Abrams ComicArts has just formalized its Spring 2019 titles. It’s the imprints 10th anniversary, and it’s a strong line-up of some comics luminaries wth a guest appearance by poet Walt Whitman. Details below:
A Fire Story, by Brian Fies
On sale 3/5/2019
Early morning on Monday, October 9, 2017, wildfires burned through Northern California, resulting in 44 fatalities. In addition, 6,200 homes and 8,900 structures and were destroyed. Author Brian Fies’s firsthand account of this tragic event is an honest, unflinching depiction of his personal experiences, including losing his house and every possession he and his wife had that didn’t fit into the back of their car. In the days that followed, as the fires continued to burn through the area, Brian hastily pulled together A Fire Story and posted it online—it immediately went viral. He is now expanding his original webcomic to include environmental insight and the fire stories of his neighbors and others in his community. A Fire Story is an honest account of the wildfires that left homes destroyed, families broken, and a community determined to rebuild.
*On June 2, graphic novelist Brian Fies and KQED producers won a Northern California Area Emmy Award for Best Public/Current/Community Affairs-Feature/Segment for KQED’s video version of Fies’ “Fire Story.”
“Even before I was certain my home had been destroyed in the northern California firestorms of October 2017, I knew it was a story I had to tell. As with my first graphic novel Mom’s Cancer, I also knew I was going to tell A Fire Story in the form of a comic. I posted eighteen pages online within days of losing my home. People who hadn’t experienced the fire said my comic told them what it was like to be there; people who had experienced the fire said I’d captured their stories, too. About three million people saw that comic or an animated version produced by PBS TV station KQED, which won an Emmy Award in June. I’m thrilled and honored to be working with my friend and editor Charlie Kochman, and Abrams ComicArts—the publisher of my first two graphic novels, Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?—to expand A Fire Story into a full-length graphic memoir. The new version will be larger in scope and cover more time following the fire. I’m approaching it as graphic journalism, showing the fire’s impact on not only my life, but the lives of other people and our entire community.” – Brian Fies
Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead, by Bill Griffith
On sale 3/19/2019
Nobody’s Fool follows the story of Schlitzie’s long career—from Coney Island and the Ringling Bros. Circus to small-town carnivals and big-city sideshows—which is one of legend. Today, Schlitzie is most well-known for his appearance in the cult classic Freaks. The making of Freaks and Schlitzie’s role in the film is a centerpiece of the book. In researching Schlitzie’s life (1901–1971), Griffith has tracked down primary sources and archives throughout the country, including conducting interviews with those who worked with him and had intimate knowledge of his personality, his likes and dislikes, how he responded to being a sideshow “freak,” and much more. This graphic novel biography provides never-before-revealed details of his life, offering a unique look into his world and restoring dignity to his life by recognizing his contributions to popular culture.
“Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead has been decades in the making—since 1963, when I was an art student and saw Tod Browning’s 1932 film about the sideshow, Freaks. Although I derived the name Zippy from another famous sideshow pinhead, ‘Zip the What-Is-It?,’ Zippy’s non-linear personality was largely based on Schlitzie’s appearance in Freaks. From the day Zippy made his first comic book appearance in 1971, Schlitzie has been backstage, quietly waiting. Now, after three years of research and cross-hatching, he’s finally ready for his close-up.” —Bill Griffith
Live Oak, With Moss, by Walt Whitman, illustrated by Brian Selznick
On sale 4/9/2019
As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled Live Oak, with Moss. The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction and affection for other men, and Whitman’s most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love. This revolutionary, extraordinarily beautiful, and passionate cluster of poems was never published by Whitman during his lifetime and has remained unknown to the general public—until now. New York Times bestselling author Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck) has been greatly influenced by Whitman and has created more than 100 pages of original images that form a stirring visual narrative around the poems. An afterword by Professor Karen Karbiener illuminates the story of Whitman’s enigmatic cluster of poems, provides keys for interpreting their meanings, and highlights their contemporary significance.
“I met the legendary illustrator Maurice Sendak at a book signing, and we quickly became friends. Coincidentally he was reading Walt Whitman for the first time, and I had just finished a children’s book about the poet. Maurice told me an incredible story about a sequence of poems Whitman had written about a love affair he had with another man that he never published. Instead he cut up the poems, rearranged them, and hid them in Leaves of Grass. The poetry sequence remained secret for a hundred years until it was discovered, pieced back together, and named Live Oak, with Moss. It was my friend Karen Karbiener who suggested I create a book from these poems. I hope Maurice would have approved.” – Brian Selznick
A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library, by Jack Gantos and illustrated by Dave McKean
On sale 5/14/18
When a young boy enters a library wearing an explosive vest hidden underneath his lovely new red jacket, he only has one plan on his mind. But as he observes those around him becoming completely captivated by all of the wonderful books they are reading—books he has no ability to read—the boy can’t help but question his reasoning for being there. With Dave McKean’s unique mixed-media illustrations, bestselling author Jack Gantos brings to life the story of a young suicide bomber, his unquestionable duty to his beliefs, and the unexpected power of books to change lives.
“Several years ago, Amnesty International asked me to write a story for their anthology on the subject of freedom, Here I Stand. I did, and titled it A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library. Now that story has been enlivened through Dave McKean’s brilliant illustrations and will be published by Abrams ComicArts. At the heart of this story is the belief that literacy and the freedom of expression create a shared empathetic culture—a culture that creates books that honor us all and liberates us from violence. But as Denis Diderot wrote in the eighteenth century, ‘From fanaticism to barbarism is one step.’ Or one bomb. We must continue to believe that the education of all people worldwide remains the greatest safeguard to individual freedom and cultural liberty. Literacy for all is freedom for all.” —Jack Gantos
“If art has any use at all, it is to allow us to see life through another’s eyes. We must comprehend the point of view of people with whom we profoundly disagree, to stand a chance of convincing them that there is another way.” – Dave McKean
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.