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Amid all of the best-of-the-year lists, National Public Radio’s comics go-to guy Glen Weldon takes a different approach, focusing on “outstanding works that haven’t gotten the column inches they deserve” — in short, the graphic novels and collections that might’ve slipped beneath the mainstream radar. Of course, half of his selections have already made best-of lists this year:
• The Crackle of the Frost, by Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner (Fantagraphics)
• Little White Duck: A Childhood in China, by Andres Vera Martinez and Na Liu (Graphic Universe)
• Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)
• Gloriana, by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)
• Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
• Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang (DC Comics)
You can read what Weldon has to say about each off the books on the NPR website.
Here are three June releases from Drawn and Quarterly: Kevin Huizenga’s Gloriana, Chester Brown’s Ed The Happy Clown and Dan Zettwoch’s Birdseye Bristoe.
They have several things in common, aside from the fact that they are all hardcover releases from the same publisher. They are all handsomely designed, for example, they all make lovely coffee table and bookshelf-filling objects, and they are all more or less important comics releases.
One of them is different in several significant ways, however.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
This month marks the re-release of Kevin Huizenga‘s Gloriana (originally self-published in 2001, then first collected by Drawn & Quarterly in 2004). The writer/artist recently accepted my invite for an email interview about the new 96-page hardback edition, which includes four stories (The Groceries, The Sunset, The Moon Rose and Basketball). I was particularly pleased to talk to Huizenga about Basketball, given how he notes in the interview working on that story proved “surprisingly emotional for me at the time”. My thanks to Huizenga for taking my questions (and correcting me when I was misinformed with some aspects of my queries).
Tim O’Shea: Back in 2004 Tom Spurgeon interviewed you. At that time you were increasingly using computers with your work, also you discussed with Tom experimenting with the size of your original art (trying to work on larger pages). How large are the pages now that you work with and have you incorporated computers more into your work?
Kevin Huizenga: Readers of your website will be fascinated to hear that I draw at about 150%. As far as computers, doesn’t everyone use them for everything now? I fix and edit in Photoshop and have done so for many years now. I’m pretty sure everyone else does too, but I don’t use tablets or anything like that—it’s still pen and paper. I’ve been using the same scanner since 2000! An Epson. Now that I’ve said that I’m sure it will break tomorrow.
Consider this my calling my own bluff. Awhile back, I opined that no-one online really spent enough time talking about independent books that were being solicited, meaning that when they were finally released three months later, your store might have missed out because you didn’t even know to pre-order. With the March Previews coming out a week tomorrow, I figured there was no better time for me to tell you what you should be pestering your retailer for from the February edition. Here’s my pick of the top five books you should be looking to pre-order. Continue Reading »