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PG Previews:

March 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 March 2010 (although actual dates may vary).

Backing Into Forward (HC)
by Jules Feiffer
Nan A. Talese

The publisher says:
Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Jules Feiffer’s recognizable and subversive comic strips, which ran in the Village Voice as well as one hundred other papers, won him legions of fans. In his forthcoming memoir, Backing Into Forward, Feiffer delivers the same unique wit, self-deprecating humor and tight narration to tell the story of his own life, beginning with his childhood in the Bronx, “a daily exercise in confusion, endurance, fakery and cheating.” Read an interview with Jules Feiffer here.

Paul Gravett says:
It’s pretty rare for a mature cartoonist to stop and reflect and write his or her own prose autobiography, and Feiffer is a cartoonist par excellence, but he is also a great deal more. Sure to be revelatory reading - I can’t wait for the graphic novel adaptation (!).

Classic Bible Stories Vol 1:
Jesus - The Road of Courage &
Mark - The Youngest Disciple (HC)

by Frank Hampson
Titan Books

Editor John Freeman says:
The Road of Courage was written by Marcus Morris and drawn by Frank Hampson in Eagle from volume 11, issue 12 to volume 12, issue 14, 56 episodes from March 19th 1960 to April 8th 1961. The Road of Courage starts with Herod ordering a census. Joseph appears in episode 3, Mary in episode 4 and Jesus is born in episode 5. It features every major incident in the biblical life of Jesus: the flight from Egypt, Jesus’ early life, the battles against the occupying Romans, Jesus’ fights against the Pharisees, Palm Sunday, throwing the money lenders out of the temple, the Last Supper, Judas betraying Jesus, the confrontation in the garden of Gethsemane, the trial of Jesus, setting Barabbas free, Jesus carrying the cross and rising from the dead. The Road of Courage has only been published in a collection once before in 1981, by Dragon’s Dream as The Road of Courage: The Story of Jesus of Nazareth. It was also published in Dutch and French. This collection is long out of print and commands a considerable premium when copies are for sale.

Also featured will be Mark, The Youngest Disciple, subtitled The Story of John Mark, writer of the Second Gospel. It ran in Eagle from volume 5, issue 46 to volume 6, issue 26, 34 episodes from November 12th 1954 to July 1st 1955 and was written by Chad Varah, who died in 2007, and drawn by Giorgio Bellavitis who died very recently. The timeframe over which Mark, The Youngest Disciple is told is different from every other normal back page Eagle True Life story. Normally, they covered a lifetime but in the case of Mark, the tale spans just over seven weeks, from Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, until Whit Monday, seven weeks after Easter. Even then, most of the action takes place on just a few days. The story is based around Mark in Jerusalem getting into scrapes as he follows Jesus through this momentous time in Jesus’s life, opening with the Last Supper before moving quickly to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. It features the trial of Jesus, setting Barabbas free, Jesus carrying the cross, his rising from the dead, the founding of the Christian church and the first baptisms, ending with Peter agreeing to let Mark work with him as a missionary. Throughout, Jesus is featured but his face is never seen. Finally, this first volume presents Shepherd Lad of Bethlehem, written by Chad Varah and drawn by Norman Williams, which ran in Eagle from volume 2, issue 37 to volume 2, issue 38, 2 episodes dated December 21st and 28th 1951. This seasonal tale set in Bethlehem has never before re-published.

Paul Gravett says:
Frank Hampson’s Dan Dare began as Lex Christian, outer-space padre and he lives on here in curly locks and beard as Christ himself in this biographic reprint of Eagle‘s photogravure colour back pages. Dragon’s Dream compiled this years ago, but this time it’s joined by two other Eagle classics. Hopefully a second volume will include one or more of Frank Bellamy’s serials of David and St. Mark, never reprinted before. Great British (Biblical) Comics, whatever your faith.

