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Like you, I’m all a-twitter about the release of those Carl Barks books from Fantagraphics later this year. (you are a-twitter, aren’t you?) Not to mention Craig Thompson’s Habibi, Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, Chester Brown’s Paying for It and that Grant Morrison Multiversity mini-series. And, hey, maybe we’ll even see the first volume of Pogo! Yep, by any yardstick, it seems like 2011 promises to be another year of really great releases.
But, even beyond the big-name titles and huge company crossovers, there are a number of comics and graphic novels arriving in stores this year that warrant further attention. They may have not have garnered much of your notice, since they’re not attached to a well-known creator or license or come from overseas. Here then, are six such books, all due this year, all of which I’m willing to bet good money aren’t on your radar, but should be. As usual, be sure to note any books you’re excited about but haven’t generated much buzz yet in the comments section.
1) The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics). If you’ve had the lucky opportunity to read Schrauwen’s My Boy, or perused his work in the anthology Mome, then you’ll know this Belgian artist is the real deal — a true, utterly unique and frequently inspired cartoonist who draws upon century-old cartooning styles (McCay, Outcault) to create something contemporary and frequently bizarre. This is the first American collection of Schrauwen’s work and I’m really excited to see him reach a potentially wider audience. Actually, I’m just excited to read more of an artist I’ve only been able to catch in dribs and drabs.
2) The Adventures of Herge written by Jose-Louis Bocquet and Jean-Luc Fromental and illustrated by Stanislas Barthélémy (Drawn and Quarterly). Not to be confused with the biography by Michael Farr, this is a somewhat fictionalized, truncated account of the Tintin creator’s life, ably illustrated in the ligne claire style by Stanislas (as he’s usually known). It was originally translated for one of the final volumes of the late, lamented Drawn & Quarterly anthology and, as a big Tintin fan, it’s nice to see it be collected into a book. I don’t know if there’s more material to the book than what D&Q initially released several years ago, but even if that’s not the case, I’m more than happy to become familiar with this book once again.
3) Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham (Bloomsbury). I’ve really enjoyed reading Cunningham’s thoughtful look at different types of mental illnesses and his experiences working in a psychiatric ward and am very happy to see them collected in book form and released on these shores. I expect this to make a lot of “best of” lists come December.
4) Lychee Light Club by Usamaru Furuya (Vertical). North America hasn’t seen much of Furuya’s work translated in English, apart from the release of Short Cuts a number of years back. That drought seems to finally be ending. Viz released the first volume of Genkaku Picasso last year, and now Vertical plans to bring the one-volume Light Club to our shores. The book is about a group of nerdy boys who create a powerful machine to help them find the most beautiful women in the world, only to have everything go wrong. It all sounds delightfully subversive and strange, which is how I like it.
5) Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme (Top Shelf). If you follow the Eurocomics scene at all (and no points against you if you don’t), this title may have caught your eye, as it won the René Goscinny Prize and the Angoulême Essential Award back in 2006 or so. It’s about two psychologically damaged people who bond and run away across Europe together. Eurocomics expert Bart Beaty wasn’t too crazy about it, but I’m intrigued enough by the concept and small samples I’ve found online to want to check the book out when it arrives in stores in April.
6) Garden by Yuichi Yokoyama (Picturebox). Yokoyama’s no stranger to American readers. His 2008 book Travel won a good deal of acclaim and interest among a certain segment of alt-comix and alt-manga fans. Still, I was completely unaware that PictureBox was going to release his latest 328-page masterpiece until publisher Dan Nadel mentioned it in our year-end round-up. Do I have any idea what this book is about? Not a clue. Am I still going to get it anyway the day it hits stores? Oh yeah.