Here are a selection of books due out this month. All of the information presented below [aside from my aside/snide comments] are from publisher or distributor websites.
ALL information is subject to change, and something which might ship this month to a comics shop might show up months later in regular bookstores. So, if you see something here which has been out for a while, that’s why. Just consider it a reminder, in case you didn’t notice it the first time.
Unless it’s something amazing (like omnibus volumes), I tend to ignore ongoing books series. You either know about the series, or unlikely to pick it up if there are numerous volumes on the shelves. Yes, I know it’s almost April. But many publishers announce their new titles via “Out This Week” posts, so that’s why I wait. (And some don’t even do that!)
I do work for a bookseller, so everything posted here has nothing to do with my day job.
Summary: Another all-original collection of full-color graphic novellas in the format of Low Moon, Athos in America takes its title from the lead story, a prequel of sorts to the graphic novel The Last Musketeer, in which the seemingly ageless swashbuckler turns up in a bar in 1920 New York and relates the tale of how he went to Hollywood to play himself in a film version of The Three Musketeers. Another tie-in with a previous Jason story occurs in “The Smiling Horse,” in which the characters from the story “&” in Low Moon attempt to kidnap a woman.
Also in this volume: “The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf,” a mash-up of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, told in reverse chronological order; the Bukowski pastiche “A Cat From Heaven” in which Jason works on his comic, has a reading in a comic book store, gets drunk and makes a fool of himself; the dialogue-free (all the text occurs in thought balloons) “Tom Waits on the Moon,” in which we follow four people (one of them a scientist working on a teleportation machine) until something goes wrong; and “So Long Mary Ann,” a prison-escape love-triangle story.
Summary: This luxurious postcard book collects 30 of the very best cult romance comics of the 1950s. From Brides in Love and Romantic Hearts to G.I. Sweethearts and Romantic Adventures there are dozens of romantically quirky postcards ready for you to send to your beloved. Each postcard includes the title, artist, publisher and publication date on the back.
The Advance Team
Author Bio: WILL PFEIFER has been writing comics for the past ten years. His credits include Catwoman, Aquaman, Amazons Attack, Swamp Thing, Finals, Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, X-Men Unlimited, Captain Atom: Armaggedon, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hellboy: Weird Tales, and a story in 24/7, the all-robot anthology.
GERMÁN TORRES has worked as a penciller, inker, and colorist for IDW Publishing, Marvel Comics, Devil’s Due Publishing, and Microsoft. He lives in Barcelona.
Summary: Zack McKinley was just another twenty-something pizza delivery boy before he discovered that his pop culture idols are actually the advance team of an alien invasion.
Now, encouraged and aided by his (probably insane) uncle, Zack must track them down, one by one, and kill them before the invasion can begin. But the advance team has no intention of letting Zack get in their way, and soon the authorities are hunting for a celebrity serial killer in a pizza delivery jacket.
As his life slips out of control, Zack finds only more questions. Why are the aliens here? What do they have to do with him? Is it too late to stop them before the Earth is conquered? And what if he has simply lost his mind?
A samurai lord has bartered away his newborn son’s organs to forty-eight demons in exchange for dominance on the battlefield. Yet, the abandoned infant survives thanks to a medicine man who equips him with primitive prosthetics – lethal ones with which the wronged son will use to hunt down the multitude of demons to reclaim his body one piece at a time, before confronting his father. On his journeys the young hero encounters an orphan who claims to be the greatest thief in Japan.
Like an unforgettable road movie, Dororo reaches deeper than its swashbuckling surface and offers a thoughtful allegory of becoming what one is, for nobody, in born whole.
Story Locale: Feudal Japan
My Friend Dahmer
Summary: You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer-the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper-seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche-a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.
