Drawn & Quarterly
Not content to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, DC Comics and Drawn & Quarterly have gotten a head start on holiday sales.
Beginning Tuesday, DC Comics Digital will give away the first issue of a different digital-first comic each day for the next week: Tuesday is Legends of the Dark Knight, Wednesday is Batman ’66, Thursday is The Vampire Diaries, Friday is Smallville Season 11, Saturday is Batman Beyond 2.0/Justice League Beyond 2.0, Sunday is Batman: Li’l Gotham, and Monday is Adventures of Superman.
Drawn & Quarterly isn’t waiting, however: Between today and Dec. 2, the publisher is offering a 40 percent discount on any item — books, comics, posters, etc. — from its web store. Those include works released this year, including Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, Rutu Modan’s The Poperty, Brian Ralph’s Reggie-12 and Anders Nilsen’s Rage of Poseidon.
A young girl ventures into an abandoned, labyrinthine city in order to find her lost brother, despite it’s being haunted by malevolent demons. One of the strengths of Wartman’s debut graphic novel is that he doesn’t vary much from that core story outline. He dabbles in a lot of overly familiar genre and mythological tropes to be sure (there’s some business with the demons being named and people entering the city forgetting who they are) but he doesn’t play up these elements too strongly or let them overwhelm the story, instead keeping the focus on the girl and her desire to locate her brother. I also liked the relationship between the girl and a somewhat helpful demon who seems so astonished that someone would willingly enter the city that he ends up acting as a benefactor. Again, it’s a familiar trope, but paces the story well enough that it never once feels rote or cliched.
Another key to the book’s success is the city itself. I can’t emphasize enough the need for cartoonists, especially young cartoonists, to set their stories in a well-defined universe. This is especially true in fantasy stories, where the reader needs to get a sense of the physical world the characters inhabit in order to be willing to accept the supernatural and logic-defying events that occur in the story. You can’t map out Wartman’s city in your head, but the seemingly endless panels of well-detailed corridors, stairs, gardens and passageways give a sense of scale to the story. The city seems so foreboding and ancient, you worry the characters really will lose their way. Overall I just appreciated this well-structured, engrossing adventure tale and hope it’s a sign of more good things to come from this particular cartoonist.
What is it about childhood that makes us forget about ours so easily? Whether consciously or not, we seem all too eager to not only put our younger years behind us, but obliterate them from our memories. Even as parents we frequently grow exasperated and angry with our own children, seemingly incapable of remembering what it was like to be little.
While many cartoonists are cited for their “childlike” abilities, precious few are able to accurately convey what it actually feels like to be a child – what makes up the significant joys and anxieties of your average 12- or 6- or 3-year-old and how they best express those complicated emotions.
There are a few, however. Lynda Barry is one, Kazuo Umezu is another. Add to that short list Gilbert Hernandez, as evidenced by his latest book, the excellent Marble Season.
It’s the episodic story of Huey, a the middle child of a moderately sized family living in California in the mid-1960s. His adventures, such as they are, consist of avoiding scary things, like neighborhood bullies or the crazy lady in the spooky house down the road; discovering cool stuff, like Mars Attacks cards; and inventing and playing games with the kids in the neighborhood. Taking a page from Peanuts, we never see Huey’s parents or any of his teachers (indeed we never see him in a classroom). The entire book is staged and presented from the viewpoint of Huey, his brothers and their friends.
Note: My schedule has been all goofy lately which means I haven’t been able to post on a regular weekly basis or contribute to Cheat Sheet or What Are You Reading in the manner I’d like to. I know: Wah, wah, wah.
Meanwhile, the books keep piling up. And piling up.
So, in an effort to assuage my guilt, I attempted to run through some of the titles I’ve received in the mail in the past few months. Warning: I might do this again. I might not. I’m mercurial.
You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)
As appreciative as I am that we live in an era when cartoonists are encouraged to, and do, create lengthy, thoughtful, multi-layered stories, there’s something to be said for the simple pleasures of a gag strip – the fleeting joy that a really short, well-constructed joke can provide. I didn’t realize how much I missed that sort of thing until I read You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, a collection of short strips that cartoonist Tom Gauld did for The Guardian. The bulk of the strips play upon classic stories, genre fiction or publishing in general. Gauld’s jokes are are silly enough and play upon familiar cliches well enough to make the reader feel smart even if you haven’t read, say, Zola’s “Germinal.” His minimalist, silhouetted style helps get the joke across as well. He’s also rather fond of diagrams and maps, which puts him in good company with folks like New Yorker cartoonists Roz Chast and Jack Ziegler I didn’t care much for Gauld’s last book, Goliath, which I thought milked a rather weak joke (gosh, the Biblical Goliath was actually a really nice guy!) but Jetpack had me frequently laughing out loud in the way that only my favorite comic strips do. Comics need more of this sort of “get in, get out quick” work right now and I’m happy that Gauld is here to fill that void.
