Biography, fantasy, SF, historical novel, superhero—this season’s best graphic novels follow no set trend except an eclectic approach to storytelling, both factual and fictional, from a cartoony biography of a feminist icon to a poetic photo-realistic picture book about an angel trapped in the form of a park statue.
Nonfiction books feature art that adds an emotional depth beyond prosaic if accurate illustration. March (Book One) leads the memoir parade with the story of Rep. John Lewis and his historic efforts in the civil rights struggle. Artist Nate Powell adds his own bold ink-washed art to convey the powerful story. Peter Bagge is admired for his long career as a surgically accurate satirist, and he bring the same high energy to Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, a thoroughly researched biography of the birth control pioneer that stints on neither her egotism nor heroism, but paints a picture of a very real woman.
Rebels of a different kind are sketched in Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor, a history of the colorful early days of hip-hop, a kaleidoscope of unforgettable characters from Grandmaster Flash to Sylvia Robinson. Piskor uses the contemporaneous style of Marvel Comics and artificially aged paper stock to give the era of Adidas and backpacks a larger-than-life vibe. Finally, no season would be complete without the latest in Rick Geary’s ongoing series of 20th-century murders: with elegant, unsettling penwork, Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White tells the notorious story of architect Stanford White, who was murdered by a jealous husband in a theater atop the original Madison Square Garden.
Several comics masters are back with new tales on the fiction side: Jeff Smith’s Rasl is collected in full-color after being serialized in black-and-white. The story of a time-hopping art thief with a secret is full of gripping twists and turns. Finder’s Carla Speed McNeil brings her finely honed sense of character to Bad House, written by YA author Sara Ryan (The Rules for Hearts), an atmospheric mystery set in a crumbling logging town where two teens try to unlock the past. And Warren Ellis, bestselling author of Plantary and Gun Machine, brings his merciless pacing to a rare original Marvel graphic novel, Avengers: Endless Wartime, which finds the popular superheroic band getting together one more time to fight a threat from the past in the new and frightening world of drones and robotic warfare.
Fans of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival should enjoy Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle, a nearly wordless story about an angel that falls to earth illustrated in a stunning photo collage style. The words are familiar but the images create a moody modern world where the fantastic meets the mundane. The line between fantasy and reality is blurred even further in The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Based on the ongoing comics series, Tommy Taylor, the son of the author of the worldwide sensation, boy wizard Tommy Taylor, learns that the book may be more about his life than he suspected. The series has been a smart, beautifully rendered fantasy, and this ties the whole epic together.
Finally, Julie Maroh’s Blue Angel (Blue Is the Warmest Color) gained attention when a film version won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Maroh’s graphic novel is a lyrical ode to first love as 15-year-old Clementine falls for blue-haired Emma. While the story, translated from French, breaks no new ground, Maroh’s art says more about love and passion than words ever could.
PW’s Top 10: Comics
March (Book One). Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Top Shelf, Aug.
Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. Peter Bagge. Drawn and Quarterly, Oct.
Hip Hop Family Tree. Ed Piskor Fantagraphics, Oct.
Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White. Rick Geary. NBM, Dec.
Rasl. Jeff Smith. Cartoon Books, Oct.
Bad Houses. Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil. Dark Horse, Oct.
The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice. Mike Carey and Peter Gross. DC, Sept.
Unforgotten. Tohby Riddle. InkLit, Nov.
Avengers: Endless Wartime. Warren Ellis, Clark Gregg, and Mike McKone. Marvel, Oct.
Blue Angel (Blue Is the Warmest Color). Julie Maroh. Arsenal Pulp, Oct.
Shifter by Brian Haberlin, Skip Brittenham, and Brian Holguin, illus. by Kunrong Yap (Oct. 8, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0985334215). The team behind Anomaly, the epic 370-page graphic novel, is building on its immersive storytelling with this new release, which uses Augmented Reality.
The Joyners in 3d by R.J. Ryan and David Marquez (Nov., hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-936393-70-1). Successful technology executive George Joyner stands on the brink of revolutionizing life in America (again) with his latest high-flying invention. But just as business booms, George’s private life begins to implode; 3-D glasses included.