Comics In French:
The European Bande Dessinée In Context (HC)

by Laurence Grove
Berhahn Books

The publisher says:
Whereas in English-speaking countries comics are for children or adults “who should know better”, in France and Belgium the form is recognized as the ninth art and follows in the path of poetry, architecture, painting, and cinema. The bande dessinée [comic strip] has its own national institutions, regularly obtains front-page coverage, and has received the accolades of statesmen from De Gaulle onwards. On the way to providing a comprehensive introduction to the most francophone of cultural phenomena, this book will consider national specificity as relevant to an anglophone reader, whilst exploring related issues such as text/image expression, historical precedents, and sociological implication. To do so it will present and analyse priceless manuscripts, a Franco-American rodent, Nazi propaganda, a museum-piece urinal, intellectual gay porn and a prehistoric warrior who’s really Zinedine Zidane.

Paul Gravett says:
From the IBDS conferences to the European Comic Art Journal, Laurence Grove, along with Ann Miller and Matthew Screech, make up a sort of intellectual trinity of UK BD specialists whose papers and books have brought so much information and intelligence to this field. Admittedly, this is a rather pricey academic book, so maybe try getting your library to order it. Apparently their tactic is to sell it at that price for libraries to buy it, then drop it to £20 for a paperback if it does okay. I’ll be reviewing it properly, but from advance sneak peaks, I am confident Laurence will deliver a lively and engaging guide to Francophone comics culture to read, learn from and enjoy.

Dong Xoai:
Vietnam 1965 (HC)

by Joe Kubert

The publisher says:
This original graphic novel tells the harrowing story of a detachment of Special Forces soldiers on a simple recon mission into the village of Dong Xoai that turned suddenly deadly. It has the unique perspective of being in the very early days of the Vietnam War and Kubert is basing the story on extensive information gathered from the surviving members of the unit. It will cover not only the action of the event but the details of deployment and build-up that lead to the deadly encounter for these young American GIs. Read a NY Times interview with Joe Kubert here.

Paul Gravett says:
What an inspiration, 84 this year and still firing on all cylinders. Here he tackles the Nam in a documentary realist way, and goes back to the immediacy and subtlety of his raw pencils, as seen in Yossel. Like his great, late peer Eisner, Kubert is scaling new peaks in his graphic novel career.

Glister: The Family Tree
by Andi Watson
Walker Books

The publisher says:
The fourth book in this delightfully quirky and funny series for girls told in comic-strip and featuring Glister Butterworth - girl-magnet for the weird and unusual. Glister and her father live at Chilblain Hall - home to an orchard with a remarkable collection of trees. Not least, the very special Butterworth Tree. It is said that when the Butterworth Tree blooms, a bumper crop of Butterworth relatives from past, present and future will fall. Of course, Glister longs to have a big family and dreams of cosseting aunts and devoted uncles, hoping upon hope that the tree may even bear fruit of the famed Butterworth Giant… Then, one day, her dream finally comes true. Indeed, a bumper crop of relatives does fall, but they are not so keen on playing Happy Families and soon Glister needs a swift and effective plan to stop the Butterworths from pulling themselves and Chilblain Hall apart, with quite astonishing results.

Paul Gravett says:
After republishing Andi’s three Image Glister books the way they really should have been, with less blunt covers, now in girly pastels with added glistening - glistering? - highlights and appealing tones inside instead of drab greys, Walker commissioned him to create this totally new fourth episode. It will be very English, steeped in the atmospheres of Gerard Hoffnung, John Ryan, Tove Jansson, Quentin Blake, and utterly charming.