Having reflected back on the best (and most cruelly ignored) comics of the past year, it’s time to look forward. Here are six comics I’m really excited about reading this year. As usual, my list reflects my own alt-comix/alt-manga interests/biases. So let me know in the comments what titles I’ve been such a clod as to overlook.
Having released his World War II indictment Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths in 2011, and his compelling childhood memoir Nonnonba in 2012, Drawn & Quarterly will publish Shigeru Mizuki’s most beloved and best-known work, Kitaro, for the first time in North America in 2013.
Created in 1959, Mizuki’s Kitaro, known in Japan as GeGeGe no Kitaro, follows the adventures of a centuries-old little boy who — well, I think the D&Q press release says it best:
Meet Kitaro. He’s just like any other boy, except for a few small differences: he only has one eye, his hair is as an antenna that senses paranormal activity, his geta sandals are jet-powered, and he can blend in to his surroundings like a chameleon. Oh, and he’s a three hundred and fifty year old yokāi (spirit monster). With all the offbeat humor and a delightful cast of characters, Kitaro is a light-hearted romp where the bad guys always get what’s coming to them.
Kitaro is not only incredibly popular in its native country but something of a native landmark, so its release on these shores (the book comes out in February) is noteworthy. As part of Robot 6′s anniversary celebration, the folks at Drawn & Quarterly were kind enough to share a sample story from this upcoming volume, Monster Night Game:
Comics | Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, appears to be embracing its role in this week’s Avengers#1 as a target of an alien “origin bomb” that struck the city, changing its biosphere and altering billions of years of evolution in mere minutes. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice present and executive editor, tells a local newspaper he’s unsure why Regina and Perth, Australia, were selected, but local retailer Chad Boudreau seems glad it happened. “We had no advanced notice of it,” he said. “It just happened that someone reading the comic saw it in there.” He expects strong sales at Comic Readers, with those who don’t typically follow comics buying the issue out of curiosity. [The Star Phoenix]
A few weeks ago we looked at Fantagraphics publishing plans for 2013. Today I thought it might be worthwhile to peek into Drawn & Quarterly’s crystal ball and see what they have in store. I skipped over some re-releases and new volumes of expected material — a new Moomin collection, a paperback release of Paying for It — mainly because I’m lazy.
You’re Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld. Gauld’s weekly comic gets the fancy book deal. Expect lots of really funny riffs on history and pop culture in Gauld’s stone-faced, deadpan style. January, $19.95.
One of the more interesting, art-focused and idiosyncratic comic conventions around, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, will take place this weekend.
The bulk of festival will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. The show has expanded considerably, however, to include a number of other events, including gallery shows and a film festival.
Like clockwork, Comic-Con International organizers have released the programming schedule for Friday, July 13, the second full day of the San Diego convention. It sees publishers kicking things into high gear, with Marrvel’s “Cup O’ Joe” and DC Comics panels on the New 52 and Justice League and Green Lantern groups, as well as presentations from IDW Publishing, Oni Press, BOOM! Studios, UDON, and Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly.
That’s only for starters, though, as AMC’s The Walking Dead, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The CW’s Arrow make Comic-Con appearances, and creators as diverse as Joss Whedon, Kate Beaton, Larry Hama, Scott Snyder, Lynn Johnston, Dan Piraro, James Robinson and Jeff Lemire get the spotlight. There are also tributes to legendary creators Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon, as well as Comic-Con co-founder Richard Alf.
And to keep off the day, there’s the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.
We’ve selected some of the comics-related highlights below; visit the Comic-Con website to see the complete schedule.
Drawn and Quarterly announced Wednesday that it has the license for Shigeru Mizuki’s GeGeGe No Kitaro, the third manga the publisher has acquired from the award-winning creator.
The book, which D+Q simply refers to as Kitaro, is a retelling of a traditional Japanese story about a boy who fights with yōkai, the spirits of Japanese folklore who range from good-natured tricksters to dangerous menaces. The series debuted in 1959 in the boys’ manga magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine, and has been adapted for several anime and games as well as a live-action movie.
This is actually the second English translation of Kitaro; the Japanese publisher Kodansha put out a bilingual English/Japanese edition in 2002, but I believe that was intended for English students in Japan, not the import market, and it doesn’t seem to be available in the United States.
D+Q’s other two Mizuki manga are Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, the story of a doomed battalion of Japanese soldiers in the waning days of World War II, and NonNon Ba, his memoir of growing up with his grandmother in a world populated by yōkai.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
This month we’re looking at the body of work from one of the medium’s masters of horror, Charles Burns.
Brigid Alverson will have her own MoCCA report up soon, no doubt, but I thought I’d share my own reminiscences of last weekend’s show, via some pics I took while wandering around the aisles.
Dust off your shoes and pull your tote bag out of the closet kids, it’s MoCCA time once again. The annual indie/small press comics show hosted by the Museum will take place at the Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City this weekend. It promises to be a grand affair, with tons of publishers, minicomics, books and panels to choose from. Underneath the link we’ve put together a quick rundown of some of the more notable and interesting (well interesting to us any way) goings-on at the show this weekend.