Praise for My Friend Dahmer:
“The tone is sympathetic and enraged (‘Where were the damn adults?’), while not excusing or making the story unduly fascinating. Backderf’s writing is impeccably honest in not exculpating his own misdeeds . . . and quietly horrifying. A small, dark classic.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)”One of the best graphic novels I’ve read this year.” — USA Today’s PopCandy
“One of the most thought-provoking comics released in a long time.” — Slate.com
“This isnt a cautionary tale. Its insight sharedinsight arriving too late to save Dahmers victims, let alone Jeff himself, but perhaps soon enough to remind both teens and their caretakers that questioning peculiar behavior might be a better tack than ignoring or exploiting it.” — School Library Journal
“Fortunately, cartoonist Derf Backderf isn’t one to avoid the troubling, even terrifying, truths that lurk in the dark recesses of that notorious serial killer’s early lifeand modern American life itself.” — Foreword Reviews
“A powerful, unsettling use of the graphic medium to share a profoundly disturbing story. . . . An exemplary demonstration of the transformative possibilities of graphic narrative.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Masterful. . . a rich tale full of complexity and sensitivity . . . There’s something about Dahmer’s life and crimes that seems almost crafted for treatment in the murky world of comix. Yet it’s empathy and nuance, not gore, that put My Friend Dahmer alongside Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and David Small’s Stitches in the annals of illustrated literature.” –Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A well-told, powerful story. Backderf is quite skilled in using comics to tell this tale of a truly weird and sinister 1970s adolescent world.”
“Anyone who opens My Friend Dahmer to satisfy a morbid curiosity, and likewise anyone who expects to find no more than a cynical publishing venture here, is bound for disappointment. It is a horrifying read, yes, not so much for what it reveals about the sad early (and inevitably terrible) life of Jeffrey Dahmer, but because of what it reveals about the bland emotional landscape of Middle America, in this vision a petri dish for psychoses in many degrees and forms.
Backderf’s odd stylization, with figures that look like organic robots, is a perfect vehicle for this conception. His graphic approach is grotesque, droll, and it rags on reality as masses of kids knew and still know it.
Lots of books exist about the agonies and cruelty of the adolescent high school experience, but few so compellingly bring us straight into that soulless environment, showing the ways it can shelter, allow to burgeon, and, at the same time, be completely blind to real madness.
It wasn’t easy reading this book, but I’m glad I did.”
-David Small, author and illustrator of Stitches, a National Book Award finalist and #1 New York Times bestseller
“Stunning. Horrifying. Beautifully done.”
-Alison Bechdel, author and illustrator of Fun Home, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist
“My Friend Dahmer is a brilliant graphic novel and surely ranks among the very best of the form. Like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, the book plumbs a dark autobiographical mystery, trying in retrospect to understand actions and motivations to piece together the makings of a tragedy. Like Charles Burns’s Black Hole, it’s a starkly etched portrait of the horror of high school in the 1970s. Comparisons aside, My Friend Dahmer is entirely original, boldly and beautifully drawn, and full of nuance and complexity and even a strange tenderness. Out of the sordid and grotesque details of Dahmer’s life, Derf has fashioned a moving and complex literary work of art.”
-Dan Chaon, award-winning author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me
“Just when you think you know all there is to know about Jeffrey Dahmer- one of the most notorious criminals of the past century-along comes My Friend Dahmer, which adds significantly to our understanding of this rare form of psychopathology. The graphic novel format helps the reader appreciate the adolescent mind-set of Dahmer’s high school classmates. Although none of those who grew up with Dahmer expected to hear what they learned on July 22, 1991, when he was caught, no one was really surprised, either.
This unique book allows the reader to listen in on the fascinating reminiscences of those who watched the developing mind of a future serial killer.”
-Louis B. Schlesinger, PhD, Professor of Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
“It’d be so easy to pigeonhole and think that the reason you can’t stop reading My Friend Dahmer is because it offers a voyeuristic peek inside the monster. And it does. But as it turns its self-aware eye on the boy who doesn’t belong, the real magic trick is how equally hateful and sad you feel for the monster himself. This one’s still haunting me.”
-Brad Meltzer, author of Identity Crisis and The Inner Circle, a #1 New York Times bestseller
“As someone who walked the halls of Revere High School with both Backderf and Dahmer and was there from the beginning, I am astounded by the accuracy and truthfulness of this portrait. I know of no other work that so clearly shows the teenage days of an American monster, long before the rest of the world heard of him. Mesmerizing.”
-Mike Kukral, PhD, Revere High School class of 1978, Professor of Geography, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, author of Prague 1989: Theater of Revolution
“If you want to read a heavy story about a disturbing teenager, My Friend Dahmer will certainly quench your dark little desires. But this book is about a lot of other things that matter much, much more: the institutionalized weirdness of the suburban seventies, what it means to be friends with someone you don’t really like, a cogent explanation as to why terrible things happen, and a means for feeling sympathy toward those who don’t seem to deserve it.”
-Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto and The Visible Man
“A solid job. Putrid serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s origins are explored in this fine book. Dig it-it’ll hang you out to dry.”
-James Ellroy, author of My Dark Places and L.A. Confidential
Author Bio: Kaoru Shintani is an award-winning Japanese manga artist/author whose best-known works include Area-88 and Cleopatra DC.
Summary: Christie Holmes is a prodigy. At ten years old, she’s as familiar with the sciences and classics as any older student at Cambridge or Oxford. And her facility with logic is reminiscent of her uncle, the eminent Sherlock Holmes himself. So, what’s a brilliant young girl to do when her parents are away in India, leaving her behind in the care of maids and servants? Solve mysteries, of course.
Along with her giant hound Nelson, Christie’s implacable curiosity leads her from one dangerous adventure to another, often joining forces with Uncle Sherlock and Doctor Watson on their famed investigations, and adventures on her own with Mina, the Queen of the Vampires from Dance in the Vampire Bund. Christie may look pint-sized, but her clever mind is never to be underestimated!
Christie’s cases in this book include:
- Mazarin Stone
- The Problem of Thor Bridge
- Red-Headed League
- The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
- The Adventure of the Dancing Men
Summary: Reads R to L (Japanese Style)
Rated T for Teen (13 and up)
Mizuki Ashiya has such a crush on a track star named Izumi Sano that she moves from the U.S. to Japan to enroll in the all-male high school he goes to! Pretending to be a boy, Mizuki becomes Sano’s roommate…but how can she keep such a big secret when she’s so close to the guy she wants?
Mizuki Ashiya is no slouch when it comes to a challenge. She’s a star of track and field at her high school, after all. So when she falls for fellow athlete Izumi Sano, she figures out an ingenious plan to get close to him. Now she’s moved to Japan, enrolled in the all-male high school Sano goes to, and become his roommate! How? She’s disguised herself as a boy! Whatever happens next, things are about to get seriously complicated!
A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume One
Summary: Reads R to L (Japanese Style)
Rated T for Teen (13 and up)
Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he’s casting her out now that he’s famous enough! Kyoko won’t suffer in silence–she’s going to get her sweet revenge by beating Sho in show biz!
Kyoko’s broken heart and creepy rage keeps her from getting into her talent agency of choice. The eccentric president of the agency decides to give her a second chance, but it requires her to wear a bright pink uniform, put up with spoiled stars, and try to live up to the name of her new position–The Love Me Section! Can Kyoko stand the indignity long enough to find her vengeance?
Summary:“His kiss caressed my lips tenderly! And by the fervor of my answering kiss and the throbbing of my heart, I knew I had found my love.”
-Lovelorn #2 (October-November, 1949)
This playful, kitsch journal features two classic Fifties romance comic covers, while every spread carries a light-hearted quote from these “Golden Age” comics to inspire love poems or sketches of your beloved. With a pocket in the back for keeping treasured love letters and souvenirs, it is the perfect gift for all incurable romantics!
Summary: The Guandong Factory isn’t like other restaurants. It’s five-stories-tall, for one. For two, it’s produces more peach dumplings per day than most eateries do in a decade. For three, it’s the home of Sharknife – a mystical protector charged with protecting the establishment from those who would do it harm! Once just a simple busboy, now Caesar Ives is something more – a crazy red rocket hero destined for greatness! But can Caesar juggle both lives? Nabbing both the girl (the supersexy Chieko Plumbheart) and stopping the baddies?VIZ Media Spring 2012 Adult – PW Spring 2012 Announcements
Author Bio: Mizue Tani is the author of several fantasy novel series and in 1997 received an honorable mention in the Shueisha Roman Taisho awards. Aside from The Earl and the Fairy, her other major series is Majo no Kekkon (The Witch’s Marriage).
Ayuko debuted with the story “Us, You and Me” in Bessatsu Margaret magazine and has gone on to publish several manga titles in addition to The Earl and the Fairy. Born in Kumamoto Prefecture, she’s a Leo and loves drawing girl characters.