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Vol. 2 by various (Nov., hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-936393-26-8). In the June Alley Inn mouse tavern, a storytelling contest begins, with the prize the winners having their outstanding debt to the barmaid forgiven. Each story is written and illustrated by a different creator, including Stan Sakai, C.P. Wilson III, and Bill Willingham.
Archie Meets Glee by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Dan Parent (Aug. 6, trade paper, $12.99, ISBN 978-1936975457). When the Riverdale gang meets the teens of TV’s Glee, musical mayhem is sure to ensue. The impending collision of two universes threatens the world as we know it, and it’s up to the teens to use the power of song to restore everything back to normal.
Arsenal Pulp Press
Blue Angel (Blue Is the Warmest Color) by Julie Maroh (Oct. 15, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1551525143). Clementine discovers herself and the elusive magic of love when she meets a confident blue-haired girl named Emma: a lesbian love story bristles with the energy of youth and rebellion and the eternal light of desire. The basis for the Palme d’Or–winning film.
Gulliver’s Travels by Martin Rowson (Nov. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1782390084). A modern illustrated retelling of Swift’s classic, Rowson’s caustic and provocative update is both a homage to the original and an entirely up-to-date indictment of the enduring human idiocies that enraged Swift 300 years ago.
Suicide Risk, Vol. 1 by Mike Carey, illus. by Elena Casagrande (Oct. 1, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1608863327). After barely surviving a superpowered bank heist gone horribly wrong, beat cop Leo Winters vows to try and find a way to stop the robbers. Following a lead, he discovers two lowlifes who seem to be able to grant a person powers... for the right price.
Polarity by Max Bemis, illus. by Jorge Coelho (Dec. 3, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1608863464). Say Anything’s frontman, Max Bemis, makes his comics debut. Timothy Woods is a bipolar artist stuck in the world of hipsters, meaningless sex, and vain art—aka Brooklyn. Things change when Timothy discovers that his bipolar medication has been suppressing his superpowers.
Rasl by Jeff Smith (Oct. 15, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-1888963373). When Rasl, a thief and ex-military engineer, discovers the lost journals of Nikola Tesla, he bridges the gap between modern physics and history’s most notorious scientist in a tale of adventure and betrayal. The first complete full-color version of Smith’s follow-up to his classic Bone.
Coach House Books
The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James (Nov. 12, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1552452875). The triumphant return of the 1975 cult classic and seminal graphic novel—it’s a nightmare you can’t awake from. Cryptic and disturbing, The Cage spurns narrative for atmosphere, guiding us through a series of disarrayed rooms and desolate landscapes.
Dark Horse books
Smoke/Ashes by Alex de Campi, Igor Kordey, Carla Speed McNeil, et al. (Sept. 18, trade paper, $29.99, ISBN 978-1616551698). Reporter Katie Shah and assassin Rupert Cain become targets of a sinister cabal bent on controlling the nation’s oil and of a psychotic intelligence that has uploaded itself onto the Internet.
Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart (Sept. 25, hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-1616552480). Following the death of his grandfather, young Alex Mackay discovers a mysterious photograph in the old man’s belongings that sets him on an adventure like no other—where dreams and reality merge and amily secrets are laid bare. Taken from the Eisner Award–winning Web comic.
Bad House by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil (Oct. 30, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-59582-993-1). Lives intersect in the most unexpected ways when teenagers Anne and Lewis cross paths at an estate sale. Failin, Ore,. once a thriving logging community, now has crumbling businesses and bitter and disaffected citizens. Anne and Lewis refuse to succumb to the older generation’s fate as they discover the secrets of their hometown and their own families.
Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Nov. 6, hardcover, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-61655-279-4). The world’s greatest thief is a costumed teen burglar in swinging Paris by the nom d’arte of Bandette. Gleefully plying her skills on either side of the law, Bandette is a thorn in the sides of both police inspector Belgique and the criminal underworld. Based on the Eisner-nominated Web comic.
Fairest in All the Land by Bill Willingham (Nov. 26, hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-1401239008). The first original graphic novel based on New York Times bestselling writer Bill Willingham’s Fairest, which explores the secret histories of the most stunning beauties in Fabletown: Cinderella, Snow White, Briar Rose, and more.
Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor and Jheremy Raapack (Oct. 29., trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1401245009). The critically acclaimed prequel comic to the hit fighting game. Things in the DC Universe change after Superman is tricked into destroying the one thing he loves the most.
The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey, illus. by Peter Gross (Sept. 24., hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-1401229764). Tom Taylor has lived his life being mistaken for Tommy Taylor, the boy wizard from the world-famous series of novels penned by Tom’s long-lost father. After a series of strange events start to parallel the lives of both Taylors, Tom realizes that he might be the character on the page made flesh.
Drawn & Quarterly
Rage of Poseidon by Anders Nilsen (Oct. 29, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1770461284). A wise and funny collection of modern-day parables about the ties between humans and their gods by the author of Big Questions. In one, the god Poseidon sets out into the modern world with mixed results.
Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge (Oct. 15, hardcover, $21.95, ISBN 978-1770461260). The alternative-comics master offers an indelible and idiosyncratic take on the protofeminist women’s health pioneer. Drawn in full color, Bagge’s signature rubbery style and potent sense of humor make for the most accessible Sanger biography ever.
Sinemania!: A Satirical Exposé of the Most Outlandish Movie Directors: Welles, Hitchcock, Tarantino, and More by Sophie Cossette (Sept. 1, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1770411128). Twenty-three North American and European directors—including Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Roman Polanski—are the subjects of this wickedly humorous tribute to cinema in graphic nonfiction.
Black Is the Color by Julia Gfrörer (Sept., trade paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-717-8). A 17th-century sailor, abandoned at sea by his shipmates, endures but eventually succumbs, both to his lingering death sentence and the advances of a cruel and amorous mermaid. The debut collection by an important new cartooning voice.
Celebrated Summer by Charles Forsman (Nov., trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-685-0). A funny and moving story of escalating humor and tension between two disaffected teens, Mike and Wolf, who take a spontaneous summer road trip after dropping acid.
Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor (Oct., trade paper, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-60699-690-4). The lore of the early days of hip-hop has become the stuff of myth, and Ed Piskor, acclaimed for his hacker graphic novel Wizzywig, has created an explosively entertaining, encyclopedic history of the formative years of the music genre that changed global culture, from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to Rick Rubin.
First Second Books
Tune: Still Life by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine (Nov. 12, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1596437609). Andy Go thought he was signing on for an easy job as an exhibit in an alien zoo—but it turns out his contract is for life. How can he escape? And will things be any better if he brings his maybe-girlfriend along?
The Cute Girl Network by MK Reed and Greg Means, illus. by Joe Flood (Nov. 12, paper, $17.99, ISBN 978-1596437517). It’s love at first sight for Jack and Jane, until Jane’s busybody friends decide she deserves better. Poor Jane is about to learn every detail of Jack’s past misadventures… whether she wants to or not. Will love prevail?
Hill and Wang
The Great American Documents: Vol. 1: Prologues of Promise, 1620–1830 by Russell Motter, Ruth Ash, and Ernie Colón (Jan. 7, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0809094608). The essential primer on 20 of the most influential American documents between 1620 and 1830.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Best American Comics 2013, edited by Jeff Smith, Jessica Abel, and Matt Madden (Oct. 8, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0547995465). A collection of the best graphic pieces published in American periodicals during 2012, compiled by Jeff Smith, author and illustrator of the comic Bone. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
Visual Funk: Jim Mahfood Art by Jim Mahfood (Aug. 28, hardcover, $49.99, ISBN 978-1-61377-723-7). The 16-year professional career of Jim Mahfood, aka Food One, has spanned the fields of comic books, illustration, animation, advertising art, murals, gallery shows, body painting, and live art in bars and nightclubs. This is his first art book.
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire (Aug. 28, trade, $19.99 ISBN 978-1-61377-700-8). Amelia Cole lives in two worlds—literally. One runs on magic; the other is built on technology. When the barriers between the worlds start to break down, she must take extreme action.
East of West, Vol . 1: The Promise by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Aug. 28, trade paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-60706-770-2). This is the world, not the one we wanted but the one we deserved. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the Earth, signaling the End Times for humanity, and our best hope for life lies in death.
