Fantagraphics has released a bunch of previews of their summer hits, including Simon Hansellman’s Megahex, Carol Swain’s Gast and the Drew Friedman cartoonist portrait books, Heroes of the Comics. And here for your pleasure are the previews.
Megg is a depressed, drug-addicted witch. Mogg is her black cat. Their friend, Owl, is an anthropomorphized owl. They hang out a lot with Werewolf Jones. This may sound like a pure stoner comedy, but it transcends the genre: these characters struggle unsuccessfully to come to grips with their depression, drug use, sexuality, poverty, lack of work, lack of ambition, and their complex feelings about each other in ways that have made Megg and Mogg sensations on Hanselmann’s Girl Mountain Tumblr. This is the first collection of Hanselmann’s work, freed from its cumbersome Internet prison, and sure to be one of the most talked about graphic novels of 2014, featuring all of the “classic” Megg and Mogg episodes from the past five years as well as over 70 pages of all-new material.
Helen is an amateur bird watcher and naturalist who lives in a rural community in Wales. When local farmer Bill tells Helen that a “rare bird” named Emrys killed himself at Cuddig farm, she decides to investigate. One of the dogs at the farm tells her, by way of explanation, that Emrys “had no feathers and couldn’t fly.” She plucks an old cosmetic kit from a dumpster and discovers it belonged to Emrys. Inventorying the kit’s contents, she finds a spent .12 gauge shotgun shell. Her attempt to learn more about Emrys turns into a journey of self-discovery and ultimately a hard-fought reconciliation with the world — as it is. Carol Swain’s Gast is the rare kind of contemporary graphic novel that critics are conjuring when they exult over the promise of the art form — a philosophically mature vision, uniquely executed by an artist wholly in control of her craft. In Gast, Helen’s inner life is slowly revealed through a mixture of naturalistic detail and phantasmagoric occurrences.
HEROES OF THE COMICS
Featuring approximately 75 full-color portraits of the pioneering legends of American comic books, including publishers, editors, and artists from the industry’s birth in the ’30s, through the brilliant artists and writers behind EC Comics in the ’50s. All lovingly rendered and chosen by Drew Friedman, a cartooning legend in his own right. Featuring subjects popular and obscure, men and women, as well as several pioneering African-American artists. Each subject features a short essay by Friedman, who grew up knowing many of the subjects included (as the son of writer Bruce Jay Friedman), including Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, Jack Davis, Will Elder, and Bill Gaines. More names you might recognize: Barks, Crumb, Wood, Wolverton, Frazetta, Siegel & Shuster, Kirby, Cole, Ditko, Wertham… it’s a Hall of Fame of comic book history from the man Boing Boing calls “America’s greatest living portrait artist!”
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.