Of course there are some great graphic novels in Conundrum Press’s fall line, but the book I’m choosing to headline is “You Are a Kitten!’ — a shoose your own path book that will redefine how we perceive reality and yarn balls. But all these books look great. In particular, Fitzgerald had a great debut with Photobooth, a non-fiction graphic novel about the history of the photobooth. Turning her storytelling to her own tale sounds very promising. And Ant Sang’s comic took New Zealand by storm.
Long Red Hair
ISBN 1-894994-95-7 978-1-894994-95-8 6.25 x 8.5 inches duotone, 88 pages trade paperback, $17
Long Red Hair is Meags Fitzgerald’s follow up to her acclaimed Photobooth: A Biography. In this graphic memoir, Fitzgerald paints a childhood full of sleepovers, playing dress-up, amateur fortune-telling and renting scary movies. Yet, Fitzgerald suspects that she is unlike her friends. The book navigates a child’s struggle with averageness, a preteen’s budding bisexuality and a young woman’s return after rejection. Fitzgerald takes us from her first kiss to a life sworn to singlehood, while weaving in allusions to witches in history and popular culture. Long Red Hair alluringly delves into the mystique of red hair and the beguiling nature of alternative romantic relationships.
The Dharma Punks
6 x 8.25inches, b/w
trade paperback, $25
Introduction by Dylan Horrocks Conundrum International
Set over one long night in Auckland, New Zealand in 1994, a group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb before the opening, but the night takes the first of many unexpected turns when he is separated from his accomplice. Chance encounters and events from his past conspire against him, forcing Chopstick to deal with more than just the mission at hand. Still reeling after the death of a close friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship and the ghost of Kurt Cobain.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear there is more at stake than was first realised, and the outcome of the night’s events will change all of their lives in ways they could never have imagined. Reminiscent of Love and Rockets or Paul Pope’s drawing style Sang’s compositions are insightful and sometimes breathtaking. But what lodges in the memory is the deep, heartfelt humanity that fills every page.
The Dharma Punks was originally published as a series of alternative comics which, at the height of its popularity, was outselling Spider-man and X-Men on New Zealand comic racks. Here it is collected for the first time for an international audience.
You Are a Kitten!
Book 3 in the Pick-A-Plot Series
Graphic Novel / Fiction ISBN 1-894994-97-3 978-1-894994-97-2 4.25×7 inches, 240 pages 80 b/w illustrations, tp, $18
Inspired by the gamebook fad of the 80s You Are a Kitten! is the alarmingly charming prequel to the cult hit You Are a Cat! and its sequel, You Are a Cat in the Zombie Apocalypse! Lavishly illustrated from the first-person feline floor purrspective, this thrilling and thoughtful finale brings the saga of Holden Catfield to a stunning and unforgettable conclusion.
You are a couple months out of your mother’s belly. You’re brand new! You don’t even have a name yet. Well you do — but it’s not very nice. The couple that own you fight all the time. So much so that to hurt the other person, one of them stuffs you in a plastic bag and flings you into the canal! As the bag begins to fill with water colder than you’ve ever experienced, a wild panic grips you!
If you decide to claw your way out, scrabble furiously to page 16. If you decide to just stay still and do nothing, curl into a fetal ball on page 8. Or you can simply cry out for your mommy on page 6. The choice is yours! But don’t take too long to decide. The water is already up over your paws, and the only warm thing you have to cling to is the memory of your mother’s tongue licking the back of your head.
The Adventures of Drippy the Newsboy Vol 2: The Red Drip of Courage
Graphic Novel ISBN 1-894994-98-1 978-1-894994-98-9 7.5×10 inches, 64 pages b/w, trade paperback, $12
November 2015 The long anticipated second installment of Julian Lawrence’s trilogy (based on Stephen Crane’s work) is here! The Red Drip of Courage finds our hero, Drippy the Newsboy, preparing to go to war with the enemy. After several false rumours (and, presumably, editorial retractions) in the Gazette, the boys are finally on the march. But their enthusiasm for action is soon extinguished by the harsh reality of conflict with the Forbidden Zone’s Army of Fire. Will the Drippytown troop make it home in one piece? And if they do, will they be intact?
Ramshackle: A Yellowknife Story
6.5×8.75 inches, 144 pages
full colour, trade paperback, $20
Over the past decade, the North, or at least the idea of it, has slowly made its way back to our consciousness, a notion that the North is synonymous with a lawless, rugged freedom. But at first glance Yellowknife, NWT is actually a somewhat disappointing modern capital city. There are tall buildings, yoga pants, a Walmart and a lot of government jobs. None the less, if you dig a little deeper, you do find that alternative off-grid reality. Barely five minutes from the downtown core, wedged between million dollar houses, you find little shacks where people exist without running water and use honey buckets for toilets.
When Alison McCreesh moved from Quebec to Yellowknife she quickly fell in love with the quirky ways in which it seemed possible to live up North. Part travelogue, part comic book, part love story and part guide to the North and its quirky inhabitants Ramshackle spans her first summer north of 60.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.