Butterflies, Flowers, Vol. 1Yuki Yoshihara. Viz, $9.99 paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-4215-3203-5

Here's a Harlequin premise in manga form: former heiress, bankrupt, joins the working world, where her old servant is now her boss, making for one life during the day, and a very different one at night, where he pampers her. Although part of the Shojo Beat line, like Nana, this series is for the older reader, due to both premise and occasional profanity. The art fits both genres: it's got the stern-but-attractive older boss and the lovely-but-insecure young woman in panels dominated by emotion and decorated with flowers. The boss-servant tells her how to behave, how to do her secretarial job, even how to speak; he also knows her measurements intimately. Longing looks, over-the-top tension (a knife-wielding crazy takes her hostage), and passionate verbal exchanges make for a thrilling roller-coaster love story. The powerful, perfect man who becomes a lady's slave for love is a staple of the text romance; here, the servant part is simply more literal. His protection is overwhelming and much too traditional—some readers may not understand why she puts up with such controlling verbal abuse —but the moments of kindness he shows are seductive. (Dec.)

Pinocchio, Vampire SlayerVan Jensen and Dusty Higgins. Slave Labor Graphics, $10.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-59362-176-6

This enjoyable reworking of Carlo Collodi's classic tale drops the magically animated puppet into a horror movie plot. After his maker/father Geppetto is killed by vampires, Pinocchio tries to protect the disbelieving inhabitants of his village, aided only by woodcarver Master Cherry, a greatly aged Blue Fairy and the ghost of the nagging cricket he squashed some time ago. As that last reference indicates, this is not the sentimentalized Disney version of the story; the protagonist of this book is one tough little puppet. Furthermore, although he's no Buffy Summers, as a vampire fighter Pinocchio has the advantage of a built-in wooden stake—as long as he remembers to tell lies at the right time. Jensen's script is clever, full of irreverent irony. But the highlight of the book is Higgins's b&w art that offers page after page of amazement. Swirling, whirling, jittery, skittery, the story dances gracefully from grin to grimace and back again. (Nov.)

GrandvilleBryan Talbot. Dark Horse, $17.95 (108p) ISBN 978-1-59582-397-7

Talbot follows up the admirable but abstruse Alice in Sunderland with an engrossing blend of steampunk, Victorian-flavored detective stories, anthropomorphized animals and 9/11 allegory. The storytelling skills that he brought to The Tale of One Bad Rat are firing on all cylinders as he spins the tale of Scotland Yard's bodybuilding badger, Insp.-Det. Archie LeBrock searching for a murder squad, a trail of violent intrigue leading to France. In this alternate historical setting, Britain fell under French rule during the Napoleonic Wars and became the Socialist Republic of Britain, a situation rife with civil disobedience, explosive terrorism and mutual suspicion between the two countries, all simmering elements that could lead to war. The murder LeBrock and his adjunct, Detective Ratzi, are investigating may somehow be tied to a mysterious grand plan, leading to a tightly woven tapestry of sex, violence and political intrigue containing strong commentary on 9/11 and the political machinations that fueled it. The animal-headed characters—alluding to The Wind and the Willows—just add to an entertaining and multileveled whodunit by a master storyteller. (Oct.)

All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004—2009Paul Hornschemeier. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-60699-285-2

It's a surprisingly rare thing to find the great comic artist who can not only draw with poetry and beauty, but write like a demon as well. In this lavish scrapbook of uncollected ads, posters, covers, ephemera and one-offs, Hornschemeier's skills are nearly as verbal as they are visual, his art encompassing many different styles, from richly layered classical surrealism to densely structured and primary color—heavy McSweeney's-style illustrations. But taken together, the work exhibits an instantly recognizable and distinctive panache. The depth of his art truly comes to life in the melancholic squibs of text and short fictions studding this collection. For all his talents, Hornschemeier is a working artist who clearly takes on all kinds of assignments, from bookstore ads and bookmarks to a quirky little piece on Anderson Cooper commissioned by CNN. Perhaps the intrusion of the journeyman keeps an exquisite volume like this so rewarding and yet grounded. (Oct.)