Century West by Howard Chaykin (Sept. 11, trade paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-60706-788-7). Century, Tex., used to be a sleepy little burg, barely a whistle stop between nowhere and the great beyond, until the 20th century arrived with a bang. Chaykin tells the colorful story of the American West, transformed from frontier to legend.
(dist. by Consortium)
Fata Morgana by Jon Vermilyea (Nov. 12, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1927668030) follows the adventure of a young boy through the landscapes of his imagination. He encounters and befriends creatures that are, like all mirages, born out of aspects of his own unconscious. Presented in vibrantly colored two-page panoramas, it is a feast for the eyes and mind.
Little Tommy Lost: Book One by Cole Closser (Sept. 10, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1927668016). Separated from his parents on a trip to the big city, a lost little boy unknowingly sets out on a great adventure as he searches for a way home. Closser’s work is steeped in cartooning history, but filled with a sense of the new.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol #1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis and various (Sept. 10., hardcover, $24.99 978-0785168287). Why has Earth suddenly become the most important planet in the galaxy? That’s what the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to find out. But while London deals with a brutal invasion by the Badoon, the fate of the Guardians may have already been decided millions of miles away.
Avengers: Endless Wartime by Warren Ellis, Clark Gregg, and Mike McKone (Oct. 1, hardcover, $24.99 ISBN 978-0785184676). The first in a series of original graphic novels from Marvel. An abomination, long thought buried, has resurfaced in a war-torn land—but now it wears an American flag. Captain America will not stand for yet more death at the hands of a ghost.
Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White by Rick Geary (Dec. 1, hardcover, $15.99, ISBN 978-1561637621). Rick Geary’s latest Treasury of Murder presents the spicy story of a prominent New York architect and his equally famous protégé, showgirl-cum-model Evelyn Nesbit, all coming to a rather bad end. Expect his usual tongue-in-cheek tone.
The Complete “Omaha” the Cat Dancer: Vol. 8 by Kate Worley, James Vance, and Reed Waller (Sept. 1, paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1561637546). After many years, this signal and celebrated post-underground achievement in comics comes to its conclusion thanks to James Vance’s and Reed Waller’s development of Kate Worley’s notes. Quality erotic comics.
Betty Blues by Renaud Dillies (Nov. 1, hardcover, $18.99, ISBN 978-1561637584). Dillies, of Eisner-nominated Bubbles & Gondola and Abelard fame, is back with a tale of deep love taken for granted. Little Rice Duck has built himself quite the reputation around the West Wood, playing his trumpet in bars with their smoky, sweaty ambience. But between his trumpet and his flame Betty, things are going astray.
(In a Sense) Lost and Found by Roman Muradov (Jan., hardcover, $18.95, ISBN 978-1907704673). F. Premise awoke one morning from troubled dreams to find that her innocence had gone missing. This first graphic novel by rising star Muradov explores the theme of innocence by treating it as a tangible object; something that can be used, lost, and mistreated.
Diesel Sweeties Vol. 1: I’m a Rocker, I Rock Out by R. Stevens. (Aug. 14, trade, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-62010-090-5). Diesel Sweeties, the long-running and pioneering Web comic that was into pixel art before pixel art was cool and made fun of hipsters before you knew what that word meant, is now available in the best form possible: artisanal paper-based pixels.
The Sixth Gun Hardcover, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, with Bill Crabtree (Oct. 2, hardcover, $49.99, ISBN 978-1-934964-84-2). During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time, the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. A deluxe collection of the popular series.
How to Be Rich: What to Do with It When You’ve Got It! by John Ruskin, Kevin Jackson, and Hunt Emerson (Oct. 1, paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-0955093845). Darren Bloke always dreamed of being rich; one day his dream came true. What he hadn’t imagined was that for every problem he solved, another one would spring up. The first in a trilogy of comics based on the social ideas of John Ruskin, this book reveals the real nature of wealth and poverty.
Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle (Nov. 5, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-0425270912). In a timely and timeless tale of breathtaking beauty and humble humanity, this striking, wordless graphic novel featuring the story of angels on Earth and human compassion is by the Award-winning Australian illustrator.
