Drawing from a new generation of cartoonists who are spotlighted in anthologies MOME and Best American Comics, Fantagraphics has announced several new graphic novels from authors they have never published before. The eclectic roster includes projects based in both the real and surreal from John Pham, Lille Carré, John Kerschbaum and Esther Pearl Watson.
LA-based John Pham, known for his contributions to MOME and his Epoxy minicomics, has a new series of original graphic novels due from the publisher starting with Sublife, the story of the unusual inhabitants of a grimy, Los Angeles neighborhood: two white supremacist brothers with a dog they’ve trained as a weapon, a landlord who never leaves her attic bedroom, and her son, who insists on wearing a sheet over his head all the time. Each volume of the planned GN series will contain several stories by Pham.
Following up her Eisner-nominated Tales of Woodsman Pete, Lille Carre returns with The Lagoon, a surreal tale about a family that has varying reactions to the song of the movie menace the Creature from the Black Lagoon. According to publicity manager Eric Reynolds, "The book was influenced by the films Creature from the Black Lagoon and Night of the Hunter, but reads more like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers."
Esther Pearl Watson's Unlovable is a giant 416 page compilation of her comic strips retelling a teenager’s diary from the 1980s that Watson found in a gas-station bathroom. The story has already been serialized in Bust magazine for several years, gaining a following and much buzz. Along with reprints of those strips, Watson is creating 100 new pages for this collection, which deals with the fictional 1985 sophomore year of Tammy Pierce who must traverse a perilous teenaged landscape dotted with music, boys, tampons and breakdancing.
The scabrously humorous Petey and Pussy, by John Kerschbaum gets its own 128-page collection presenting the adventures of a bunch of kvetching funny animals: Pete, the dog, is happy-go-lucky; Pussy, the cat, is self-centered; and Bernie, the bird, is high-strung. In a thoroughly modern take on the Looney Tunes, the three are owned by sweet old lady who is oblivious to their slapstick adventures. This collection includes some of the original Petey and Pussy appearances from the Xeric-Grant winning The Wiggly Reader and one long new original story.
Several Fantagraphics cartoonists are following-up on their previous books, as well. Wilfred Santiago, whose In My Darkest Hour was a moody examination of a protagonist having a nervous breakdown, takes on a more epic subject in 21: the life of baseball superstar Roberto Clemente. This 148-page biography, due in October, chronicles Clemente’s life from his early days growing up in rural Puerto Rico to his World Series victories with Pittsburgh to his tragic death aiding earthquake victims in Nicaraugua. Additionally, Ignatz Award winner Anders Nilsen presents more of his improvisational sketchbook comics in Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes, due in January 2009. And in February 2009 Miss Lasko-Gross follows up her semi-autobiographical Escape from Special with A Mess of Everything, which picks up where Escape left off with the nonconformist heroine Melissa hitting high school.
Finally, Fantagraphics will reissue Paul Hornschemeier's Mother, Come Home, the poetic tale of a father and son at loose ends after the death of their wife/mother. Originally published in 2003 by Dark Horse, a new hardcover edition is due in February 2009.