Over the past 10 years, graphic novels have become more and more “novelistic,” for lack of a better word, led by such dense and revealing books as Persepolis and Fun Home. This spring’s notable graphic novels build on this tradition, with a bumper crop of introspective works that explore life in its most difficult and memorable moments. Examining the general trajectory of struggle and triumph, these books deepen and expand our perceptions of life and memory while avoiding tedium, thanks to the “graphic” parts of the equation.
Perhaps the most revelatory is Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, the debut graphic novel—as crazy as it sounds—by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. Chast’s short form comics mocking urban anxiety and convention have always caused chuckles; in Can’t We Talk, she uses the same freewheeling style for a heartbreaking yet universal story about the decline of her aging parents.
Bryan Lee O’Malley has been quiet since his famed saga of millennial questing, Scott Pilgrim, ended in 2010. His Seconds is also billed as a novelistic tale of experience and self-awareness, exploring the life of restaurant owner Katie, who gets a supernatural chance to redo some key moments in her life.
Getting a second chance is also the theme of The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez. In what many critics called his finest story in a long and much honored career, Hernandez finally reunites his erstwhile lovers Maggie and Ray after 30 years of confusion, self-delusion and miscommunication.
Introspection isn’t just for the middle aged. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki is a classic coming-of-age story about a girl named Rose who spends the summer at a lake house with her squabbling parents and nearby best friend, Windy. Jillian Tamaki’s stunning art peels back the layers of friendship and maturity with the slow, patient pace of a warm summer’s day. A summer seaside revelation is also the subject of the first story from It Never Happened Again, the debut book from acclaimed young cartoonist Sam Alden.
Mimi Pond’s Over Easy is another look at growing up, this time told from the perspective of Margaret, an art student in late ’70s California, where hippies, punk and disco cultures ebb and flow at the Imperial Café. Today’s rootless youth get their own comics heroes in Megahex by Tasmanian cartoonist Simon Hanselmann—the hilariously dark stories give vent to an entire generation’s lack of options. Mike Mignola’s beloved Hellboy is back in Hellboy in Hell, in which the demon hunter has died and must deal with his new existence in the afterlife. Even a demonic hybrid can have an existential crisis.
Although nonfiction comics have been among the most acclaimed in recent years, this season is a bit light. An exception is Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa 1939–1944: A History of Japan, an unflinching history of the harsh realities of the war year’s in Japan by a Japanese veteran. Of course, comics are still fun. In Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky present the highly contemporary adventures of a couple who use their time-stopping powers—which kick in when they orgasm—to rob banks. It’s Girls meets Bonnie and Clyde.
PW’s Top 10: Comics and Graphic Novels
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. Roz Chast. Bloomsbury, May
Seconds. Bryan Lee O’Malley. Ballantine, July
The Love Bunglers. Jaime Hernandez. Fantagraphics, Apr.
This One Summer. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. First Second, May
It Never Happened Again. Sam Alden. Uncivilized, July
Over Easy. Mimi Pond. Drawn & Quarterly, Apr.
Megahex. Simon Hanselmann. Fantagraphics, June
Hellboy in Hell. Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart. Dark Horse, June
Showa 1939–1944: A History of Japan. Shigeru Mizuki. Drawn & Quarterly, May
Sex Criminals Volume 1. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Image, Mar.
Comics & Graphic Novels Listings
Climate Changed A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni (Apr. 8, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1419712555). “Great scholarship on all facets of the climate problem…. An extremely well documented work. A true feast.”— Jean Jouzel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Boxer The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft by Reinhard Kleist (Apr. 15, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1906838775). The life of Harry Haft, a Polish Jew who escaped Auschwitz and became an American professional heavyweight prizefighter.
The Cigar That Fell in Love with a Pipe: Featuring Orson Welles & Rita Hayworth by David Camus and Nick Abadzis (Apr. 15, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1906838485). Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth star in this heart-wrenching story filled with history, charm, and love.
The Complete Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson (May 6, paper, $75, ISBN 978-1449438821). The complete library of all Cul de Sac cartoons plus selections from Thompson’s pre-syndication Cul de Sac art. A paperback boxed set.
(dist. by Random House).
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla (May 13, paper, $17.99, ISBN 978-1619889088). Rivderdale must face the zombie menace in a book by two award-winning creators.
Archie Comics/Red Circle
(dist. by Random House).
The Fox: Freak Magnet by Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel( May 6, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1936975938). Emmy-winner Haspiel and Eisner-winner Waid bring the legendary hero The Fox to life.
