister organisations to spread their messages. World War Two comic book propaganda with Superman, Batman, and Captain America bashing up cartoon enemies was so ubiquitous that there was barely a US comic untainted by the war effort. And theres no shortage of examples from the other side of the globe. This book examines every kind of propaganda, and how positive or pernicious messages have been conveyed in the pages of comic books over the last 100 years. Subject areas include racism and xenophobia, antidrugs comics, pro-drugs comics and religious comics. Plus, there is a look at social programming; how gender roles were re-enforced in comic book stereotyping, and how comics broke free to produce a whole slew of gay superheroes, no matter how ham-fistedly written. This book is a fascinating global, visual history of some of the most contentious, outrageous, unbelievably unusual and politically charged comics ever published. Written by renowned comics historian and author, Fredrik Strömberg.

Paul Gravett says:
My fine Swedish friend pools all of his extensive knowledge and vast, orderly library to outstanding effect in this substantial, richly illustrated survey of the assorted and sometimes scandalous uses of comics as a message-making medium. Fredrik covers familiar subjects well, from Jack Chick’s notorious tracts to the wilder margins of the underground press, and I can guarantee that every reader will also discover at least something wholly unexpected and intriguing within these pages. The hardback edition has been out in the UK for a while now from Ilex, while St. Martin’s Griffin are doing a $19.99 American paperback version this July.

Creators Of The Superheroes
by Thomas Andrae
Hermes Press

The publisher says:
The ultimate book about the creators of comic books! Professor Thomas Andrae, noted comics historian and author, co-writer with Bob Kane of Batman and Me, presents interviews with and commentary about the artists and creators of the comic book medium. Containing over 400 illustrations to compliment the book’s exhaustive text! See the original first unpublished Superman daily newspaper strip. See unpublished artwork by Jerry Robinson, Jack Kirby, and Will Eisner. This 320 page extra-large-sized book is a must-have for every collector and comics library!

Paul Gravett says:
Unlike their Greek God namesake, Hermes are not always that swift in getting their books into print, as in the case of this historical volume, but it’s now imminent and will be a goldmine of information and insight from one of America’s foremost comics historians who shares his encounters with some of the medium’s founding fathers. The wait for this one will be more than worth it.

Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story
by Mat Johnson & Simon Gane

The publisher says:
From Mat Johnson, writer of the acclaimed Incognegro, comes a graphic novel thriller set in the days after Hurricane Katrina. Two small-time ex-cons with big dreams get the idea that this would be the perfect time to rob a bank. Catch is, the bank is in New Orleans, and they’re on parole in Houston. Now, as every sane person tries to get out of The Big Easy, Emmit and Dabny will do whatever it takes to get in. As they journey through a tide of human suffering, Dabny wants to help, and Emmit sees only the money. But a rogue commander of the ruthless security force “Dark Rain” has his sights set on taking down the same bank. If Emmit and Dabny don’t outrace him, their last hope for a second chance could be washed away in the floodwaters - along with their lives.

Paul Gravett says:
From the pair of two-coloured, black-and-pale-blue ages sneak-previewed so far, this looks like a first-rate fact-based graphic novel, a Hurricane docudrama which is bound to be compared to last summer’s AD: New Orleans After The Deluge by Josh Neufeld. Johnson’s Incognegro stands as one of Vertigo’s very best stand-alone GNs and British artist Simon Gane is on top form here, not buried under others’ inking. Hope to review this thoroughly when I get to see a full advance copy. Not officially out till August 18, it says here.

by Doug TenNapel
$12.99 / $24.99

The publisher says:
Imagine Garth Hale’s surprise when he’s accidentally zapped to the spirit world by Frank Gallows, a washed-out ghost wrangler. Garth finds he has powers the ghosts don’t have, but he’s stuck in a world run by the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who would use Garth’s newfound abilities to rule the ghostly kingdom. When Garth meets Cecil, his grandfather’s ghost, the pair search for a way to get Garth back home. Available in Hardcover and Softcover editions.