It Was The War Of The Trenches (HC)
by Jacques Tardi
Fantagraphics Books

The publisher says:
World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardi’s. His very first - rejected - comics story dealt with the subject, as does his most recent work, the two-volume Putain de Guerre. But It Was The War Of The Trenches is Tardi’s defining, masterful statement on the subject. Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. He focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, and, with icy, controlled fury and disgust, with sardonic yet deeply sympathetic narration, he brings that existence alive as no one has before or since. Yet he also delves deeply into the underlying causes of the war, the madness, the cynical political exploitation of patriotism. And in a final, heartbreaking coda, Tardi grimly itemizes the ghastly human cost of the war, and lays out the future 20th century conflicts, all of which seem to spring from this global burst of insanity. Trenches features some of Tardi’s most stunning artwork. Rendered in an inhabitually lush illustrative style, inspired both by abundant photographic documentation and classic American war comics, augmented by a sophisticated, gorgeous use of Craftint tones, trenches is somehow simultaneously atypical and a perfect encapsulation of Tardi’s mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi’s oeuvre. Listen to publisher Kim Thompson discuss Jacques Tardi’s work on Inkstuds Radio.

Paul Gravett says:
The clarity of anger and empathy makes this, for me, still his all-time masterpiece. The French grand master’s powerful indictment of warfare, partially translated in Raw and Drawn & Quarterly, is gathered at last.

John Broadley’s Books (HC)
by John Broadley
Jonathan Cape

The publisher says:
Since 1996, John Broadley has been making, chiefly for his own pleasure, a series of remarkable little books. Each one has a tiny print run, sometimes as few as ten copies, which means that apart from a very few cognoscenti, no one has seen his extraordinary work. Until now. John Broadley’s Books will reveal to the world an artist of astonishing imagination and skill, and one with the playfulness of the great English print-makers of the thirties and forties like Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious. In this book you will find collected a complete visual record of Broadley’s books - covers, end papers, sketches, notes, lines, captions and errata. Comprising work in a multitude of mediums, this is a treasure trove of visual delights. Here are scenes from much loved classics, mysteries and obscure science-fiction adventures, from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to The Hawkline Sisters’ Father: turned into an umbrella stand by his own evil creation - The Chemicals. Eclectic, unique, fantastical - John Broadley’s Books is the most extraordinary book of books you will ever read.

Paul Gravett says:
I’m lucky to own one or two of John Broadley’s quirky, almost quaint hand-crafted, micro-edition mini-books. He came to Cape’s attention when he entered the 2008 Graphic Short Story Prize and here he is two years later with a lovingly assembled compendium of: Covers and Title Pages; More “Wild for Adventure”; Dreams of Rotting Teeth; Nettlesome; Cauff Riddles; Pond Life; and more. The result is truly a thing of great beauty.

Jonah Hex: No Way Back (HC)
by Tony Dezuniga, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray

The publisher says:
Discover how Jonah Hex’s rough family life transformed him into the justice-thirsty vigilante he became. Legendary Hex artist Tony DeZuniga returns to illustrate a new, archetypal epic written by the acclaimed Hex team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. This heartbreaking, brutal original graphic novel is set against the unforgiving landscape of the Wild West and delves into Hex’s painful past, revealing for the first time how his difficult upbringing made him that era’s most feared bounty hunter. Along the way, Hex must come to terms with the death of a loved one, long thought lost, battle El Papagayo and his gang of bandits, and attempt to make peace with his own past.

Paul Gravett says:
Fleshing out the back-story of DC’s disfigured gunslinger, with original artist/co-creator Tony Dezuniga, a Seventies Filipino favourite of mine, back on the art chores. The movie version is looming. I wonder if they’ll dare to use Michael Fleischer and Russ Heath’s deliciously macabre demise of Hex, whose taxidermied body survives as a freakish artifact in a travelling carnie?

Kingyo Used Books
by Seimu Yoshizaki

The publisher says:
Every bookstore has a thousand stories to tell.An art student finds inspiration. An archer hits a bull’s-eye. A homemaker rediscovers romance. A teenager discovers his true self in the pages of a manga magazine. All this and more at Kingyo Used Books, a place that helps people find their dreams.

Paul Gravett says:
I’ve become totally charmed by this online serial at because Seimu Yoshizaki understands how much that certain manga can touch your life and shape your worldview, even years later when you thought you’d forgotten it. Proof of the profund impact a love of comics can have on anyone and fascinating lessons in Japanese comics history.