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley (July 1, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0345529374). The highly anticipated new standalone full-color graphic novel from Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan Lee O’Malley. Seconds is a complex story about a young restaurant owner named Katie who, after being visited by a magical apparition, is given a second chance at love and to undo her wrongs.
A Most Imperfect Union A Contrarian History of the United States by Ilan Stavans (July 1, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0465036691). Enough with the dead white men! The true story of the United States lies with its most overlooked and marginalized peoples.
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast (May 6, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1608198061). In her first memoir, cartoonist Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, it’s a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears.
Boom Studios/Archaia Entertainment
(dist. by Simon & Schuster)
The Collector by Sergio Toppi (June 17, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1608864218). Archaia publishes its second collection of master European comics master Sergio Toppi’s beautifully rendered work.
The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and Caanan White (April 1, paper $16.95 ISBN 978-0307464972). From bestselling author Brooks, the riveting story of the highly decorated, barrier-breaking, historic black regiment—the Harlem Hellfighters—the first African-American regiment mustered to fight in World War I.
Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart (June 3, $17.99 paper ISBN 978-1616554446). Mignola returns to draw Hellboy’s ongoing story for the first time in years with a story only he could tell, as more of Hellboy’s secrets are at last revealed, in the most bizarre depiction of Hell you’ve ever seen.
Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, Volume 1 by Alex De Campi et al. (July 29, $17.99 paper ISBN 978-1616553777). Literature: overrated. Morality: expendable. Midnight is right for some over-the-top sex and violence, and this Grindhouse double feature is packing the aisles with blood ’n’ guts and other body parts.
Dark Horse Manga
New Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1 by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori (June 17, paper $13.99, ISBN 978-1593076498). A 21st century sequel to this groundbreaking manga in which Daigoro takes center stage.
Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan. (May 20, hardcover, $79.99 ISBN 978-1616554064). The freedom fighters from My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days saga are brought to life in a deluxe comics edition chronicling the Girl’s efforts to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI or else join the mindless ranks of Battery City.
Justice League of America Vol. 1: World’s Most Dangerous (The New 52). by Geoff Johns, David Finch and Doug Mahnke (July 15, $16.99 paper ISBN 978-1401246891). A new incarnation of the Justice League, led by Col. Steve Travor, reunites for world saving.
Drawn and Quarterly
(Dist. by St. Martin’s Press)
White Cube by Brecht Vandenbroucke (Mar. 4, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1770461390). With few words and gorgeous style, a cartoonist takes aim at the hypocrisies of the art world.
Ant Colony by Michael DeForge. (Feb., hardcover, $21.95 ISBN 978-1770461376). Acclaimed young cartoonist DeForge releases his first graphic novel, which immerses the reader in a world that is darkly existential, with false prophets, unjust wars, and corrupt police officers, as it follows the denizens of a black ant colony under attack from the nearby red ants.
Over Easy by Mimi Pond (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1770461536). A fast-paced semi-memoir about diners, drugs, and California in the 1970s.
Everywhere Antennas by Julie Delporte, trans. by Helge Dascher (May 6, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1770461543). A poetic novel that plumbs the depths of self-doubt and technological fatigue.
Showa 1939-1944 A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki, trans. by Zack Davisson (June 17, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1770461512). A master cartoonist and war vet details Japan’s involvement in World War II.
A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck (Apr. 15, paper, $17.99, ISBN 978-0062291615). A graphic non-fiction “novel” that is an evocative and poignant homage to New York City and the lower east side—and the turn of the century immigrants who made it their home, transforming both themselves and the culture of New York. Announced first printing: 15,000.
Enchanted Lion Books
(dist. by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution)
Macanudo #1 by Liniers (June 10, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1592701544). Liniers is the most successful and beloved Argentine cartoonist of his generation, with a daily strip in La Nación, Argentina’s most popular newspaper for 10 years. In English for the first time, the strips in this first collection are inventive, absurd, funny, and utterly captivating.
(dist. by Norton)
How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis (May 15, paper, $24.99 ISBN 978-1606997406). The artist’s first collection of graphic/literary short stories, achieves a rare, subtle poignancy in her narratives that are at once compelling and elusive, pregnant with mystery and a deeply satisfying emotional resonance.
The Amateurs by Conor Stechshulte (May, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1606997345). A local medical expert and sheriff are summoned to investigate a strange sighting that sets the stage for Stechschulte’s debut graphic novella: a severed human head that still seems to be talking.
The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Apr., hardcover, $19.99 ISBN 978-1606997291). Collecting the acclaimed story by one of comics greatest artists. After a lifetime of losses, Maggie finds her longtime off and on lover, Ray Dominguez, but repressed family secrets may destroy this potential happiness.
