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Houghton Mifflin to publish Randall Munroe’s ‘What If?’

munroe-what-ifHoughton Mifflin Harcourt has announced the Sept. 2 release of Randall Munroe’s What If?: Serious Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, based on the popular blog by the xkcd cartoonist.

Launched in July 2012, the blog features Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, answering hypothetical physics- or math-related questions — for instance, “How much Force power can Yoda output?” or “What if there was a robot apocalypse?” — with the help of infographics and the cartoonist’s signature stick figures. The book will include a blend of new questions and answers and old favorites.

“As I’ve sifted through the letters submitted to What If every week, I’ve occasionally set aside particularly neat questions that I wanted to spend a little more time on,” Munroe explained this morning. “This book features my answers to those questions, along with revised and updated versions of some of my favorite articles from the site. (I’m also including my personal list of the weirdest questions people have submitted.)”

The 320-page hardcover is available for preorder.

Robot Reviews | Are You My Mother? and Unterzakhn

Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama
by Alison Bechdel
Houghton Mifflin, $22.

Unterzakhn
by Leela Corman
Schocken Books, $24.95

Are You My Mother is one tough nut of a book. Dense, analytical, filled with allusions to classic literature and psychoanalysis, it consciously resists easy interpretation or tried and true conventions. It’s an adventurous, thoughtful and fascinating book —  I have no qualms about recommending it — but it’s chilly and distancing, and I suspect it will frustrate many readers, even those who cherished author Alison Bechdel’s previous book Fun Home. 

Mother is in many ways a direct sequel to Fun Home, Bechdel’s highly touted and incredibly successful (at least in comic book terms) memoir of her father. It’s not impossible to come to Mother never having read any of Bechdel’s previous work, but the book refers directly to issues raised in Fun Home, so being acquainted will undoubtedly help.

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Comics A.M. | Comics rebound in 2011 while graphic novels slump

Justice League #4

Publishing | John Jackson Miller takes apart the December sales numbers and finds that while comics were up for the month, graphic novel sales fell just enough to prevent the direct market from having its first up year since 2008. In fact, trades are down 16 percent from December 2010, and Miller spends some time discussing why that might be — and why next year might be different. [The Comichron]

Publishing | Houghton Mifflin has high hopes for Are You My Mother?, the new graphic novel from Fun Home author Alison Bechdel: The publisher plans a first printing of 100,000 copies. [Publishers Weekly]

Retailing | Diamond’s Retailer Summit will be held the two days before the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, with attendees receiving free admission to the April 13-15 convention. [ICv2]

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