Market Day (HC)
by James Sturm
Drawn & Quarterly

The publisher says:
A timeless meditation on art and commerce seen through the life of an early-twentiesth-century Jewish Rug maker. Mendleman’s life goes through an upheaval when he discovers that he can no longer earn a living for his growing family doing the work that defines him - making well-crafted rugs by hand. A proud artisan, he takes his donkey-drawn cart to the market only to be turned away when the distinctive shop he once sold to now stocks only cheaply manufactured merchandise. As the realities of the marketplace sink in, Mendleman unravels. James Sturm draws a quiet, reflective, and beautiful portrait of eastern Europe in the early 1900s - bringing to life the hustle and bustle of an Old World marketplace on the brink of industrialization. Market Day is an ageless tale of how economic and social forces can affect a single life. An award-winning cartoonist of the books Golem’s Mighty Swing, James Sturm’s America, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, and Adventures in Cartooning, Sturm is a true visionary, having cofounded the Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger and the Center for Cartoon Studies, the country’s premier cartooning school.

Paul Gravett says:
I hope this latest work helps bring much more attention to James Sturm. His Golem’s Mighty Swing is probably the first and greatest graphic novel about Jewish baseball.

Muppet Show Vol 2: On The Road
by Roger Langridge
Boom! Studios

The publisher says:
With the theatre destroyed after the search for the treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, the Muppets take their act on the road… but with two very familiar hecklers in every town, will the show be a hit, or will our Muppet minstrels be run out of town in tar and feathers? Also: Fozzie and Rizzo have plans for a big budget Pigs In Space motion picture, but is Hollywood prepared? Collecting issues #0-3 of the critically acclaimed ongoing Muppet Show series by the incomparable Roger Langridge.

Paul Gravett says:
Roger Langridge is simply the perfect writer, artist and comedian to bring these much-loved characters to life in comics. Even Waldorf and Stadtler must be cheering from their theatre box!

Onikage: The Art of Toshio Saeki (HC)
by Toshio Saeki
Last Gasp

The publisher says:
A selection of Toshio Saeki’s previously unseen works, uniquely printed in a large, lush format. Throughout, paper vellum overlays reproduce Saeki’s unique method for adding color to his black and white artwork. He does not apply color directly, but instead uses overlays to indicate the exact colors he wants. He calls this method chinto printing - the picture is complete only after it has been printed - a modern version of the ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodcut prints. Though Onikage contains nearly two-dozen full color and seven black and white images, the viewer is not allowed to see every image in all stages. Like the artist, the viewer must use his or her imagination to complete these peculiar pictures.

Paul Gravett says:
Not narrative manga, but a master of erotica. I originally discovered Toshio Saeki’s highly charged imagery in French in L’Echo des Savanes magazine and a subsequent artbook. Very disturbing and dark and deeply rooted in Japanese traditional shunga and yokai prints but with amoral modern twists.

by James Kochalka
Top Shelf

The publisher says:
SuperF*ckers collects all four fan-favorite issues of James Kochalka’s beloved series, plus the all-new Jack Krak one-shot! Foul-mouthed, filthy-minded, and completely oblivious, these young ‘heroes’ do everything but fight crime - they’re too busy getting high, hazing the new kids, playing video games, scheming to be team leader, and designing new costumes. A hilariously rude look at what super-powered teens would really be like, presented with Kochalka’s signature sweetness and charm, SuperF*ckers is an over-the-top super-sitcom with its mind in the gutter and its heart on its sleeve.

Paul Gravett says:
I know Kick-Ass is pretty cruel and amusing, but it’s nothing like as wild and out-there as Kochalka’s truly unhinged comedies starring his feuding, warped teen team, LSH on LSD. Not coming soon to a screen near you - and all the better and funnier because of that!