Megahex by Simon Hanselmann (June 30, hardcover, $29.99 ISBN 978-1606997437). Megg is a depressed, drug-addicted witch. Mogg is her black cat. Their friend, Owl, is an anthropomorphized owl. Transcending stoner comedy, they struggle unsuccessfully to come to grips with their depression, drug use, sexuality, poverty, lack of work, lack of ambition, and their complex feelings about each other.
Buddy Buys A Dump by Peter Bagge (April 30, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1606997451). Bagge’s iconic hero is now in his 30s and married, with a child, onetime slacker hero Buddy Bradley shaves his head, dons an eye-patch, quits his “real” job and buys the local dump—because what better place to raise a toddler?
Bumf 1: I Buggered the Kaiser by Joe Sacco (July 15, paper, 2014 $12.99, ISBN 978- 1606997482). Though world-famous for his serious, journalistic books like Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, and Footnotes in Gaza, Bumf promises to echo back to Sacco’s earlier days as a satirist and underground cartoonist.
(dist. by Macmillan)
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (May 6, paper, $17.99, ISBN 978-1596438514). The glamorous, raucous, and ultimately tragic life of the beloved actor and wrestler Andre the Giant.
The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff (Mar. 25, paper, $29.99, ISBN 978-1596435865). A young man who accidentally kills his own brother must find a bride to accompany him to the afterlife.
This One Summer by Markio Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (May 6, trade paper $17.99, ISBN 978-1596437746) Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach and hangs out with her best friend, Windy. But this summer is different. It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
The Good Inn: A Novel by Black Francis and Josh Frank (Apr. 15, hardcover, $23.99, ISBN 978-0062220790). From legendary Pixies frontman, Black Francis, comes a bold and visually arresting illustrated novel about art, conflict, and the origins of a certain type of cinema. Announced first printing: 50,000.
(dist. by Diamond Books)
In the Dark: A Horror Anthology by Rachel Deering et al. (May 1, paper, $29.99, ISBN 978-1613779347). A monstrous collection of all-new, original terror tales from the darkest and most brilliant minds in comics and prose. With an introduction by Scott Snyder, and a feature on the history of horror comics.
Sex Criminals, Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Apr 8, trade paper $9.99, ISBN 978-1607069461). Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks.
Noah by Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel, and Niko Henrichon (Mar. 18, hardcover $29.99 ISBN 978-1607068532). From acclaimed filmmaker Aronofsky and artist Henrichon (Pride of Baghdad), Noah is a fresh take on the biblical epic for the 21st century. A fantastical world is about to be destroyed and one man is chosen to start a new one.
Velvet Vol. 1 TP by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (Apr., trade paper $TK ISBN 978-1-60706-964-5). When the world’s best secret agent is killed, Velvet Templeton, the Personal Assistant to the Director of the Agency, is drawn off her desk and back into the field for the first time in nearly 20 years... and is immediately caught in a web of mystery, murder and high-octane action.
Black Science, Vol. 1 by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera (May, trade paper $TK ISBN 978-1-60706-967-6). Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos.
(dist. by Consortium)
Cat Person by Seo Kim (May 13, paper, $20, ISBN 978-1927668054). Highly relatable and hilarious, Kim’s comics about life, love and the foibles of feline companionship will leave you reeling.
A Body Beneath by Michael DeForge (May 13, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1927668078). David Cronenberg meets Charles Schulz in this collection of Michael DeForge’s award-winning one-person anthology series Lose.
X-Men: No More Humans Hardcover by Mike Carey and Salvador Larroca (May 6, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0785154020). The X-Men awaken to find the all the world’s humans gone, and it’s up to the disparate sides of the X-Men to come together, get to the bottom of this mystery and find a way to get the humans back.
All Star by Jesse Lonergan (Apr. 1, paper, $13.99, ISBN 978-1561638352). It’s the summer of 1998 and high school baseball star Carl Carter is about to learn the consequences of making one terrible mistake.
(dist. by Consortium)
Forming II by Jesse Moynihan (June 3, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1907704765). The hotly-anticipated sequel that encompasses all; mythology, theology, super-alien gods, hermaphrodites and the simple task of creating the cosmos.
(dist. by Diamond Books)
The Bunker Volume 1 by Joshua Fialkov and Joe Infurnari. (June 1, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1620101643). Uncovering a bunker buried in the woods, Grady and his friends discover letters inside, addressed to each of them-from their future selves. The letters state that the five friends will end the world. Can they change fate, or will their decisions make the future even worse?