Paul Gravett says:
TenNapel strikes again, with yet another of his graphic novels snapped up by the movie moguls before the ink is barely dry. This 272-page full-colour book through the Graphix imprint is a fun spooky fantasy aimed at middle-grade teenagers but with all-ages appeal, and the Ghostopolis movie apparently to star Hugh Jackman himself.

Krazy Kat: A Celebration of Sundays
by George Herriman
Sunday Press Books

The publisher says:
The greatest Krazy Kat Sunday pages by George Herriman are reprinted here for the first time in their original size and colors, just in time for Krazy’s 100th birthday! Included is a sampling of all Herriman’s pre-Krazy comic creations, most never reprinted before. With contributions by Michael Tisserand and Art Spiegelman.

Paul Gravett says:
Oh for the days when you could spread out the Sunday newspaper’s comics supplement across the floor, lie flat on your tummy and dive straight into its “polychromatic effulgence!” Now thanks to Sunday Press Books you can do this in the privacy of your own home and immerse yourself in the printed colour Sundays of Krazy Kat than at their full scale. “Poifick!”

Lucky In Love: A Poor Man’s History
by George Chieffet & Stephen DeStefano

The publisher says:
Elegantly drawn in a confident, lively, cartoony B&W style that recalls Milt Gross and classic Disney animation and comics, Lucky in Love is a unique coming-of-age story that follows its loveable hero Lucky Testatuda from his rascally teen years in Hoboken, New Jersey’s Little Itally to his induction into the air force and subsequent wartime experiences. Ultimately the poignant discoveries Lucky makes on his way to adulthood bestow upon him a very different kind of heroism than that of which he had dreamed… The second and concluding volume, Lucky In Love: Lucky For Life, will be released in 2013.

Paul Gravett says:
I remember meeting DeStefano at the Angoulême festival yonks ago, probably 1992, the American guest year, one of those super-talented friendly guys who should be much better appreciated than he is. Maybe you recall his ‘Mazing Man series for DC and contributions to Instant Piano? I’m eagerly anticipating this major 2-part graphic novel from him and will update when I get an advance copy to read and review properly. 

Madam Samurai
by Gary Young & David Hitchcock
Scar Comics

The publisher says:
The latest graphic novel release from Scar Comics, Madam Samurai by the award winning creative team of Gary Young (Harry Brown) and David Hitchcock (Springheeled Jack), is now available. A mute Japanese girl is compelled to travel across the world to the crime ridden street of Victorian London to find answers to her past and to find vengence for the death of her loved ones in this hard hitting and action packed adventure. See some preview pages here.

Paul Gravett says:
Frankly, British artist-writer David Hitchcock should have hit the big time ages ago. I’ve been an admirer since his Spirit of the Highwayman self-published graphic novel (whose first printing was marred only by too coarse a screen to capture his halftones). His Springheeled Jack and other publications are also top class period pieces and this new title should help lots more people discover his rich illustrative bravura. 

Marvelman Classic Primer #1
by Mick Anglo & Various

The publisher says:
Marvelman comes to Marvel! Who is the mysterious Marvelman? The answer to that question is one of the most mysterious in comics lore. Created in 1954 by writer/artist Mick Anglo, the character enjoyed a long run in the British comics market as one of its most powerful heroes. A few decades later, the character was revived with a dark, moody, deconstructionist bent, and produced one of the most important works of comic art in the medium’s history. But now, miracle of miracles, Marvel has stepped up to the plate to deliver on the promise of Anglo’s incredible characters. The Marvelman Primer will help readers unfamiliar with that character get up to speed on the past, present and future of Marvelman stories. We’ll check in with Mick Anglo, Neil Gaiman and others who contributed to this character’s history over the years. It was the news that swept the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con and the Marvelman Primer explains why! Featuring six all-new pinups of key Marvelman characters by superstar artists Mike Perkins, Doug Braithwaite, Miguel Angel Sepulveda, Jae Lee, Khoi Pham and Ben Oliver! 