Strange Tales From A Fast-Food Culture

by Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Barlow, Lukas Ketner, Tony Millionaire and others
Dark Horse

The publisher says:
Do you dare find out what’s happening behind the counters of your neighborhood fast- food joint? Then grab a bucket and dive into one of the creepiest graphic novels of the year! Supersized is an entertaining - and at times gut-wrenching - series of stories focusing on America’s ubiquitous and potentially destructive fast-food culture. A perfect companion to Super Size Me, the graphic novel will bridge the gaps between humor, fact, and heart, while peering behind the scenes of the fast food world.

Paul Gravett says:
Shock-doc director Spurlock mixes satire and fact-fuelled exposé in this new anthology collecton. Do fries go with that graphic novel?

The Art Of Jaime Hernandez:
The Secrets Of Life & Death (HC)

by Todd Hignite
Abrams ComicArts

The publisher says:
In 1981 three Mexican-American brothers self-published their first comic book, Love and Rockets, and “changed American cartooning forever” according to Publishers Weekly. Over twenty-five years later it is still being published to critical and commercial success. Jaime Hernandez’s moving stories chronicle the lives of some of the most memorable and fully formed characters the comics form has ever seen. His female protagonists, masterfully delineated with humor, candor, and breathtaking realism, come to life within California’s Mexican-American culture and punk milieu. In April 2006 Hernandez began serializing his work with the New York Times Magazine - all of which will be collected here in full color. The notoriously private artist has opened his archives for the first time, revealing never-before-seen sketches, childhood drawings, and unpublished work, alongside his most famous Love and Rockets material.

Paul Gravett says:
A feast! You couldn’t ask for a better book about Jaime Hernandez, with page after page of stunning art shot directly from the originals, touching family history and photos, rare early comics, gig flyers and other pre-Love & Rockets artwork, all interwoven with candid recollections and Todd Hignite’s astute insights. 

The Comics Of Chris Ware:
Drawing Is A Way Of Thinking

edited by David M. Ball & Martha B. Kuhlman
University Press of Mississippi

The publisher says:
The Comics of Chris Ware brings together contributions from established and emerging scholars about the comics of Chicago-based cartoonist Chris Ware. Both inside and outside academic circles, Ware’s work is rapidly being distinguished as essential to the developing canon of the graphic novel. Winner of the 2001 Guardian First Book Prize for the genre-defining Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth, Ware has received numerous accolades from both the literary and comics establishment. This collection addresses the range of Ware’s work from his earliest drawings in the 1990s in The ACME Novelty Library and his acclaimed Jimmy Corrigan, to his most recent works-in-progress, Building Stories and Rusty Brown.

Paul Gravett says:
Ware has had a sharp monograph in 2004 from The Imp‘s Daniel Raeburn, one of America’s finest thinkers about comics. And in February 2010,  Les Impressions Nouvelles in Belgium issued Chris Ware: La Bande Dessinée Reinventée (Comics Reinvented), by Francophone critics Benoît Peeters and Jacques Samson. Their handsome 160-page study in French includes Peeters’ interview with Ware, four of Ware’s essays translated, and four of Samson’s “micro-lectures” examining a single page in depth. The UPM collection adds to the growing body of Ware-ology. One baffled critic once commented to Ware that his work was wilfully incomprehensible, so we clearly need more books like these to expand everyone’s understanding.

Torpedo Vol 2 (HC)
by Enrique Sanchez Abuli & Jordi Bernet
IDW Publishing

The publisher says:
The continuing adventures of Luca Torelli, a cold-hearted gangster in the 1930s, and those in his merciless orbit. Abuli portrays the characters with humor and poignancy, and Jimmy Palmiotti’s translations provide a true sense of New York in the 1930s. Jordi Bernet’s art, of course, is lovely, but Torpedo is Bernet’s masterpiece - the closest the graphic novel medium has ever come to The Godfather.

Paul Gravett says:
This latter volume should compile stories never previously put into English in Catalan Communications’ Eighties series. And Jimmy Palmiotti should bring an edge to the venal dialogue and noir narration. A gem of Spanish comics.

Posted: January 27, 2010


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