Letter 44 Volume 1 by Charles Soule, illus. by Alberto Alburquerque (July 1, paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1620101339). Newly-inaugurated President Stephen Blades gets more than he bargained for when he finds out about the existence of an alien construction in the asteroid belt and the top-secret manned mission sent to find out what it is. The discovery will affect his presidency—and possibly the fate of humanity.
Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel A Graphic Novel by Anya Ulinich (July 29, paper, $16, ISBN 978-0143125242). A darkly funny graphic novel from the acclaimed author of Petropolis, Ulinich earned her literary stripes with her debut novel, Petropolis, and gained wide recognition for her textured characters.
(dist. by IPG)
World War 3 Illustrated: 1979–2014 edited by Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, intro. by Bill Ayers (May 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1604869583). This full-color retrospective looks back on the respected comics anthology that has covered housing rights, feminism, the environment, religion, police brutality, globalization, and global conflicts. With Sue Coe, Eric Drooker, Fly, Sandy Jimenez, Sabrina Jones, Mac McGill, Kevin Pyle, Spain Rodriguez, and more.
Random House UK
Mrs Weber’s Omnibus by Posy Simmonds (Apr. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0224096836). For the first time, this complete collection showcases the classic Guardian strips that made Simmonds famous. This tale of three school mates grown up shows the incisive eye that made Gamma Bovary and Tamara Drewe classics.
Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart (May 1, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0224090841). A graphic novel about single parenting and heavy metal, Days of Bagnold Summer follow a single mother and her teenage son as they face an entire summer alone together.
Seven Stories Press
The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature: The Definitive Anthology of Kid’s Lit as Graphics and Visuals by Russ Kick (May 20, paper, $38.95, ISBN 978-1609805302). Comics artists and illustrators adapt classic and contemporary children’s literature in this follow-up volume to the lauded Graphic Canon series, in which master anthologist Russ Kick shows adults everywhere that great children’s literature is great literature, period.
(dist. by Consortium)
Angie Bongiovatti by Mike Dawson. (July, paper, $20 ISBN 978-0-9888149-4-3). A group of workers at an animation studio learn about activism and life from their co-worker Angie in this wise and subtle story.
(dist. by Diamond)
Nemo: The Roses of Berlin by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (Apr 8, paperback, $14.95 ISBN 978-1603093200). It’s 1941 and Janni Nemo must march into the heart of the Third Reich to rescue her loved ones.
(dist. by Consortium)
Truth Is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries by Gabrielle Bell (Apr. 15, trade paper, $19.95 ISBN 978-0988901452). Raw, bare-boned, scathingly funny dispatches from the renowned comic diarist, with biting cultural commentary mixed with her signature introspective, self-deprecating humor, and surreal digressions.
It Never Happened Again: Two Stories by Sam Alden (July 15, trade paper, $11.99 ISBN 978-0988901469). The most promising cartoonist of 2013 releases his first collection: “Hawaii 1997” is a near wordless evocation of the magic of a nighttime encounter. In “We Don’t Talk About It and We’re Not Going to Play It,” an older Alden explores the complicated gender dynamics surrounding a kidnapping.
Unity Volume 1: To Kill a King by Matt Kindt and Doug Braithwaite (Mar. 26, paper, $14.99 ISBN 978-1939346261). The world’s most dangerous man, Toyo Harada, has been struck by the one thing he never thought possible—fear. Halfway across the globe, a new power threatens to topple modern civilization and, to preempt the cataclysm that is to come, Harada will unite the most unforgiving team the world has ever known.
Bohemians: A Graphic History, edited by Paul Buhle and David Berger (Apr. 15, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1781682616). The 19th-century countercultures that came to define the bohemian lifestyle spanned both sides of the Atlantic, ranging from Walt Whitman to Josephine Baker, and from Gertrude Stein to Thelonious Monk. Bohemians is the graphic history of this movement and its illustrious figures.
Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 1 by Arina Tanemura (Mar. 4, paper, $10.99, ISBN 978-1421565903). The new book by the acclaimed creator of Full Moon.
My Love Story!!, Vol. 1 by Kazune Kawahara, illus. by Aruko (July 1, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1421571447). An absolutely hilarious and unusual new shojo series about a loud, giant guy with a clueless, giant heart who never, ever gets the girls. But when he finally, miraculously does, will he know how to handle it?
Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda, illus. by Yuu (Mar. 25, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0316401654). In this gentle, bittersweet manga adaptation of Mamoru Hosoda’s award-winning Wolf Children film, a young single mother raises two unruly children with an unusual secret in the Japanese countryside. Hana falls in love with a young interloper she encounters in her college class. Announced first printing: 25,000.