Starling by Sage Stossel (Dec. 3, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0425266311) is an original graphic novel from the Atlantic magazine cartoonist of Sage, Ink. When Xanax and therapy fail to relieve her stress, Amy does what any young woman in the big city would do: she uses her superstrength, speed, flight, and ability to generate 750 volts from her hands to fight crime as the mysterious masked vigilante, Starling.
Zombo: You Smell of Crime and I Am the Deodorant by Al Ewing and Henry Flint (Oct. 15, trade $17.99, ISBN 978-1781080337). Al Ewing and Henry Flint’s insane, irreverent, and downright daft series about a Zombo created to fight sentient death planets, who somehow ends up on a celebrity talent show, fighting his replacement and discovering that his backup personality is that of a cowardly male stripper.
Iron Bound by Brendan Leach (n.d, paper, $21.95, ISBN 978-0-9888149-2-9). A gritty, authentic account of street gangs and life in the margins of the Ironbound district in Newark, N.J., in the early 1960s. With elements of noir mystery and crime drama, the story is aided by Leach’s ability to evoke place and present a complex narrative about the tenuous relationships of characters mired in conflict and fear.
Pachyderme by Frederik Peeters (Oct. 1, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1906838607) is a surreal and poetic tale of mystery and imagination. Carice abandons her car and walks trancelike through a wood to visit her husband in the hospital. When her whistling wakes up an apparently dead body in the morgue, she soon realizes that the aged cadaver she’s talking to is her future self.
We Won’t See Auschwitz by Jeremie Dres (Sept. 3, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1906838638) is an uplifting semiautobiographical work about the search for identity. After their grandmother’s death, Jérémie and his brother attempt to learn more about their family’s Jewish-Polish roots. But Jérémie is less interested in how the Holocaust affected his family than what it means to be Jewish and Polish in today’s world.
Seven Stories press
Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among the English-Speaking Peoples by Sean Michael Wilson, Benjamin Dickson, and various. (Sept. 24, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1609804923). According to Gandhi, there are four stages of protest: first they ignore you; then they ridicule you; then they fight you; then you win. Fight the Power! shows how this process has played out again and again throughout history.
March (Book One) by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illus. by Nate Powell (Aug., trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-60309-300-2) is a vivid firsthand account of John Lewis’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights (including his key roles in the historic 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma–Montgomery March), meditating now on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation.
Renée by Ludovic Debeurme (Nov., trade paper, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-60309-304-0). French graphic novelist Debeurme returns with a devastating sequel to his prize-winning Lucille. While Lucille moves back in with her overbearing mother and Arthur serves time in prison for murder, a new character, Renée, becomes obsessed with a married jazz musician twice her age.
Pascin by Joann Sfar, trans. by Edward Gauvin (Oct. 15, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0984681471). This biography of the noted Jewish modernist painter is Sfar’s most personal and important work. Creating in a direct and immediate drawing style, Sfar focuses more on the artist’s personal and sexual life than on his art, and brings Pascin to life as the ultimate bohemian.
War of Streets and Houses by Sophie Yanow (Nov. 12, paper, $10.95, ISBN 978-0984681488). In 2012, Sophie Yanow participated in the massive Montreal student strikes. In the midst of protesting crowds and police containment, the military origins of urban planning suddenly became an undeniable reality.
Magi, Vol. 1 by Shinobu Otaka (Aug. 13, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1421559513) is a fantasy adventure inspired by One Thousand and One Nights. Deep within the desert lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches there for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned.
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 1 by Tomu Ohmi (Sept. 3, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1421559445). Mad Men meets The Vampire Diaries. Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director. He’s as prickly—and hot—as rumors suggest, and Kaya is unfazed—until she discovers that he’s a vampire.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean (Oct. 29, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-0316245289). Ransom Riggs’s haunting fantasy bestseller, adapted to a graphic novel, relates a horrific family tragedy that sets 16-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! Vol. 1 by Nico Tanigawa (Oct. 29, trade paper, $11.99, ISBN 978-0316243162). A surprise hit in Japan, this manga features a high school first-year student who realizes that her dreams of popularity may be out of reach—and it can’t be her own fault, can it? 30,000-copy announced first printing.