It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Wonder Woman is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix - A detective story set in ancient China. Plus: cool name.
Dicks #1 – Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s humor makes my top hat explode and my monocle fly off my face, but I remember this being pretty popular back in the day and I imagine that it’s new presentation in color and leading into a new storyline could make it popular again.
Ralph Wiggum Comics #1 – This, on the other hand, is exactly my kind of funny. Kind of like 30 Days of Night, I’m astonished no one’s thought of it before. Too bad it’s just a one-shot, but hearing that Sergio Aragones is one of the contributors makes me want to poke myself with my Viking helmet to see if I’m dreaming.
One of the more interesting (at least to me) aspect of Occupy Wall Street is that it has its own library, tended to by professional librarians and providing a variety of literature, from serious works of social and economic theory to picture books to keep the kiddies happy. Check the blog for news of authors who have been stopping by and donating their books; the New Yorker even wrote a nice little piece. Libraries are springing up in the other Occupy sites as well, including Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Providence.
This sparked a lively discussion on a librarians’ graphic novel discussion group where I lurk. Gan Golan, creator of The Adventures of Unemployed Man, started the discussion:
I visited the libraries at both the Occupy Baltimore (which was tiny) and Occupy Wall St. at Zucotti park in NYC (which was huge) and the good librarians at both places lamented the lack of a strong graphic novels section that showcased comic that were relevant or socially engaged. (The libraries there are very popular, btw).
Publishing | Mark Evanier, who is providing editorial assistance on Fantagraphics’ long-awaited Walt Kelly Pogo collections, notes that the first volume has gone to print. “My friend, the lovely Carolyn Kelly, lovingly supervised the loving restoration of her lovely father’s lovely strip and she also did the lovely design of this lovely book and its lovely dust jacket and the lovely imprints under that lovely dust jacket. Sure sounds like a labor of love to me. Not that the contents need any help but the strips are supplemented by a foreword from writer (and friend o’ Walt’s) Jimmy Breslin and essays/annotations by Steve Thompson, R.C. Harvey and myself. If I were you, I’d read all that text stuff after I read the strips themselves about eleven times.” [News from Me]
Comics | Todd Allen runs through some of the “actual changes” to the DC titles come September, noting the eight new (or fairly new, or returning after being absent) writers, plus four who have been “poached” from Vertigo. [Indignant Online]
Comics | Martin Wisse takes The Atlantic to task for publishing an “utterly dull and middlebrow” list of 10 nonfiction graphic novels they called “masterpieces.” He notes that when commenters call out the author for not listing any works by Joe Sacco, she responds that she “chickened out” on including Footnotes in Gaza because “the topic is so polarizing.” Tom Spurgeon has commentary as well, noting, “It’s galling that an author can admit to not including something for publication because they were afraid of Internet reprisals and not be automatically fired and/or laughed out of town.” [Wis[s]e Words, The Comics Reporter]
Why aren’t there more news comics? Is that an odd thing to wonder, or to ask for? Probably; comics are generally fiction these days, after all, and non-fiction comics trend more towards autobio and self-reflection than looking at the world around us, but still. News comics. I think I want some. Continue Reading »
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 examining the bibliography of one of the more interesting and significant cartoonists to come out of the alt-comix movement of the 1980s and ’90s, Joe Sacco.
Conventions | Early estimates place attendance three-day attendance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo at 34,000, up from 27,500 at last year’s inaugural event. “Last year was disappointing,” said Eric Thornton, manager of Chicago Comics. “But now you definitely see this starting to take hold.” [Chicago Tribune]
Retailing | Borders Group has announced it will close an additional 28 stores, bringing the total to 228. The bookseller, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, had used the possibility of as many as 75 closings as leverage to negotiate lease concessions. This latest wave will bring the chain’s remaining store total to about 400. [Media Decoder]
Publishers | Chicago-based publisher Archaia, which expects sales of $11 million this year, has raised capital from a group of investors with local connections. [Crain's Chicago Business, via ICv2.com]
Capes and tights: Wow, here are two posts in one weekend about what’s wrong with superhero comics! Charles Hatfield picks up Blackest Night but just gets tired thinking of all that continuity, while PC Weenies creator Krishna Sadasivam picks up three new comics and finds none of them is accessible to new readers.
Meta: Jeet Heer gives his candidate for worst comics criticism of the 21st century. It’s short so go, read, laugh.
Footnotes in Gaza
by Joe Sacco
Metropolitan Books, 416 pages, $29.95.