Summary: Reads R to L (Japanese Style)
Rated T for Teen (13 and up)
Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued from kidnappers by a mysterious young man!
Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!
Author Bio: Adam Mansbach’s recent novels are The End of the Jews and the critically acclaimed bestseller Angry Black White Boy, and he writes a weekly political column for NewsOne.com.
Douglas Mcgowan works as a record producer and screenwriter in Los Angeles.
Owen Brozman lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife. This is his first graphic novel. You can see more of his work at owenbrozman.com.
Summary: Glitz-2-Go finally collects nearly 40 years of comics stories by Diane Noomin, best-known for her work as cartoonist and editor of the women comics anthology Twisted Sisters. Noomin’s career in underground comix began in 1972 and included appearances in Wimmen’s Comix, Young Lust, Short Order, Arcade, Real Girl, Lemme Outta Here, El Perfecto, True Glitz, Aftershock, Mind Riot, Titters, and Weirdo.
Glitz-2-Go stars Noomin’s signature character, DiDi Glitz, the frustrated middle-aged glamour-puss and anxiety-ridden suburban Sisyphus. All of her stories, beginning with her debut “Restless Reverie” in 1974’s Family Fun Comics, are finally back in print for the first time in over 30 years.
Noomin was a pioneer in the emergence of women cartoonists in the 1970s. Along with cartoonist and co-editor Aline Kominsky-Crumb, she edited and contributed to Twisted Sisters Comics in its original incarnation as an underground comic book in 1976, and in the early 1990s edited the celebrated collections Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art and its sequel Twisted Sisters: Drawing the Line, featuring the work of a generation of women cartoonists.
Like many women who wrote and drew underground and alternative comix in the ’70s, Noomin’s contribution to the form has been unjustly overlooked. This book goes toward rectifying that by collecting all of Noomin’s best comics as well as spotlighting Noomin’s other creative outlets such as reproducing set and costume designs and cast photos of I’d Rather Be Doing Something Else: The DiDi Glitz Story, performed by the women’s theatre company, “Les Nickelettes” in San Francisco in 1980 and photos of a larger-than-life DiDi papier-mach- sculpture of DiDi that Noomin did for San Francisco’s Little Frankenstein Gallery in 1994.
Fantagraphics has been at the forefront of preserving the best comics by the groundbreaking “underground” generation of cartoonists who revolutionized the form in the ’60s and ’70s. Glitz-2-Go is the first solo collection by Diane Noomin.
Tales of Terror Journal
“Look well, Daviso! As a hundred men before you have looked! I am Medusa, the sight of whom turns men to stone!”
-Adventures into Darkness #14 (June, 1954)
The perfect present for all fans of the horror genre, this fun, kitsch journal features two striking Fifties horror comic covers. Every spread contains a quirky quote from these “Golden Age” comics to spark your creativity, and there’s a spacious pocket in the back for keeping notes, mementos and other terrifying ephemera.
Author Bio: Andre Frattino graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Sequential Art. He currently is pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Florida College of Fine Arts. When not working as an illustrator, Andre spends his time studying the paranormal in all its forms.
Summary: A graphic novel about ghosts and young ghost hunters in St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest city. A young man, resistant to any belief in ghosts, arrives in a town permeated with ghost legends and tours exploiting them. He is soon caught up in encounters with the town’s ghostly denizens, including the Reaper, the most hostile and dangerous of them all. The young man and a cohort of other ghost hunters set out to rid the town of the Reaper. First in a paranormal graphic novel series.
Summary: Thirty of the scariest, most bizarre and downright strange horror comics are collected in this deluxe postcard book. Promising lurid tales of fear and revulsion from the “pre-code” horror comics of the 1950s, they make an ideal gift, and are perfect for sending friends and family chills in the post. Each cult postcard includes the date, title, artist and publication details on the back.
Summary: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Or will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
A funny thing happened on the way to comic-strip immortality. 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.
This first volume will collect every daily strip from 1943 to 1946. (Fantagraphics will eventually release Nancy‘s first five years, 1938-1942, but given the scarcity of archival material for these years we are giving ourselves some extra time to collate it all.)
This first Nancy volume will feature an introduction by another stellar Bushmiller fan, Daniel Clowes (from whose collection most of the strips in this volume were scanned), a biography of the artist, and much more.
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!