Paul Gravett says:
There’s huge irony to Marvelman, a British knock-off of Fawcett’s Golden Age Captain Marvel from 1954, winding up after all these years at comic book publisher Marvel. This one-shot is designed to give mostly baffled Americans some background in where this character came from, leading to a series of fancy Archive volumes reprinting the Fifties adventures as Marvelman Classic Vol. 1 Premiere Hardcover. And no, sorry, for those hoping the exceptional Eighties Warrior version written by Alan Moore will finally get reprinted too, that is looking highly unlikely. It’s a tragedy that the revolutionary Marvelman, renamed Miracleman to appease Marvel’s litigious lawyers, remains out of print - like another brilliant British take on the long-underwear genre, Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell’s Zenith.

Meta 4
by Ted McKeever

The publisher says:
An amnesiac astronaut is helped by Gasolina, a muscular woman who dresses up as Santa all year round. As they travel New York City for one man’s answers of self, it becomes an expedition to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves. In true McKeever fashion, Meta 4 is a combination of distorted mystery, dark humor, conflict both physical and mental, and friendship all set against the backdrop of wretchedness and hope!

Paul Gravett says:
After Transit, Eddy Current, Metropol and Plastic Forks (remember that one?), McKeever is back in the saddle. He’s always well worth checking out, especially when he is roaring ahead solo into his unique territory and firing on all cylinders.

Octopus Pie Vol 1
by Meredith Gran
Villard Books

The publisher says:
Follow the adventures of two Brooklynites—Eve, a nerdy acerbic twentysomething and her roommate, Hanna, a long-lost friend who has blossomed into a chronically happy-go-lucky stoner. Crazed childhood rivals, art world hipsters, Eve’s meddlesome mom, and boyfriends past and present crowd their odd yet ordinary lives.In the twilight zone between college and the adult world lies the sardonic, witty, maddening, and sometimes melancholy terrain that Meredith Gran’s addictive comic Octopus Pie maps with devastating, drop-dead-funny accuracy. This book collects the first two years of strips, plus bonus material.

Paul Gravett says:
I met Meredith Gran at the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing last year, I think, and her first self-published collection was one of the highlights in my bag of goodies I brought home with me. Yet another sharp, sparkling needle plucked from the giant haystack of webcomix.

Power Out
by Nathan Schreiber
Canal Press

The publisher says:
Fourteen and friendless, Justin doesn’t want to run away from his domineering family - he wants them to run away from him. When a massive, extended power out grants him his wish, the quietly introverted teen must learn to survive in a world he’s always tried to escape. In his seemingly quaint New England suburb, Justin encounters a unique collection of friends and tormentors, including a brazen young neighbor uninhibited by her inability to speak English, a dead woman who cheerfully haunts his wet dreams, and the eccentric holdouts in a town that has been evacuated by the military. Atmospheric, surreal, but suffused with all the inherent humor and humiliation of adolescence, Power Out captures the exhilaration and terror of discovering how big the world is for the first time.

Paul Gravett says:
These promising first chapters or Schreiber’s online serial from Act-i-vate add a whole new meaning to the phrase “Fade to Black”, underscoring our dependency on the power grid and on knowing the time, while weaving in some fun historical facts about Clocktown, based on the real city of Ashland and some genuinely chilling scenes. This is an unpredictable, quirky, low-key take on America’s East Coast being hit be a mega-blackout or outage, far more preferable to what could so easily be another Hollywood disaster flick.

Siegel & Shuster’s Funnyman
Edited by Thomas Andrae & Mel Gordon
Feral House

The publisher says:
Here is a kaleidoscopic analysis of Jewish humour as seen through Funnyman, a little-known superheroic invention by the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Following the completion of their 10-year-long contract with DC writing and drawing their first creation, Superman, Siegel and Shuster were determined to create a new superhero, one that would prove that justice, fair-play and zany craftsmanship were the true “American way”, and would lead to their ultimate victory. This book tells the back-story of the unsuccessful strip and Siegel and Shuster’s ambition to have their funny Jewish superhero trump the Man of Steel. Included are complete comic-book stories and daily and Sunday newspaper panels from this lost classic.