If you’re at all familiar with Joe Sacco’s comics — if you’ve read any of his previous graphic novels, like Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde or The Fixer — then it won’t come as much of a shock to you when I say that his latest book, Footnotes in Gaza, is another exemplary work, perhaps even his best to date. You’re already aware of the high standards he continually sets for himself as a storyteller and an artist and how he amazingly seems to reach those benchmarks time and again. You probably don’t need much convincing.
If you haven’t read any of Sacco’s books up till now, you’re in for a treat. Well, I suppose “treat” is the unequivocally wrong word to use considering the book’s grim subject matter, but there is something so captivating and masterful about Sacco’s work — he uses the medium to such great effect, squeezing every bit of tension and drama from his narrative while avoiding obvious, sentimental heart-tugging or one-note political polemics — that it’s hard not to be stunned by the power of artistry on display, even while you’re being moved to anger or sadness by the tragedy he’s recounting.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Flashlight Worthy blog asked ten bloggers (male and female) to nominate their favorite comics by and about women. The range and quality of the list is a reminder that talent knows no gender—or genre: the nominations include Jessica Abel’s La Perdida, Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting, Alison Bechdel’s The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, and Fumi Yoshinaga’s All My Darling Daughters.
If you’re reading this column, you’re probably hip enough to know that all manga does not feature big, sparkly eyes, but in case you missed that memot, Paul Gravett has an explanation and lists six worthy series that don’t have a sparkly eye in the bunch.
Sean Gordon Murphy sets snobbery aside to look at the good points of house styles.
Suzette Chan explains how Faith Erin Hicks tweaks the tropes of boarding-school stories in The War at Ellesmere.
Kate Dacey mulls over the dilemma of being a feminist and a yaoi fan in her review of Hinako Takanaga’s Little Butterfly.
Carlo Santos takes the second volume of Alice in the Country of Hearts as seriously as anybody is going to, and he does some nice analysis of how the book relates to its inspiration, Alice in Wonderland.
The Ridenhour Book Prize honors Joe Sacco’s tenacious reporting and recognizes Footnotes in Gaza as a work of profound social significance, one that explores the complex continuum of history. At a time when peace in the Middle East has never seemed more elusive, Sacco’s illustrations bear witness to the lives of those who are trapped by the conflict. This marks the first time that the Ridenhour judges have awarded the prize to an illustrated book
The Ridenhour Prize is named after Ron Ridenhour, who uncovered the My Lai massacre and later became an investigative journalist. (via)
I’m old enough to still find it absolutely delightful when a mainstream publication recognizes excellence in comics, particularly when the comics it deems excellent really are excellent. And that’s certainly the case with the finalists for the LA Times’ inaugural Graphic Novel Book Prize:
Luba by Gilbert Hernandez
GoGo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
That’s a pretty outstanding group. In other comics-related Book Prize news, McSweeney’s publisher Dave Eggers will be presented with the Times’ first-ever Innovators Award, while cartoonist Shaun Tan’s Tales from Outer Suburbia is a finalist for the Young Adult Literature Book Prize.
According to the announcement of the finalists in all categories — which, again to my delight, treats the addition of the Graphic Novel category like a major selling point — the winners will be announced April 23. My sincere congratulations go out to all the finalists.
(via Bryan Lee O’Malley)
Welcome to What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is blogger Tim O’Neil, who can frequently be found offering insightful comics commentary on his blog, The Hurting. Today he’s using the comics on his reading table to go into an in-depth examination of Blackest Night vs. Seige, and why one works and the other doesn’t.
But I’m not doing a very good job explaining this. To see what I mean, and to find out what everyone else is reading, click on the link below.
Sacco talks about and reads from his new book, Footnotes in Gaza, in this news segment. (via)
I don’t know if it’s been up for months now or just went up over the weekend, but Macmillan has an extensive preview of Joe Sacco’s latest book, Footnotes in Gaza, which should be out in stores by the end of the year. Expect a good deal of chatter, and, considering the times, a dash of controversy over this one.
I receieved a nice surprise while flipping through publisher Henry Holt’s fall 2009 catalog yesterday. There, on pages 24-5 was a nice plug for Joe Sacco’s upcoming book, Footnotes in Gaza. I’ll steal directly from the catalog copy to provide you with a plot summary.
Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Stip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts.
Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinian refugees dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah — cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake — reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco arrives in Gaza and, immersing himself in daily life uncovers Rafah past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy.
The catalog doesn’t give a price, but does note that the book is 416 pages and will be out in stores this December. Sacco is one of the most talented people in comics today, and he’s been working on this project for quite awhile. I strongly anticipate this being the dark horse candidate for best book of the year.