The Nao of Brown
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and whatever else we’ve been checking out lately. Today our guest is Shaun Manning, a former staffer at CBR, occasional convention reporter and comics writer. His current project is a comic called Hell, Nebraska (with artist Anna Wieszczyk), and he’s currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it. So go check it out.
To see what Shaun and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
My favorite comic of the past year by a clear head and shoulders has been The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon. In fact, when others were courting controversy by loudly bemoaning the absence of Marvel and DC comics in the nominations for Eisner Awards, I was to be found loudly berating anyone that would listen that it was a crime Nao wasn’t in the running at all. It should have been nominated in at least three categories, I’d argue.
History won’t judge this oversight well, I would rage. It won the Prix Spécial du Jury at this year’s 40th Angoulême International Festival of Bande Dessinée, I’d point out. The French don’t just throw those things around like confetti. They know what they’re talking about. And they hate the English, I’d generalize. How good must it be for them to forget Agincourt and Waterloo and give the prize to a Ros Bif? Then the ambulance arrived, that big guy injected something into my neck, and I can’t remember much of the next couple of days at all.
This isn’t a “Best of 2012″ list, because (a) 2012 isn’t finished yet, and (b) every time I attempt to put “Best of” lists together, I inevitably end up forgetting something that I utterly adore and feel guilty about it afterwards. Instead, inspired by Thursday’s upcoming holiday and the fact that you might be thinking about buying things on Friday for some reason, here are five things in comics from this year that I’m thankful for.
The other day, a friend was visiting and asked in a somewhat halfhearted manner for something to read. I gave her The Nao of Brown, fairly confident it’d be her kind of thing in terms of tone and theme (and entirely confident the art would bowl her over), and then started thinking about gateway comics. What makes a good introduction for newcomers to the entire comic medium?
A few years ago it seemed like Glyn Dillon might end up just a footnote in the histories of other comic creators: the younger brother of Steve; the housemate of Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin and Phillip Bond during the Deadline years; the artist on Alan Martin’s decidedly less-famous strip “Planet Swerve”; a collaborator with Pete Milligan on a few uncollected Vertigo comics. If you asked around, you found out that Glyn Dillon was part of the exodus of talent out of comics in the mid-’90s, a brain-drain that benefited the worlds of film and television production greatly.
If you were really tenaciously researching his creative whereabouts, you may well have discovered he now had an IMDb page publicly listing a few storyboarding jobs. In the immortal words of This Is Spinal Tap, to the average comic fan he was “currently residing in the where-are-they-now file.” TV and film production is a litigious land where artists are bound by non-disclosure agreements; the thousands of pages they produce there may never be seen, at least not until the projects they are produced for are either in the can or officially pronounced dead. This is considered beyond the pale by comics fans, used to their favorite artists releasing practically every development sketch for every project they work on.
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 catch up on Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz’ Hell Yeah with the first trade, Vol. 1: Last Days On Earth (Image, $9.99). I admit to dropping off after the second issue, but it’s always something I wanted to get back to; and reading Keatinge’s interviews on the more recent issues has pushed me over the top. If nothing else, $9.99 for five issues is a good deal. After that I’d get Avengers Vs. X-Men #12 (Marvel, $4.99). Of all the group-written issues, Jason Aaron’s seems to have been the most organized and engaging, so I’m glad they opted to have him do the finale. Seeing Adam Kubert on this is surprising, as his previous issues of Avengers Vs. X-Men felt rushed – but previews of this issue show him more measured and confident, like his Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine work, also with Aaron.
If I had $30, I’d double back and gleefully grab Thomas Herpich’s White Clay (AdHouse, $4.95). When I first heard about this the onus of Adventure Time was heavy given the cartoonist works on that show, but after seeing the previews and hearing Chris Pitzer talk about this book I’m in for it. I’d also get the debut issue of Andy Diggle’s Doctor Who #1 (IDW, $3.99) with artist Mark Buckingham. Bucky’s a real treat here, and I’m interested to see what he does with Diggle’s words – and what exactly Diggle does. I’m okay if it’s not Lenny Zero – but that would be nice too. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #32 (Marvel, $3.99). At one time this was my favorite book coming from the Big Two, but it seems to have grown long in the tooth; I’m not confident enough to say Rick and crew are doing something wrong, as maybe it’s just me. But the first 18 issues had a special kind of magic, and that doesn’t seem to remain here in these issues. But still, I’m in ’til the end.
If I could splurge, I’d get The Nao of Brown (SelfMadeHero, $24.95) by Glyn Dillon. I admit I already received an advance review copy of this book, but if I didn’t I’d surely have it on pre-order. A read a review where they compared to this to Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, but I think that’s a mere surface examination. After reading this (and flipping through it a dozen times since), this is just a pure coming-of-age story that reminds me more of Hope Larson or a very chatty Adrian Tomine. Very great, very great.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are the creative team behind the upcoming self-distributed indie comic LP, Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos. You can read more about the comic in the interview Tim O’Shea did with Curt earlier this week.
And to see what they’ve been reading lately, click below.
Glyn Dillon‘s The Nao Of Brown is a book I can safely say I’ve been looking forward to since before it was announced. Though very few pages have leaked out, Dillon regularly posts panels via his Twitter feed, and they’re spectacular. Here’s a few recent ones to whet your appetite for what is sure to be one of the graphic novels of the year:
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute … “monthly”?
It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.