Paul Gravett says:
Andrae and Gordon chart this odd, overlooked post-Superman revenge plot. Just imagine if the bizarre Funnyman had somehow caught on and even eclipsed the Son of Krypton at his own game? This one really qualifies as an entry to my book Incredibly Strange Comics and the story behind should prove fascinating. One to read alongside Craig Yoe’s Secret Identity showcasing Shuster’s later anonymous S&M illos guest-starring Supes and Lois.

Starmaker: Leviathan
by Adam Hamby & David Golding
Dare Comics

The publisher says:
Starmaker: Leviathan tells the story of Jacob Carter, and his efforts to expose a mind-blowing global conspiracy. Created by the team behind The Hunter, Starmaker: Leviathan is a 425 page sci-fi epic that will be released in 21 monthly issues. Issue #1 is available on iTunes and through PanelFly, and online through Yudu. For previews and info visit here.

Paul Gravett says:
“I’m gonna make you a star”. This may have one hopeful eye firmly focussed on the big-screen Hollywood deal, but from what I’ve managed to glimpse, Starmaker: Leviathan looks like it is also being pretty ambitious within both the comics medium and SF genre. Well worth keeping an eye out for.

The Bulletproof Coffin
by David Hine & Shaky Kane

The publisher says:
Relive the Golden Age of Comics! The Legendary Kane and Hine return to their greatest creations! See: Coffin Fly vs. Zombie Nam Vets! The Shield of Justice walks the Dead Beat! The Unforgiving Eye sees all, forgives nothing! Red Wraith: He’s red! He’s dead! Ramona: Buxom, Beautiful and Bound! Big 2 Publishing, eat your heart out!
The Bulletproof Coffin is a six-issue satire on the comic book industry, focusing on a collector of pop ephemera who finds himself torn between fantasy and reality. “This comic is the book Shaky and myself have always wanted to buy, but no-one was really doing it,” Hine told Newsarama. “It’s a satire of all the comics we love from the last 60 years, including the post-modern comics of the ‘90s. We mock but we do it with deep affection.” Kane added: “It’s about dead superheroes, stone-age girls in chamois leather bikinis, eyeball-headed psychics, bulletproof coffins with spiked tires, spirit walkers, secret attic rooms full of comic book collections, and resurrected GIs.” You can see the official preview art here.

Paul Gravett says:
Why create another superhero, when you can invent a complete comic book company with its own bizarre titles and dirty laundry? David Hine was telling about this project during last year’s Bristol Expo with undisguised enthusiasm. This marks the overdue and triumphant return of Shaky Kane, whose Bazooka Joe-inspired postcards ran in the very first issue of Escape back in 1983. It really looks like Kane’s greatest work to date. I asked David for some further info and here’s what he sent through:

The Bulletproof Coffin takes place in a slightly altered reality where an artist and writer, coincidentally named Kane and Hine, create a bunch of classic comics in the 1950’s and 60’s for a company called Golden Nugget Publications. The company is bought up by competitor Big 2 Publishing who cancel all the books, leaving our heroes unemployed. In the present day, a fanatical comics collector called Steve Newman stumbles across a collection of comics that shouldn’t exist. It seems Kane and Hine continued to clandestinely publish their stories. Things get stranger when Steve is approached by several elderly weirdoes dressed as characters from the Golden Nuggets books. They’re convinced someone is out to assassinate them. Each issue features extracts and complete stories from Golden Nuggets Comics featuring The Unforgiving Eye, Ramona Queen of the Stoneage, The Shield of Justice, Red Wraith and The Hateful Dead, while Steve Newman finds a doorway in his attic that leads to The Graveyard Planet, where Coffin Fly roams the desolate plains in The Bulletproof Coffin, battling Alien Vampires, dinosaurs and Vietnam Veteran Zombies. We’ve put up an online slideshow, featuring art from the first four issues, including some of those classic covers from Golden Nugget comics. Those retro covers will feature on the interior of the comic, while the actual covers are in the modern Shaky style. We’re having our cake and eating it! Here’s the link to see more. The ashcan edition will be available free, exclusively to attendees of the Bristol Expo in May 21-23. This will be unusual in that it’s being produced as a magazine about the comic and about the mythical Golden Nugget Publishing group, rather than just pages from the comic.

The Hot Rock
by Donald Westlake & Lax

The publisher says:
“Just one more heist, Dortmunder”. The Hot Rock is the first tale in the adventures of the infamous character John Dortmunder, deftly adapted by French artist Lax. An explosive cocktail of imagination, black humour and rhythm – all the ingredients of a classic Donald Westlake crime caper. June 1969, New York. Fresh out of prison, Dortmunder is approached to do a heist by one of his former accomplices, Kelp.They plan to steal an emerald worth half a million dollars for an obscure African state where the stone has special importance. Though reluctant to do it, and ill at ease when met with the silent partner behind the operation, Dortmunder lets himself be convinced, and starts to recruit the crack team that will nab the emerald.

Paul Gravett says:
If you enjoyed Darwyn Cooke’s stylish take on Westlake’s The Hunter last year, be sure to investigate this striking colour adaptation from French publishers Casterman, now appearing in English.

The Playwright
by Eddie Campbell & Daren White
Top Shelf / Knockabout

The publisher says:
The Playwright enjoys a quiet moment in the local park where he can mentally sort his ideas and is often frequented by young ladies. Once he saw a pigeon defecate onto a businessman’s shoulder; it struck him as absurd that such an event is considered lucky. Surely the luck lies with passers-by who, statistically, are far less likely to be similarly soiled at that precise moment. Similarly, the Playwright derived an almost perverse sense of relief upon receiving news that an old friend has developed prostate cancer. Statistically, he reasons, such news significantly reduces the chances of him being similarly afflicted. And to be honest, at his age, his prostate needs all the statistical support he can muster. The Playwright: a dark comedy about the sex life of a celibate middle-aged man. Co-published by Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout

Paul Gravett says:
In ten “Scenes” entitled: On the bus; Online; In the park; At school; On the continent; Incontinent; Appendix; An Accounting; The actor; and Curtain, writer Daren White and artist Eddie Campbell beautifully capture the missed opportunities and “good material” gleaned by our self-centred, breast-obsessed, embarrassingly English dramaturgist and lone ageing lead, Mr Benge, who can delude himself that his best years still lie ahead of him. Across 160 landscape-format pages, Campbell’s watercolouring effects take his art into vivid new horizons, at times boldly reusing and reworking faces for later close-ups, even inserting photographic elements and textures. A lovely surprise in the final scene are versions of several naughty English seaside postcards in the Donald McGill tradition. Throughout Campbell’s images skilfully complement and sometimes counterpoint White’s witty third-person, documentary-style narrative, told entirely in text captions. This saucy satirical portrait is pure delight.

Wrong Place
by Brecht Evens
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
Rendered in vivid watercolors where parquet floors and patterned dresses morph together, Wrong Place revolves around oft-absent Robbie, a charismatic lothario of mysterious celebrity who has the run of a city as chaotic as it is resplendent. Robbie’s sexual energy captivates the attention of men and women alike; his literal and figurative brightness is a startling foil to the dreariness of his childhood friend, Francis. With a hand as sensitive as it is exuberant, Brecht Evens’s first English graphic novel captures the strange chemistry of social interaction as easily as he portrays the fragmented nature of identity. Wrong Place contrasts life as it is, angst-ridden and awkward, with life as it can be: spontaneous, uninhibited, and free.

Paul Gravett says:
Young Belgian Brecht Evens, a vibrant watercolour illustrator and astute observer of his own generation, is going to make an impressive splash with this 184-page hardback debut. Read a 9-page preview here. He is in town tomorrow and Tuesday for the London Book Fair and will be joining me and his fellow graphic novelist Randall C. of Sleepyheads (forthcoming from Blank Slate) at a special evening on the current Flemish comics scene at Flanders House, London on Monday April 19th (sorry this is invite only, but I plan on reporting on all this for a future article). Brecht also has an earlier piece Night Animals due out next December from Top Shelf.

Posted: April 18, 2010


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